Munchausen by Internet
Munchausen by Internet is a pattern of behavior akin to the Munchausen syndrome (a psychiatric factitious disorder wherein those affected feign disease, illness, or psychological trauma to draw attention, sympathy, or reassurance to themselves) in which Internet users seek attention by feigning illnesses in online venues such as chat rooms, message boards, and Internet Relay Chat (IRC). It has been described in medical literature as a manifestation of factitious disorderor factitious disorder by proxy. Reports of users who deceive Internet forum participants by portraying themselves as gravely ill or as victims of violence first appeared in the 1990s due to the relative newness of Internet communications. The pattern was identified in 1998 by psychiatrist Marc Feldman, who created the term “Münchausen by Internet” in 2000.
People who demonstrate factitious disorders often claim to have physical ailments or be recovering from the consequences of stalking, victimization, harassment, and sexual abuse. Several behaviors present themselves to suggest factors beyond genuine problems. After studying 21 cases of deception, Feldman listed the following common behavior patterns in people who exhibited Munchausen by Internet:
- Medical literature from websites or textbooks is often duplicated or discussed in great detail.
- The length and severity of purported physical ailments conflicts with user behavior. Feldman uses the example of someone posting in considerable detail about being in septic shock, when such a possibility is extremely unlikely.
- Symptoms of ailments may be exaggerated as they correspond to a user’s misunderstanding of the nature of an illness.
- Grave situations and increasingly critical prognoses are interspersed with “miraculous” recoveries.
- A user’s posts eventually reveal contradictory information or claims that are implausible: for example, other users of a forum may find that a user has been divulging contradictory information about occurrence or length of hospital visits.
- When attention and sympathy decreases to focus on other members of the group, a user may announce that other dire events have transpired, including the illness or death of a close family member.
- When faced with insufficient expressions of attention or sympathy, a forum member claims this as a cause that symptoms worsen or do not improve.
- A user resists contact beyond the Internet, by telephone or personal visit, often claiming bizarre reasons for not being able to accept such contact.
- Further emergencies are described with inappropriate happiness, designed to garner immediate reactions.
- The posts of other forum members exhibit identical writing styles, spelling errors, and language idiosyncrasies, suggesting that the user has created fictitious identities to move the conversation in their direction.
proposed munchausian circle jerk emoji ? « on: May 10, 2017, 06:39:01 am »
I joined on to this forum 2 days ago during what appeared to me, to be a protracted w/d issue.
I found comfort in many of the heart felt dialogues.
It has occurred to me, for some, it may be a munchausian circle jerk.
I sincerely hope that is not the case, as it would seriously muddy the waters for people truly seeking specific help.
If it is, I propose the construction of a new emoji to express this case so that this concept can self regulate.
I hope I don’t get banned for saying so.