Munchausen by Internet: Faking Illness Online

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Cinnabar

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Last but not least among serial killer "methodologies", we have women who kill their own children. These women we usually label as Munchausens Syndrome by Proxy (MSBP). We surmise they have a disorder, some latent mental condition from a horrible childhood that causes them to murder their own kids. They must be mentally ill; no, they must be insane. We struggle to understand how any mother could kill her own children. What we seem to not comprehend is the fact that these mothers could care less about their own children. They are just like other serial killers; they are psychopaths, and psychopaths who care about no one but themselves.
In the confines of "home" these very calculating women go undetected, at most suspected, and there is very little the judicial system can do as hospitals don't want to get embroiled. These women may be crazy, but like a fox.

http://www.trutv.com/library/crime/criminal_mind/psychology/munchausen_syndrome/index.html

Munchausen syndrome by proxy is a potentially deadly form of child abuse that is often so subtle as to go unnoticed. More professionals in many fields ranging from hospital physicians to front-line child protection workers need a better understanding of the warning signs of MSBP so that families embroiled in this type of abuse might be better assisted by workers in various disciplines. Munchausen syndrome by proxy may be the most poorly addressed and undiagnosed form of child abuse present in America today. Until social workers and other professionals take it upon themselves to spread education about the syndrome and its very real presence in our society, it will continue to go unnoticed or misread far too often, and children will continue to suffer and die from its survival.
Discussing wheather or not one with MSBP deserves our sympathy or not is really not relevant when we're talking about the death of children at their own hands. I don't care what "drives" Mrs. Smith. I want to know "who" she "is" not why. Why not reasearch and share "here" the tell tale signs? Your next door neighbor's child could be having one too many illnesses.

http://www.uic.edu/classes/socw/socw517/munchausencullen.htm


About Internet Perpetrators: I've read two posts claiming that a member here showed some of the signs mentioned below. I don't think posting was the best route but obviously there were at least two concerned members. (Read as how to best handle suspisions.) Here are some of the signs:

Abstract said:
Clues to Detection of False Claims (Page 1 in this thread provided by Bernard)

Based on experience with two dozen cases of Munchausen by Internet, I have arrived at a list of clues to the detection of factititous Internet claims. The most important follow:
>the posts consistently duplicate material in other posts, in books, or on health-related websites;
>the characteristics of the supposed illness emerge as caricatures;
>near-fatal bouts of illness alternate with miraculous recoveries;
>claims are fantastic, contradicted by subsequent posts, or flatly disproved;
>there are continual dramatic events in the person's life, especially when other group members have become the focus of attention
>there is feigned blitheness about crises (e.g., going into septic shock) that will predictably attract immediate attention
> others apparently posting on behalf of the individual (e.g., family members, friends) have identical patterns of writing.

Lessons

Perhaps the most important lesson is that, while most people visiting support groups are honest, all members must balance empathy with circumspection. Group members should be especially careful about basing their own health care decisions on uncorroborated information supplied in groups. When Munchausen by Internet seems likely, it is best to have a small number of established members gently, empathically, and privately question the author of the dubious posts. Even though the typical response is vehement denial regardless of the strength of the evidence, the author typically will eventually disappear from the group. Remaining members may need to enlist help in processing their feelings, ending any bickering or blaming, and refocusing the group on its original laudable goal.
Personal Note: I take a great interest in the welfare of our children. Also, a great interest when persons with MSBP infiltrate Support Groups. I had attended an outside Suport Group for persons having DID, witnessed and eventually confronted a fraud who had turned our sensitve members upside down, causing some breakdowns.

So, let's educate ourselves and share. Again, let's not waist time and energy as to wheather or not we should have sympathy for these people. What about sympathy for "their" victims. And let's protect ourselves from being harmed or mislead by Muchausen by Internet.
 
