Munchhausens By Internet

Got Sick?

 

In the last few months there has been a spate of illnesses from facebook users that all ellicite empathy and attention from other users.

Profiles have sprung up and users changed their nicknames to “Praying for Julie” “Light a candle for Cazzie” “Pray for slow mover”.

Yeah this is a true story.. only the names have been changed to protect the guilty.

Other users in the community of facebook have claimed they are suffering fatal diseases and chronic illnesses. In the past few weeks young cancer suffers have “died” others been rushed to hospital with relapses and more “pray for” bulletins circulated. While I am not saying that all these are fake because there are some really genuinely sick people out there, I am saying to you all. Be Careful.

 

Not is all what it seems.

If it smells.. It usually is off. Question things. If stories change/conflict or details are “vague” then it could be a “fake”.

In 2000 after a few Internet cases of people “dying” on messageboards, a psychologist called Feldman coined a new term

“Munchhausen by Internet”

Munchhausen by Internet is a psychiatric issue that makes sufferers crave attention and sympathy by lying and creating fake illnesses and posting them on message boards and blog communities.facebook is a very easy “playground” for these psychiatrically unbalanced people as you cannot check the ip addresses of the people posting messages. Therefore these people can use profiles and fake profiles to garner that sympathy and attention they are sadly lacking in their own lonely existences.

There are now three types of Munchhausen Syndrome, Munchausen, where the perpetrator is constantly craving attention from the medical world and undergoes tests for mysterious conditions that cannot be clinically or pathologically diagnosed. Then there is Munchhausen by Proxy, where the person alleges and causes illness in a close family member, often their own child and now finally Munchhausen By Internet, a fast growing phenomena which with the advent of the Internet is a far easier, much more accessible and less painful way for the perpetrator to garner sympathy. Who needs to go to the library anymore when there is the University of Google able to be attended part time from the comfort of your own armchair.

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Overall with a bit of delving and opening of the eyes, these people are fairly easy to spot as their method of operation is fairly standard. Everyone of these “Munchhausen by Internet” cases who posts blogs of themselves contracting deadly diseases or accidents or “dying”has a gaggle of fake profiles (usually in the name of real life friends or family) to back up and serve as protectors for the lie. When questioned about these things not adding up, these fake profiles will rise to extraordinary defence of the “sick” person and accuse the questioner of being cold and cruel and callous. These Psychiatrically damaged people

 

How To Spot an MBI

 

– Someone who claims being abused as a child. This in many cases is hard to prove as the MBI is a habitual liar and rarely tells the truth. The pointers here are that the perpetrator craves warmth, affection, sympathy and care. There is reports available that say some of these people have had abusive relationships with their mother or primary caregiver.

– MBI’s are compulsive habitual liars. They will lie about and plump up past education (not unusual for them two have two or three degrees). They will lie about past achievements.. overall they just lie

– Check back in these peoples blog archives. You can see the pattern from their early blogs to now as well as in some cases edited blogs.

– Changes in stories, conflicting things, old blogs not matching their comments -edited.

– Lies are “close” to the truth. Stories are changed slightly to sound believable but do not cross reference when checked with facts.

– MBI sufferers usually have a multitude of fake profiles to back up the “sick” persons claims and attack and fend off anyone who questions the illness. – This could be seen recently in the ~Praying for Julie~ situation where it was questioned by a person, only to have a a whole community attack this person for being “cold and cruel and callous’.

Well I am not cold and cruel and callous but I do ask many questions and as I said.. when things don’t add up .. they just don’t add up.

– Unusual fixations in status updates. For example a young MBI girl who is portraying a sick “Mother” will blog incessantly about the daughter and how good she is ..or in plain English.. blowing smoke up her ass.

– Tests being undergone will not make sense. For example “someone says they spent all day with their post comatose sick mother in a room with these big machines” and posts pictures of “themselves” sitting besides MRI machines. people who have had experience with MRI machines know, number 1… that no one is allowed in the room and even the radiographer is in another room and number two that the test does not last all day, usually around 30 minutes. It is little things like this that should raise your suspicion. It is always the little things that make you go huh

– The MBI sufferer will say they have cancer but the tests, cancers themselves, chemotherapy and treatments will not make sense to someone actually suffereing the disease and having treatment. For example someone says they are on “chemo like pills” very vague but a suggestion of chemo none the less.

