Author Topic: Munchausens by internet  (Read 7798 times)

Sunny Clouds

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Munchausens by internet
« on: 03 Jun 2012 01:01AM »
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-18282277

"An American psychiatrist, Marc Feldman, has described it as "Munchausen by internet", similar to the well-known Munchausen syndrome, in which people fabricate illnesses to gain attention and sympathy.

It's no exaggeration to say there's an epidemic of MBI, and one which destroys the trust that underpins the forums. "

...

"But compared to classic Munchausen's, hoaxing online is easy. There's no need to fool medical professionals.

It gives the perpetrator a quick hit of attention, a feeling of being valued, but without really having done anything to deserve it.

Just as online fraudsters dream of easy money, these people crave easy attention. And it is, perhaps, just another form of fraud - emotional, rather than financial fraud. And emotional fraudsters are no easier to deal with. "

I read this and found myself thinking about disability forums and blogs and disability areas on other forums.  I tend to take people at face value and if things don't add up, I tend to put it down to someone slipping up when changing minor details to protect their identity or being upset or immature or whatever.

But I will admit that over the years I have come to be suspicious of some people I've met.  I think the existence of MBI trolls is poisonous to self help groups and online communites with shared difficult experiences.

I also sometimes come across two people and think they sound suspiciously alike, yet why shouldn't two people be alike, besides which if someone creates alter egos, they're probably different from each other.

I don't think I'm saying anything original here, just throwing out some food for thought to see what comes back.

(I'm an obsessive problem-solver, so feel free to ignore any suggestions or solutions I offer, even if they sound terribly insistent.)

hossylass

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Re: Munchausens by internet
« Reply #1 on: 03 Jun 2012 01:14AM »
Well without giving too much away, and I will draw a comparison to this later, there were a couple on BBC Ouch over the years >lol<

Start of posting - has some problems with, I dunno, say depression.
3 years later they have (in no particular order) autism, endometriosis, bi-polar, wheelchair user, paralysis, fainting, memory loss, sight loss and a persecution complex.
This was usually interspaced with work, a social life, holidays and having at least 5 hobbies.

Though in all fairness I started with a broken leg that wouldn't heal, and fibromyalgia that only stopped me working a few days a year. So I should talk >lol<

Sunny Clouds

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Re: Munchausens by internet
« Reply #2 on: 03 Jun 2012 01:39AM »
Further musings...

I wonder if some people with MBI are less absurd than some of the 'genuine' people.  I have hung out over the years on various bipolar forums and I find myself thinking of one woman I know.

She has a variety of problems.  You might think she's getting on with life until you read between the lines and get feedback from people who've visited her home.  She says she has bipolar and I don't doubt it, but it's the least of her worries!  She is extremely dysfunctional.  Lovable to those who've known her over the years, though.  I find myself wondering how much insight she does or doesn't have and how much she does or doesn't exploit people's genuine sympathy for her genuine problems.  I don't suppose I'll ever know.
(I'm an obsessive problem-solver, so feel free to ignore any suggestions or solutions I offer, even if they sound terribly insistent.)

hossylass

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Re: Munchausens by internet
« Reply #3 on: 03 Jun 2012 01:51AM »
Ah thats the beauty of the internet - we will probably never know :)

What is then shocking is when you meet someone who points out that you are much worse than you thought... it obviously is a good idea to get out sometimes apparently.

Sunny Clouds

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Re: Munchausens by internet
« Reply #4 on: 03 Jun 2012 02:05AM »
I wonder if stuff about MBI will spread round the net so that in addition to being thought of as fraudsters by the government and ever larger parts of the population at large, we'll end up suspecting one another. 

For example, you thought Hossylass was disabled but actually she's a 6'3 brickie who enjoys a bit of MBI on the side after a few lagers and a nice hot curry.   >devil<
(I'm an obsessive problem-solver, so feel free to ignore any suggestions or solutions I offer, even if they sound terribly insistent.)

hossylass

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Re: Munchausens by internet
« Reply #5 on: 03 Jun 2012 02:26AM »
Its odd you should say that ...

JLRRAC

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Re: Munchausens by internet
« Reply #6 on: 03 Jun 2012 09:08AM »
My wee concern is the govt making use of disability web sites. I feel I have to be carefull in my reading of various things I see on the web, taking them at face value can lead to problems so it is better to do what you can to see if they are supported elsewhere.

One of the problems I have with the likes of Atos Origin is that THEY ARE an IT company and as such can cross reference all the info they have available to them through their computer systems, I'll explain.

Currently Atos Origin are the contractors providing IT services to Aberdeen city council they also provde IT services to the NHS and have recently been part of a group offering to make folks repeat prescription ordering more simple. Pretty soon they will know just about anything they want to know. Through their council contracts they will be able to track folk who pay their rent to the council as move from one part of the country to another. They will be able to monitor folks medications from the number they ask to be provided by their GP to their GP appointments and given GP surgeries tend now to put everything onto their computers Atos Origin can access these patients doctor's notes. I doubt if the regular habits of GP's include checking if their IT services provider has accessed their surgery notes on behalf of the DWP.

When folk speak of things such as Daily Mail trolls would it not be possible that the DWP and other govt dept's with an interest might also access disablility websites, if only to see what the disabled are doing to understand and deal with the impact of the welfare reforms?  As a DWP troll they could seed untruths and misinformation to confuse the genuine disabled and leave them in a more vulnerable position through their uncertainty of what is right and wrong so far as the information they have been reading goes.