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Ruth

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About Internet Perpetrators: I've read two posts claiming that a member here showed some of the signs mentioned below. I don't think posting was the best route but obviously there were at least two concerned members.
I believe we need to educate ourselves, as well. I am concerned about those 2 posts that you mentioned. While educating ourselves, are we going to start accusing people that we think have the signs?

Rae1889, thank you for letting me know about the "Munckins" means dwarfs.
 
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Cinnabar

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The major point of my post is to focus less on wheather of not we should have sympathy for these people. I feel it is irrelevant in the big picture. Children are dying.

To address your question:

Supplied by Bernard on page one of this thread.
Abstract said:
Perhaps the most important lesson is that, while most people visiting support groups are honest, all members must balance empathy with circumspection. Group members should be especially careful about basing their own health care decisions on uncorroborated information supplied in groups.
Backed up the above as a cautionary note. It is "dangerous" to the community here to willy nilly point fingers without "firm" knowledge of the syndrome and part of this includes being aware of the signs. I think if we band together as group supplying each other with links and educate each other about the syndrome, opening up this thread to a "sharing format", would benefit us all. The "uninformed" finger pointer is a "danger", possibly sentencing an innocent member as pariah to this family here at CWE. Focus on education.

I don't think posting was the best route but obviously there were at least two concerned members.
Concern is a good thing. But be reasonable and not let it turn into an accusation. Again, no one has the right to accuse without taking the responsibility to educate themselves.
 
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Nakamova

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A gentle reminder: If someone has a concern about the behavior of a CWE member, they should PM Bernard or one of the moderators, rather than hint at something in a public post.

That said, I think it's definitely beyond the purview of those of us here at CWE to diagnose a member as having Munchausen, or Munchausen by Proxy. It's a serious disorder, but not one that can or should be diagnosed at a distance (including the distance of the internet). CWE is a great place for exchanging advice and comfort, with the important caveat that we are not doctors -- we can offer suggestions, share experiences, and make very educated guesses, but we can't make definitive diagnoses, and we shouldn't fingerpoint or gossip. Remember that we are guests here at the amazing dinner party that Bernard is hosting, and should treat others as we would wish to be treated ourselves.
 

Ruth

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Nakamova, I agree. I am not a doctor and I will not diagnose anyone.

The way you say to handle it, is discreet and correct. We do not know the circumstances of a person. This is a great place that Bernard has made for us and I would hate to see it wrecked by gossip.
 

Cinnabar

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I've researched "treatments" for MSBP and came up with little so far. Not as much as I would have liked to have read. Though, I have come to understand that people with this syndrome usually have either Dependent or Paranoid Personality Disorders. And medications are only dispensed to them if they have an accompanying disorder such as an anxiety disorder. Both noted in the article. If medication "were' dispensed I imagine the patient would be treated in the hospital, away from the child should she "treat" the child with her own medication, and undergo "intensive" psychotherapy. But from what I've read this sounds like we would be living in an "ideal world". If anyone can provide a link which provides more information about treatment, send it on over. In my search I was looking for a success story. Even deep searches provided nothing.

Note: A few posts back I stated
I don't care what "drives" Mrs. Smith.
I recant this statement because, after some thought, I do believe it is important to understand the causes. Not so much so because I've made a complete turn around and have sympathy for the persons but I feel not talking about it limits discussions in this thread. In general, I am fascinated how the mind works and people with MSBP are are really no exception. Because I've seen this syndrome in action causing irreputable damage, I was especially vocal about never minding their pathology, biased, and focused only on their victims. The whole picture should be open for discussion.

Here is the paultry information I could find:

How is Muchausen sydrome by proxy treated?
Protection of the child is the highest priority in all treatment phases. A hospitalized child may be protected by medical staff, children's protective services workers, and possibly police. If the child is currently not hospitalized, he or she is placed in safe custody away from the caregiver. Other children in the family may also be removed from parental custody. It is expected that symptoms will stop after the child is placed away from the caregiver. An individual physician is assigned as the child's primary doctor.

