Moderator: Terry E.
mazajo wrote:Thank you both so much for your replies!
Let me give a little more information- My sister says that she was sexually abused by our father all throughout her childhood. I know it's taboo to doubt somebody that says something like that, but it does so happen occasionally that people make that up.
Sure some make it up, but quite a few people these days, are convinced by non-legit 'therapists' that they have 'repressed memories' of abuse. The 'therapy' basically is to convince a very suggestible person, that they were abused. If the person hasn't seen a therapist they may have been convinced of this by reading 'books' or magazine articles.
Repressed memories do happen, but they're nothing mysterious. People tend to lay down distorted or inaccurate memories when under stress. We know that from research. These memories are usually partial or vague. When prompted the person recalls more...but often they'll never remember all of it.
Impressionable people very often are convinced by therapists that they were abused sexually.
HOWEVER....there's a big huge flaw in your reasoning as to why you think she wasn't abused. Read on please.
My reasons for not believing her are, one, we are only two years apart in age and grew up together in the same household with the same father who had equal access to both of us, and he never harmed me in any way. He also would have had access to three stepdaughters and a granddaughter (my sister's daughter who has been raised by her father) all of whom are adults now and insist that they were never abused. How likely is it for a child abuser to be satisfied with abusing only one child during his entire life?
In fact it's not unlikely at all. Quite a few sexual abusers hone in on one child in the family. They MAY also abuse others, perhaps outside the family but simply are never caught. But in fact, yes, some men abuse only one child for quite some time.
My sister even tried to sue him in court over this but the judge threw the case out because of lack of evidence to support her accusations.
There rarely are witnesses to ACTUAL abuse, so that's not really a legitimate reason to disbelieve her either.
I'm not saying she must be telling the truth. I'm saying that you have no grounds to believe she's making it up, because your reasons just aren't valid. Abusers VERY often are only caught with one child, and they VERY often have no witnesses to corroborate the child's story in court. That's because they deliberately timed it and planned it so there would be no witnesses.
By the way, she was in her early 20s when she first accused him, and said that she did remember all of this through dreams. Now she has vidid recollections. I know in practically every case there are people that say the abuser would never do that, but everyone that knows my dad... She also says our mother knew of this while it was happening but did nothing to stop it. Anybody that ever knew my mother would know that she wouldn't do that.
Bull. Many very nice women wind up not stopping abuse. Some have no idea it's going on (if they have a 'normal' sex life with the man, and especially if he's the usual abuser - charming,, convincing and very smooth, they believe their husband and not the one claiming sexual abuse.
AGAIN...not saying he's guilty, but AM saying that all of your 'logic' is not logical at all and flies in the face of 99% of the cases of child molestation.
Because my sister claims this childhood abuse that she suffered caused the PTSD & DID, and I don't believe the abuse story, therefore I assumed she was making up having PTSD & DID.
Again, not a valid assumption...n...not exactly.
She may, for example, have an awful lot of mental distress, and simply has seized on childhood molestation as the explanation. Just because someone makes things up, doesn't mean they are well and happy.
For example, many of my friends who have psychotic disorders, believe with all their hearts, that they were abused. This MAY BE a delusion - a thought that is actually a neurological symptom of a neurological disease, like dementia, or schizophrenia. Those are brain diseases. The person isn't 'making it up for attention'. They truly believe it.
But....studies of abused children, whether it's emotional, physical or sexual, simply do not find that they suffer from dissociative disorders. No, they don't. People with dissociative disorders say they were abused, but the inverse(abused children showing many dissociative symptoms) is actually not been found in research. They often suffer from anxiety, depression and bitterness, lack of trust, sexual promiscuity, substance abuse, and many other problems.
My sister does have a history of making up things to get attention, dating back to when she was in kindergarten and she told her teacher one day, in tears, that her little sister died in an operation and her daddy moved out. The teacher believed her completely and called my mom and was shocked to learn that nothing of this sort was going on at all. Was this an early sign?
It's an 'early sign' that you see her behavior as lying! LOL. It's not a sign of anything else. For all I know, those were early psychotic symptoms, and she's now suffering from a psychotic disorder, and seeing therapist who encourage her to believe that she's been abused and has DID.
You see, DID and PTSD are both kind of 'cool' disorders to have, so many people believe they have these and plenty of therapists are willing to accommodate them. Some of these people are suffering from psychotic depression, others from schizophrenia, others from other disorders. They are often accused of 'lying' or 'trying to get attention'. And they often fall prey to non-legit charlatans who are very charming and convincing.
Looking back, my mom says she wishes she had taken in more seriously but this was the 1970s and they just said my sister had a very active imagination and brushed it off.
