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Ask Tamara Your Own Question
Tamara, Counselor & Psychotherapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1073
Experience:  20+ yrs Private Practice; Cert. Master Therapist; National Board Certified; APA Board Certified
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How do you convince someone you love that their boyfriend's

Resolved Question:

How do you convince someone you love that their boyfriend's cancer diagnosis of over a year ago is fake (especially since there has been no treatment and he says the Dr.s are "still testing")?
Submitted: 6 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Tamara replied 6 years ago.
Hi. Welcome to JustAnswer. I'm pleased to try to help you today.
Could you please give me a little more information about this situation. Who are the people involved? How do you know that the diagnosis is fake? Please let me know, and I'll be glad to provide a more detailed answer to your question. Tamara
Customer: replied 6 years ago.

It is my 18 year old daughter who is involved with the cancer faker. I know it's fake as somebody doesn't get a cancer diagnosis for then a year of supposed testing. The testing takes place before the diagnosis is made, not after. This guy is lies lies lies and all sorts of ploys for her undivided attention. He cheats on her and is happy to blame complete innocents for all of his misdeeds. I am thinking that if we can get it through her head that the cancer is fake, then maybe she will finally believe that this guy is nothing but trouble all wrapped up in lies and manipulation.

Expert:  Tamara replied 6 years ago.
What kind of cancer does he say he has?
Customer: replied 6 years ago.


Expert:  Tamara replied 6 years ago.
I assume you have tried to talk with your daughter about this. What have you said and what has her response been?
Customer: replied 6 years ago.

We've discussed with her that it's just unreasonable for somebody to be that sick and not get treatment and just some sort of testing for a year now. We have also discussed the impossibility of somebody other than him to responsible for his misdeeds although he is happy to throw his own family members under the bus and blame them for "impersonating" him.

She seems to be blinded by this guy's manipulations and believes every word out of his mouth and tells us he's "perfect". Incidentally, they are both 18.

Expert:  Tamara replied 6 years ago.
I'm so sorry to hear that you are having to deal with this situation with your daughter. It sounds like this kid has quite a hold on her, which certainly must be scary and frustrating for you as her parents. As you are aware, this behavior points to some psychological problems in your daughter's boyfriend, esp. around the need for attention, sympathy and drama. It is difficult to get someone (like your daughter) to look at the reality of the situation, esp. if she is getting something out of this also (enjoying being a caretaker).

There are several good books on this subject, that might be worth reading, and then trying to get your daughter to read also. They are: Playing Sick?: Untangling the Web of Munchausen Syndrome, Munchausen by Proxy, Malingering, and Factitious Disorder by Marc D. Feldman and Patient or Pretender: Inside the Strange World of Factitious Disorders by Marc D., M.D. Feldman. Even if your daughter won't read them, they will give you more information on the subject, and also some ideas about how to deal with the situation.

The bot***** *****ne is that your daughter is 18, and the more you try to push her into believing he is lying, the more likely she is to defend him, and thus be more inclined to feel protective of him. So you might want to consider backing off of trying to convince her, and instead encourage her to get more information on liver cancer and to research how she can help him. Through this process, she will become more aware, and it will be easier for her to see that he isn't being honest. It's a fine line to walk to try to be supportive of your daughter, while also giving her the room to make some mistakes. But the more she can feel that you are supportive of her (and not trying to break up the relationship), the more she will be able to see the truth.

Don't quit trying. Just try to pursue it from the perspective of encouraging her to educate herself about the B.S. he tells her. Don't attack her (or him). She'll figure it out eventually.

Best wishes, and please let me know if I can answer any further questions. Tamara
Customer: replied 6 years ago.

I don't think the problem is defined by the cancer lie but it seems to be the most glaring one which all of a sudden came up when she was applying to colleges and writing the required essays. In other words, she was unable to shower him with his required attention 24/7 so he ramped it up with the cancer. Now she is in college and he is texting her all day long..sometimes I see 3 or 4 texts from him in a row and then it's back and forth all through her classes. We not only love her and want her to succeed but we are paying lots of tuition money which we began to save when the pregnancy test came back positive 18 years ago.

I think the guy is a card carrying sociopath who has hold of her via his charm and ability to lie about anything and everything. Here is another way to maybe come to the same conclusion. I know there is lots out there about psychopathic/sociopathic traits. What are the traits of one of their victims while in the blinded and bedazzled stage? (I've not been able to find anything on the web per the bedazzled stage of the victim) Maybe if we asked her about that, maybe she will see something ring true about her new self since he came along.

Also, believing he is a sociopath, it's really hard for 2 parents who love her and each other to sit by and just watch a potential train wreck unfold.

Expert:  Tamara replied 6 years ago.
Well, then I guess that's more of a problem. It certainly does sound like he could be a sociopath. And if he's a good one, then she is going to be taken in by him. I don't know that there are any characteristics of "victims" of sociopaths - although being gullible is certainly one of them. But that doesn't mean there is anything wrong with your daughter. Again, if he's a good sociopath, then it's easy for someone to be taken in, and slowly exposed to more and more lies, which they no longer have the ability to objectively look at. You can certainly tell your daughter your concerns, but again, if she thinks she loves him, then you are likely going to be pushing her more toward him.

I can understand your concern about college. I think, however, your options are limited, given that she is an adult. You could take her phone away from her - but I doubt that would work in your favor. I think a better approach would be to sit her down and just be very honest with her about what you see with this boy, and what your concerns are. Tell her your concerns about her texting in class, and explain to her that she has an obligation to keep her grades up if you are going to pay for her college. Set some limits around what you expect (in terms of grades) and then leave it up to her to follow through. If she has all the information, and she is treated with respect and concern, hopefully she will begin to see through this behavior.

Good luck with everything. Tamara
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