After the first, bizarre minutes of the YouTube video featuring the deposition of Dr. Charles Sophy, the medical director of the County of Los Angeles Dept. of Children and Family Services who appears on TV shows, the lawyer in the video eventually moved onto questions that were, mercifully, more relevant to the legal case being discussed. The questions in the first two minutes of footage were unbelievably ignorant and Dr. Sophy looked humorously bewildered by it.
In the last article covering the deposition, which featured the first two minutes of the video, the lawyer chose to spend that time establishing how Dr. Sophy could be a medical doctor when he is a DO. Once it was established that a DO is a medical doctor, just as an MD is, the lawyer began asking questions about the differences between a DO and an MD. This article will not cover those differences, because they are easily verifiable and it’s a waste of time even watching that segment of the video.
Dr. Sophy looked worn out in this video—like he didn’t get a cup of coffee that morning—and by the 3:37 mark he had his arms tightly wrapped around him and a dour expression on his face. He appeared tired, vulnerable, and increasingly uncomfortable with being questioned about the nature of an MD versus a DO. It’s hard to imagine the lawyer having no clue as to the differences, which would make one wonder where that line of questioning was taking them.
At the 7:25 mark, things really started to heat up with the questioning. Finally, after all the nonsense surrounding credentials and what looked to be the lawyer’s attempt at starting a war between MDs and DOs (who has the better medical training), a question concerning the actual legal case at hand was asked. The case is about a mother whose child was removed from her care by DCFS when she was suspected of having Munchausen syndrome by proxy (translation: she was accused of purposely making her child sick so she could get attention). The lawyer asked Dr. Sophy what “specific identifying symptoms” he looks for when diagnosing the syndrome.
Dr. Sophy chose to give a very specific answer to this question. He said:
Well, I start with the actual findings, or lack thereof, of organic reasons for an illness in a child usually–it’s usually a child…that I’ve dealt with at least—and documenting that, investigating that, looking at the record, that kind of thing. And then physical and emotional, psychological evaluations to determine basic strengths and needs of the case and see if there are real organic reasons for this. If there isn’t..and then just go through it and meet with the team of the doctors and the nurses and parents and family members to be able to come up with a picture to begin to then go forward.
Unbelievably, the lawyer responded to that explanation with: “That’s a little vague for me. Let me try this because maybe I didn’t ask the proper foundational question. Why don’t we start with what is Munchausen syndrome by proxy?”
Obviously, in Munchausen syndrome by proxy there isn’t an organic reason for the abused person’s illness (or lack of illness). Nothing is intrinsically wrong with the person victimized by the person who has the syndrome. The person with the syndrome, often a parent, is typically creating a child’s illness by inducing symptoms or lying to medical professionals in order to convince them that a healthy child is actually sick.
The way Dr. Sophy would diagnose it, short of actually catching the abuser in the act, is to look at a medical record, determine that the victim’s illness (or lack of illness) must be the result of abuse, and make the diagnosis based on lack of an organic explanation for the victim’s claimed illness. He would evaluate the victim’s physical, emotional, and psychological health in order to make sure there isn’t an organic cause for the victim’s symptoms. The words of doctors, nurses, parents, and family members would also be taken into account when forming a diagnosis. Unfortunately, this explanation was lost on the lawyer, because he needed to be reminded of what the illness is. Dr. Sophy was frowning and looking to have lost all hope at this point.