Treatment for the caregiver usually is coordinated through the legal system. Long-term psychotherapy is used to help the caregiver acknowledge and express her need for support, respect, and connection. Dealing with these emotional needs more directly may help prevent her from projecting them onto her child. Therapy also focuses on helping her to develop empathy, so she understands the effect her behavior has had on her child. Medications are used as treatment only if another diagnosed condition, such as anxiety disorder, exists along with MSBP.

Caregivers with MSBP very often resist treatment. Typically, they experience extreme denial about the problem and diagnosis. Also, these caregivers often try to manipulate health professionals involved in their treatment. MSBP behavior has a high recurrence rate, and close monitoring and continuous counseling are usually needed.

http://www.revolutionhealth.com/conditions/mental-behavioral-health/munchausen?section=section_00
 
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The whole thing makes me ill.And yet there is so much involved.So much. I take my boy to an epileptologist, something that I do know about. He makes a diagnosis.How does that effect everybody around Him?Now I'm just poking at the brain.We do different things for different reasons. The way we were raised. The way we feel about ourselves.Its scary to me. I think we just want to be loved and some people just don't know how to ask for it.So here it is. A non judgemental hug for anyone who needs it.Here you are cared for and loved completely and without judgement. Teresa
 

Ruth

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Hi Stilldancing, I agree, we have to remember why Bernard made our great forum.

Bernard made this forum out of love for his wife Stacy. That love is spread to everyone here, no matter what our health problems are.
 

brain

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Good Point Ruth - and here's the answer:

The first time I heard of the word "munchausen" was in the movie The Wizard of Oz. It was referring to the dwarfs in the beginning part of the movie.

This unintentionially happens to a child while growing up, as I understand it. Am I wrong here? Would the child who becomes an adult then do it purposfully to their own child? Or not knowing what happened to them, would it be unintentional? Thank you for the link cinnabar. I read the whole article.

In which case the person should be told, in my opinion.
This is where the problematic issue lies and is troublesome in
the medical field within is confronting the patient themselves.
Sufficient enough for Medical Doctors to confront the patient
of what they have in the most simplest manner when the patient
themselves are in the realm of deception and/or being
disillusioned and/or being non-compliant.

How would you, as a Medical Physician; Confront such patient
who is in pure disbelieving manner?

No matter how careful you word it out (or paint that canvas),
they are not going to receive what you (the Medical Physician)
are going to say - they are either going to:

1) Let it go in one ear and out the other

or

2) Storm off and find another Physician and downplay your
reputation and label you as a "Quack"

Tough call.

Even careful preparations and planning in sending a patient out
to Specialist(s) who are well trained in this field - doesn't always
work out as it should. WHY? Because the patient will have to be
willing to overcome this problem.

The only time one can ever come against one's own will if they
ever post a hazard to themselves or others or even making threats
or meets the criteria and qualifies for being forced to receive care
against their will. But even with that implication doesn't mean that
they would be "cured" or "treated" of this problematic cause; for
they can be clever and coy and be out of the Hospital before you
know it and right back to square one all over again.

It is frustrating and not only that - a problematic issue for everyone,
not just online but as well as offline too.

Altogether - it's sad.

But can it be treated as a child? That is a difficult situation to look into
and they are still studying this area. It once was led to believe that
specific child(ren) of this typical home are often the criteria cause
but they are finding that this is not the case as they were led to
believe, in fact, is just the opposite.

I must imply the whole thing itself is a complex and comprehensive
field altogether as a whole - because it has such a huge vast and
wide scope which comes from a massive array of different horizons
that one cannot narrow down the whole entity in its own aspects.

As one article (which I failed to bookmark it as it was just a short
"white paper" notation) had mentioned that I wanted to bring it up
was this quote that I haven't forgotten .... "is it a learned behavior?"
which was quoted by a well known Psychiatrist.

