For months, Becca Beushausen, a 26-year-old woman from Mokena, Ill., was known on her blog only as "B" or "April's Mom." She had become the darling of those who defend the unborn's right to life by blogging about her commitment to give birth to a child with a rare disorder called holoprosencephaly, a condition that would cause her baby girl to be born with malformations of her brain and face that would ultimately prove fatal.
Beushausen talked about her Christian faith and devotion to God. She posted photographs of herself and described her agony and resolve in great detail.
She hit a nerve. There was an outpouring of empathy for her. Hundreds of thousands of readers logged on to her site, many offering the prayers she requested, then sending gifts and donations to the address she posted.
The trouble started when Beushausen posted a photo of the ill-fated baby, which turned out to be a doll made by Reborn Dolls. That's when her story started to unravel. The entire tale, it seemed, was untrue - a terrible hoax that had played upon the sympathies and generosity of spirit of others. There was no Baby April. There was no holoprosencephaly. There was no commitment to bring a damaged child into the world.
Some would say that there is nothing to Becca Beushausen, in fact, other than greed and a failure to recognize the pain people experience when their feelings are manipulated. Yet I promise you that, with all the lies she has told, there's still truth in Becca's blog.
As a psychiatrist, here's what I read_ A young woman feels disconnected from many things in her life, but not entirely from her suffering, which is very real and which she has little insight into. Her suffering probably includes having been told some big lies herself, which makes her vulnerable to playing very loose with facts. It probably also includes traumas that would be hard to look at-as hard as, say, a baby's malformed face. These are traumas that call for extraordinary empathy from others. The evidence of that empathy are not only the prayers offered by strangers, but the gifts sent by them. Accepting these gifts may seem to be petty theft, but they are the young woman's way of trying to balance the books on the poverty she feels in her soul and pay herself restitution for things stolen from her as a girl-unspeakable things lost when she was as defenseless as a baby besieged by an all-powerful disease.
The way I read it and see it and will write it here is that Becca Beushausen is herself the ailing, struggling baby she named April. A disorder that won't show up on a CT scan or MRI has hold of her, and it has deprived her of breathing easy in life, of living an existence based in truth, of respecting herself and others.
Becca is due all the empathy that were bestowed upon her and April (but, of course, none of the material gifts).
If you doubt me, just listen to Becca herself, in a recent posting:
"The #1 question I have been asked in the last few days is what would I tell people online who followed my story, who are now upset to find it is not true - The simplest and most honest way that I can answer why I started lying (even prior to opening my blog) and started my blog is that I am struggling with my life. I have been dealing with unresolved pain that weighs heavy on my heart and which I have been unable to handle alone."
Send Becca your prayers. I'm sure she needs them more than ever. Her website is: http://littleoneapril.blogspot.com/
Dr. Keith Ablow is a psychiatry correspondent for FOX News Channel and a New York Times bestselling author. His newest book, "Living the Truth: Transform Your Life through the Power of Insight and Honesty" has launched a new self-help movement. Check out Dr. Ablow's Web site at livingthetruth.com.
Keith Ablow, MD is a psychiatrist, and was host of the nationally-syndicated "Dr. Keith Ablow Show." He is a former member of the Fox News Medical A Team.