– When MBI’s first post of their illness it is often in a light hearted throw away off hand way that is rather vague. This ellicites sympathy because the person is apparently ” soldiering on”

_ When the MBI person is cornered and questioned they will bring out those fake profiles to attack the questioner. This can be amusing on blogs where the “sick” person is very christian like asking for prayers and then gets very nasty and stirs up their supporters in defence. This is often bitchy and very nasty and the questioner will be left reeling wondering what the hell happened there.

– Others posting in support of the sick victim will have identical patterns of writing ie when someone logs into the sick persons profile and posts a blog on behalf of them that was dictated “apparently” from beside the hosptial bed.. will have same fonts used (changed from defaults) same layout style and same errors. Patterns can be seen by people reading these messages and blogs from these “supporters” of the “sick” victim. Usually their posting style is identical to the “sick” victim.

– an MBI will often gather other actual sick people into their web of lies and use their sickness to promote their own garnering of sympathy needs.. this occurred to my friends and self recently when someone we suspect has a bad case of this illness around here offered to do a “prayer” blog for us when Kahleah was in hospital..

– MBI’s will message people using fake profiles of so called real life family and friends to help cement their stories. These fake profiles often will go to great lengths to deceive their victim and once again garner sympathy.

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I have posted these links below for all reader to be able to look further and see for themselves. If you do notice this happening. Don’t be afraid to speak to your other online acquaintances, chances are they are feeling the same way you are. Sharing knowledge and talking it out can be helpful. It is the silence and the fear that allows these people to operate. They are sick units, they will refuse help for their psychiatric illness and not even acknowledge that they have an issue.

Some of the links below have an extract from the site linked. I did not write the following myself it is extracts form the links

Hubpages – Munchausens by Internet
SCENARIO 1 Lauren is a long-time member and frequent poster on the message boards over at a pet lover’s community. One day, she composes a new post that says something like, “I CAN BARLY TYPE BOTH ARMS R IN CAST OWWW IT HURTS OH DEAR GOD PRAY FOR ME PLEASE!” Community members will respond, obviously concerned, and Lauren’s next post will be typed by her “brother” as she dictates, telling him what to say. He will relay a story about how he is sitting next to Lauren in her hospital bed because she fell off the roof/got beat up by her ex-boyfriend/was mugged at gunpoint. Some fakers will even go so far as to say they will be bed-ridden for the next two months and will be so bored. Would anyone mind checking out her Amazon.com wishlist and buying her the books and movies she’s been wanting?

A Strange case of Munchausens By Internet
Okay, maybe he wasn’t using his real name to post online. That’s not unusual. But then he posted a photo of himself to the list. And it looked so fake. It looked like a yearbook photo, scanned in, with the eyes and hair visibly Photoshopped to match his description. And it was very awkwardly cropped – probably to disguise the fact that it was a photo of a boy in an ordinary white shirt, rather than a picture of a doctor in a white coat. And then I remembered that his “friend,” a person on the list who claimed to know him in real life, was a digital artist.
Then there was his extreme defensiveness, if he thought anyone was questioning his expertise. He’d say things like “I know better than you, I’m a doctor.” That struck a wrong note, because, in my experience, people who really do have credentials don’t feel the need to flaunt them that way. The more you learn, the more you realize how little you really know.

Most tellingly, there was the fact that his life was so dramatic. That’s a key sign of what some have dubbed “Munchausen by Internet.” His mother died of cancer when he was a child. His father abused him. He was raped in his apartment, and then again, in the parking lot of the hospital where he supposedly worked. He threatened to kill himself if he didn’t pass his exams. His cousin was hit by a car – on his birthday. Despite the fact that a few days before Christmas the cousin was on death’s door, he recovered enough that he was home by Christmas. His friend donated bone marrow to two people (when I’ve been in the database for ten years, and haven’t been called once). He saved a Russian mail-order bride from a botched abortion. And much more. Taken all together, it just didn’t seem likely.