It is not that long ago that we saw on our news programs how the Police placed undercover cops in protest groups why would the govt not do something similar?
« Last Edit: 03 Jun 2012 09:21AM by JLRRAC »

lankou

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Re: Munchausens by internet
« Reply #7 on: 03 Jun 2012 09:17AM »
My wee concern is the govt making use of disability web sites.

That is a given not a concern. The government are making use of disability websites, at the very least they are being monitored.

KizzyKazaer

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Re: Munchausens by internet
« Reply #8 on: 03 Jun 2012 09:19AM »
It's not beyond the realms of impossibility, JLR - but I'd hate to see people becoming overly suspicious of every new joiner of a disability message board, including this one.  I believe in taking people at face value until they trip themselves up - which they surely will eventually with inconsistencies in their story, as per the example from BBC Ouch! quoted by Hossy upthread (which I vaguely recall too...)

We have to maintain a healthy vigilance, but not paranoia, if you know what I mean  ;-)

Now wondering, is Munchausen's itself in its various forms considered an illness/disability?  Or is it just a name given to a particular pattern of behaviour...

hossylass

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Re: Munchausens by internet
« Reply #9 on: 03 Jun 2012 09:34AM »
Munchausens is not an illness or disability that would get you ESA or DLA, but if you have it you are certainly ill in some aspect, and capable of making yourself very ill with some other condition.

It wouldn't be the behaviour of a well person with a well rounded life.

It seems to be, in the main, about attention. In this case medical attention, or with internet muchausens, then sympathy from people that you wont meet.
Not sure if this is worse than going on big brother, where people want attention.

There will be extremes who could easily be classed as ill with Munchausens.

Fiz

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Re: Munchausens by internet
« Reply #10 on: 03 Jun 2012 09:58AM »
I read the OP article a couple of days ago and my first thought was OMG what if someone I feel I know and believe on the internet isn't for real? Closely followed by the thought OMG what if people now don't believe a word I say?! I do agree, how sad that we might now become suspicious of each other. Hopefully MBI is rare, but something we are aware of as people have said, surely they will trip themselves up.

I have to say I am cautious when I see appeals for money, always thinking what you read might not be true but never have doubts when I read posts of opinions and stories.

As for ATOS being able to see my Doctors notes and stuff, wouldn't actually worry me (beyond the privacy issue) as all my GP and CMHT notes would back up all my claim forms.

hossylass

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Re: Munchausens by internet
« Reply #11 on: 03 Jun 2012 10:15AM »
I am rarely suspicious of people, even if they seem to be not quite what they state they are.

We dont see the reality. So say I said I went horse riding. Now I have ridden for over 40 years, its like breathing for me. People may assume that I am not as ill as I say I am.
The truth would be that I would be feeling exceptionally well that day to even contemplate it, the phases of the moon would have to be right, my body would be functioning due to meds, diet, temperature, sleep and a hundred and one other variables that I couldn't duplicate on demand, and finally I would have to have a lot of help to ride and would pay the price for it both during and afterwards.

But it would be an easy conclusion to draw.

I agree with Fiz about appeals for money, as you do have to make some sort of judgement on that one.
We tend to believe personal testimonies as the most that you can give is time and compassion and empathy.

The litmus test is quite often for me do they turn away from real help. If you offer real help and they backtrack... then I often think that they are not as desperate as they state, but may just be enjoying a good whinge! This can be that they have overstated stuff as they are having a bad day, (fair enough), or I have read into it too much and they are just having a whinge (really fair enough), or they are seeking attention and sympathy (errr you are really asking the wrong person if you ask me >lol< ).

I still give people the time of day even if I do feel they may be "not as they portray themselves", as they still need support, but I may not be as fulsome or give as much. I'm always aware that when I go down the road of not quite believing someone that I could be very much wrong, and hurt that person unintentionally. Caution, not suspicion, I think ;)

KizzyKazaer

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Re: Munchausens by internet
« Reply #12 on: 03 Jun 2012 10:33AM »
It wouldn't be the behaviour of a well person with a well rounded life.

This is where it becomes interesting for me, because over the years we seem to have had more 'medicalisation' of behaviours that are just plain nasty - one could almost argue that all Internet trolls must be unwell in some way because 'normal' people wouldn't carry on like that...

(I can recall a quite heated discussion on BBC Ouch! way back about whether psychopathy was actually a mental illness.  I personally don't view it as such - more of a character defect - and I would suggest this is the case for 'MBI' as well.)

It's the damage that is done to others that I care about.

Fiz

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Re: Munchausens by internet
« Reply #13 on: 03 Jun 2012 10:48AM »
I had an interesting discussion with my children the other day about that guy Breivik who massacred so many in Norway. Is he mentally ill, some would say he has to be to have carried out those attacks or just to believe he was 'saving society' by doing what he did, but is he really medically insane? That is a subject no doubt that is being looked at hugely during his trial. What is insane? What is mental illness?

KizzyKazaer

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Re: Munchausens by internet
« Reply #14 on: 03 Jun 2012 11:09AM »
What is insane? What is mental illness?

I think the measure could well lie in how a person actually functions in relation to their irrational beliefs.  For instance, psychosis is a form of 'temporary insanity' in that there is a total break with reality.  But remembering as much as I can about my own psychotic experiences, whatever strange ideas I had there was no way I could have acted on them effectively because I had also lost the ability to care for my physical health (not eating enough, not sleeping enough).  And my emotional responses were all over the place and some of my speech made no sense because of the thoughts 'coming on straight' with no selective editing, as it were.

Breivik went about his business in a calculating, systematic way.  That shows sanity..


(edited to add missing word)
« Last Edit: 03 Jun 2012 11:12AM by KizzyKazaer »