Munchausen by Internet

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Munchausen by Internet

Postby Montag » Wed Nov 10, 2010 1:51 pm

Munchausen by Internet
by Joyce Gemperlein

November 8, 2010
http://www.obit-mag.com/articles/munchausen-by-interne
More and more people are bravely dragging themselves from their deathbeds to their keyboards to describe their or a loved one’s slow death and eventual demise.

Or so you’d think.

Actually, the anonymity and lack of accountability of modern technology aids people who, in the olden days of mere telephone and in-person contact, would have had trouble getting attention or weaseling out of a commitment by pretending to be at death’s door.

Dr. Marc Feldman calls this phenomenon “Munchausen by Internet,” a term he coined, which applies to people who go online to fake terminal illness and/or death.

He says the syndrome goes beyond a need for attention to “an undeniable element of sadism,” one that feeds off the concern and outpouring of sympathy from readers, especially those in online support groups for the terminally ill.

His name for the phenomenon is an extension of bona fide chronic condition named after a German baron who told outrageous tales of defying death.

“Munchausen Syndrome” refers to people who make themselves sick to get attention. “Munchausen by Proxy” generally involves a mother who makes her child sick for the same reason. The conditions have often been fodder for television detective and medical dramas and the movie The Sixth Sense.

Although Feldman, an adjunct professor of psychiatry at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, discussed Munchausen by Internet in a research paper more than 10 years ago, he says the incidence of the disorder increases steadily due to a rise in social networking and online support groups.

A proliferation of medical websites has also supplied the information needed to concoct faux symptoms associated with real terminal diseases.

“The Internet world is perfect for expanding this type of deception,” says Feldman, who has studied factitious disorders for more than 20 years.

Examples of this type of hoax are plentiful and include the well-known case of “April Rose,” in which a Michigan woman drew the support of conservative Christians when, in 2009, she wrote extensively -- and “beautifully,” according to Feldman -- of carrying a fetus with a terminal disease rather than undergo an abortion.

After attention, apparel and money was sent her way, she posted a picture of herself holding what she said was the dead child. The hoax came to an end after a doll maker in New York recognized the “baby” as a lifelike toy that she herself owned.

In an earlier case in late 2005, an international expression of grief in the online community ended in anger and disbelief after a “confidante” of “limeybean” wrote that she had finally died after bravely detailing for thousands of online sympathizers her struggle with tuberculosis.

The files of chroniclers of such hoaxes -- several websites are devoted to investigating the veracity of online correspondents who contend they are terminally ill – also contain the case of a women who had a “friend” write that she had died when, in truth, the woman did not want to hand over patterns she had promised to members of her online knitting group.

Munchausen by internetFeldman, whose book Playing Sick? includes information about the disorder, says mental health practitioners rarely have the chance to probe the psyches of the offenders because, after an often dramatic confrontation online by someone who has found them out, they log off, disappear, or reappear elsewhere as someone with a different terminal illness.

The greatest damage, he says, is to support groups that, in many cases, have rallied behind an individual.

“These groups have sometimes been destroyed as a result of this. They divide into camps of believers and nonbelievers. They fight about the minutiae of posts and, eventually, administrators of the site have to bar further discussion of and condolences to the patient because it has excluded all other discussion,” he says.

In his writings, Feldman describes the case of a woman who claimed to be the sister of a patient with terminal cystic fibrosis. She posted updates until the sister died. After the tale was debunked, the woman admitted that she had made up the story and, he says, ‘actually made fun of support group members for being gullible.”.

Clinicians have had the chance to get inside the minds of other such hoaxsters.

One California woman, through the creation of an online sister, posted her own death in a car accident. She said later that she regretted doing so, but that the outpouring of grief over her “death” made her feel loved.

“Limeybean,” also went online to explain herself in a treatise that in itself was an attention-getter. She apologized to those who
had mourned her and had been grief-stricken by her “death” and the subsequent revelation that they had been hookwinked.
She confessed to another as-yet unnamed disease of the modern age:

“I’ve always had a problem,” she wrote, “when it comes to telling the truth on the internet, to be honest."
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Re: Munchausen by Internet

Postby norton ash » Wed Nov 10, 2010 3:15 pm

Meet the Canadian Cancer Conwomen. Their web-pages helped their efforts.

http://toronto.ctv.ca/servlet/an/plocal/CTVNews/20101109/cancer-fakers-kirilow-leeder-101109/20101109/?hub=TorontoNewHome

Cancer fakers might be 'malingerers':psychiatrist
The Canadian Press

TORONTO — People who fake a terminal illness to swindle money out of charitable people and bask in the attention of sympathizers might have a medical condition driving that behaviour, experts say.

In two recent but separate cases, young Ontario women have pleaded guilty to pretending to have cancer and collecting money.

Jessica Ann Leeder, 21, appeared in a Timmins, Ont., court Tuesday for a bail hearing, but instead opted to plead guilty to fraud over $5,000. Police said she faked stomach and lung cancer and defrauded her employer out of thousands of dollars.

One week earlier, Ashley Kirilow, 23, of Burlington, Ont., pleaded guilty to one count of fraud over $5,000 for her cancer hoax, which included creating a bogus charity and collecting money from friends and colleagues.

Scam artists who use an illness to exploit others may suffer from a variety of conditions or disorders, some doctors say, and the motive behind the fraud is not always clear.

Dr. Jose Mejia, the head of the forensic psychiatry division at the University of Western Ontario, said there are clinical cases in which people fake diseases for personal gain -- known as malingering.

"They try to misrepresent signs and symptoms of a disease with the purpose of obtaining a benefit," said Mejia.
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Re: Munchausen by Internet

Postby MacCruiskeen » Wed Nov 10, 2010 4:19 pm

Montag wrote:Munchausen by Internet
by Joyce Gemperlein

November 8, 2010
http://www.obit-mag.com/articles/munchausen-by-interne
More and more people are bravely dragging themselves from their deathbeds to their keyboards to describe their or a loved one’s slow death and eventual demise.

Or so you’d think.

Actually, the anonymity and lack of accountability of modern technology aids people who, in the olden days of mere telephone and in-person contact, would have had trouble getting attention or weaseling out of a commitment by pretending to be at death’s door.

Dr. Marc Feldman calls this phenomenon “Munchausen by Internet,” a term he coined, which applies to people who go online to fake terminal illness and/or death.

