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We've had our own instances of people faking (sometimes multiple) online forum accounts (and even having conversations with themselves through it!) to fabricate life experiences, garner sympathy and seek attention.

 

Way before the advent of the internet (which made it all 100 times easier to do)- Munchausen Syndrome described people who would fake illnesses -sometimes very elaborate ones at that- to gain other people's favour.

 

Attention seeking on the internet takes many forms, but the people who hoax online forums with tales of sick children are among the most painful, writes Jolyon Jenkins.

 

Little Charly Johns was a trouper.

 

She was only six years old and had cancer - but she fought it with determination. She was in and out of hospital as the disease advanced and retreated.

 

It was tough too for her mother Anna. She joined the Macmillan online cancer forum.

 

There she found support and help from people who knew exactly what she was going through.

 

For two years, Anna kept them updated on Charly's progress.

 

"On the whole she is doing great," she wrote. "She is happy, lively, giggly and very easily excitable. She is always the first to laugh at anything and the last to stop. Nobody could look at Charly now and have any idea of the things she has endured these past 14 months."

 

But in November last year, Charly lost her fight for life. On the Macmillan forum there was an outpouring of grief. People wrote poems in Charly's memory. They painted their fingernails pink in accordance with her last wishes - even men.

 

But it was all a lie. Charly did not exist. Neither did Anna.

 

The whole thing was a hoax, discovered when the church in Paris where Charly's funeral was to be held turned out to have no record of her.

 

 

Munchausen syndrome sufferers pretend to be ill or induce symptoms of illness or injury to themselves

 

The term Munchausen syndrome by proxy (now known as fabricated and induced illness or FII) refers to people who invent or cause the symptoms of illness in someone else. The term is controversial, but the NHS maintains that a great deal of evidence suggests the condition exists

Term "Munchausen by internet" (MBI) coined by Dr Marc Feldman in 2000, after identifying a pattern in 1998, allied with rise of internet and chat forums

 

MBI sufferers construct false identities and feign illness or trauma in order to get sympathy or attention from online support groups

Sufferers often invent multiple online personalities to validate main character

The perpetrator, it transpired, was a teenage girl. The pictures of "Charly" were the girl herself when younger.

 

Many on the Macmillan forum refused to believe it. They had formed close online relationships with Anna. It seemed impossible that a teenager could have had such emotional maturity. Others left the forum in despair.

 

"These are some very desperate people," says Jackie Marshall, a member of the Macmillan forum. "People who may not have long to live, who are sharing burdens with complete strangers, because they are not comfortable sharing with families. The forum provides a lifeline."

 

Are these people suffering from a mental health disorder?

 

Is it simply attention seeking gone too far?

 

How do you really protect from emotional hoaxers?

 

Article from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-18282277

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A CUBAN BOY?!?!?! I'm obviously a Turkish boy, as can be proven by my totally legit display picture B)

 

I don't know how a person can protect themselves from online hoaxes and liars in general, unless they just completely stop trusting people. Then if you just stop trusting people, you run the risk of missing out on awesome people whose stories are true. And then you'll feel terrible about that for the rest of your life :(

 

I've become way too overly suspicious about people because I've been lied to way too many times. I don't like that about myself, but I don't know how to strike a balance between naivete and over extreme suspicion.

 

One thing that helps is just paying attention to what people say, and noting contradictions. Unfortunately, with liars and manipulators, when you point out the inconsistencies in their stories, they'll just twist everything around so they're still the victim and you're being an unsupportive friend. It's exhausting to deal with people like that... and it isn't fair.

 

P.S. Did you like the donkeys?!

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Sometimes you cant really be the judge of what others are going through. Someone can feel terrible and have a miserable life, yet look and speak completely normal to others. I say take things at face value until there is a valid reason to think otherwise, or if it would somehow be harmful to trust them without evidence (like donating money). Theres many times I've been suspicious of people, and I know people probably are of me too... but you just never know (and cant know) how people feel. My doctor told me an interesting story about this. Ill share when Im at a computer i'a.

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Sometimes you cant really be the judge of what others are going through. Someone can feel terrible and have a miserable life, yet look and speak completely normal to others. I say take things at face value until there is a valid reason to think otherwise, or if it would somehow be harmful to trust them without evidence (like donating money). Theres many times I've been suspicious of people, and I know people probably are of me too... but you just never know (and cant know) how people feel. My doctor told me an interesting story about this. Ill share when Im at a computer i'a.

 

I don't think that's good advice because alot of the time there is something between the lines. If someone posts something on the internet and you don't know its true - then why can't you just leave it at that - unless it affects you.

 

I guess though, if someone is asking for help, you shouldn't snub them and it wouldn't hurt help them. The thing is though that if it turns out they were lying you end up feeling like a fool. I think instead of taking things at face value, it wouldn't hurt to give people the benefit of the doubt (so you should help them anyway), but I think you should realize that it could be a lie or it might be true.