I just wished I book-marked it because I would have known who the
Psychiatrist was and the title of that article, for I am positive there
would have been more follow ups or up-to-dates on this area.

In my personal viewpoint, I have a feeling he may very well be right;
with it being a learned behavior. That is just my own personal feelings,
but I wouldn't be surprised if the findings and the results comes up
with that towards the end in Psychiatry and Neurology.
 

Rae1889

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Yeah.
I think acceptance is a hard thing to find no matter what illness you have. Because someone is always nto going to understand it, be afraid of it, or be ignorant to it. But things will never be perfect. Without the jerks and liars out there, we wouldnt better appreciate the loving and caring and truthful people. We wouldnt actually know they are taking a step more for us.

And with each illness, every person who has that illness has a different take on it. Some people dont care. some people hate themselves for it. some hate others for it. So people feel the need to flaunt it, while other think they need to hide.

I think that things are all a part of life. Yeah sometimes things dont go your way, and yeah sometimes things can seem overwhelming. I've been that and done that hundreds of times in the few months since the definitive diagnosis. and that's what being human is. You take things how they are. if your healthy, then you should be happy to be healthy and happy to be who you are. not wanting to fake something or put yourself and others into alot of stress. both pyshically and mentally and emotionally. If your sick, then you need to take in all the little things in life that mean so much. your cozy warm bed, or just drinking a cup of hot coffee. sleeping in those extra 5 minutes. Life is not something you want to waste lying and faking through. Enjoy what you have. or in the end, you wont have anything to enjoy.
 

brain

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Yeah.
Life is not something you want to waste lying and faking through. Enjoy what you have. or in the end, you wont have anything to enjoy.
Love that last line you stated it so well!


:clap:
 

Cinnabar

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I've always said "If you're going to lie you better be damn brilliant at it or don't bother at all." The lies will catch up with you. And I agree with Rae. Who would want to spend their life "straining" to make sure they don't contradict their own lies? It is a waste. It's really not "living" life.
Rae 1889 said:
Life is not something you want to waste lying and faking through.
Brain said:
"is it a learned behavior?"
Sharon, this is a very interesting question. I've done some research this weekend and discovered MSBP can in fact be a result of learned behavior. These people are psychopaths and I've often wondered if it's innate. One of my findings.
Psychopathy may be hereditary. The psychopath's immediate family usually suffer from a variety of personality disorders.
I think with any disorder, negative, harmful familial influence can increase the symptoms. For example I "inherited" Bi-Polar I Disorder. It runs rampant on both sides of my family. And thank God, after finding the right medication cocktail I've been symptomatic free for over a decade. BUT my doctor told me if I had had a healthier family life I might have fallen into the Bi-Polar II category which is less severe. Could this be the case with persons with MSBP? I wonder. They'd still be ill but would they direct their pathology away from their children?

http://personalitydisorders.suite101.com/article.cfm/psychopathantisocial
 
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brain

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True, True - on your comment in regards to learned
behavior and being hereditary. But in this case, new
findings are reflecting the latter being untrue; for
the hereditary always has a display or trait or behavior
(one or some or all) that manifests and grows - but not
so with a learned behavior which becomes like a "habit",
just like when you bite your fingernails.

When you bite your fingernails - is that hereditary or is
it a learned behavior? The answer is - learned behavior!
You see others do it and in turn develop the habit (Sorry
folks, same application applies on chewing erasers off of
pencils!)

:paperbag:

FYI: I had to "unlearn" the behavior of "unchewing" erasers
off of pencils ... so it wasn't a hereditary trait.

But for some folks - if you ever notice, especially when someone
is trying to diet? quit smoking? quit drinking? What do they do?
Revert back to what they learned - e.g. - chewing erasers off
of pencils in lieu ...

Putting a factual humor example here for illustration purposes.