He says the syndrome goes beyond a need for attention to “an undeniable element of sadism,” one that feeds off the concern and outpouring of sympathy from readers, especially those in online support groups for the terminally ill.

His name for the phenomenon is an extension of bona fide chronic condition named after a German baron who told outrageous tales of defying death.

“Munchausen Syndrome” refers to people who make themselves sick to get attention. “Munchausen by Proxy” generally involves a mother [and/or father] who makes her child sick for the same reason.


This thread wouldn't be complete without a link to another (marathon) thread, where psynapz wrote:

Munchausen by Proxy Syndrome is unbearably resembled in this story.

viewtopic.php?f=8&t=24387&hilit=schizophrenia&start=405


That dreadful couple are STILL busy killing their child. And M. Schofield's unbearable blog is STILL going "strong":

http://www.janisjourney.org/index.php?o ... &Itemid=94

They are clearly both insane. But no less insane than the doctors, the medical system, the culture at large, and the fans who fawn on Daddy Schofield in the comments box. And everything he presents as evidence of Jani's alleged "mental illness" is either absolutely normal childish behaviour or else plain proof that her Daddy's insane obsessive attentions are deeply unwelcome to her:

[...] When we would visit, [Jani, their eight-year-old daughter] would have a hard time focusing. She would bring me a book and want me to read, but be unable to pay attention after the first page. She also wasn’t responding to my wacky sense of humor, which she shares and is a tell-tale sign that she is not herself.



Today, she bent her leg below the knee up until it rested against her thigh. I commented that it looked painful.



“It does hurt,” she said.



“Then why do it?” I asked, trying gently to push her leg back down.



“I want to hurt myself,” she answered matter-of-factly.



I kept trying to push her leg down. I needed to distract her but I am having a harder time distracting her now, which made me feel very impotent. I hate it when I can’t reach her and bring her back from the psychosis.



Now they are titrating down on the Saphris and trying Tenex.

[...]

http://www.janisjourney.org/index.php?o ... &Itemid=94


This guy has been on Oprah and on ABC News and in the LA Times. Now he has a book deal.
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Re: Munchausen by Internet

Postby norton ash » Wed Nov 10, 2010 4:35 pm

I figured poor Jani's case might come up. Thanks, Mac.
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Re: Munchausen by Internet

Postby AhabsOtherLeg » Wed Nov 10, 2010 5:40 pm

.
The "Raising A Psycopath" blog should be mentioned too.

http://raising-a-psychopath.blogspot.com/

Reading it from the start, you just have to pray that the father is lying - that he's another frustrated novelist, who doesn't have a kid at all. If he's telling the truth, then his blog title is totally accurate - he's raising a child in such a way as to turn him into a psychopath, or at least to be seriously damaged for life.

Unfortunately, we don't have the luxury of being able to hope that Schofield is lying. He clearly is lying, all the time, but Jani is real, and so's the abuse.

Raising a Psychopath is so popular it even has blogging imitators now. There are whole forums devoted to this stuff, with the (often very young) kids' incredible arrays of anti-psychotic medication listed in the parents' signatures. Anti-psychotic medication should not be used to treat psychopathy anyway, even if it was real, because it's untreatable.

Shortly after my son’s father was arrested, I sat on my bed, with our seven month old baby asleep beside me, with the psychiatry DSM manual open to the page containing the criteria for “antisocial personality disorder”. I asked myself “do any of these criteria relate to common themes discussed in the child development literature.” I had to answer that question to know how best to mother my own child.
http://www.lovefraud.com/blog/2009/04/1 ... sychopath/


Never do this. Never sit with your young child in your lap, flipping idly through the DSM. Frankly, I wouldn't even have it in the house.

I started with Ability to Love. In my opinion the most important book about Ability to Love is Learning to Love by Harry Harlow, Ph.D. He is the scientist who demonstrated that a baby monkey clings to his mother out of pleasure in affection and “contact comfort” not because mother is a source of food. Prior to Dr. Harlow, scientists believed that the child learned to relate to his mother because she was associated with food.


Harry Harlow:
EDIT: HAD THE WRONG VIDEO.

Why would anyone take childcare advice from this guy? He's also the author of Dread, Debility, and Dependence - which is basically a torturer's and brainwasher's manual, written for practical use in the field, during the Korean War (thanks American Dream).

This man and his "work" is responsible for all the current Attachment Therapy cults and their desperate, duped adherents.
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Re: Munchausen by Internet

Postby nathan28 » Wed Nov 10, 2010 6:58 pm

7 months old? 7 Months old? Present neurobiology dogma says in no uncertain terms that it takes years for children's brains to finish developing. Present theory on ADD suggests that genes behind dopamine metabolism, to cite one example, need certain environments to develop in "normal" or dysfunctional ways. This is absurdity. How can an infant that hasn't been socialized show "antisocial" behavior?


It's wrong to target Harlow, though, as much of a jerk as he was. Prior to his research "mother-love" was considered damaging to children--some psych textbooks said kissing children more than once a year was dangerous.
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Re: Munchausen by Internet

Postby AhabsOtherLeg » Wed Nov 10, 2010 7:27 pm

nathan28 wrote:7 months old? 7 Months old? Present neurobiology dogma says in no uncertain terms that it takes years for children's brains to finish developing. Present theory on ADD suggests that genes behind dopamine metabolism, to cite one example, need certain environments to develop in "normal" or dysfunctional ways. This is absurdity. How can an infant that hasn't been socialized show "antisocial" behavior?


Well, it gets worse, because the woman who wrote those words has an M.D. after her name (which is Liane Leedom).

I know anybody can be an MD (or an astrophysicist or whatever) on the internet, but her blog is popular with real parents, who leave comments like this:

Thank you, Dr. Leedom.

I hope everyone with at risk kids find your work.

I find it absolutely heartbreaking when children are written-off.


I knew something was wrong with my sons father when I was pregnant at 20-years-old. When I found out I was having a boy, I cried in fear, because I knew whatever was wrong with his father, it would be more prevalent in a male child. I gave my son tons of love and while he has some of his fathers personality traits I could certainly do without, inability to love, impulse control and a conscience don’t seem to be apparent at this time as he approaches 19.


How long is she going to keep monitoring him for signs of childhood psychopathology?