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I don't think that's good advice because alot of the time there is something between the lines. If someone posts something on the internet and you don't know its true - then why can't you just leave it at that - unless it affects you.

 

I guess though, if someone is asking for help, you shouldn't snub them and it wouldn't hurt help them. The thing is though that if it turns out they were lying you end up feeling like a fool. I think instead of taking things at face value, it wouldn't hurt to give people the benefit of the doubt (so you should help them anyway), but I think you should realize that it could be a lie or it might be true.

 

Honestly, I don't think "feeling like a fool" because you've believed a liar comes anywhere near as painful as it can be for someone who is suffering to be thought of as a liar or crazy person. I just give people the benefit of the doubt, because you can't know what is in someone's mind.

 

So my doctor was telling me that he used to be a pediatrician, and then he started getting really sick. Couldn't think straight, and started losing organization skills, and eventually his business started going under. He had absolutely no objective signs of feeling ill, and no one really believed him. One day he was taking antibiotics for something unrelated, and he noticed that he started to feel better. He kept taking them and eventually recovered, and later diagnosed himself after-the-fact. Now he's better and he's become an infectious disease doctor.

 

He gets a lot of patients who have been turned away elsewhere because they show no objective or physical signs of being sick. As others think they are liars, attention-seekers, or hypochondriacs, they try and prove themselves and end up sounding more crazy. So his goal is to take everyone at face-value, and trust their symptoms, and keep searching and searching. In most cases he finds that there is something objectively wrong with them (like a lack of oxygen to the brain, which most doctors will NEVER check for and is just a symptom, not a cause). That can't qualify as a diagnosis, but it does show that SOMETHING is wrong with this person who everyone has been thinking to be a liar and all other professionals have turned away. Then he works with what information is available, and tries to cure them. He says that most of these people, if they didn't go to him, would have been sent to a psychologist instead.

 

Moral of the story: sometimes you need to take people for their word and just trust them unless and until there are too many unanswered questions and inconsistencies. The alternative is that you might unnecessarily make someone's life a lot harder for them.

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This is something we were taught in psychiatry. Online hoaxers may or may not be as serious, unless they are doing it for the sake of donations and money. Although the internet certainly is more easily accessible for those craving attention. In real life, most of these people are found in hospitals because they are creating symptoms within themselves or their children for the sake of attention. It's really unfortunate and scary how far they'd go for it.

 

This somewhat reminds me from a scene from a movie called Catfish (everybody should watch it).

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In real life, most of these people are found in hospitals because they are creating symptoms within themselves or their children for the sake of attention. It's really unfortunate and scary how far they'd go for it.

 

This is some thing different. Western doctors are known to be labeling patients as psychotic when a diagnosis is not possible. Who knows how many patients with real suffering are dismissed as lunatics?!

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This is some thing different. Western doctors are known to be labeling patients as psychotic when a diagnosis is not possible. Who knows how many patients with real suffering are dismissed as lunatics?!

 

True. My cousin has a medical mystery. They don't know what's wrong with her. The symptoms are clear but they can't figure out the cause. She already had a blood transfusion (wrongly) and is not feeling any better, because that wasn't the actual problem. Now they're starting to think she's crazy, despite the fact that she has actual physical symptoms.

 

This is something we were taught in psychiatry. Online hoaxers may or may not be as serious, unless they are doing it for the sake of donations and money. Although the internet certainly is more easily accessible for those craving attention. In real life, most of these people are found in hospitals because they are creating symptoms within themselves or their children for the sake of attention. It's really unfortunate and scary how far they'd go for it.

 

This somewhat reminds me from a scene from a movie called Catfish (everybody should watch it).

 

Do hoaxers really end up going to doctors and hospitals? I understand that hypochondriacs might, but even people who are actually making up their symptoms?

 

oh, and I saw Catfish. I went in thinking it was a horror lol.

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lol, no r-z, it's not that. Although that usually happens with patients complaining of pain.

 

In these situations, people will inject themselves or their children with insulin so that the child has to be admitted immediately. But it's fairly simple to differentiate between a pancreatic tumor releasing insulin and injectable forms of insulin. This is just one example off the top of my head.

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True. My cousin has a medical mystery. They don't know what's wrong with her. The symptoms are clear but they can't figure out the cause. She already had a blood transfusion (wrongly) and is not feeling any better, because that wasn't the actual problem. Now they're starting to think she's crazy, despite the fact that she has actual physical symptoms.

 

 

 

Do hoaxers really end up going to doctors and hospitals? I understand that hypochondriacs might, but even people who are actually making up their symptoms?

 

oh, and I saw Catfish. I went in thinking it was a horror lol.

It WAS a horror in a way. But it just leaves you dumbfounded.

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^Oh wow, that's nuts. Reminds me of some psychological condition where people always want to be heroes, so they'll do things like burn a house down and then save the family inside.

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^ Yeah, it's kinda like that except they inflict these conditions upon themselves (munchausen syndrome) and their children (munchausen syndrome by proxy).

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