----------------------------------

I am curious with the NEW FINDINGS and DISCOVERIES of this
outcome. Especially if one did a lot of research would have found
that He/She had not (or no) display or characteristics of such
behavior until XX time until it manifested. It could be at any
given age.

The last time I ventured through was the studies, of those who
had such symptoms intermingled with those who did not - and how
such were of any influence (that is - if it did have any impact).
I haven't seen any final reports; but that of course takes months
or even years of studies to prove it and sometimes even worldwide
cases being involved to come to an established proof.

But that isn't all - the treatments, the procedures, etc - in dealing
with people who have such and the best way to handle and the
overall percentile rate of success.

Man - that is one big research project; and if I were asked to volunteer,
that's one area I would gracefully decline ... for obvious reasons! I don't
like to pick up bad habits!

So there's one research down the drain that you can count on
me "unvolunteering" (it's not a word, but it is now! LOL!)....

;)
 

Cinnabar

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From a cuticle biter to a eraser biter, I will say that you open up ground for a great discussion. And I understand you "unvolenteering" further research. My cuticles are picked to the core! But here I go anyway. I remember in psych 101 discussing if Schizophrenia was inherited or learned behavior. I thought at the time of my mother who had been diagnosed as Schizophrenic. I neither inherited it nor learned it and I remember some outragious stuff. And of course it did affect me.

In my personal case having DID, I like all others with my condition, are born with the "propensity" to self hypnotize. (Here, we're talking about the liklihood of inheriting a trait). The trait. To put ourselves in "another place" during trauma, unaware that we're using self-hypnosis. In this case, "keen observation" figures in this picture more so than learned behavior. And as you said, this "propensity" or "inheritied trait" does manage to grow and rapidly so especially in DID cases. But away from DID. I quote you.

I am curious with the NEW FINDINGS and DISCOVERIES of this outcome. Especially if one did a lot of research would have found that He/She had not (or no) display or characteristics of such
behavior until XX time until it manifested. It could be at any given age.
I am also curious about the onset of behaviors in persons with MSBP. Yes. They're born pshychopaths and are also a product of their enviornment (learned behavior). But at what point does the woman or girl display the "behavior"? It is roughly between the ages of 18 and 22 that people with Bi-Polar Disorder and Schizophrenia manifest their symptoms. Up till then they lay dormant. I just wonder Did little Sally start breaking her own dolls claiming they fell for sympathy? Did the dating teenager Sally feign illness to get her boyfriend's attention? Did it begin with the lonely wife syndrome?

There is a "poor percentile" of these women getting cured, unfortunately. Psychotherapy seems to be the only route to go. Medication can not be admistered unless they have an accompanying disorder.
Psychotherapy (a type of counseling) generally focuses on changing the thinking and behavior of the individual with the disorder (cognitive-behavioral therapy). The goal of therapy for MSP is to help the person identify the thoughts and feelings that are contributing to the behavior, and to learn to form relationships that are not associated with being ill.
A way big challenge!

Yours, Cuticle Biter




http://my.clevelandclinic.org/disorders/factitious_disorders/hic_munchausen_syndrome_by_proxy.aspx
 
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Nakamova

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They think that some cases of MSBP are a reaction to childhood trauma. But what causes one person to respond to trauma with MSBP, and another to respond in a completely different way? Is it a genetic propensity or a specific environmental trigger? Is there a perfect storm of triggers that leads to MBSP. I read that a number of folks with MBSP are in the medical profession -- but which came first? Were they drawn to the profession because of some innate fascination with the drama and attention associated with it, or was it being exposed to the profession that triggered the MBSP?

Interestingly, schizophrenia, which has genetic component also seems to have an environmental one as well. Children whose mothers are in a stressful environment during pregnancy (like a famine or war zone) are more likely to develop schizophrenia. And both age and alcoholism in the father can increase the chances for schizophrenia in the offspring.
 

