Baron Munchausen from http://www.vintage-views.com
Most of us have heard of factitious disorder, albeit by its more 'popular' name of Munchausen Syndrome, named for Baron von Munchausen, an 18th century German officer known for embellishing the stories of his life and experiences.
People suffering from Munchausens claim physical or mental illness when, in fact the symptoms are purposefully created, largely for the purpose of gaining the attention and sympathy normally reserved for the ill.
A fascinating disorder but also extremely rare.
Apparently not so in the office environment. I read today, somewhat belatedly, about a 2007 article published in the Harvard Business Review describing what the author calls 'Munchausens at Work'.
Author Nathan Bennett describes situations where employees create fictitious organisational problems, only to solve them, gaining kudos in the process. To illustrate, Bennett tells the story of a manager praised for his personnel management skills, for troubleshooting interpersonal conflict on teams. It was later discovered that he would covertly pit co-workers against one another, giving him the opportunity to play peacemaker later. Other strategies include 'solving' non-existent problems.
Although 'Munchausens at Work' is not a psychological disorder, it's interesting none the less. Thinking back to my corporate days, I can see how this idea flies. My boss was very good at telling you negative things about co-workers. When Practical Man comes home and talks about some of his experiences in the office, you have to wonder how often this kind of thing goes on.
Ever come across this kind of behaviour? Come on, spill the beans!