And Dr. Leedom, who should be telling these mothers scientific and medical facts of the kind you posted, instead comes out with this kind of garbage:
An at-risk child is a full time job! Parents have to love that child 24/7 and not leave him alone to go to the kitchen to pick up the knife and go after the cat. Preventive positive parenting means waking up before the child, being there when he opens his eyes and saying, “I love you”. It means giving him hugs and kisses, playing and having fun together.


If my mother had done that to me (freaking me out as I awoke with daily doe-eyed declarations of love) I'd only have gone after the cat for practice.

nathan28 wrote:It's wrong to target Harlow, though, as much of a jerk as he was. Prior to his research "mother-love" was considered damaging to children--some psych textbooks said kissing children more than once a year was dangerous.


But that's my point - no one should've bothered reading those ones either. Arbitrary, changeable rules like "1 kiss a year" are as ridiculous as an enforced "ten 2 minute hugs a day" policy. Why do there have to be methods and policies at all? Did it take Harry Harlow's research to establish that mothers and babies have a close physical bond with one another, which is natural, and shouldn't be disrupted? Really?

I also can't forgive, or overlook, his "Pit of Despair" research - knowing that it was most likely US Army funded, for eventual use on humans.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pit_of_despair

Maybe he did do some good work, on the side, but I can't see past what he was, and what he was working on, and how it's all turned out.
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Re: Munchausen by Internet

Postby Nordic » Wed Nov 10, 2010 10:22 pm

I have a friend whose ex-wife pulled this shit on him and her family.

I'm not sure how she pulled it off, but she convinced them all that she was dying of cancer. And she wasn't. She starved herself down to a dangerously low weight, got rid of her hair, all of it.

She was a very sick and sadistic woman.
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Re: Munchausen by Internet

Postby blanc » Thu Nov 11, 2010 10:40 am

Its now some time since I have been connected with ra survivor support, so this is not current info. When I was, MbyP was one of the get-out-of-investigating-this-one strategies, and also used on occasions by the alleged paedophile defense (ie tar the supportive parent with MbyP). This was in the cases I came across bandied about by persons having themselves no expertise in psychiatric assessment; rather like the FMS dodge. This comment is in no way made to refute the existence of this condition or plain old Munchausens or their destructive and unkind effects.
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Re: Munchausen by Internet

Postby Simulist » Thu Nov 11, 2010 1:55 pm

Munchausen by Internet

And if they fake their IP address in the effort, we're back to "Munchausen by Proxy."
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Re: Munchausen by Internet

Postby justdrew » Thu Nov 11, 2010 10:32 pm

meanwhile...

Japanese man streams suicide live on the internet
A Japanese man has committed suicide live on the internet after being egged on by users of an online chat room.
By 1964 there were 1.5 million mobile phone users in the US
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Re: Munchausen by Internet

Postby §ê¢rꆧ » Sun Nov 14, 2010 6:44 pm

I've been wanting to post this up here on RI since I read it, just because it sheds some light on the depths of evil dark trollfuckery on the Internet, but this thread suits the article well, considering the direction it is taking.

[ § ]

http://www.gq.com/news-politics/newsmak ... oms-li-dao

[ § ]

Are You Sure You Want To Quit The World?
If you were desperate and hopeless enough to log on to a suicide chat room in recent years, there was a good chance a mysterious woman named Li Dao would find you, befriend you, and gently urge you to take your own life. And, she'd promise, she would join you in that final journey. But then the bodies started adding up, and the promises didn't. Turned out, Li Dao was something even more sinister than anyone thought
By Nadya Labi

October 2010

"Check Your E-mail"

The three innocuous words seemed to offer Mark Drybrough the relief he sought. At 32, Mark was beyond tired. Life had long ceased to be the fun it once was. He had been a mischievous kid, an outgoing teenager who would make classmates laugh, leaping the school fence to freedom. At college in Coventry, England, he started out in high spirits, studying computer engineering and finding a girlfriend.

But after a year, the girl came down with a viral infection and then Mark did, and he never really recovered. Though he wasn't formally diagnosed, he felt certain that he'd developed chronic fatigue syndrome. Whatever he had—whether it was in his body or his mind—he couldn't summon the energy to get out of bed. Eventually he got dumped, stopped attending classes, and dropped out altogether.

For the next decade, Mark struggled to find the laughs. He lived in a small house in Coventry that his great-uncle had left him, but he couldn't maintain a job. He battled depression, going through dark periods when he refused to take medication, and he suffered psychotic fits. His mother, Elaine, paid his bills. He had no money, no car, no social life. He knew he was a disappointment—most of all to himself.

In July 2005, under the handle "spooky," Mark posted a request on the Web site alt.suicide.methods: "Does anyone have details of hanging methods where there isn't access to anything high up to tie the rope to. I've read that people have taken their own lives in jail, anybody know of inventive methods, the ones you don't get to read in the paper."

Li Dao knew. She directed Mark to check his e-mail. When he opened her message, he found guidance. She wrote, "Depending on how tall you are, preferable under 6 ft. tal [sic], you can easily from a door using the knob on [the other] side to tie the rope to, sling it over the top of the door, attach the noose or loop to yourself then step off and hang successfully..."

A few weeks later, Mark's older sister, Carol, drove down from Leeds to visit the family. At dinner Carol arranged to meet her brother at a nearby park the next day. They confirmed the plan the following morning, but by four that afternoon he had still not turned up.

Carol drove to her brother's home and knocked on the door. No answer. She let herself in and found a note on the inside door in block letters: Please call the police. Do not go upstairs, go home, hand this note to the police.

Carol rushed upstairs anyway, but the bedroom door was blocked. She forced her way in and found her brother hanging from a white nylon rope attached to a ladder propped by the door. She tried to hold him up, hoping to save him, and immediately called for help. She stood there supporting his weight while she waited for the paramedics, but they would soon pronounce him dead.

Shortly after, Carol returned to her brother's room and logged on to his computer. She learned that he'd spent a significant amount of time in suicide chat rooms, researching an effective way to kill himself. She also discovered that he'd entered into a suicide pact with a nurse named Li Dao. In fact, the nurse had sent her brother a note the day he died.

Her e-mail was brief: "Are you alright, Mark? Li"

···

Suicide chat rooms can save lives. The very act of logging on to a site like alt.suicide.methods (ASM) or alt.suicide.holiday (ASH) offers a potentially suicidal person the chance of finding support, redemption, or relief from the loneliness that led him there in the first place. Or logging on could be the first step a suicidal person takes to find the expertise, the courage, even the companionship, to go through with it. These chat rooms can provide a lifeline, or they can amount to a death sentence. It all depends on who's online and what they're doing there.

