Imagine you are told as a child that you have a debilitating illness, an illness that restricts your activities, an illness likely to be fatal. Due to your fragile condition, you live a life of seclusion. You cannot attend school or have normal friendships. You undergo extensive medical treatment, even surgery. But the illness lingers, impacting every aspect of your life.
Then you learn all this was a lie.
Munchausen Syndrome by proxy is both a mental illness on the part of a parent or guardian, and a form of child abuse . A child’s caretaker – often the mother – fabricates symptoms on the child’s part and creates real one (whether through the use of poison, starvation, contamination of an intravenous line, or other means).
The underlying cause of the mental illness is unknown. Experts suspect that the payoff for the caregiver is admiration for supposed “dedication” in the face of a tragic illness. The abuse often goes undetected by health care providers for years.
Gypsy Rose Blanchard was one such victim . Her mother, Claudine (“Dee Dee”) Blanchard, isolated the child from other family members, lied about Gypsy’s age, and treated her like an invalid. Frail and confined to a wheelchair, Gypsy was told she had brain damage, leukemia, muscular dystrophy, seizures, asthma, hearing, and vision problems.
Due to these health issues, Gypsy was given backstage passes by the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and free trips to Disney World. She stayed at Ronald McDonald House. Dee Dee meanwhile received a home from Habitat for Humanity. Continue reading