Why People Fake Illness Online

Why People Fake Illness Online


So Dana Dirr was a pretty amazing woman. Mother of eleven children, Dana was also a
trauma surgeon at a Canadian hospital. But, the night before Mother’s Day, tragedy
struck. She was hit by a drunk driver. And worse – she was pregnant at the time. Dana was rushed to hospital, and gave birth,
but died soon after. To make matters even worse, one of the children
she left behind, a seven-year-old boy, had cancer. He was pretty close to death, and his family
had been blogging about his struggles for years. After Dana’s death, her husband JS, a Canadian
Mountie, went on Facebook and wrote this unbelievably beautiful post about his dead wife. That post went viral on Facebook. What a shame it was entirely made up. Okay, I think you need to elaborate a little
bit. So this Dirr family never existed. A women Emily faked the entire thing. This is my friend Joel Werner, you might remember
him from previous episodes of BrainCraft. He produced a podcast on this story. So my story starts with this woman from Chicago,
Taryn Harper Wright, she’s a self proclaimed hoax hunter. She goes online and tracks down people who
are faking illness. And she found this story about the Dirr family
and did a reverse Google image search of the images that she’d used on her blog and found
that they weren’t from Canada, they were from all over the place, like as far away as a
Mummy blog in South Africa. So this one woman Emily controlled all of
these social media profiles that had been operating, and pulled all the strings. She was like a puppeteer. So Emily was suffering from what’s known as
Munchausen Syndrome. It’s a psychiatric disorder about pretending
to be sick, faking illness. The Munchausen refers to Baron Munchausen,
a real person renowned for the outlandish stories he would tell. So much so, he became a character in works
of fiction as well. Munchausen Syndrome involves convincing people
in the real world that you’re sick when actually, you’re not. Which is pretty hard to do. Imagine that you have to go to a doctor or
an emergency room and have a detailed knowledge of your symptoms and a disease progression. In extreme cases, people actually make themselves
sick. And these people aren’t faking illness to
get money, which is a really important point, this fraud; it’s just the attention that people
with Munchausen Syndrome get is really, really gratifying. It’s a type of sympathy and care that these
people don’t get in any other way. And the extent of this syndrome has grown
over time. So in the 90s, psychiatrist Dr. Marc Feldman
recognised an online variant of Munchausen Syndrome and he called it Munchausen by Internet. Now Munchausen by Internet is super easy. Whereas with Munchausen proper you’ve got
to learn the symptoms and go in person in real life and convince these doctors and nurses
and medical staff that you’re sick, online you just go to Web MD or where ever, copy
and paste the symptoms, put them on your Facebook or blog. If you get caught out, you just shut down
the account and move on. So how can you tell when someone is faking
an illness online? First up a really weird one: twins. Apparently people who fake illness online
make up that twins are involved. No one really knows why, but twins. Red flag. A more obvious one is inconsistencies in information. So people forget the lies they tell, so look
out for names changing especially siblings or uncles names changing, anything in their
story that doesn’t hold over time, big red flag. I guess their lies are pretty complex. Yeah totally, and if you’re managing the accounts
of 30 fake people on Facebook you’re going to forget a few details here and there. Also, plagiarism. Like I said before, people often just copy
and paste symptoms, so if something is recognizably from somewhere else online, maybe that person’s
faking. And drama. Drama’s the big one. Like these people love attention. The reason they do this is because they’re
craving the attention they get from it. So if they’re escalating these ridiculous
scenarios, they’re getting miracle cures, they’re having near death experiences all
the time, maybe it’s a red flag. And if these claims are challenged, I guess
people could create another persona, like a fake family or friend to back up what they’re
saying online. But all of these accounts are controlled by
the one person. So Taryn will confront people that she thinks
are faking illness online, but before you go out and do some hoax hunting yourself,
just remember there are ethics to consider here. If you get it wrong, you end up accusing someone
with a life-threatening illness of faking it. Even if you get it right, you’re still going
to accuse someone who is suffering from a pretty serious mental health issue. These are tricky waters to navigate. So Taryn only accuses people she is 100% convinced
are faking? And she’s never had a false positive. So she’s never actually gone out and accused
someone who then has turned out to have cancer. So I feel like it’s important to point out
that Taryn only accuses people she’s 100% sure are faking, and she’s given them a private
opportunity to come clean. But keep in mind, support groups and message
boards and Facebook groups, these can be really useful resources for people who are going
through serious illness. So don’t let your experience be ruined just
because a couple of people might be faking illness. Like Dana Dirr. I can’t help but feel that the real victims
are Munchausen Syndrome are you guys, people on the internet that get drawn into these
characters and these pages and think these are real. Because people invest their own energy and
time into the story, only to find out that this other person, who they thought was their
friend is actually a fake. And for some people when they discover that
this is all a hoax, it’s devastating. In his book, Playing Sick, Marc Feldman says
that Munchausen patients travel continually to find new theaters in which to display their
craft. For more, check out Joel’s podcast. He has a story on the Health Report and there’s
a link down in the description. The ‘Munchausen’ refers to Baron Munchausen,
a real person renowned for the outlandish stories he would tell. So much so, he became a character in works
of fiction as well. In his book Playing Sick, Marc Feldman says
that Munchausen patients travel continually to find new theaters in which to display their
craft.