ASH began as a Google discussion group about why suicide rates increase over the holidays, then grew to become a regular destination; ASM bills itself, unapologetically, as "discussions about how to do yourself in." Members consider themselves pro-choice (choice being the right to suicide), and the forums host a range of people—not just those intent on committing suicide. Many do go there specifically to gather information on surefire ways to "catch the bus," or CTB, as suicide is known. But others may be recovering from a previous attempt or feeling down and looking for support among the like-minded. Still others may be there to offer a connection to those in need. Suicide is, for the most part, a solitary act; the majority of the 35,000 or so individuals who kill themselves in the United States every year are isolated and withdrawn from society. Simply accessing a world outside their own heads, as they do on ASH or ASM, might improve their chances of survival.

Mostly, members are supportive of one another, querying those who declare their intention to CTB to make sure they've explored other alternatives. But chat rooms are also places where a person can forge a connection that makes it easier to take that final ride. Some even form suicide pacts, promising to kill themselves at an appointed time, either virtually or in person. Who knows just how many follow through? But it does happen.

In Japan, where suicide has traditionally been considered an honorable act, the pacts have proven contagious. Teenage girls hook up online with like-minded partners whom they then meet in person, taking their lives together. In 2003, according to Japan's National Police Agency, online suicide pacts resulted in at least thirty-four deaths there; the number jumped to fifty-five in 2004 and ninety-one in 2005, but many experts say even those figures are underestimates. As hard as it is to fathom, not everyone who makes a pact is sincere. Disturbingly, some get off on witnessing, even encouraging, the despair of others.

Celia Blay stumbled upon ASH through chance and persistent curiosity. Blay is a 65-year-old grandmother from southern England who takes a kind of childish delight in exclaiming that she "makes whips and thongs for a living." (The implements, she clarifies, are for carriage horses.) In 2006, Blay was on a site devoted to medieval research—looking for charters to prove that some roads in her village should remain open to carriage horses—when she began poking around a member's profile, which somehow led her to ASH. "I thought, My goodness, a news group for suicide," she says. "It never crossed my mind that there would have been such a thing."

And Blay being Blay—which is to say, something of a compassionate busybody—once she logged on to ASH, she quickly made friends. One of them was a 17-year-old Central American girl who'd been sexually abused and was considering suicide. Blay conversed with the teen online for a few weeks and thought the girl was improving.

One day the teen told Blay that she'd entered a suicide pact with a nurse she'd met online. The nurse had been helpful and knowledgeable, telling her exactly how to position a knot for a partial-suspension hanging. "I said, 'Surely this nurse is not going to travel to Central America to hang herself alongside you,' " Blay recalled. "And she said, 'Oh no, we're going to watch each other by Webcam.' "

Blay managed to persuade the teen not to go through with it, but as chat logs show, soon she and others on ASH began to wonder about this nurse the girl had befriended. Her name, they discovered, was Li Dao, and she seemed to go to great lengths to maintain a low profile on the sites, only rarely commenting in the main forum, where all the members could read her posts. And when she did comment publicly, she emphasized her background as a twentysomething nurse from Minnesota. She seemed to be drawn to posters who spoke English as a second language or who seemed particularly naive, and she was fond of endearments like "hun" and the sign-off "**hugs**."

Li Dao was unfailingly sympathetic and unusually well-informed but maintained a conservative worldview that bordered on the self-righteous. She reprimanded one member for suggesting that the suicidal should try cocaine as an alternative to death. And on a site where members often express hostility toward religion, she was unapologetic about insisting that "the hope of eternal life…is promised to those who believe." She seemed most comfortable, however, dispensing advice, and she was an ardent proponent of hanging. Unlike other methods, hanging offered "very fast and certain death."

On the sites, she usually lurked in the background, initiating a private correspondence if a post in the forum caught her attention. The more desperate the post and resolute the poster's intention to CTB, the more likely Li would respond. In March 2006, "halfjacket" pleaded, "please someone help me die some way that is quick and/or painless directly. I'll do anything please I just need help."

"Check your e-mail," Li wrote back.

And in July, "Jim" wrote, "Think I'm going to be left with no option but to hang myself. I'm a big guy (420 pound) so making sure the rope don't break is vital to me, so I have been looking at climbing rope.… Can anyone shed any technical info on this to make sure I get the right stuff?"

"Check your e-mail," came the reply.

Within two hours of posting suicidal thoughts on ASH, Nikola Trifunovic, a 22-year-old researcher in Zagreb, was directed to his e-mail. Li told him that she understood how he felt and wanted to help him feel better. She said she lived with her parents and had struggled with bipolar disorder and depression for eleven years. Nothing worked—not therapy, drugs, or prayer. Li wrote, "Im really tired of living a false life of pretending everything is ok when it is not and I can't do it anymore." After exchanging e-mails for six months, Trifunovic says he began to care deeply for her. He recalled, via e-mail, "She made me feel I was not alone and that there were many others who feel the same way."

Li said she planned to CTB by hanging from a beam in her basement, once she found the time to be alone. She said she'd practiced hanging herself.

Li coached Trifunovic to hang himself, and the two made weekly suicide pacts, but he couldn't quite bring himself to end it. Strangulation wasn't the pain-free method he'd hoped it would be—"I kept doing it wrong, and it hurt like hell," Trifunovic reported to the ASH forum—but he feared more than the pain. "I was scared that after, there is nothing," he said. "Infinite nothingness." When he shared this fear with Li, she tried to get Trifunovic to believe in God. It was an odd position for a Christian, as Li seemed to be, since the religion discourages suicide.

Then, in September 2006, Li suddenly disappeared. "Li where are you? Get in touch if you're still living this thing," one member posted on ASH.

"Oh fuck…that must explain why I haven't heard from her, either," responded another.

Trifunovic assured the forum that Li had to be alive, because he'd corresponded with her only two days earlier. Besides, Trifunovic added, "we kind of promised to each other to do it the same day, she is ready to die she is just waiting for me to be ready."

"She told you that, too?" another poster responded. "Oy."

