My imaginary friends have better lives than your imaginary friends

July 14, 2011

Our blogging and improv colleague Lora had some insightful things to say about the Casey Anthony trial bullshit (which the TV news whores still see fit to vent their bile about), and she pointed out something we at the Failure didn’t know  about America’s Most Hated Woman (because we didn’t follow the case at all while it was happening): she made up a whole bunch of people.

Casey Anthony‘s imaginary life had more drama and made-up people than a soap opera.

The nearly dozen people whom she created with her ornate lies changed addresses, contracted cancer, got married. One even died in a car crash.

Much of her make-believe life was built around a job as an event planner she claimed she had at Universal Studios. Anthony stuck to that story until police investigating the disappearance of daughter Caylee insisted she take them to her office.

Casey Anthony confidently led police through the gates of Universal Studios, through a lot, into a building and down a corridor until she finally stopped, turned and conceded, “I don’t work here.”

Many of Anthony’s lies were told to her mother, Cindy Anthony, who tearfully recounted how she discovered that each of these people were fictional characters.

Lora’s compassionate take on this is, as always, is spot on and you should read it.  But for personal reasons, we want to highlight this part of her post:

Normal people who are mentally well do not fabricate people’s livesPeople who are damaged, traumatized, fearful, unbalanced, desperate, and alone do.  Ruined people.  Broken people.

We agree with the sentiment, though the consequences for doing so is quite dire for us at Renal Failure.  It’s an admission that we, the blog of wild fabrications and outright lies, are possibly those things: damaged, traumatized, fearful, unbalanced, desperate, alone, ruined, and broken.  Obviously not to the degree where we’ve murdered our child, but serial fabricators such as ourselves don’t draw this talent necessarily from a place of light.

It’s been about two years since our last check of whether we’ve been overtaken by the crazy train, and as Bernie the Half-Cyborg Cat told us then: “The fact that you can articulate these concerns means you’re not psychotic.”  Self-awareness, the ability to find a quiet spot in the crazy storm and say “Hey, wait a sec…”, is the key here. And possibly some empathy is involved here too, being able to view yourself and your actions (actual and potential) from an outside perspective in an honest manner.

Unfortunately self-awareness and empathy are seen as hindrances in the world we live in.  They’re complicated and often go unrewarded so they’re suppressed or even ignored completely.  Suppression gets you a job on cable news or gets you high political office; ignoring makes you invent a life where you work at Universal Studios, or it makes you a cast member of The Jersey Shore,  or it makes you Newt Gingrich.  At what point does someone say bye-bye to self-awareness and empathy?  When do they decide to go down the path of delusion?  Is it even a choice?  Is it triggered and are the triggers what Lora described?  Fear?  Desperation? Loneliness? Trauma?

We’re self-aware and empathetic (or mentally competent) enough to ask these questions now, but there may be a day when we’re not.  And when that day comes, how bad will our descent into fanciful fiction be?  Will it be something we can emerge from, leaving us to look back at those days of madness and wonder what was I thinking, like someone looking at photos of what they used to wear in high school (why’d we wear so much brown back in the 70’s)?  Will our deluded fantasy world be more Sunset Boulevard than Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?  When do we invent a family for ourselves?  When do we realize we’ve been speaking in the first-person plural for an entire post about self-delusion?

*blink* *blink*  (deep, cleansing sigh)

If doctors can teach you how to do a self-exam to see if you’ve got breast cancer or the onset of Alzheimer’s Disease then they should have a test to help you determine on your own whether you’re sliding into madness.  It’s not for people who freely enter into self-delusion, but it will help those worried about falling into the void without knowing it, just as long as you detect it early enough.

If you see us talking to a Tag Larkin puppet we made out of a tall boy can of Schlitz and some pipe cleaners, it may be too late for us.



  1. Are Casey’s abilities (lies, imaginary people) so “crazy”? It’s the stuff authors are made of.

    I don’t think she had these “other People” in her life because of trauma or dysfunction.

    I mean, what trauma? Oh, yeah, the made-up molestation!. Nope.

    Everyone has some level of dysfunction. Her family, on a scale, could be considered rather healthy. The mother/grandmother held a job that kept them from going under or on welfare. The father was looking for work, although he had his mishaps. He wasn’t loafing around in a wife-beater, unshaven on the front steps smoking a pack of cigs. The brother was out there working. These were people living their lives, coping with their imperfect lives.

    Check out any family…there’s a certain amount of sweeping under the rug, or polishing up to make to look good. Sure Cindy was covering for Casey’s stolen checks but I really think that she was trying to get Casey through that rough, early adulthood that so many young people go through before she matured and got a better handle on life. A lot of parents do this.

    Casey’s lies, which were on-going before Caylee’s death, were mainly used to keep up with her peers and give herself self-worth. She took her skills up a couple notches to cover for Caylee’s death.

    I’m not trying to say that lies are OK, creative though they be. Casey was hurtful on many levels with her lies. But unlike the defense, I don’t buy into their being tied into her family dysfunction which somehow lets her off the hook.

    Even when she was being nice, her lies were manipulative and led people to think they knew someone who they didn’t really know. She was obsessed with the Casey she projected and she took it to the extreme. I don’t blame her folks for Casey. I blame Casey. She knew right from wrong and chose her path without psychotic delusions or post-trauma stress.

    She just has bad cases of the gotta-haves, greediness, irresponsibility, using and abusing other people, and the I-don’t-care.

  2. I think people can also make up these fabulous people and events to compensate for having boring regular lives and from their need for attention and to feel special.

    it is far easier to become famous for being infamous rather than having talent and working hard

  3. self-awareness is my superpower. i get away with an extraordinary amount of crazy shit by playing the “yeah, but i KNOW this is 5-cats crazy shit…”…

    and lora is a genius. she needs to be on the supreme court….

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