Maybe not really imagination at all. Maybe delusions. These can go along with depression or other disorders I listed.
Another reason that I have doubts is that although my sister has been treated for various mental illnesses for over 20 years, she only seems to get worse and worse, never any improvement.
Now we get down to it.
Just because she's 'getting worse', it doesn't necessarily mean 'the treatment didn't work, so she must be faking it'. VERY often, it means the person is so sick they don't keep taking their medication. So they continue to worsen.
She has attempted suicide a few times (ie she calls somebody up and says she's taken a bottle of pills or something like that), she's been in psych wards more times that I know, she is a cutter, she's on disability, she's had ECT, she just got a service dog. She has more knowledge than any text book on every type of mental illness, and treatment, out there.
And guess what? If multiple psychiatrists have diagnosed her with mental illness, and she's tried to kill herself and been hospitalized over and over, and she's a cutter, you know the old saying, right? If it walks like a duck, if it talks like a duck, it's probably a duck. I'm going to bet your sister simply has a serious mental illness. SERIOUS.
Her behavior may be annoying and offensive, but that doesn't mean she's not suffering. And it doesn't mean she's lying, and it doesn't mean she's telling the truth!
Your family may NEVER have been told her real diagnosis - the docs can't share that information with you without her permission, and if she's fallen under the thrall of one of these unscrupulous charlatans she's not going to give you permission to see her real records....same if she's psychotic. When these jerks get ahold of someone who's psychotic it makes for a really bad situation and many very ill people believe these jerks and stop taking the medication that IS helping them.
I do believe she has some type of mental illness for sure, I am just doubting it is actually as she says it is. I guess the bottom line is I do not believe the abuse accusations and I am looking for a reason as to why she would make something like that up.
angelina4 wrote:Boy are you in a minefield. DID is a controversial diagnosis.
That's for sure, many mental health care providers feel it doesn't even exist. Those who do believe it exists, often don't believe it happens at all frequently, and very few believe it exists in the popular culture form - with fairies, animals and mythical beasts and dozens of personalities.
Part of the problem is that the same organization that started the 'moral panic' in the 1980's about widespread demonic cults and demonic rituals and slayings, has taken up the cause of DID, and now insists it's very common and has symptoms that usually accompany other disorders.
The other problem is more complex. We are told that DID is caused by child abuse. So...if that's true, wouldn't you expect to find a lot of DID in a group of severely abused children?
In fact, you don't. People with DID are supposed to have been abused or believe they were abused, but then why, if you evaluate and diagnose either young or adult people who were abused, why don't you find the high rates of DID?
If you study abused children, you just don't find high rates of dissociative disorders among them. You just don't. Why is that? It throws into question the most basic assumption the public has about DID - that it's the product of severe child abuse. But the fact is, you simply do not find high rates of DID among abused children, even if the study follows them for years and years.
The brains of people with DID have been scanned and examined with extreme detail, even during times when 'alters' (additional personalities' are supposed to be 'out'. Finally today's technology now allows such investigation. There isn't any separate picture of the brain or its function, of people with DID - it looks identical to brains with Borderline Personality Disorder. Some researchers feel those with DID really have Borderline, or have a psychotic disorder, depression or combination of these or other disorders.
So (contrary to what this poster says later in this post), I'd disagree that people who have munchausens or DID also have borderline - many people feel both munch and DID are in actuality - borderline PD.
Getting it right really matters. Some of these disorders improve dramatically with correct treatment, so it's very important to 'get it right' - getting a diagnosis wrong can be a matter of life and death.
Plus questioning someone's allegations of abuse is always rough even if you're right. God forbid you're wrong. If she does have Munchausen's - it's unusual for a person with Munchausen's to admit or accept the diagnosis. So again, even if you're right you're guaranteed blowback.
Here's the thing though....Munch Synd is no less controversial than DID - many feel it does not exist as a diagnosis, and is merely depression or other well known - and less glamorous- disorders.
Plus there are a ton of unknowables you're dealing with. What happened decades ago, whether your sister has DID/PTSD and if not, what does she really understand, and if she does understand she doesn't have DID/PTSD, what are her motivations?
I think you're just going to have to live with those unknowables. And certainly nobody here can know at all. But as someone who does have factitious disorder with psychological symptoms I do have a few thoughts.
The main thing is that - even if you're dealing with "abnormal illness behavior" - I'm not sure why you're assuming Munchausen's -
I think she assumes since her sister claims to have DID it must mean she's has Munchausens -- and that's not actually true.