The next day, however, Trifunovic received an e-mail from a woman claiming to be Li's mother, Xao Pi Zeng, from Li's e-mail account. She reported that her daughter was "found hung in outbasement [sic] at approximately 6:40 this morning.… Of course we be so sad but am Gratefull to God that her pain is now over."

When he learned of Li's death, Trifunovic became determined to try to end his life. Then, to his surprise, two months later, a miracle occurred—Li was resurrected. Someone on ASH reported that he'd heard from her.

It was then that the forum began to realize that Li was not what she seemed. "It's not Li, not Li we know, she doesn't exist, it's some perve fucking with us," Trifunovic posted. "Mawkish" agreed, revealing that he'd IM'd with Li and that she kept trying to persuade him to hang himself. Mawkish tried to talk to Li on the phone, but she would come up with excuses about why she couldn't. He told the forum, "I believe Li Dao got some kind of 'high' or 'rush' from trying to convince people to die."

By now Celia Blay had reached the same conclusion—that Li had encouraged more than a dozen individuals on ASH to commit suicide. (She'd noticed that members often disappeared from the site after exchanges with the nurse.) Then she received a tip that Li was using a new handle, "falcongirl." She immediately searched online and found traces of Li's familiar m.o. When "retardstoner" announced on ASH, "I need to die. Tonight. Period," falcongirl responded: "Check your e-mail box."

Blay had seen enough. She took the evidence she'd gathered to the police in nearby Maidenhead. "Look," she told them, "this person is trying to get people to kill themselves." But the man in charge of investigating online crimes wasn't impressed. "His attitude was that this was somebody who was trying to wind up middle-aged women and shock them," Blay recalled, indignant. As Blay left the station, she says an officer gave her a piece of advice: "If it bothers you, look the other way."

···

But Blay wouldn't look away. She tried to alert the FBI via e-mail about the online nurse but received no reply. She began posting warnings about Li Dao on ASH's general forum and sending e-mails to anyone she thought might fall victim to the nurse's charms. The ASH community rallied behind her, and Blay became the point person for the growing list of complaints about Li.

In many ways, Blay was the perfect Miss Marple—assertive and curious while appearing wholly unthreatening—but she had little cred on the site. Though she'd made herself known on the forum, she wasn't convincingly depressed or suicidal. She'd never experimented with drugs or had a run-in with the law. She was, in a word, respectable, and respectability didn't interest Li Dao or falcongirl.

But at the end of 2007, Blay got help in the form of Kat Lowe, a luckless 35-year-old in Wolverhampton, England, who frequented ASH and e-mailed Blay to offer her assistance. Lowe got straight to the point: "I know you are aware that li dao grooms youngsters to let her watch them hang on webcam." A friend of Lowe's had nearly committed suicide after entering a pact with Li. Separately, Li had contacted Lowe on ASM, promoting the benefits of hanging. In fact, it seemed that every time Lowe logged on to her ASM chat list, falcongirl would turn up to instant-message her. Lowe offered to go undercover to gather information on the nurse.

Lowe emitted the kind of despair that Li couldn't resist. She shared custody of her two children and saw her kids only on school holidays. She had long been depressed, and though heroin offered solace in the short term, she'd begun considering checking out for good. As she sat in a pub in Wolverhampton this spring, enjoying a rare full meal, Lowe resembled an overgrown teen. Wearing a hooded green sweatshirt and black sneakers with thick platforms, she had dyed reddish pigtails and two silver nose rings. On her neck hung a gold crucifix that she says Blay gave her when they met in person the first time; as long as she wore the crucifix, Lowe promised Blay, she wouldn't put a rope around her neck.

Though falcongirl seemed eager to assist in Lowe's suicide, Lowe emphasized that most of the members are supportive and recognize the finality of the act that has brought them together. "Most people say, 'Have you spoken to anyone? Seen anyone? Tried medication?' " Lowe explained. "They're trying to do damage limitation—to help you do it in a way that you're not going to end up messed up—and supporting you if that's the decision you've come to after trying everything else," Lowe said. "There's a difference between what they do and what falcongirl did. With her, there was never any alternative."

In January 2008, in her new role as amateur detective, Lowe turned the tables, taking the initiative and sending an e-mail to falcongirl. She told falcongirl that she'd lost her job and was looking for a "good place to swing" but that she needed advice. Someone named Cami D was ready to provide it. Cami D (using the falcongirl account) told Lowe she'd had good results placing the knot behind her left ear, with the rope under her chin and across the carotid. "I think u said you have a web cam that would help a lot too," Cami added.

Ever attentive, Cami e-mailed back a few days later offering help. Lowe told her that she was hearing voices and trying to find a mental-health worker to help her. "If they don't offer me the help i need," she wrote, "i can't see any other option than to end it." Cami D responded, "i CARE and always will.… i wish we could chat?" She signed off **hugs**—the same signature Li Dao had used with Mark.

That's when Lowe began documenting their chats.

Cami had told Lowe earlier that she'd helped people hang themselves, so Lowe asked, "the 4 people who you think hang themselves…did they do it while you were online? Are you worried about any comeback from that?"

Cami: no just one he asked me to watch as he was all alone i didn't want to thinking it was some perverted ploy of his but after many hours of talking i agreed and watched him die so he would not die alone.… no not worried as ill be dead soon
Lowe: personal question…did he get a stiffy when he died?
Cami: probably but he had pants on and i really didn't notice. He hung from a door
Lowe: was he young?

At first Cami seemed to miss the question, telling Lowe that she had the next day off and that she hoped to be dead before having to return to work. As an afterthought, she added, "he was 32"—the same age that Mark was when he committed suicide.

Lowe told Cami that she was also ready to hang but that she needed to buy a rope. She was pressing Cami to get an audio cam so that the two could hear and see each other just before death, when Lowe saw Cami move in front of her Webcam.

"You're a bloke," Lowe wrote. And hardly twentysomething. Li Dao, a.k.a. falcongirl, a.k.a. Cami D, was a middle-aged white man.

