The murder of American woman Dee Dee Blanchard in 2015, is one of the most famous cases of Factitious disorder imposed on another (aka Munchausen syndrome by proxy) ever, a long and devastating story of horrific child abuse, that ended with a daughter orchestrating the murder of her own mother. This mental illness is also the fuel Covidiocracy runs on.
Factitious disorder imposed on another (FDIA), also known as Munchausen syndrome by proxy (MSbP), is a condition by which a caregiver creates the appearance of health problems in another person, typically their child. This may include injuring the child or altering test samples. They then present the person as being sick or injured. This occurs without a specific benefit to the caregiver.Permanent injury or death of the child may occur.Wikipedia
In factitious disorder imposed on another, a caregiver makes a dependent person appear mentally or physically ill in order to gain attention. To perpetuate the medical relationship, the caregiver systematically misrepresents symptoms, fabricates signs, manipulates laboratory tests, or even purposely harms the dependent (e.g. by poisoning, suffocation, infection, physical injury). Studies have shown a mortality rate of between six and ten percent, making it perhaps the most lethal form of abuse.
Most present about three medical problems in some combination of the 103 different reported symptoms. The most-frequently reported problems are apnea (26.8% of cases), anorexia or feeding problems (24.6% of cases), diarrhea (20%), seizures (17.5%), cyanosis (blue skin) (11.7%), behavior (10.4%), asthma (9.5%), allergy (9.3%), and fevers (8.6%). Other symptoms include failure to thrive, vomiting, bleeding, rash, and infections. Many of these symptoms are easy to fake because they are subjective. A parent reporting that their child had a fever in the past 24 hours is making a claim that is impossible to prove or disprove. The number and variety of presented symptoms contribute to the difficulty in reaching a proper diagnosis.
Aside from the motive (which is to gain attention or sympathy), another feature that differentiates FDIA from “typical” physical child abuse is the degree of premeditation involved. Whereas most physical abuse entails lashing out at a child in response to some behavior (e.g., crying, bedwetting, spilling food), assaults on the FDIA victim tend to be unprovoked and planned.
Also unique to this form of abuse is the role that health care providers play by actively, albeit unintentionally, enabling the abuse. By reacting to the concerns and demands of perpetrators, medical professionals are manipulated into a partnership of child maltreatment. Challenging cases that defy simple medical explanations may prompt health care providers to pursue unusual or rare diagnoses, thus allocating even more time to the child and the abuser. Even without prompting, medical professionals may be easily seduced into prescribing diagnostic tests and therapies that are at best uncomfortable and costly, and at worst potentially injurious to the child. If the health practitioner resists ordering further tests, drugs, procedures, surgeries, or specialists, the FDIA abuser makes the medical system appear negligent for refusing to help a sick child and their selfless parent. Like those with Munchausen syndrome, FDIA perpetrators are known to switch medical providers frequently until they find one that is willing to meet their level of need; this practice is known as “doctor shopping” or “hospital hopping”.
The perpetrator continues the abuse because maintaining the child in the role of patient satisfies the abuser’s needs. The cure for the victim is to separate the child completely from the abuser. When parental visits are allowed, sometimes there is a disastrous outcome for the child. Even when the child is removed, the perpetrator may then abuse another child: a sibling or other child in the family.
Factitious disorder imposed on another can have many long-term emotional effects on a child. Depending on their experience of medical interventions, a percentage of children may learn that they are most likely to receive the positive maternal attention they crave when they are playing the sick role in front of health care providers. Several case reports describe Munchausen syndrome patients suspected of themselves having been FDIA victims. Seeking personal gratification through illness can thus become a lifelong and multi-generational disorder in some cases. In stark contrast, other reports suggest survivors of FDIA develop an avoidance of medical treatment with post-traumatic responses to it. This variation possibly reflects broad statistics on survivors of child abuse in general, where around 35% of abusers were a victim of abuse in the past.
The adult caregiver who has abused the child often seems comfortable and not upset over the child’s hospitalization. While the child is hospitalized, medical professionals must monitor the caregiver’s visits to prevent an attempt to worsen the child’s condition. In addition, in many jurisdictions, medical professionals have a duty to report such abuse to legal authorities.
