It's a better story with me in it

There's been some recent attention on a comedian who lied about being in the World Trade Center during the attacks on 9/11/01. After telling many people a tale of his survival, it turned out he was several miles away when the WTC was hit. 

There were a couple interesting stories in the Washington Post about the phenomenon of people inserting themselves into the narrative of those events. I found this one particularly engaging: I was a psychiatrist in post-9/11 New York. Patients lied all the time about that day. Another piece considers why people would lie to place themselves close to the event, drawing a connection with Munchhausen Syndrome, in which people fake illness (often creating elaborate ruses of lengthy treatments) in an apparent bid for attention and sympathy. 

Many of us, as kids, slapped on a bandaid in hopes of getting a sympathetic word from a parent. When we suffer a personal setback, other people's words can be a balm against our suffering. We're wired to seek connectedness, understanding. Sympathy is a powerful demonstration of our importance to others. 

Much has been made, in some political circles, of a "culture of victimhood." Maybe we're just as much a culture in which people are starved for connection, and seeking understanding anywhere they can get it. Or maybe this is just human nature, displayed in endless variations through the ever-turning rotoscope of our civilization.