At this point, you’re probably thinking I’m a complete idiot for not catching on earlier. Especially since I’ve run into this kind of faker before. But in fandom, there’s a tendency to trust. To take people at face value. It’s different if you’re selling on eBay, or vetting potential dates on Match.com. Then, you’re cautious, because you know people are tronying to get something from you. But a Munchausen’s sufferer wants only your attention, so it often doesn’t occur to you to be suspicious. I realized that some of the things the “doctor” was saying were improbable, but I thought he was just exaggerating. It didn’t occur to me that it was all completely made up.

Munchausen By Internet – Faking Illness online

Clues to Detection of False Claims

Based on experience with two dozen cases of Munchausen by Internet, I have arrived at a list of clues to the detection of factititous Internet claims. The most important follow:

 

  • the posts consistently duplicate material in other posts, in books, or on health-related websites;
    the characteristics of the supposed illness emerge as caricatures;
    near-fatal bouts of illness alternate with miraculous recoveries;
    claims are fantastic, contradicted by subsequent posts, or flatly disproved;
    there are continual dramatic events in the person’s life, especially when other group members have become the focus of attention;
    there is feigned blitheness about crises (e.g., going into septic shock) that will predictably attract immediate attention;
    others apparently posting on behalf of the individual (e.g., family members, friends) have identical patterns of writing.

 

Lessons

Perhaps the most important lesson is that, while most people visiting support groups are honest, all members must balance empathy with circumspection. Group members should be especially careful about basing their own health care decisions on uncorroborated information supplied in groups. When Munchausen by Internet seems likely, it is best to have a small number of established members gently, empathically, and privately question the author of the dubious posts. Even though the typical response is vehement denial regardless of the strength of the evidence, the author typically will eventually disappear from the group. Remaining members may need to enlist help in processing their feelings, ending any bickering or blaming, and refocusing the group on its original laudable goal.

Wired.com – Munchausens By Internet
When a person’s fakery is revealed to the online group -– usually after a series of inconsistent posts or obvious factual errors — Feldman describes the aftermath as “devastating” to individuals who’ve invested emotional energy in the person and, also, to the group, which often becomes divided between those who still believe and those who don’t. Feldman recalls one instance where a Munchausen by Internet sufferer’s “son” logged on to say his father had committed suicide after several group members confronted him.

wired – Medtech News Munchhausens by Internet

Healthy Place – munchausen By Internet
They make fantastic personal claims, which are later disproved or contradicted.
They describe the worsening of an illness, followed by a miraculous recovery.
They give light-hearted descriptions of serious medical problems.
They bring in “supporting players” when their audience’s attention wanes. (“Now my mother’s terminally ill.”)
And there’s no doubt these storytellers can have an enormous impact on Internet support groups. Among other things, Feldman says, they can:
Create a division between those who believe the tale and those who don’t
Cause some to leave the group
Temporarily distract the group from its mission by forcing it to focus on the poser

http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/410578
The risk exists not only that faulty information will be imparted unwittingly, but also that cyberspace resources will be deliberately mis-used to garner attention and nurturance. Such online behavior can be viewed as a manifestation of factitious disorder or Munchausen by proxy (MBP).8 In these conditions, individuals willfully feign or induce illness in themselves or in others, respectively. Their goal is emotional gratification from commandeering the sick role.9 Instead of seeking care at numerous hospitals, these individuals can now gain new audiences merely by clicking from one support group to another.

Under the pretense of illness, they can also join multiple groups simultaneously or establish different personae on a single group. False claims of victimization have also been conceptualized as a variant of factitious disorder10 or MBP.11

Fabricated reports of stalking,12 assault,13 harassment,14 and sexual abuse15 have been described in which the motive for the deceptions was mobilization of care and concern, and this manifestation has moved onto the Internet as well.

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So in conclusion.. next time you get a bulletin that someone is dying (again” rushed to hospital (again) relapsed died or been cured miraculously.. be careful and don’t believe all you read.. there is some great fiction writers out there.. but the trouble is..they try to fool people into thinking it is fact…

check facts….

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