Munchausen syndrome by proxy is a controversial term. In the World Health Organization’s International Statistical Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision (ICD-10), the official diagnosis is factitious disorder (301.51 in ICD-9, F68.12 in ICD-10). Within the United States, factitious disorder imposed on another (FDIA or FDIoA) was officially recognized as a disorder in 2013, while in the United Kingdom, it is known as fabricated or induced illness by carers (FII).
In DSM-5, the diagnostic manual published by the American Psychiatric Association in 2013, this disorder is listed under 300.19 Factitious disorder. This, in turn, encompasses two types:
- Factitious disorder imposed on self – (formerly Munchausen syndrome).
- Factitious disorder imposed on another – (formerly Munchausen syndrome by proxy); diagnosis assigned to the perpetrator; the person affected may be assigned an abuse diagnosis (e.g. child abuse).
Warning signs of the disorder include:
- A child who has one or more medical problems that do not respond to treatment or that follow an unusual course that is persistent, puzzling, and unexplained.
- Physical or laboratory findings that are highly unusual, discrepant with patient’s presentation or history, or physically or clinically impossible.
- A parent who appears medically knowledgeable, fascinated with medical details and hospital gossip, appears to enjoy the hospital environment, and expresses interest in the details of other patients’ problems.
- A highly attentive parent who is reluctant to leave their child’s side and who themselves seem to require constant attention.
- A parent who appears unusually calm in the face of serious difficulties in their child’s medical course while being highly supportive and encouraging of the physician, or one who is angry, devalues staff, and demands further intervention, more procedures, second opinions, and transfers to more sophisticated facilities.
- The suspected parent may work in the health-care field themselves or profess an interest in a health-related job.
- The signs and symptoms of a child’s illness may lessen or simply vanish in the parent’s absence (hospitalization and careful monitoring may be necessary to establish this causal relationship).
- A family history of similar or unexplained illness or death in a sibling.
- A parent with symptoms similar to their child’s own medical problems or an illness history that itself is puzzling and unusual.
- A suspected emotionally distant relationship between parents; the spouse often fails to visit the patient and has little contact with physicians even when the child is hospitalized with a serious illness.
- A parent who reports dramatic, negative events, such as house fires, burglaries, or car accidents, that affect them and their family while their child is undergoing treatment.
- A parent who seems to have an insatiable need for adulation or who makes self-serving efforts for public acknowledgment of their abilities.
- A child who inexplicably deteriorates whenever discharge is planned.
- A child that looks for cueing from a parent in order to feign illness when medical personnel are present.
- A child that is overly articulate regarding medical terminology and their own disease process for their age.
- A child that presents to the Emergency Department with a history of repeat illness, injury, or hospitalization.
Beverley Allitt, a British nurse who murdered four children and injured a further nine in 1991 at Grantham and Kesteven Hospital, Lincolnshire, was diagnosed with Munchausen syndrome by proxy.
Wendi Michelle Scott is a Frederick, Maryland, mother who was charged with sickening her four-year-old daughter.
The book Sickened, by Julie Gregory, details her life growing up with a mother suffering from Munchausen by proxy, who took her to various doctors, coached her to act sicker than she was and to exaggerate her symptoms, and who demanded increasingly invasive procedures to diagnose Gregory’s enforced imaginary illnesses.
Lisa Hayden-Johnson of Devon was jailed for three years and three months after subjecting her son to a total of 325 medical actions – including being forced to use a wheelchair and being fed through a tube in his stomach. She claimed her son had a long list of illnesses including diabetes, food allergies, cerebral palsy, and cystic fibrosis, describing him as “the most ill child in Britain” and receiving numerous cash donations and charity gifts, including two cruises.
In the mid-1990s, Kathy Bush gained public sympathy for the plight of her daughter, Jennifer, who by the age of 8 had undergone 40 surgeries and spent over 640 days in hospitals for gastrointestinal disorders. The acclaim led to a visit with first lady Hillary Clinton, who championed the Bushs’ plight as evidence of need for medical reform. However, in 1996, Kathy Bush was arrested and charged with child abuse and Medicaid fraud, accused of sabotaging Jennifer’s medical equipment and drugs to agitate and prolong her illness. Jennifer was moved to foster care where she quickly regained her health. The prosecutors claimed Kathy was driven by Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy, and she was convicted to a five-year sentence in 1999. Kathy was released after serving three years in 2005, always maintaining her innocence, and having gotten back in contact with Jennifer via correspondence.