···

By now, Blay believed Li Dao had encouraged at least fifty people to commit suicide, including some minors, like the 17-year-old Central American girl whose suicide pact first drew her in. "She wasn't just going for those who were terminally ill or suicidal adults," Blay said. "She was preying on depressed teenagers who were suffering from normal teenage angst and giving them a shove in the wrong direction." Desperate to stop her, Blay got into her two-decade-old Rover and headed north to Wolverhampton, where Kat Lowe lives. Blay used Lowe's apartment as a base as she paid a visit to police headquarters in the West Midlands, whose jurisdiction included the area where Cami recalled watching a suicide online, as well as nearby Coventry, where Mark Drybrough had lived. When Blay reported what she'd learned about the online nurse to the West Midlands police, she says an officer called her husband to check whether he knew where she was. "I thought, For goodness sake, what century do we live in?" Blay says, her laugh lines crinkling at the memory. "I suppose they were checking to see whether I was sane." The police wanted the evidence on floppy discs, but Blay didn't have one. She enlisted her son's help in burning the e-mails on a disc, but the police told her that the disc she'd sent was blank. Sensing their apathy, Blay gave up, frustrated: "I was stymied."

Around the time of Blay's visit to the West Midlands police, an 18-year-old in Ottawa was finding support and guidance from a new friend she'd met online.

Nadia Kajouji, a freshman at Carleton University in Ottawa and a relative newbie on ASH, complained that she was depressed and sleepless. She'd stopped attending classes and had holed up in her dorm room, staring at the snowfall outside her window. It was one of the most severe winters on record in Ottawa. In early March, Nadia instant-messaged her new confidant:

Nadia: When are you going to catch the bus? I would like to soon. I am planning to attempt this Sunday.
Cami: Wow. You want to use hanging too?
Nadia: I'm going to jump.
Cami: Well that's okay, but most people puss out before doing that. Plus, they don't wanna leave a terribly messy mess for others to clean up.
Nadia: I want it to look like an accident. There's a bridge over the river where there's a break in the ice. The water is really rough right now, and it should carry me back under the ice so I can't really come up for air. And if drowning doesn't get me, hopefully the hypothermia will.

When Nadia set off to Carleton that fall, she was on the cusp of the great adventure that many a teenager senses her life could be. She'd studied hard, gotten good grades, and been accepted to Carleton, McGill, and Queens, among Canada's best colleges. It was an easy call for Nadia. Each year, only one hundred students were accepted into Carleton's public-affairs and policy-management program, and ever since seventh grade, when she shadowed a member of parliament, she'd been interested in politics.

But when you're 18, the great adventure can spiral into something darker and do so with whiplash speed. Nadia met a guy and fell into an intoxicating, all-consuming kind of love. She was ecstatic—until the condom broke, the morning-after pill didn't take, and suddenly she was pregnant. Worse, just when she'd begun to wrap her brain around that reality, she had a miscarriage. All the choices she might have made were gone. Poof.

As if on cue, the guy disappeared, too.

For the first time, she was isolated from her friends and family as she went through the toughest period of her life. She'd always been a star student, and now she feared that she would lose the semester because she couldn't drag herself to class.

Feeling suicidal isn't a permanent state. Some lifelong depressives take that final step after years of struggle, but there are many others who flirt with the idea when they're suffering from what turns out to be a temporary case of despair. Many suicidal people emerge from their hopelessness by tapping into newfound resilience, enough to sustain them until their situations improve. But at that moment of intense vulnerability, most people don't meet someone wholly understanding and compassionate, a stranger whom they come to trust as a friend, someone to encourage their most self-destructive im­pulses. Most of them never meet someone like Cami.

By the time Nadia came home for a spell that February, her parents knew something was wrong, but they didn't know that she'd stopped sleeping, that she was seeing a psychiatrist at Carleton or logging on to chat rooms to talk with strangers about how to end her life.

···

Kat Lowe was rapidly homing in on Cami's identity. Even after Lowe revealed Cami to be a man, he didn't log off. So Lowe pressed him to explain why he'd posed as a woman, asking if his motivation was sexual. Cami's answer surprised her. He wrote back, "Mostly cause IF and only IF there were any legal consequences for my helping anyone they would come looking for a 'girl.' " Whatever revelations Lowe uncovered were turned over to Blay. Blay knew the lives at risk and understood that the more time Li Dao lurked in the chat rooms, the more people would be in danger. Their posse of volunteer investigators grew: To work the technological angle, Blay turned to Robert Griffin, a retired Australian businessman in his midforties who'd turned to ASH during a dark period. Toward the end of 2007, Blay posted a note on the ASH forum, asking if anyone in the United States could help her reach the authorities there. Griffin, who was now living in the Midwest, responded. "A lot of people on ASH came in under the guise of being do-gooders but were really quite predatory," Griffin said. "Li Dao was one of them, except she operated particularly under the radar."

Griffin had worked in telecommunications and, in a matter of days, was able to trace Li Dao's and falcongirl's e-mails to a server in Faribault, Minnesota. And then Cami made a basic mistake. In the header of an e-mail sent to Lowe was a name: Bill Melchert-Dinkel. Blay forwarded the e-mail to Griffin, who discovered that there was a William Melchert-Dinkel who lived in Faribault. They seemed to have found falcongirl, Cami, and Li Dao at last.

···

Growing up, Nadia had shown few signs of depression. Her mother, Deborah Chevalier, and friends describe her as cheerful and playful. In a video diary that she made at Carleton that fall, she modeled outfits for the camera, saying, "I thought I'd make a blog that was upbeat and not mopey and weepy."

But by March, Nadia was struggling. "I can barely string together a cohesive sentence or two," she told the camera, looking haggard. "I can't function. The doctor said we should focus on getting me to function."

As the snow beat against her window, she sat at her computer, spending hours online with Cami, Cami trying to persuade her to hang herself instead of jumping, so that they could die together.

Nadia: It's a big relief to be able to talk to someone.
Cami: Cool. I'm no [sic] trying to tell you how to do it. Just my experiences and opinions, that's all.
Nadia: I understand. We want what's best for each other.
Cami: Yes, very much so. I don't want you to fail ever! And end up messed up.
Nadia: That would be the worst.
Cami: Oh, my God, yes, I see that happen a lot.
Nadia: What sort of stuff have you seen?
Cami: I'm not trying to scare you. Don't get me wrong. I've seen tons of failed overdoses and bad wrist cuttings and some failed jumpers. In seven years, I've never seen a failed hanging. That's why I chose it.

Blay knew nothing about Nadia; she only knew that she was racing to prevent the man behind Li Dao and the other alter egos from adding another suicide to his count, another pact made good. She sent the information she'd gathered to Papyrus, a charity dedicated to preventing suicides in Britain, but they could do little in the States. Finally, Blay got lucky. She was chatting with one of her customers, an accomplished carriage driver and lawyer in Minnesota, and inevitably she steered the conversation to her favorite topic—the threat Melchert-Dinkel posed and the unwillingness on the part of the authorities to do anything about it. The customer lived just twenty miles from Faribault and promised to contact a friend of hers who was a deputy sheriff in an outlying Minneapolis county.