70 thoughts on “Why People Fake Illness Online

  1. The worst is when they make others get sick like a mother that started to give salt to her child until the child died 🙁

  2. I just want to know why people lie in general. I mean. what is the advantage of lying? what do we gain? attention? praise? for what?

  3. It's not the most horrible for people who get sucked into the drama, they can walk away. It's the most horrible for all the people who are suffering in silence, being strong, not letting their whole lives be defined by a disability or illness, but who are soldiering on without being noticed. It seems like if there's really something wrong in your life nobody gives a damn, but if you're an attention seeking drama queen, everybody cares. Very educational video, I'm glad I watched it, because I didn't realise how common this was and I get a lot of messages from people asking for attention for something and it was making me wonder. I think maybe you can recognise a person with a real disability or illness from how it's NOT the first thing they tell you about themselves, something you wouldn't know unless you spent some time talking to them, it's not smalltalk or "hey, nice to meet you, let me tell you about me drama" in real life, right? Because traumatic experiences, illness, chronic pain, etc., it's not something that people like to advertise to everybody, you don't want that to always be the first expression people have of you. You're more than that, it's bad anough already you can't escape your fate and you want to have a life and not be pitied, so you don't open with the worst things in your life (if you can avoid it) when you meet somebody, at least that's what I think. And since I get a lot of messages from people who open with a sad story (even bot messages, efficient for those who have 20 accounts, I guess), I guess I'm totally right in ignoring them.

  4. side not mostly women get diagnosed with it. in fact a few women have gotten off very light on murdering there kids by claiming munchousen by proxy. mean while if a man ever said he killed his daughter to get attention i doubt we would see any sympathy.

  5. It is a rough situation for people who really are sick, and want to use what is wrong with them to help others. I started a YouTube channel focused around mental illness, and how gaming helps me with it (It being Schizophrenia) Sadly, with things like this, I will always be questioned and personally attacked because people assume I fake it.
    (Also no, the channel is not on this account. I am not here to gain views off this, that is lame.)

  6. What throws me about this is as someone with a chronic illness the fact these people get a lot of positive attention. Is it because I'm really dealing with illness that the negative comments stick out to me more? I feel like when I share with people that I have fibro I get called a whiner more then i get any empathy or sympathy. I guess it is easier to ignore the negative when you are lying.

  7. Generally, Munchausen patients travel continually to find new theaters in which to display their craft… their brain craft?

  8. After a lifetime of medical symptoms, and, like, almost an hour of careful research on the internet, I've found out what my disease is.
    I have hypochondria.
    Please help me deal with this terrible, terrible condition by liking my comment, sending me money or, if you can't afford money, tequila. And some good quality salt for the glass rim — I have standards.

  9. Wild speculation here, but maybe people with the syndrome make up twins because they want a different and better life? That would be in line with their attention seeking tendency.

  10. The light… one part of the face is always overexposed and it is so overexposed that it is literally hurting the eyes…for better lighting the Rembrandt technique can be used

  11. Great video, as all the others. Congrats for the amazing work. Do you think nobody should make drama about having an illness? Like, if they'd like to tell it for all people, do it, but not make a big deal of it.

  12. are you saying this for idupz on his cancer? or Vsauce pretending his craze? or the sh#$y teenagers saying that they have depression even when they have no idea what is to have a real depression?

  13. That's why when on social media they say things such as "comment amen for this dead person who died from a house fire trying to save their daughter", "1 like for hoping for this child heals in the hospital", I ignore it.

  14. Actually, right now I'm ill. I' cant' even walk out the bed, my head is really hot and it hurts.
    I thinks its a little funny, because I'm rarely ill, like once a year, and right when it happens, I see a video about faking illness. The funny thing is that, because I write this under your video, no one is gonna believe be, because they're gonna be sceptical. about it.

    Great video by the way =) This channel is becoming better and better each time.