In 2014, 26-year-old Lacey Spears was charged in Westchester County, New York, with second-degree depraved murder and first-degree manslaughter. She fed her son dangerous amounts of salt after she conducted research on the Internet about its effects. Her actions were allegedly motivated by the social media attention she gained on Facebook, Twitter, and blogs. She was convicted of second-degree murder on March 2, 2015, and sentenced to 20 years to life in prison.
Dee Dee Blanchard was a Missouri mother who was murdered by her daughter and a boyfriend in 2015 after having claimed for years that her daughter, Gypsy Rose, was sick and disabled; to the point of shaving her head, making her use a wheelchair in public, and subjecting her to unnecessary medication and surgery. Gypsy possessed no outstanding illnesses. Feldman said it is the first case he is aware of in a quarter-century of research where the victim killed the abuser. Their story was shown on HBO‘s documentary film Mommy Dead and Dearest and is featured in the first season of the Hulu anthology series, The Act.
Rapper Eminem has spoken about how his mother would frequently take him to hospitals to receive treatment for illnesses that he did not have. His song “Cleanin’ Out My Closet” includes a lyric regarding the illness, “…going through public housing systems victim of Münchausen syndrome. My whole life I was made to believe I was sick, when I wasn’t ‘til I grew up and blew up…” His mother’s illness resulted in Eminem receiving custody of his younger brother, Nathan.[
In 2013, Boston Children’s Hospital filed a 51A report to take custody of Justina Pelletier, who was 14 at the time. At 21 she was living with her parents. Her parents are suing Boston Children’s Hospital, alleging that their civil rights were violated when she was committed to a psychiatric ward and their access to her was limited. At the trial, Pelletier’s treating neurologist described how her parents encouraged her to be sick and were endangering her health.
The Devastating True Story Of Gypsy Blanchard
As presented by Marie Claire Mag in 2018
The murder of American woman Dee Dee Blanchard in 2015, is one of the most famous cases of Munchausen syndrome by proxy ever, and a new documentary Gypsy’s Revenge revisits the murder, the familial abuse and all the people involved, three years after the crime took place.
Munchausen syndrome by proxy is a mental illness where a caretaker (usually a mother) of a child either falsifies symptoms or causes real illness to make it appear as if the child is sick. It is an extremely rare form of child abuse and proving the case in court is even rarer, such is the case with Dee Dee and her alleged victim, daughter Gypsy Blanchard.
Gypsy’s young life was spent in and out of hospitals, confined to sick beds and deceiving those around her.
Dee Dee claimed that Gypsy had leukaemia, epilepsy, muscular dystrophy and that she couldn’t walk, confining the young able-bodied girl to a wheelchair whenever she had to leave the house, as well as forcing her to be fed through an unnecessary feeding tube, telling people she had the mental capacity of a seven-year-old and forcing her to take medications for illnesses Gypsy wasn’t suffering from.
Gypsy Blanchard talking with Dr. Phil while in prison
As Gypsy got older, the healthy girl began to push back against her mother and grew increasingly more independent, going on Facebook without Dee Dee’s permission and meeting people from the outside world through chatrooms. It was on the social networking site in 2012 where she met Nicholas Godejohn, the man who would stab Gypsy’s mother to death at her request.
The story of Gypsy Blanchard has been investigated in HBO documentary Mommy Dead and Dearest, and now in Gypsy’s Revenge, and by and large people’s responses have been the same: her sentence may technically fit the crime, but is it right?
Gypsy confessed to police to having Godejohn stab her mother just days after the murder, and she is currently serving 10 years in prison as a healthy young woman entirely free from any physical illnesses.
The prosecution along with the defence, both thought Gypsy was a victim of Munchausen syndrome by proxy, and followers of the case and the latest documentary might question the fairness of the punishment as a victim of child abuse.
While there is never an excuse for murder, this shocking true crime story shines a light on the complex cases of child abuse, and Munchausen syndrome by proxy.
And Now the Big Question:
Do the following fall under the description of “Munchausen syndrome by proxy”?
Silviu “Silview” Costinescu
1. A government or other group of people exaggerating or fully faking health threats in order to get attention and a certain response from society.
2. A parent putting a Covid masks on healthy children.
3. A covidiot yelling at people who don’t wear masks.
To be continued?
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