I think she's also assuming her sister pretends to have mental illness to get advantages - perhaps family's attention, money or help.
I've met many, many women who are deeply resentful of their sister's or brother's mental illness, and are CONVINCED it's all a big act, and yes, very often, they tell me that brother or sis told a lie in kindergarten, so that's why they must be faking mental illness.
I've heard this a jillion times already. Usually they're wrong - utterly wrong. They seem to think that all people with 'genuine' mental illness simply sit quietly in a corner and look tragic, or take medicine and are miraculously cured - in fact quite often mental illness is disruptive and the person looks more selfish than tragic and more stubborn than helpless. And quite often people refuse to take the very treatment that would help them, and simply get worse and worse.
Sometimes it's jealousy for attention, pure and simple, or anger at seeing the family constantly in chaos over their sibling's problems.
Sister may simply have been manipulated by a therapist or so dislikes the doctor's actual diagnosis that she feels it must be something else - or she's psychotic.
Or - sister may have a severe mental illness, and truly believes it's DID, or that's the only diagnosis she can accept.
which would mean a level of awareness and conscious intentional deception that I see no evidence of from what you said. Even people who don't believe in DID or recovered memories and what not - usually don't assume factitious disorder. Typically they think that most cases are about the patient being suggestible etc. That it's more about psychotherapy gone wrong than it is about a willfull attempt to deceive.
This is very often true - those with 'fake' recovered memories who have been convinced they were abused, often aren't trying to deceive anyone...they're utterly taken in and convinced by these charming charlatans.
Some are so suggestible that they simply read a book or article and start to fervently believe they were abused.
Others, as I mentioned, are actually psychotic and have delusions. The memories of psychotic people are often very damaged by psychosis. They may be sure things that never happened, did happen.
Or they may forget horrible things that happened. One of my friends was psychotic and couldn't figure out why his mother divorced his father. As far as he could tell, his mother had simply driven his dad away. He had no memory of being beaten so badly almost daily, by his father, that he had permanent brain damage and seizures.
I was very struck by your description of 'the first lie' - when your sister said that someone had died of a horrible disease.
I can think of four people with psychosis, right off the top of my head, who, as children were quite sure one or more of their friends had died of disease. Therefore from my experience it's a common thing for a person who's psychotic or prepsychotic, to believe.
I've seen a lot of posts here by people who think a family member has Munchausen's because they have a long history of thinking or saying they have illnesses that turned out to be unreal. My usual gut reaction is that that mostly those phenomena are totally explainable by more "ordinary" psychosomatic disorders like hypochondria or somatization disorder. There are also lots and lots of people who become intensely identified with their diagnoses and even if it's "real" that can be an abnormal illness behavior. Especially if the real illness is mild or vague, etc.
Other reasons are possible too - I already mentioned some.
So when you say you think she's faking mental illness because it can't be disproven - well maybe you're right, but to me the simpler explanation is that it's easier to deceive yourself that you have a mental illness too and to latch onto a psychiatric diagnosis like a barnicle if it's presented to you if that's the way you're built. Especially for people who have always felt there was something "wrong" with them and didn't know what it was - which probably describes 75% of the world.
On the other hand, 50% of people who will have a serious mental illness, are aware that something is very wrong, by the time they are 14. They may not know what it is - the average time to CORRECT diagnosis after emergence of symptoms of severe mental illness is, after all, 10 years.
The term "Munchausen's" is really reserved for situations where the person clearly and consciously deceives others. It's when the person injects themselves with insulin and denies it. Or claims to be hearing voices when they know they're not hearing anything at all. They say they've lost a loved one who's actually perfectly healthy. That sort of thing.
Munch is done with awareness, in other words.
The other thing is this. Say you're right and she's intentionally faking all this. Then it's factitious disorder probably. But guess what - factitious disorder is almost always associated with severe psychopathology - in particular borderline personality disorder. Guess what another term for borderline personality disorder is? Complex-PTSD. Guess what a lot of people think DID is? A severe form of borderline personality disorder. What is wildly common in borderline personaliy disorder? Childhood abuse.
So you're sort of back where you started - even if it's factitious disorder.
On the other hand, many with factitious disorder have no pathology - they want to avoid responsibility, get medical benefits, or sympathy or family financial support, etc.
Some people who are diagnosed with factitious disorder, have borderline, or severe depression...and not all have a history of child abuse.
Same with Munch. Some of them have been abused, but quite a few have absolutely no 'reason' for having Munch.
Some do, some don't. Some aren't trying to be deceptive at all, and some are consciously being deceptive, some have actually deceived themselves, they aren't actually trying to deceive people, they truly believe what they say.
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