Cinnabar

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But what causes one person to respond to trauma with MSBP, and another to respond in a completely different way?
Nak, a very good point. To come close to an answer I will have to refer to my own DID diagnosis. For six years I've been studying the condition and have engaged in depth, conversations with a specialist durning these years.

To your point: I suffered unspeakable atrocities. Well, you may ask? Many children suffer unspeakalbe atrocities and don't have DID? What is all that about? The answer is being born with a "propensity" to self-hypnotize. Most children are not born with what I will call a gift. If not for this propensity children from these households would grow up to be social deviants.

I believe I inherited this propensity from my aunt who shares the same abuser as I. In my case, it was a creative coping mechanizm passed down. But not all persons with DID need be born with this inherited trait.

To the point of MSBP: Another great question
Were they drawn to the profession because of some innate fascination with the drama and attention associated with it, or was it being exposed to the profession that triggered the MBSP?
I would say the first applies. I'm not sure about your second surmising. What comes to mind is that these women who enter the medical profession absorb the nomenclature and ins and outs of the profession. If they're going to step into territory it better be "known". Known so they can manipulate around it. Knowlege equals power.

Interestingly, schizophrenia, which has genetic component also seems to have an environmental one as well. Children whose mothers are in a stressful environment during pregnancy (like a famine or war zone) are more likely to develop schizophrenia.
I did not know this. Very interesting... and thanks for bringing up such good points. And I'm sure we're just touching on a few.
 
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Cinnabar

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Thanks, Rae. Very interesting article. I do question the following conclusion.
Nurture has a larger effect on us than does nature. Nurture is the characteristic builder that we gain as we grow up. It is what defines our nature and makes us who we are. Nurture cultivates our nature, and it is the main regulator of our being.
When it comes to considering the psychopathological or the sociopathological elements prevelant to persons with MSBP, our topic of discussion, I think the article is too generalized. Let's take a woman who is a born sociopath. She got a very bad start. This is her "nature". And a strongly driven one. Given this bad start one has to wonder how "nurture" e.g a healthy environment would help her overcome her monumental genetic misfortune. I believe, in this case, nurture may be only able to "smooth" a rough genetic disposition. I believe that MSPB or any psychopatholigical disorder will have it over nature no matter how healthy.

However the psychopathological aside, I do believe the article rings very true when addressing other less outwardly disctructive disorders.
 
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brain

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A Mini-Editoral from Old Brainy ....

Ok for want of better words and illustration:

Do you recollect in "Skool Daze" (School Days)
of when they taught us "You are what you eat"?

*groans*

Well - let's revise this:

"You are whom you associate with"

If one is associated with a positive atmosphere environment,
then the result will be a positive person.

If one develops and grows up in a worry-wart family, then
you will have another worry-wart in the making.

Spend time with negative people and you wonder why you're
so negative?

Associate with Alcoholics and there's a very high percentage
you'll become one too.

Acquaint yourself with the intelligent and inspiring people will
motivate yourself to become brilliant and self-motivating.

These are just mere examples of:

"Monkey see, Monkey do"

They are habits and influences - of those that surrounds us,
which can be good or bad; it is our own choosing to elect to
be surrounded by such the like. (When we are of age) However,
for those who are raised in such environment, typically is passed
on from generation to generation ...

Hence, have you ever heard these expressions?

"Well this is the way we've always done in our family and it
will always be this way."

"How dare you break the family tradition!"

"Eat your carrots, or you'll go blind!"

(It's true, I am sure we've all heard these quotes one way
or another, but it's stuck ... and yet, we find ourselves
saying the exact same thing to our own offspring! I admit
I am just as guilty as they are - but one thing for sure is,
there holds a lot of truth, common sense, and moral values!)
 
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I'm out , my son is very different from other children. And a lot of people have a lot to say to him a me about his differences. So, God bless everyone.We are all one and we are all here to help each other out in one way or another. So if you can help great. If you can't well.....?
 
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