Saturday, October 06, 2007

Munchausen's by 9/11

Recently we have seen a rash of stories related to 9/11, that has me wondering if such an event, catastrophic and "society changing" in nature, acts as a catalyst or a magnet for "wannabes" and attention seekers. In fact, others I have spoken to, have I think rightfully suggested, that such behaviors may be a variation of the mental illness known as "Munchausen's Disease".

Munchausen's Disease or Syndrome, named after the tall tale telling Baron VonMunchausen of the late 18th century, involves the fabrication of symptoms/signs consistent with a medical illness in order to gain sympathy and medical attention. Unlike malingering, the patient/victim is not creating their story/illness for financial or material gain.

An example of the illness would be someone who takes chemical cleaner and purposely exposes their skin to such, in order to create welts/rash that would then be presented to a clinician for assessment/investigation.

So how does this relate to 9/11. There are a growing number of such cases, but lets take a look at two.

Case #1: Tania Head.


She has alleged that she was in the WTC when the 9/11 attacks occured.
She claims to have been burned from the fires that raged, and treated in a hospital afterward. Now, however, it has come to light that (A) her Fiance's/husband's family deny she was ever in a relationship with him, and (B) her alleged employer has no record of her ever working for them.

So the question is, if she was lieing, why? Perhaps one could make an argument for financial gain. Has she profited financially from her story? I do not know. I do know that she has gained considerable fame, and a tremendous amount of attention from the story. Sympathy was thrown upon her like a big cozy blanket. So is this a variation on Munchausen's? Is this a form of factitious disorder? If true, I think so.

Case #2: Kevin McPadden.


This man, claiming to be a soldier and medic, also claims to have been at GZ on 9/11. However, he also claims to have been on the scene near WTC7 when it was about to collapse, AND he claims he heard a COUNTDOWN to the collapse over a radio nearby.

Now his story is not backed up by anyone else who was with him that day. His credentials as soldier seem to check out, although the title of medic may be in question.

More disturbing than his hearsay fantasy, is how it has evolved as he has garnished more and more attention from the 9/11 truth movement. At first what he heard was incomprehensible but "pulsatile" talk over the nearby radio. Now however, the man claims to have clearly heard a countdown to the collapse, which he claims intentional, of WTC7. Over the time his story has changed, Mr. McPadden has become a hero to the movement, talking before crowds, and interviewed for radio and websites. He is the Rosetta Stone for the truth movement, a whistleblower who was there...but was he, and if he was, is his story true, or an attention seeking lie fabricated and/or exaggerated in order to gain a cult following?

So if Kevin McPadden's or Tania Head's stories turn out to be false, or greatly exaggerated, are they examples of Munchausen's by Catastrophe, or in this case, "Munchausen's by 9/11"?

Only time will tell.

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Blogger Conspiracy Smasher said...

Resposted on my blog...

3:25 PM  
Blogger SDC said...

I'm a little unsure where I am, not being too tech savvy. Anyhow... I posted yesterday on this, in the middle of some heavy gardening, and didn't stop to edit. Not a good idea. Anyhow, here is what I'm thinking about. Is there a continuum of self-promotion? Where is it ordinary self-promotion (as we all do), and when is it mental illness? It's interesting that T.Head seems to have used her deception to help others (as well as gain some indirect "glory"). She hurt others by deceiving them, but (for example) she doesn't seem to have directly harmed anyone by theft, etc.

K.McPadden? I think his story isn't at all clear, yet. He seems to be helping an inglorious cause (Truthers and Truthettes), but he isn't at the front lines, and he isn't directly profiteering. Others of this ilk both elbow to the front lines, and look for profit.

Does this have any impact on the question of whether there is some sort of mental illness here, that they are not doing any actual, direct harm? Or actually harming themselves? (Except perhaps by humiliation.) Obviously, I can't say, I have no medical or psychiatric experience. But it is interesting to think about.

I've been reminded of the many cases of men who, in the post-Vietnam war decades, declared themselves to have been Special Forces, or (for some reason) Navy Seals seem to have been very popular. (Miraculously, none of these characters have been clerk-typists or laundrymen.) Sometimes these deceivers have been in the public eye -- there was, I think, a Major League baseball manager (?) named Tim Johnson who made various claims and evidently told captivating stories, but it was a fraud.

With regard to my friend who was stationed in Southeast Asia in the late 1960s and saw a little combat (he was mostly based in Thailand, I believe, and he sometimes served in convoys). Ca.1990, the NY Times had a flurry of "I wish I'd been manly enough to have gone into the army and seen combat" essays, by men who were then about 40 and had, if not outright dodged the draft, had at least slid through without exposing themselves to the draft (wasn't hard if you stayed in school -- see Cheney). It really upset my friend who would rant that anyone who'd been in any sort of combat would never wish it on anyone else, etc. But these essays didn't represent any sort of mental illness. Still, there was something in them of deceit, and self-deceit, of brave behavior in a great tragedy or situation where heroism might be displayed.

Does this have anything to do with Munchausen? I don't know. It all somehow links, to me, but I'm not a professional psychologist. It's as though tragic or desperate events draw the eye, and that also draws... the people who need the eye.

Whatever that means. I think we will see many more such as the years pass; 9-11 "Munchausens," I mean. How many are mentally ill? Are there particular characteristics? Men vs women? Is it somehow typically American, because of our national ethic of self-reinvention? Are British and Canadians inclined to this, though their national ethics seem more self-effacing than the American?

Over to you. Good luck. I hope this space doesn't became another cesspool of rage, as so many seem to. Sorry for the length of this essay.

9:14 AM  
Blogger The Artistic Macrophage said...

thanks for the reply...excellent post.


12:08 PM  
Blogger Jason said...

Wow, TAM- this is a new low, even for you. You've essentially created a brand-new illness (or variation) for the eyewitnesses whose stories don't fit in with what you believe happened on 9/11.

I wouldn't believe it if I didn't see it with my own eyes.

You seem to be a big fan of taking each individual anomaly from 9/11 and analyzing it individually. When you do that, everything can be neatly dismissed as "isolated" and/or "uncorroborated". Step back. Look at the big picture. There's a ton of corroborating evidence - eyewitness accounts, physical evidence, and scientific evidence.

When you single everything out, of course it's going to be "isolated" - I could use the same method for "proving" that nobody really attended the SuperBowl last year.

"They claim to have sat in section 12, row 9, seats 5 & 6; however, how come nobody else has come forward to claim they were also there? Debunked."

"They claim to have sat in section 94, row 4, seats 12 & 13; however, how come nobody else has come forward to claim they were also there? Debunked - sounds like a new mental illness."


10:47 PM  
Blogger SDC said...

This is in answer to Jason. Your comments are churlish. TAM is one of the most civil and reasonable of all of those who discuss the topic of 9/11. (On any side.)

With regard to "Munchausen's", that is a real disease, though it isn't clear whether it applies in these cases. One may argue that McPadden's recollections are valid, but Head's, which do not support any conspiracy theory but only serve to put herself in the middle of things, are quite a different matter.

And with regard to the anomalies matter, it is the Truthers who do that. The overwhelming weight of evidence is on the side of what many call the "official" theory. The opponents pick at anomalies and (in McPadden's case) changes in stories and purported recollections.

Please try to stay civil.

5:12 AM  

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