Mother Jailed for Injuring Child Describes Munchausen Syndrome

The case of a woman accused of medical child abuse has a lot of people wondering what goes on inside the mind of a mother with Munchausen syndrome by proxy.

A different North Texas woman in prison for purposely making her daughter deathly ill, subjecting her to unnecessary surgeries and procedures, is talking about her crime. She opened up to NBC 5's Bianca Castro about what pushed her to the unthinkable.

"My children are my world, and I'm supposed to be their mom, and I'm supposed to be their world, and what I did instead is hurt them, all of them," said Hope Ybarra, of Fort Worth, serving 10 years in prison for the abuse she inflicted on her youngest daughter.

The abuse started shortly after the child's birth.

"She was born premature. She started having problems. In my neurotic thinking, I saw the attention that brought in, so I would start to exaggerate some of the things that were going on with her," Ybarra said.

Over the next five years, Ybarra tampered with her daughter's medical tests and poisoned her, all to convince doctors her daughter had terminal cystic fibrosis.

"I didn't intend to hurt her. I was trying to get attention, and it was the wrong way, the wrong way, the wrong kind of attention, the wrong way," Ybarra said.

"It felt like I was loved. It felt like they cared, that's what I felt like," she said when asked about how the attention felt.

Ybarra's lies unraveled when her family learned she had faked her own cancer diagnosis and called police, concerned Ybarra was making her daughter ill.

"Who knows how far I would have gone?" she said. "I was sick, really sick, sick in the head. That's the only thing I can say to explain it."

Dr. John Burruss, CEO of Metrocare Services, the largest provider of mental health services in Dallas County, wasn't involved in Ybarra's case, but describes Munchausen syndrome as a disorder in which someone is compelled to seek attention by either making a loved one or himself/herself sick or both.

"In some cases, these are people who have their own history of making themselves sick to gain that attention, and then they move on to someone in their care who they do the same thing with," Burruss said.

He says the syndrome is rare and treatable, but not curable.

"It really requires some intensive therapy to try to unearth the underlying causes," he said.

Ybarra claims in the last few months she's faced her demons through psychiatric counseling.

It's been years since she last heard from her family, and she believes she doesn't deserve a second chance.

"I wish I could say yes, but I don't deserve that," Ybarra said.

She says her daughter is now 13 years old, and since Ybarra's arrest, the young girl has been said to have made a full recovery.

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