Munchausen by Internet - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Munchausen by Internet

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Experts say someone online has faked just about every illness -- on Facebook, Twitter and other social media sites. The experts say that in and of itself is an illness. The reason people do it is because their emotional needs are not being met.

Dr. Jeffrey Gardere, a psychologist and assistant professor at Touro Medical College, said Munchausen by Internet is a psychiatric disorder emerging from within social networks.

In Munchausen by Internet, people go online and pretend, exaggerate and in some cases even induce illness to get an outpouring of sympathy and attention for themselves.

Munchausen is not a new psychiatric illness, but the Internet is giving those who suffer from it a new outlet to get a massive amount of sympathy in a short time.

Experts say they even join support groups online for various illnesses such as cancer and cystic fibrosis. They're not doing it to get money; they're doing it just for the attention.

Dr. Gardere said a lot of people who do this have personality disorder and don't know how to get attention in the normal way.

Chris Dessi, the CEO of Silverback Social, said that for whatever reason when someone engages us online there is a psychological block that we put up and we immediately assume that there is truth there. Experts say that makes it easy for someone online to take advantage of your emotions and good will.

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