Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Prius And Munchausen Syndrome

The Prius was the darling, a car that was talked about as if it were alive.

Then a funny thing happened. The US Government got in the car business, in a big way. Then all of those niggling issues became big ones at the same time Toyota's ambition to be the biggest, and the inevitable loss of quality, was exposed. A perfect storm perhaps but that isn't interesting or new.

What's new is the "my Toyota tried to KILL me" experience that many are having. Having your Toyota try to kill you makes you unique. Makes you special. Relieves you from making car payments.

And then came James Sikes. Joe Shmoe from El Cajon California. Victim.

On Monday James Sikes, 61 years old, called 911 and told the operator his blue 2008 Toyota Prius had sped up to more than 90 miles per hour on its own on Interstate 8 near San Diego. He eventually brought the vehicle to a stop after a California Highway patrolman pulled alongside Sikes and offered help.

During and after the incident, Sikes said he was using heavy pressure on his brake pedal at high speeds.

When I saw that on TV earlier in the week I turned to my wife and said he was faking it. With all of the press coverage I knew it was a matter of time before someone took the opportunity to become interesting. I said he was probably behind on the payments. Plus he had purchased a Prius in California. A blatant attempt to be noticed.

Munchausen: It's Not Just For Killing Babies Anymore.

And it never was. It was about getting sympathy. Having people see you as a victim. Being a sympathetic character makes you special. It means you have built-in excuses for not accomplishing anything. People like you. Not in a normal way, but hey at least they know you exist.

I've always felt that 30% of the country suffers form varying degrees of Munchausen. It's the only way to understand so much of what goes on. We've elevated victimhood to near saint like status in this country and wonder why people fake shit like this?

James Sikes: His Story Unravels

The funny thing about faking your victim status is this: The bigger victim you are the more "they" are going to look into the matter. In this case, some of the best engineers descended on this little Prius within hours. I'm sure that was a sinking feeling for James, who only wanted what was rightfully his after all of these years, and maybe a new Prius.

James Sikes Getting all of the attention he deserves.

And then the truth started coming out.

During and after the incident, Sikes said he was using heavy pressure on his brake pedal at high speeds.

But the investigation of the vehicle, carried out jointly by safety officials from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Toyota engineers, didn't find signs the brakes had been applied at full force at high speeds over a sustained period of time, the three people familiar with the investigation said.

The brakes were discolored and showed wear, but the pattern of friction suggested the driver had intermittently applied moderate pressure on the brakes, these people said, adding the investigation didn't find indicators of the heavy pressure described by Sikes.


We know what James is all about. But do we know what got this whole thing started is all about? Do we? When the NHTSA looked into the safety issues of Toyota, were they looking out for us or their vested interest in THEIR car company. When they rushed out to California, did they think they were burying a stake in the heart of Toyota or did they expect to find a sad little man whose story made not one bit of sense.

That's the problem our government has, now that they are a player and the referee in the same game.

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