December 11, 2009

Reports of my death

Posted: 07:32 PM ET

By Howard Swains via

A person typically does not change dramatically after learning of his or her impending death."When the editors at commissioned this article, we all knew there was a chance I wouldn't live to see it published. I was diagnosed last September with a disease that was chomping through my body with the impunity of a pepped-up Pacman in a ghost-free maze. I would be writing about my experiences of a new treatment, in the vanguard of medical technology, but doctors told me to prepare for the worst. I was dying, they said, and may not even make Christmas, let alone the April launch date of a new website."

I could go on. I could tell you how agonising my treatment has been, how the drugs have dulled the pain but sharpened the emotional torment. I could describe the anguish, anger, resentment and waste of someone dying unmarried and childless at 33. I could describe all this in a blog from my hospital bed, and invite you to comment and show your support; to tell me I'm loved, form an emotional bond with a stranger and let me know that we're battling this monster together.

I could do that, but it would all be lies. It would be a story, an online fabrication you would stand little chance of disproving. Although you may hate me when you discovered I had lied, and feel betrayed, used and manipulated, neither of us would be alone. People are dying all the time on the internet – dying through disease, dying in accidents, dying by their own hand – and their deaths are reported in great detail on blogs and discussion forums. Writers present harrowing stories of battles against the odds, tragic tales of misery heaped upon misery, blight following calamity following gross misfortune. Some of the stories sound too tragic to be true. And they are.

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Filed under: Larry King Live

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MariannaB   December 12th, 2009 5:37 am ET

There are millions of mind game gamblers out there.
The only way to identify and to debunk them is to listen to your heart, think, take a step back, reflect and putting motivation, intention, means and potential realization together.

Dare thinking. Dare loving.
Sending you all lots of sunbeams and raindrops.

MaryRM   December 12th, 2009 8:44 am ET

This time please do click on the read more. this is about people creating fantasy lives and deaths completely online. Not about coroner reports, the city of LA providing police support for real memorials, or 3 levels of police investigations. Those things are real. Online talk can easily be faked. People need to learn the difference between fantasy and reality – and also how to discern between the two.

MaryRM   December 12th, 2009 9:43 am ET

The article is about people believing things that are ONLY online. The coroners report is an official document. It is not just part of online blogging or media. LAPD statements are official statements. the memorial actually took place, it was not just a TV show.

KES   December 12th, 2009 11:14 am ET

Wow this was fascinating, In the past few months I witnessed a girl posting all over facebook under the pretense that it was her sister that she jumped off a bridge and the girl was in a trauma unit. It was easy to spot the lie, however I can see how one would become duped.

still me just a new name   December 12th, 2009 3:04 pm ET

"Munchausen syndrome or Munchausen by Internet syndrome" hurts grown ups who fall victim to their stories..what is horrible is when the syndrome hurts children because a parent or care giver wants the attention...I read of a child that went through needless surgeries and procedure...the child had a full recovery when the she was finally removed from the home.

patucha   December 12th, 2009 6:25 pm ET

This article is very interesting, encouraging and most revealing 😛

Lori - Justice For Michael   December 12th, 2009 6:34 pm ET

The article is talking about people who have nothing better to do that to get on the internet, create a fantasy persona, ask for love and sympathy, and then at some point kill of their creations. The article is very interesting, but what does it encourage?? And what does it reveal about human nature? This has nothing to do with people physically faking their demise, nor does it have anything at all to do with Michael Jackson. Thanks for the link on fallacious celebrity just shows how rumors and falsehood grow and runwild in the internet age. I did not see anything in the article that indicated Britney's Will was actually entered into probate court.


still me just a new name   December 12th, 2009 7:06 pm ET

meant to say "not everything on a hoax site is about hoaxs"

Dodie - CA   December 12th, 2009 7:15 pm ET

Munchausen syndrome is the most severe form of "Factitious disorders" designated in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th Edition (DSM-IV) This disorder creates symptoms of illnesses within themselves in order to gain sympathy, attention, comfort, treatment and investigation from medical personnel. Usually the fabricated illness is very dramatic.

The criteria:
-Intentional production or feigning of physical or psychological signs
-The motivation for the perpetrator's behavior is to assume the sick role
-External incentives for the behavior, such as economic gain, avoiding legal responsibility are absent

Munchausen syndrome by proxy (MSBP) the severity of “factitious disorder by proxy” is the same as factitious disorder with the exception of the focus is on their children's medical problems fabricated by the parent. It is probable that the new DSM-V will have included a subcategory of “factitious by internet disorder” I find it interesting that more females are diagnosed with Factitious disorder; however, the most severe form, Munchausen Syndrome, is more prevalent in males.

I suspect this issue will continue to escalate and expand praying on the vulnerable. I think it is very important for people to understand, what you read may not necessarily be true. The success of this might be attributed to religion. Many believe in the bible, the Koran and the Torah or Pentateuch as gospel. They believe in the writing without ever witnessing or questioning the actual events. This conditioning can be easily transferred to the internet. Because the preface is based on a ‘belief,’ I can see the manipulation growing instead of subsiding.

still me just a new name   December 13th, 2009 1:20 am ET

Wow...someone did some major house cleaning...all comments not pertaining to the subject at hand seems to have been deleted...great.

gigi   December 13th, 2009 2:02 am ET

Goodness, I know there were like over 70 posts here. Anyway, I found the article really interesting. I'm really not into the whole online community things like FB, Myspace. I just signed up with FB and Twitter this year and I didn't even really use it.

After reading the article it makes one realize even more that there are some really deep stuff going on in cbyerspace, it can be really dangerous. One never really knows what or who is sitting on the other side of the screen.

still me just a new name   December 13th, 2009 3:56 am ET

Other than LKL blogs and a forum, all other resources I use on the net have to do strictly with family. ..even in blogs like this I tend to not give out too much of my personal information...I assumed most people are private that way so I become very cautious when things get too when too much information is given out.

TRUE -TO-YOU   December 13th, 2009 4:45 pm ET


jan   December 13th, 2009 5:30 pm ET


you are welcome!

jan   December 13th, 2009 5:34 pm ET

I was in a shop today and a four or five year old child picked up an MJ dvd and got so excited. He started jumping up and down. He said " I love michael jackson". It was so special.

Tony   December 14th, 2009 4:35 pm ET

Very interesting article. After loosing someone I loved I turned to an internet community to tell the story. Probably saved my life getting it out. I often wondered if what I read from others was true...and I'm sure some wondered if what I posted was true.

IMO the internet reflects real life, the good, the bad and the ugly. Making up tragedy to gain attention is most definatly ugly. Real tragedy turns one's life upside down, inside out and hurts for a lifetime.

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