The effects of munchausen by proxy

Peyton Finnegan, Courier Staff

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Munchausen by proxy is a mental health problem, in which a caregiver makes up or causes an illness or injury in a person under his or her care, such as a child, an elderly adult or a person who has a disability. Dee Dee Blanchard is the mother of Gypsy Rose Blanchard. Gypsy, stricken by cancer, muscular dystrophy and a host of other diseases always managed to have a positive outlook, which was attributed to her devoted mother who was willing to do anything to put a smile on her face.

A wave of shock hit on June 14, 2015, when Dee Dee was found bludgeoned to death in her own home with her sickly daughter nowhere to be found. A manhunt was ordered for Gypsy Rose and she was found just one day later, hardly the same girl who had gone missing. Rather than a bald, thin, wheelchair-bound cancer patient, the police found a strong young woman, walking and eating on her own. This ignited an investigation into the medical history of Gypsy Rose Blanchard. Her medical history began when Gypsy was an infant. Dee Dee brought her to the hospital, convinced she was suffering from sleep apnea. Despite no sign of the disease, Dee Dee remained convinced, eventually determining on her own that Gypsy had an unspecified chromosomal disorder. When Gypsy was about 8-year-old, she fell off of her grandfather’s motorcycle and injured her knee. Dee Dee rushed her to the hospital where they treated the minor abrasion to her knee, however Dee Dee was unconvinced, saying that there was clearly something much worse going on, so she determined that Gypsy should remain in a wheelchair to avoid further damage to her knee.

Dee Dee moved out of her parents’ house as soon as they began to question Gypsy’s condition, finding a run-down apartment and living on disability checks she collected from Gypsy’s illness. She then proceeded to take her daughter to a hospital in New Orleans where she claimed her daughter suffered from vision and hearing loss as well as seizures. After Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, the two moved to Aurora, Mo. where Habitat for Humanity had built a house for them. After the move, Dee Dee’s lies began to unravel. Dee Dee had told everyone that Gypsy was 14 years old when, in fact, Gypsy was actually 19. When Gypsy found out, she began to try to escape. However, every time she tried to escape, her mother would claim it was due to the fact she had the mind of a sick child.

Gypsy began using the Internet after Dee Dee went to bed to meet men in online chat rooms. Though her mother chained her to her bed and threatened to smash her fingers with a hammer when she found out, Gypsy Rose continued to chat with the men, hoping one of them could save her.

Finally, in 2012, she met Nicholas Godejohn, a 23-year-old from Wisconsin. A few months after meeting, Godejohn came to visit Gypsy Rose (24 at the time) while Dee Dee was on a rare solo outing. They then began to plan the murder of Dee Dee. Godejohn would wait until Dee Dee had gone to bed, and then Gypsy would let him in and he would kill her. After she was dead, the two fled, separating at a Greyhound station.Those who had expressed sadness over Dee Dee’s death were now enraged that she could treat a child like that for so many years. Eventually, psychiatrists labeled Gypsy Rose Blanchard a victim of child abuse, citing Munchausen b proxy as the root of Dee Dee’s behavior. However, though public opinion had all but shifted against her, the issue of her murder still stood. As for Gypsy Rose herself, the 24-year-old was sentenced to 10 years in prison for second-degree murder while Godejohn was been sentenced to life in prison. In my opinion, Gypsy should have been exonerated. She basically lived her entire life as a prisoner to her psychopathic mother.

Although violence is never the answer, she had tried to escape peacefully but her mother would not allow it. So really, what were her options?

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