Over the years, we, the general public, have been exposed to various types of stories, coming from different individuals, claiming to be suffering from terminal illnesses. While some of these cases are painfully true, some are not, and they originate from people who just pretend to be sick. These individuals engage in such manipulative actions for either sympathy or money, although some other reasons may at time be at play, LiveScience reports.
With the advent of the modern age, real or fake tragedies are no longer consumed in private all the time. Many people update others regularly via their Internet website profile on the state of their condition, and some have even announced they were about to commit suicide on sites such as Facebook. The new technology also makes it easier for other people to connect, relate and respond to the situation, thus facilitating the job of con artists and crooks conducting scams. But researchers add that, sometimes, the reasons behind pretending to be sick are not necessarily related to gaining sympathy or money, but also to a variety of other, mixed reasons.
There is also a medical cause at times, for all this pretending. The condition known as factitious disorder makes its sufferers believe that they are about to die at the hands of a terminal illness. These people go at great lengths to ensure everybody else that this is true, and will stop at nothing to perpetuate the deceit. A certain type of the condition, known as Munchausen syndrome by proxy, is even more subversive. It manifests itself when patients act exactly as if the children they parented, or care for, are sick or suffering from a terminal illness.
Cases in which people claiming to be ill actually turn out to be alright, and in fact trying to deceive everyone else, carry a major consequence on the public opinion, experts fear. Imagine the scenario in which you are convinced to help a cancer victim, send some money, and then get all of your friends to contribute. In the end, it all turns out to be a hoax. That will not sit well with you or your friends. However, scientists seem to think that the general public has a lot more good-will and altruism than can be tainted by crooks.