Saturday, February 26, 2011

Münchausen by internet: Faking illness online

Jenny Kleeman, The Guardian, Saturday 26 February 2011:

Anyone following her updates online could see that Mandy Wilson had been having a terrible few years.

She was diagnosed with leukaemia at 37, shortly after her husband abandoned her to bring up their five-year-old daughter and baby son on her own.

Chemotherapy damaged her immune system, liver and heart so badly she eventually had a stroke and went into a coma.

She spent weeks recovering in intensive care where nurses treated her roughly, leaving her covered in bruises.

Mandy was frightened and vulnerable, but she wasn't alone. As she suffered at home in Australia, women offered their support throughout America, Britain, New Zealand and Canada. She'd been posting on a website called Connected Moms, a paid online community for mothers, and its members were following every detail of her progress – through updates posted by Mandy herself, and also by Gemma, Sophie, Pete and Janet, Mandy's real-life friends, who'd pass on news whenever she was too weak. The virtual community rallied round through three painful years of surgeries, seizures and life-threatening infections.

Until March this year, when one of them discovered Mandy wasn't sick at all. Gemma, Sophie, Pete and Janet had never existed. Mandy had made up the whole story. Read more>>

1 comment:

Susannah said...

I've run an online support forum for survivors of abuse for around 11years now, and we've had this happen several times - once so badly that the person actually faked their own death. It devastated our community, and it wasn't until some time afterwards that we learned the truth - and sharing that with our members caused them even more emotional upheaval of course. :(

I understand that these people are in some way ill to do such a thing, however to do it on a forum full of survivors of abuse who've been hurt and lied to so many times in their lives ... it was an awful, terrible thing to do, and it took our community a very long time to recover - and our staff even longer - it's taken away our trust!!


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