The Lying Disease: The Disturbing Case Of Kathryn Narcisi, The ‘Healing Life Movement’, And Munchausen By Internet Disorder
Is Kathryn 'KC Hill' Narcisi truly ill, merely malingering for profit, or a sufferer of a newly emerging mental disorder coined as 'Munchausen by Internet?"
There was something that simply did not sit right about that viral video taken at Kent Hospital in Rhode Island, in the wee hours of the morning in February 2019. A wheelchair-bound woman sat in the waiting area, distraught and crying as she stammered off her story of purported medical malpractice to her husband filming behind his cell phone camera. She had suffered a stroke, they claimed, and was being thrown out into the bitter-cold darkness at 4:30am. The story that followed was even more puzzling – despite suffering from multiple life-threatening auto immune diseases, the couple claimed:
“…..Long short of it, this doctor told my wife either she gets MRI or they were kicking her out as she didn’t believe she was even sick and was making it all up, AFTER they already said they were keeping her for the night mind you. And that’s exactly what they did…two security guards, 2 doctors, a nurse, and social worker escorted Kat in a wheel chair and placed her in the waiting room at 2:30AM and left me a phone message stating come pick up my wife, for which I did not receive. After an hour, Kat called the Hopkinton Police and sent them to my home to alert me of the situation, and the video below is how I found my poor wife at 4:30AM….mind you, she had a stroke at 5PM, rushed to ER by ambulance, and because the Dr (might be Santilli???) didn’t think my wife was having a stroke because she wouldn’t take an MRI.
I have NEVER seen such poor treatment of a patient before in my life. Just thought I would share with you all…especially those of you with autoimmune disease. The stroke was not like someone with TIA or blood clot, etc…it’s caused from inflammation and her autoimmune disease causing this situation. It does not show on CT scan, not the same situation.
Was her head pounding and immense pain happening? check!…did her face droop? check!!! did she lose feeling in the opposite side of her body? check!!! Could she walk? NO!
The ENT’s stated she was having a stroke, because she was!
Typical doctors looking at tests and not the symptoms, as they do often with auto immune disease.”
–Metro A. Narcisi III, Facebook Post
That woman is Kathryn “KC Hill” Narcisi, and that post opened a Pandora’s box of sordid drama and apparent deception, playing out on the pages of this blog like the most histrionic of daytime television dramas. Strings of failed marriages, allegations of trauma and abuse, lofty claims of celebrity, success and grandeur – all the contents of Narcisi’s life, well-documented across the pages of her multiple social media accounts. Her posts give a startling and oft-dubious account of a perpetual cycle of dire health situations and increasingly dismal prognoses, punctuated by “miraculous” recoveries (that she, of course, navigates by her own skill and determination – and the use of her own holistic ‘healing’ line products). With every new post, claim, and vehement denial of any deception, it would appear more and more cracks in the Narcisi’s tales appear. As I learned earlier this month, the portrait of a dysfunctional and fractured marriage sharpens by every public plea they make to just trust the story, to just leave them alone – despite continued bids for attention and exposure online.
But why would these two pull incomprehensible, attention-seeking stunts like this? For attention, or financial gain? Or perhaps Kathryn is truly ill, perhaps her suffering need not be physical to be valid.
The answer may be more complicated than is easily grasped. The Internet is a honeypot for people feigning illness and other tragedy.
Faking illness, trauma, or violence, is really nothing new. As early as Roman times, physicians complained about lying patients. And in the 19th century, talk of “factitious disorder” emerged – a category of mental illness in which the patient fakes being sick (or by proxy, fakes a child or relative is ill) without receiving any obvious benefit, such as financial or sick leave. They can often cause themselves great harm, by injuring themselves to mimic symptoms of serious illness, altering diagnostic tests, even undergoing painful or risky tests and operations in order to obtain the sympathy and special attention given to people who are truly medically ill. Often known as Munchausen syndrome, named for Baron von Munchausen, an 18thcentury German officer who was known for embellishing the stories of his life and experiences, factitious disorder is in of itself its own brand of suffering, and is incredibly difficult to diagnose, let alone treat. Those afflicted often never admit to the true nature of their malady, traveling from doctor to doctor until the ruse runs the risk of being discovered.
Then, in the late ‘90s, researchers began to notice something different about “factitious disorders” that appeared online. Psychiatrist Marc Feldman observed in 1998, Internet identities are malleable already, which makes an illness that much easier to fake. With so many online communities devoted to health, such frauds find willing and gullible victims readily. The Internet, it turns out, profoundly enables factitious disorders — and it makes them much more difficult to discover and treat. Take for instance the case of Belle Gibson, a now-disgraced wellness blogger and “guru” from Australia who was exposed in 2015 as a compulsive liar and fraud.
Gibson had claimed a multitude of extreme health issues, including terminal cancer, three heart operations, two heart attacks, a stroke, and once, a death on the operation room table. She used highly publicized claims that her ‘whole food based diet’ and holistic approach to health cured these severe conditions to market her ‘The Whole Pantry’ diet and book as a safe and natural cure for a variety of ailments. If that rings slightly familiar to you, it may be because Narcisi appears to have her own scheme modeled after the Belle Gibson blueprint.
Needless to say, this is all speculative. But KC Hill Narcisi’s claims about her medical issues are, without a doubt, extreme and difficult to substantiate – inconsistent and illogical. Whether she is truly ill, suffering from a factitious disorder, or simply malingering for profit is hard to say. For Belle Gibson, it was her choice to profit that lead to her downfall, as a consumer affairs investigation outed her scam once and for all. As Narcisi has chosen the same dubious industry, this may be rather prophetic for her.
You can read about the signs of factitious disorder here.