Within a few weeks, through her friend, Blay got word from the deputy sheriff. Faribault was out of his jurisdiction, but he suggested that she contact the Internet Crimes Against Children task force, a new federally funded initiative aimed at combating the sexual exploitation of children. Blay managed to get through to Sergeant William Haider, who was detailed to the task force from the St. Paul police. She told him she feared that someone named Bill Francis Melchert-Dinkel in Faribault was encouraging teens, among others, to commit suicide online.

The very next day, the Faribault police were surprised by a call from the Ottawa police, who asked them to check on, of all places, the Melchert-Dinkel residence. They were investigating the disappearance of Nadia Kajouji, who hadn't been seen at Carleton University for two weeks. The police had found chat logs on the girl's computer between Nadia and Cami D, an online identity whom the Ottawa police say they had traced to Melchert-Dinkel's Faribault address. Their fear was that someone at the residence had entered a suicide pact with the 18-year-old student and would soon act upon it. They wanted to be sure everyone in the house was okay. At the time, Melchert-Dinkel was on vacation with his family, so they left word. When he returned, he called the police. Everyone in his family, he assured them, was just fine.

···

Melchert-Dinkel lives in a crisp white-shingled house with contrasting black shutters and a perfectly manicured lawn in Faribault, population 22,000. He is 48 years old, married to a nurse, and has two teenage daughters.

In his online conversation with Kat Lowe, after she'd discovered he was Cami and falcongirl and Li Dao, William Melchert-Dinkel sent a family photo of himself and his wife sitting on a piano bench, flanked by their two daughters. In the background, a ray of sunlight glints from a landscape painting.

Li Dao, along with her alter egos, positioned herself as an expert on nursing—an ER nurse whose experience with a range of calamities had persuaded her of the benefits of hanging. Melchert-Dinkel was indeed a nurse, a resident nurse whose career was distinguished only by his incompetence, at best, and possibly something much more sinister.

In 1994, according to the Nursing Board of Minnesota, he administered the wrong medication to a resident while working at a nursing home in Minneapolis. In another instance, he failed to document the deteriorating condition of a resident who later died en route to the hospital. The next year, he moved to the ortho-neuro unit at a St. Paul hospital, but he showed no improvement. According to his supervisor, he "continually demonstrated difficulty retaining information." When reprimanded, he said, "I have problems at home, too. It just spills over into everything." He was later diagnosed with a learning disability and attention-deficit disorder, among other problems, and put on medication. He resigned soon after, reportedly saying that he "got in over his head."

But Melchert-Dinkel kept nursing, and with grim results. At a nursing home where he worked in Faribault, he was fired for the alleged abuse of two residents. Only then did the Minnesota Board of Nursing limit his license, but he was still allowed to practice, with supervision.

Melchert-Dinkel didn't perform much better for his next employer in Faribault. One of his co-workers said that he was often rude to residents, "hollering at them" if they wanted to go to the bathroom. At one point, the co-worker, who didn't want her name published, asked Melchert-Dinkel to wrap the foot of a resident whose toes had been amputated. "He got done wrapping the foot and came out and said, 'She's ready to go.' " After entering the room, the co-worker scratched her head and asked an aide to take a look. The aide "looked and said, 'Oh my God. He's wrapped the good foot.' " In July 2008, Melchert-Dinkel resigned and moved to a third nursing home in Faribault.

A few months later, Sergeant Haider and a colleague caught up with him at his home. After introductions, the police told the nurse that they wanted to talk to him about Internet-related issues. According to the officers, Melchert-Dinkel responded, "I think I know what you mean." When asked to elaborate, he said that he and his wife worked in health care and had had discussions with people online that had gotten inappropriate. Police say Melchert-Dinkel then told them that his wife wasn't involved in the discussions but that using the online monikers Li Dao, falcongirl, and Cami, he'd advised people online about suicide methods.

He admitted that he would instruct them on how to hang themselves by placing the knot behind the left ear, because "that would be the most effective position for compression of the left and right carotid artery, which would cause unconsciousness in ten to fifteen seconds, brain death, and total death in ten to twenty minutes." According to the coroner's report, Mark Drybrough's neck had a deep ligature groove that rose toward the left and back of his neck. Melchert-Dinkel admitted that he claimed online to have watched via Webcam as someone in England hanged himself. Despite his repeated requests to watch victims by Webcam, however, he insisted that he'd never done so. According to the police, they have no evidence that Melchert-Dinkel watched his victims. The investigating officers say Melchert-Dinkel estimated that he'd made about a dozen suicide pacts with people around the world and encouraged dozens more to commit suicide, though he knew of no more than five who'd actually gone through with it. At one point, he characterized his motivation as the "thrill of the chase." But he also said that he told his victims that "it was okay to let go, that they would be better in heaven."

He said he felt terrible about what he'd done and that his daughters had told him that his discussions weren't right. At Christmas, as the police were narrowing in on him, he said that he'd stopped advising people about suicide.

By then, it was too late for Nadia Kajouji.

Six weeks after her disappearance in Ottawa, the sun had warmed the Rideau River, and her body washed up on its banks. She had ignored Cami D's requests that she hang herself with a Webcam rolling. Instead, she stuck to her plan. She told her roommate she was going skating and jumped into the frozen river, with skates on her feet so that it would look like an accident.

On the spot where she was found is a rickety iron bench with flowers painted along the top and the words You will never be forgotten. Though he had a hard time recalling Mark Drybrough, Melchert-Dinkel said he did remember making a suicide pact with "a woman from Ottawa."

···

The day the police interviewed him, William Melchert-Dinkel walked into a Faribault emergency room, telling nurses there that he was under investigation for assisting suicide. According to a report by the Minnesota Board of Nursing, which had opened an investigation of Melchert-Dinkel, he was later transferred to a different hospital, where his unprompted confession continued. He informed the staff that he was "dealing with an addiction to suicide Internet sites" and "feeling guilty because of past and present advice to those on the Internet of how to end their lives."

