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.
But Gypsy’s growing independence was a problem for Dee Dee. After several escape attempts by Gypsy, Dee Dee for a time leashed and handcuffed her to the bed, destroying her computer. Believing Dee Dee had filed documents with police establishing her mental incompetence, Gypsy now began to plot her mother’s murder with Nicholas Godejohn, an autistic young man she met online.
In 2015, Godejohn stabbed Dee Dee Blanchard to death at Gypsy’s request. Gypsy is believed to have supplied him with the knife, gloves, and duct tape.
Gypsy Rose Blanchard was sentenced to 10 years in prison for second degree murder, as the result of a plea bargain. Nicholas Godejohn was convicted of first degree murder.
“I feel like I’m freer in prison, than with living with my mom. Because now, I’m allowed to … just live like a normal woman.”
-Gypsy Rose Blanchard, 20/20, 1/4/18 
 Medline Plus, “Munchausen syndrome by proxy”, 12/6/18, https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/001555.htm.
 Wikipedia, “Murder of Dee Dee Blanchard”, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murder_of_Dee_Dee_Blanchard.
 YouTube, “Mommy Dead and Dearest”, Full Movie, 2017, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YSoCeNiV4Gc.
 Investigation Discovery (ID), CrimeFeed, “‘I Feel Like I’m Freer In Prison’: Gypsy Rose Blanchard & Nicholas Godejohn Speak Out On Dee Dee’s Murder” by Catherine Townsend, https://www.investigationdiscovery.com/crimefeed/murder/gypsy-rose-blanchard-and-nicholas-godejohn-speak-out-on-dee-dee-murder.
Wishing You All A Happy New Year!
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10 responses to “Gypsy – Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy”
This form of abuse is a very tricky one. The patent gets away with malingering even under the scrutiny of physicians who are trained to recognize symptomatology and to carry out tests to diagnose their clinical impressions. It is even easier to pull of these days where doctors are under the pressure of time constraints. Compassion in caregiving, and treating the whole patient rather than the case, are probably the ways to go in detecting this serious form of abuse.
Thank you for sharing, Anna. Have a happy New Year.❤
You make an important point, Gbolabo. Have a Happy New Year, too! ❤
This is so sad.. If only her mother sought help for her “real” illness..
I can only pray Gypsy and Nicholas will get the help they need while in prison to start a new life after release..
I agree w/ you, Mary. Munchausen Syndrome by proxy inflicts slow torture on victims. That does not justify murder. However, had Dee Dee Blanchard sought psychiatric help for herself, there is every likelihood she would be alive today. The story is extremely complex. There are suggestions that Dee Dee’s mother (Gypsy’s grandmother) infantalized Dee Dee, and that Dee Dee may have poisoned the woman.
Horrifying. I had heard of Munchausen syndrome by proxy, but not about this case.
I generally prefer to write on subjects that encourage abuse survivors. This case though was so striking I felt it warranted attention.
Yes, I agree.
It’s hard to wrap one’s mind around someone being as selfish as that mother. Wow.
Yes, it was an astounding level of abuse.