You are here

Tech Shock: Dr Marc Feldman and Natalie Foos on Munchausen by Internet

In this week’s episode of the Tech Shock podcast, Vicki and Geraldine speak to Natalie Foos, lead author of VoiceBox’s new report on Munchausen By Internet, and Dr Marc Feldman, the world’s foremost expert on the disorder and author of Dying To Be Ill. 

Munchausen is a disorder in which a person feigns or exaggerates a psychological or physical illness. ‘Munchausen by internet’ is the same behaviour on online platforms. It may seem just like trolling of people genuinely suffering from mental disorders, but Feldman and Foos agree that it is a disorder in its own right. 

“Those who are faking it are suffering with something themselves, and they deserve to get the support they need,” says Foos. 

Munchausen is adopted by people who feel unable to get emotional care and attention in a healthy way. “These are people who very often have personality disorders, which means that they have long term unhealthy ways of trying to get their needs met,” says Feldman.  

Foos cites the difficulty of finding people willing to discuss their experience of faking disorders. “Many young people who are feigning these disorders have falsely convinced themselves that they do actually align with these disorders,” she says. “Most stated that they did it because they didn’t know how wrong it was, or because they were experiencing something but didn’t know what.”

Many mental health organisations are nervous about discussing the syndrome. Feldman and Foos believe, however, that asking difficult questions is necessary to help those with real disorders and those with Munchausen. 

“When something is difficult or complicated it’s shied away from” says Foos. “But having healthy scepticism and making sure all the facts line up actually protects those who do suffer from these disorders.”

Listen to Series 3, Episode 8 to hear the full podcast.     

Stream and download now on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts and other platforms