Saturday, June 16, 2007

Mayor Diagnosed With Rare Disease

Results Just Preliminary, Prognosis Uncertain

Mayor Luke Ravenstahl’s physician, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, held an afternoon press conference to announce his preliminary diagnosis of a malady which has troubled the young mayor since he took office in September 2006. “We think it’s a rare case of Political Munchausen Syndrome but we’re still trying to confirm this” Dr. Gupta reported.

Munchausen Syndrome—named for Baron von Munchausen, an 18th century German officer who was known for embellishing the stories of his life and experiences —is the most severe type of factitious disorder. Munchausen sufferers are also known to fabricate illness so as to garner attention and sympathy from others.

Dr. Gupta went on to explain that Political Munchausen varies only slightly from the core syndrome. “Yes, Poli-Munchers fabricate and embellish their political accomplishments with fantastically impossible tales knowing very well that no one within earshot actually believes them. They do this because they enjoy the attention. But in addition, these individuals will purposefully place themselves in politically disastrous situations just for the thrill and challenge of trying to wheedle themselves out of it.”

The mayor was first suspected to suffer from the disorder when, as a councilman, he got into an altercation with a police officer at a Steeler’s game and later denied the incident although it had been witnessed by hundreds. After taking office as mayor, Ravenstahl immediately laid claim to accomplishments not his own, even those which occurred when he was still a young boy or on another continent. He proceeded to hire the wrong people, fire the wrong people and rack up hundreds of thousands of dollars in legal fees and penalties for doing so. He flew to New York City, in public and amidst scores of people who could easily attest to his whereabouts, but denied going nonetheless. “This is all typical behavior of a Poli-Muncher,” Gupta elaborated.

Concern for the mayor escalated when he crashed a private party at the Oakmont Country Club in an attempt to meet golf great Tiger Woods. The sand trap dust had not even settled from that flap when Ravenstahl abruptly fired ten of the city’s department heads. “We knew we had an unstable situation on our hands,” Gupta continued, adding that a full-fledged intervention was not possible until the mayor marched into a televised City Council session demanding the resignation of each councilperson. Hostilities nearly spiraled to the point of physical blows when a quick-thinking cameraman abruptly cut the picture to black, sparing the viewing public the worst of the melee.

Some people with Political Munchausen Syndrome suffer one or two brief episodes of symptoms. In most cases, however, the disorder is a chronic, or long-term, condition that can be very difficult to treat. Mr. Ravenstahl appears to have a very aggressive form of the disease, one that does not respond well to treatment. Even with treatment, it is more realistic to work toward managing the disorder rather than to try curing it.

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