The tic in TikTok and (where) all systems go: Mass social media induced illness and Munchausen’s by internet as explanatory models for social media associated abnormal illness behavior

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations

Abstract

This paper explores the recent phenomenon of adolescents presenting en masse (both online and in clinical settings) with symptoms seemingly acquired from viewing illness-related content posted by social media influencers. The most frequently reproduced illnesses have included Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) and Tourette Syndrome. It discusses evidence that the recent spate of new-onset, severe tics are a form of Mass Psychogenic Illness facilitated by social media networks (a phenomenon labeled Mass Social Media Induced Illness). It then suggests that many of those self-diagnosed with DID may be manifesting a similar, technologically-facilitated conversion phenomenon. It then explores another explanatory model: that these simulacra of DID and Tourette Syndrome may also arise via a mechanism more closely resembling social media facilitated Factitious Disorder. Similar presentations, of individuals falsifying cancer, have previously been labeled Munchausen’s by Internet. It then proposes an overarching construct, Social Media Associated Abnormal Illness Behavior (SMAAIB), that is agnostic regarding phenomenology. Within this framework, it explores the ways in which de-commodifying attention, connection and care (measured once in appointments and admissions, now in ‘likes’ and ‘shares’) and obtaining a full picture of the patient’s psychological, sociological and cultural grounding can offer deeper understanding and ultimately a path to wellness.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)270-278
Number of pages9
JournalClinical Child Psychology and Psychiatry
Volume28
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 2023

Keywords

  • Factitious disorder
  • Munchausen’s by internet
  • TikTok
  • conversion disorder
  • dissociative identity disorder
  • internet
  • mass social media induced illness
  • social media

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'The tic in TikTok and (where) all systems go: Mass social media induced illness and Munchausen’s by internet as explanatory models for social media associated abnormal illness behavior'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this