Thursday, March 25, 2010

Butte Münsch, or How Dare You, Part Two

Well, my friends, it turns out that this HipCrip ain’t so hip after all.

Remember Mark, my friend with ALS for whom I made an impassioned defense after his doctor declared it would be a waste of resources to treat when he was admitted to the hospital in Butte, Montana? Well, it turns out that neither Mark nor the doctor really exist.

Thanks to some impressive sleuthing by some very savvy (and very real) folks at the web site where I got to know “Mark”, it was discovered that MarkPALS was just one of many fake personas created by a woman as part of an elaborate scheme to gain attention by feigning illness or a disabling condition. Disturbingly, this wasn’t the first time this twisted woman had posed as a person with a disability -- she’s pulled similar scams at this and other web sites as far back as ten years ago.

I feel more than a little naïve for not being hip to this case of Münschausen by Internet. There were signs, of course, that I can now see clearly with the advantage of hindsight but missed or disregarded at the time. But it helps ease my doubts about whether I’ve lost some of my usually spot-on gut instincts that I wasn’t the only one who fell hook, line, and sinker for the web of lies spun by this Butte Münsch -- a LOT of folks have come forward to say that they, too, had become emotionally invested in “Mark” and his “family.”

Even though the discovery that there is no such person as Mark has left me discomfited, I’m not at all embarrassed about having made my “How Dare You” post. The story of MarkPALS’ illness and hospitalization may be pure fiction, but the horrific attitude expressed by the imaginary doctor -- that there are people whose quality of life is perceived to be so poor that they should not be treated -- is all too real. I’ve experienced it personally, when, without ever discussing the issue with me, a medical professional indicated in my hospital chart that I was DNR (Do Not Resuscitate), and have had several other people with significant disabilities tell me of similar experiences. The scenario that sparked my post was fake, but my outrage over it is real. For that reason, I’m going to keep that blog entry up, but update it with an appropriate introduction.

Given that this whole situation has reignited my outrage, it’s only appropriate that I end this the way it started.

There’s a woman in Butte, Montana who’d better than whatever god she prays to that she’s several thousand miles away from me, because she is now a marked woman.  This psychic vampire pretended to be someone with a severely disabling condition, insinuated herself into the lives of a lot of good-hearted people, and preyed upon their feelings without regard for the emotional devastation her actions would cause.

To quote Eric Cartman, “I.Am.So,Pissed.Off.Right.Now.”

A psychiatrist has dubbed this Münschausen by Internet, but I call it unmitigated gall.

This woman spent years creating online characters that would garner sympathy and make her feel important, not caring how her artificial dramas affected real people. In doing so, she not only stole the time and energy that these real people invested in her fantasy world, she left in her wake an epidemic of self-doubt, sorrow, and distrust.

But it doesn’t make me sad when this happens.  It makes me angry.

So, Butte Münsch, you are on my list of those who will be the first up against the wall when the revolution comes.  And as the blindfold is tied around your eyes, you will hear my voice asking how dare you make a mockery of the real struggles faced by people with chronic or disabling conditions by faking a serious disability? How dare you come into my community to feed upon the kind and caring nature of my friends? How dare you use your utter lack of a meaningful life in the real world as justification to emotionally rape hundreds, perhaps thousands of people, using the Internet?

How dare you.

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