Finally, in April 2010, three years after Blay had first alerted the police in England, Melchert-Dinkel was charged with "advising and encouraging" the suicides of Mark Drybrough and Nadia Kajouji, which carries a maximum term of fifteen years or a $30,000 fine. It's a novel use of a law that has been on the books in Minnesota since 1963—long before the Internet existed. It appears to be the first time in the United States that criminal charges have been brought against an individual for assisting suicide over the Internet. The morality of his actions aside, can he be held legally culpable? Had Mark or Nadia never had the misfortune to meet him online, would they have killed themselves anyway? Would they have followed through on their own self-destruction if he hadn't vowed to do the same? Would they be alive if the compassionate and knowledgeable nurse they knew as Li Dao were revealed to them to be a middle-aged Minnesota man?

Melchert-Dinkel, who refused to be interviewed for this story, could be tried as soon as this fall. The prosecutor, Paul Beaumaster, insists the law is clear. "The statute specifically talks about 'advises, encourages, or assists another,' " he said. "It's not specific about what instrumentality you use—telephone, fax, smoke signals." But the instrumentality in this case may make a difference: Melchert-Dinkel is accused of encouraging suicidal individuals to kill themselves on sites that are strenuously pro-choice about suicide. How much encouragement did Mark and Nadia really need? Even if Melchert-Dinkel is convicted or he pleads guilty, he is not likely to serve much time.

The friends and families of Mark and Nadia and others have nothing but time, to wonder what might have gone differently, to question what might have happened if their son or daughter or friend had never met Li Dao or Cami or falcongirl—if they'd never come in contact with William Melchert-Dinkel. When Elaine Drybrough cleaned out her son's room after his death, she found a blank notebook with a single page of poetry that he'd scrawled:

Face facts, I'd rather live than die.
So what's it worth, why is it worth
There is nothing but this very life
Here and now.

Mark was torn. He wrote, "Please give my life meaning and love each and everything else too…" and circled the passage three times. In the end, though, his cynicism won out. At the bottom of the page, in big capital letters, he wrote: "BULLSHIT COMPLETE FUCKING CRAP." And then he was gone.


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Re: Munchausen by Internet

Postby elfismiles » Tue Dec 22, 2015 1:12 pm

DER / ETA :eeyaa ... this incident doesn't appear to involve the internet ... just normal face to face human lies. :wallhead:

Pretty sure there are other great examples littering RI ... including those perp'd by previous posters (a certain Masonic Plot?)

Student Jailed For ‘Ruining Lecturer’s Life’
Yahoo News / December 21, 2015

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A student has been jailed for ruining her lecturer’s life after drawing her into a bizarre web of lies.

Elisa Bianco, 22, faked parental abuse and terminal cancer, eventually causing mum-of-four Sally Rettallack, 49, her to lose her marriage, job and home.

Mrs Rettallack was the then-16-year-old Bianco’s personal tutor while she was studying for a health and social care diploma at St Austell College in Cornwall.

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Pulling a sickie: Pyjama-clad Bianco at the hospital (SWNS)

After the teenager invented stories of complex illnesses, combined with fake abuse from her ‘alcoholic’ mother and step-father, Rettallack took her into her home in April 2012.

Then, when Bianco announced that she had a kidney tumour and just three months to live, the former lecturer drove her to and from daily hospital appointments, giving up her job to help tick items off her ‘bucket list’.

After driving a wedge between Rettallack and her husband, Bianco invented a recently widowed consultant physician love interest for her former tutor called John – only to kill him off.

Bianco pleaded guilty to stalking, causing serious alarm or distress on Friday and was jailed for two years and eight months.

View photos
False alarm: the teenager spent days at a time in the cafe at Royal Cornwall Hospital, Truro (SWNS)

Judge Christopher Harvey Clark QC said: “I can truthfully say it is the most extraordinary case I have had to deal with in a long time.”

Mrs Retallack discovered the truth on August 12, 2013, when staff at the renal ward in Royal Cornwall Hospital said they had no knowledge of the defendant.

On leaving the hospital she saw Bianco sitting in the cafe in her pyjamas and when she asked if she had made it all up she simply answered "yes”.

View photos
All smiles: Elisa Bianco received gifts aplenty from her Bucket List (SWNS)

A month later the fraudster was questioned by police and confessed she had lied about her home life and medical conditions, forged letters and created a fake email account.

Mrs Retallack - who has moved to France to start a new life - sobbed in court, saying: “I was an outgoing, positive, career minded individual who loved her job. I had a close, loving home life.

"Now I have no career, no job, no husband, little self-confidence.”

(Top picture: Sally Rettallack, left, with Elisa Bianco, SWNS)

https://ca.news.yahoo.com/student-jaile ... 24078.html
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Re: Munchausen by Internet

Postby tapitsbo » Tue Dec 22, 2015 5:03 pm

I personally know of somebody who faked family deaths and serious illnesses to get a year of paid leave///
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Re: Munchausen by Internet

Postby guruilla » Tue Dec 22, 2015 5:36 pm

AhabsOtherLeg » Wed Nov 10, 2010 7:27 pm wrote:
I knew something was wrong with my sons father when I was pregnant at 20-years-old. When I found out I was having a boy, I cried in fear, because I knew whatever was wrong with his father, it would be more prevalent in a male child. I gave my son tons of love and while he has some of his fathers personality traits I could certainly do without, inability to love, impulse control and a conscience don’t seem to be apparent at this time as he approaches 19.


How long is she going to keep monitoring him for signs of childhood psychopathology?

And Dr. Leedom, who should be telling these mothers scientific and medical facts of the kind you posted, instead comes out with this kind of garbage:
An at-risk child is a full time job! Parents have to love that child 24/7 and not leave him alone to go to the kitchen to pick up the knife and go after the cat. Preventive positive parenting means waking up before the child, being there when he opens his eyes and saying, “I love you”. It means giving him hugs and kisses, playing and having fun together.


If my mother had done that to me (freaking me out as I awoke with daily doe-eyed declarations of love) I'd only have gone after the cat for practice.


I find it interesting, and somewhat heartening, that this thread got "randomly" bumped when it did. The above is a very succinct description of "the killer mother" phenomenon of psychotic symbiosis (psychic enmeshment between male child and mother), including the connection to the generation of psychopathic behaviors in the adult male.

Whatever happened to Ahab's Other Leg?! (Pun intended.)
It is a lot easier to fool people than show them how they have been fooled.
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