  15. There's not any real downside to accusing everyone with a terminal illness as hoaxer. Either you're right and they are faking or they'll be dead soon anyway so it doesn't really matter.

  16. What an uncomfortable subject. As someone who is sick, it is hard to wrap my head around people who fake it… Even though I know someone who has Munchausems. It still just doesn't click. Maybe because I have had the hardest time with doctors for the majority of my life, I just don't get why anyone at all would want to put themselves through this crap.

  17. I've known at least two people that I think either had Munchausen's or were just lying for some reason. One was a graduate school colleague, a woman in her 30s, who said she had had advanced uterine cancer right after the birth of her second child in her early 20s. She said that she had had "major surgery" to treat it but made no mention of chemo or radiation. Also, apparently they didn't actually take out her uterus as she was still getting her periods, which were actually severe and heavy enough that she start to get shots of Depo Provera. She said that she didn't need it for birth control because of the surgery she had, but she said they didn't do a tubal ligation or remove her ovaries, so it really didn't add up. I wondered sometimes if she had actually just had the early stages of cervical cancer, which is quite common and if caught early can be basically cured with minor surgery that leaves the uterus intact, but she insisted that no, it was advanced uterine cancer requiring lifesaving surgery. It made no sense that they hadn't removed the entire uterus. She also claimed to have had cancer a second time, this time some kind of skin cancer, also requiring surgery , but again no chemo or radiation. She had a way of bringing her cancer frequently into conversations, and when she met someone new it seemed she always mentioned in it within the first hour, often describing her experience at length. It almost became kind of a joke in our social circle, betting how long it was going to take before she mentioned her cancer. She was a very attractive, intelligent, sexy and charismatic woman so it always seemed to impress people that she was such a survivor of something so awful. We were close friends for awhile but our friendship ended when her various lies and betrayals came to light, after which I started wondering in hindsight how true those cancer stories were. She definitely thrived on the attention she got from them, especially from men. Another was a man who claimed he had "Chronic Fatigue Syndrome", a mysterious disorder, supposed caused by a virus, that some doctors still dispute even exists. The only real symptom he seemed to have was that he was extremely thin, so had very low energy. He never actually seemed to be sick or have pain. I got to know him well enough to suspect that he actually just had anorexia or some other kind of eating disorder, as he hardly ever ate, and ate no protein, basically just vegetables and brown rice. He claimed he couldn't digest anything else. He also seemed to thrive on the attention and sympathy he got for his illness, and definitely took advantage of people's charity.

  18. Why can't we imagine new colors when we can imagine new people, animals,aliens, and inventions? Can people who have been blind since birth imagine new colors??? Please make a video about this. Also, I copypasted this on several other videos to make sure you see.

  19. This thing here might be called Munchausen, but the person this name is based on is called Münchhausen. Where did the second "h" go? And why do english speakers mess with umlauts so much?

  20. Also when people comment “one month ago: 20kg
    Now: 30kg
    I’m so happy my rehabilitation is this quick”

    1st of sweetheart if you go from 20-30kg in one month then your stomach will legitimately split and you’ll die

    2nd of all if you have an eating disorder this bad then you wouldn’t comment or talk to anyone about it, and you most certainly don’t know/talk about your weight since you are embarrassed of it.

    3rd of all how tf are you alive if you were 20kg?!

  21. This mostly applies to people who “self diagnose” instead of going to a psychiatric practitioner to get an official diagnosis.
    And the people in the comment section that are getting upset are the one who self diagnose.

  22. In short

    Because they want the other to feel like a horrible person because there too sobby about getting bullied

  23. I can kinda tell because a lot of depressed people don’t say their depressed if they were really doing it they would be found dead on a rope and that’s why is bad because when somebody fakes they can’t tell so when people are actually depressed they get bombarded

  24. Because all people want is to be unique and DiFfErEnT and having a mental illness apparently is a “cool” thing. I actually have depression, anxiety, and paranoia and it makes me feel so trapped inside of myself. I always feel like someone or EVERYONE is judging me, even myself. I hate attention, talking to people, and being outside because I can’t stand the nagging screams in my head telling me I’m disgusting and everyone around me thinks so too.

  25. Don't pretend to have a mental illness. Depression isn't the same as feeling depressed. Anxiety isn't the same as being anxious. Social anxiety isn't the same as shyness. OCD isn't the same as normal habits. It harms people with actual mental illnesses, and doesn't let them get the help they need since nobody will trust them when they need real help.

  26. I used to do this thing where I would make multiple accounts and talk to myself. All the accounts would have personalities, and I would use that to continue my little conversation. It was my way of entertainment when I had nothing else, and I honestly kinda miss when I could do that and have fun with it.

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