“Munchausen Syndrome” refers to people who make themselves sick to get attention. “Munchausen by Proxy” generally involves a mother who makes her child sick for the same reason. The conditions have often been fodder for television detective and medical dramas and the movie The Sixth Sense.
Although Feldman, an adjunct professor of psychiatry at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, discussed Munchausen by Internet in a research paper more than 10 years ago, he says the incidence of the disorder increases steadily due to a rise in social networking and online support groups.
A proliferation of medical websites has also supplied the information needed to concoct faux symptoms associated with real terminal diseases.