Here’s a really good, long article I just read that gives some pretty interesting insight into the reasons that people feel the need to fake cancer and other illnesses, especially online. It focuses on something called Munchausen syndrome by internet, which some medical professionals are trying to get officially recognized as a disorder alongside the classic Munchausen syndrome and Munchausen syndrome by proxy. The Lying Disease
Why Would Someone Want to Fake a Serious Illness on the Internet?
“What we’re seeing is people spending just 15 minutes researching an illness on Wikipedia and then jumping from support group to support group online,” Feldman says.
Think of it: You’re anonymous—you can manifest any symptoms you want, like puking pints of blood, without having to actually puke pints of blood. And instead of being examined by the trained eyes of a doctor, you’re welcomed unconditionally by flocks of people who stand on-call, ready to shower you with attention and emotional support 24 hours a day. For weeks or months or years, you can live out your deception without the fear of having your lies challenged in person. And if someone does eventually doubt your story, you can simply log out. Change your name or your illness. Find a fresh group of sympathizers.
This accessibility makes Munchausen by internet “way, way more common than Munchausen ever was or could have been,” Dr. Feldman says. “Unfortunately, a lot of therapists have no clue what Munchausen is, let alone Munchausen by internet.”
Which is dangerous, not only for the sufferers who feed their very real psychological illnesses online, but for the people they prey on. People who seek virtual companionship because their immune systems are truly shot, their days are truly numbered, and they’re desperate to pour their trust, love, and dwindling energy into the few people out there—people they can’t otherwise reach—who know exactly what they’re going through. It’s these people, who are already battling the betrayal of their bodies, whose worlds have essentially been reduced to bedrooms and hospital rooms, that Munchausen by internet hurts the most.