One woman, whose mother had been deliberately faking serious illnesses for thirty years, believed her mom was miraculously healed after she went on an “amazing” vacation to the US. Conditions seemed to vanish. 

Helen Naylor from Nottingham was just seven when Elinor her mother told her she suffered from Myalgic Encyphalomyelitis (ME), which is an extremely debilitating condition that can cause extreme exhaustion.

Helen’s childhood was filled with responsibilities. Elinor died in her womb. Helen learned that Elinor had an illness.

Helen found 55 years of Elinor’s diaries detailing her trips to the shops and meals, even though she was claiming that she slept only 18 hours each night. 

Helen now claims her mother was suffering from Munchausen’s Syndrome. Helen is open about her experience in writing a memoir.

When she was 16 years old, her mother walked for blocks and blocks in America. She then claimed to have been wheelchair-bound when she returned home to the UK.  

Helen Naylor, 38, from Nottingham, was seven-years-old when her mother Elinor told her she had Myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME), a debilitating condition which causes extreme exhaustion. She later discovered that her mother had been faking serious illnesses for over 30 years

Helen Naylor (38), was seven years old when Elinor, her mother, told Helen that she suffered from Myalgic Encephalomyelitis. This is a condition which can cause extreme exhaustion and debilitating symptoms. Her mother was lying about serious illness for 30+ years, her daughter discovered. 

This Morning she stated that “there were lots of red flags throughout all my years growing up. This was the one I remember most. It was in 16th grade, when we traveled to America for an incredible holiday. And she was so much better. 

“She would not walk me to my home’s end, but she can walk blocks after blocks in America. 

“We shared an amazing experience that was a fortnight. I truly believed America would heal her. Because I truly believed, I could not understand why we hadn’t moved to America. 

But Elinor’s symptoms returned the moment she got home, with Helen saying her mum used a wheelchair to travel from the plane to the airport on the way back to the country.  

Appearing on This Morning today, she said that she thought her mum was miraculously 'cured' after she enjoyed an 'amazing holiday' to the US where here conditions seemed to disappear

She said she believed her mom was miraculously “cured” after she had an amazing vacation to the USA, where conditions appeared to vanish.

Helen, seven years old, was informed by her father Alan that he was having ‘quite severe heart and lung problems. 

Helen said that her mother developed ME symptoms soon after. Helen’s life began to change immediately, as her whole world revolved around her illness.  

She stated that even though she knew my dad was sick, it was mom’s ME that all revolved around. “We could not go on day trips any more, but she did not take me out weekends. 

‘On weekends and holidays I was basically left on my own in the afternoons, my mum was in bed, my dad was at the pub and I was left to entertain and look after myself.’  

As well as faking her illnesses, Helen says her mother had ‘abused’ her as a child, discovering that her arm was somehow broken at the age of two. 

Helen shared that she can remember falling off a chair as a child and being taken to hospital. Her arm had not been broken until three months prior. 

Helen, who has opened up about her story in a new memoir, now believes her mother had Munchausen's syndrome, a psychological condition where someone fakes illness or deliberately causes physical symptoms

Helen now claims her mother was suffering from Munchausen’s Syndrome. Helen is open about her experience in writing a memoir.

Helen’s mum said that Helen had injured her arm when she closed the door accidentally on Helen’s arm as Helen tried to close it. 

However, after reading the diaries of her mother, she realized that she was actually only two at the time. 

It would be impossible for her to sustain an injury to her arm that way, as she was too young to close the door behind her. 

Helen stated that Helen broke Helen’s arm. But she doesn’t know why. She didn’t bring me to the hospital. They found that it was broken three months later when I fell off my chair. 

She claims that her mother told her, at age ten, to put out a house fire.

“My friend and me were downstairs playing one day, when I was around ten years old. We heard this sound in the kitchen,” she stated. 

In her new memoir, Helen reveals how she learnt the truth about her mother's deception by reading her diaries after her death

Helen’s new memoir reveals the story of how Helen discovered the truth about her mother’s lies by studying her journals after her death. 

‘It was full of smoke it was sparking,  I shouted for my mum. After she did not come, I ran upstairs asking “What can I do?” I ran upstairs to ask her “What do you do?” She said that she would go back into the bedroom and turn the washing machine off. It’s hard to imagine that you could do this with a child in primary school.    

Helen claims her mother wasn’t kind to her when she was a teenager. She revealed that her self-esteem dropped so low at 13 that Helen started self-harming. 

“She used tell me that I was stupid, ugly, fat, and horrible about myself,” she stated. “Because my mom is my mum, she believed that she was telling the truth to me. 

Elinor was a prolific diary writer over 55 years. Her daughter, however, admitted that she was shocked to discover the journals. 

It was a complete shock, she stated. It was something I didn’t anticipate to see. It was obvious that she had been faking illnesses her whole life. 

“She went to the doctor for many things, but it was shocking to discover that she had previously abused my child as a young girl. 

Helen believes her mom’s “downfall” was when her mother began to fake Parkinson’s disease later in life. Helen revealed that she once was confronted and questioned by a nurse about her suspicions. She was reluctant to give her the medication. 

Helen said that she believed this was the real problem. Helen said that she believes that had she not continued to suffer from ME, no one would have been able to tell what was wrong. ME is difficult and can cause so many symptoms. 

“But there are symptoms and specific tests for Parkinson’s and it’s not possible to fake it. 

She said that she hoped to forgive her. She said, “I’m a Christian. I pray I can forgive her. But it is an ongoing process. 


Munchausen Syndrome is a psychological condition in which an individual pretends that they are sick or creates symptoms to indicate sickness.

They are there to take on the “sick” role so people can care for them.

Any practical benefit in pretending to be sick – for example, claiming incapacity benefit – is not the reason for their behaviour.

Munchausen’s syndrome, named after Baron Munchausen, a German Aristocrat who was famous for telling unbelievable stories about his adventures.

Munchausen syndrome is complex. It’s not well understood. A lot of people are hesitant to seek psychiatric or psychological treatment. The reason why some people have the syndrome isn’t clear. 

Munchausen Syndrome patients may behave in many different ways.

  • pretending to have psychological symptoms – for example, claiming to hear voices or claiming to see things that are not really there
  • pretending to have physical symptoms – for example, claiming to have chest pain or a stomach ache
  • actively trying to get ill – such as deliberately infecting a wound by rubbing dirt into it

Munchausen’s syndrome can lead to long-term travel by Munchausen patients, who may be feigning a variety of illness. Upon discovering that they are lying, the patient may be forced to leave the hospital and relocate.

Munchausen Syndrome patients may be manipulative. In the worst cases they might need painful or even fatal surgery.


It can be difficult for doctors to diagnose Munchausen’s Syndrome.

This syndrome is often characterized by a high level of convincing, skillful manipulation and exploiting of doctors.


Munchausen syndrome is difficult to treat because many people who have it deny they have any problems and are unwilling to cooperate with treatment plans.

Experts recommend healthcare professionals adopt gentle, non-confrontational approaches. This may be a sign that the patient might benefit from being referred to a psychiatrist.

Some argue that someone with Munchausen syndrome should confronted and ask why they lie and if they suffer from stress or anxiety.

Munchausen’s patients are often truly mentally ill but may only confess to having a physical condition.

A psychiatrist can refer a patient to the doctor if they admit to their behavior. Most experts believe that they should avoid any contact with their doctor if they refuse to admit lying.

Because trust is the foundation of doctor-patient relationships, if the patient is not trustworthy the doctor will cease to treat them.

Source: NHS