A new pity play: Faking devastating illness on the Internet

One of the main things people do on the Internet is research health and medical information. According to a 2012 survey by the Pew Research Internet Project, 72% of American Internet users said they looked online for health information in the past year.

Not only do people look for information from respected sources like WebMD, but people who have illnesses and medical conditions share information with each other in online forums. Along with advice, participants offer each other moral support (much like what happens here at Lovefraud).

Sometimes, however, people talking about their illnesses online are fakes. A Lovefraud reader sent the following link:

The Lying Disease Why would someone want to fake a serious illness on the Internet?, on  TheStranger.com.

This article tells an unbelievable tale of young women going to extremes to portray themselves as terribly ill. It’s long, but keep reading the story just keeps getting better.

Munchausen syndrome is a psychiatric condition in which people fake illnesses or psychological trauma for the purpose of attracting medical attention and sympathy. So many people are doing this online that one expert has suggested a new psychiatric condition: Munchausen syndrome by Internet.

According to research quoted in The Lying Disease, the people engaging in Munchausen syndrome by Internet are likely motivated by two dominant personality traits: narcissism or sadism.





Comment on this article

3 Comments on "A new pity play: Faking devastating illness on the Internet"

Notify of

That is seriously creepy.

I believe these people are almost all psychopaths, most also pseudologues (i.e., pseudologia fantastica sufferers). Why the ‘experts’ can’t see this, I have no idea, aside from their general cluelessness when it comes to psychopathy in the real world. From comments and searches in my blog, I believe people recognize pseudologues much easier than other psychopaths (at a certain point it becomes spectacularly evident). These stories also provide an avenue to educate the public about the presence of psychopaths. If interested, http://pathwhisperer.wordpress.com/tag/pseudologue/.

Pseudologues don’t seem to realize there is a difference between reality and the stating of it, apparently unaware that reality is actually real. Their brains have been shown to be even more different from those of regular psychopaths (http://news.usc.edu/22586/Liars-Brains-Wired-Differently/). I consider them totally insane (even if functional or even very functional) and think they belong in mental hospitals — which I would not say for all psychopaths.

To the direct point of fake illnesses: http://pathwhisperer.wordpress.com/2008/10/23/suzy-bass-what-is-pseudologia-fantastica/


Send this to a friend