It might not surprise you that I’m writing this. I watched a Dr. Phil podcast regarding Gypsy Rose Blanchard, the young woman who is now being held in prison for her mother’s murder. Well, honestly, I could have been in the same boat as Gypsy if it weren’t for a few things: common sense, the client assistance program, and of course, support from blind orgs at the time. Gypsy may not have been blind, but I had some inkling that my parents used the guardianship as a poor excuse to continue the Munchausen by Proxy crap that a late band friend had picked up on. The late Marie Mannigan picked up on the Munchausen before I could say go, and if it weren’t for her, I would not have figured I’d have to not call my parents as often as I should. I now live in Colorado with a loving significant other, and Gypsy is in prison, but our stories are almost alike. Almost, but there are still a few stark differences.
- Gypsy was born non disabled, normal, and what we’d now understand to an abusive mother. The father was okay, and he was cool. but the mother? Well, she was a piece of work.
- Gypsy used a feeding tube, I did not.
- Gypsy had a long list of fake medical ailments, but mine was primarily caused by a parental abuse situation. My mother wasn’t willing to take a disabled adult, and she slapped me in the face, and I told her off for slapping me in the face. Gypsy would probably not be that brave.
- Gypsy wasn’t in psych ward, but I was.
- Gypsy was told she couldn’t have a long list of food and rinks, but for me, it was a long list of people I couldn’t be with, especially black and Hispanic peoples because they were different, and my parents refused to let me go to prom unless I had a patriarchal escort. Boo to this.
- Gypsy was emotionally abused as I was.
- Gypsy was taken advantage of in the thousands and millions of dollars, and DD, or Claudine Blancharde actually used that disability she faked to her advantage. She had Habitat for Humanity build her and Gypsy a home, all without the construction requirement it seems. I don’t know if DD actually did do the sweat equity, but that clearly isn’t fair.
- For me, my parents seem to have done some therapy shopping, finding a therapist who would force their daughter to accept control, period. In Gypsy’s case, it was doctors. DD went shopping for doctors who would cut Gypsy’s salivary glands out because DD didn’t want Gypsy tasting food. Ugh, I’d like to if I could punch DD in the nut holes but someone did it for me. One, you do not ever go doctor shopping if there’s 100% nothing wrong with your child. Blindness is also not a crutch to find other things wrong with your child either.
- Gypsy walked and ate behind her mother’s back. Serves the mother right. I watched Joey King walk and eat as Gypsy behind her mother, Patricia Arket’s, back. It was amazing, and Joey King does some pretty good acting if you might know. Gypsy and I both did the things our parents said we absolutely couldn’t and shouldn’t do. Gypsy also couldn’t date and couldn’t have a boyfriend, but now look what happened. She’s got Ken, and Ken loves her to the moon and back. I have Trenton, and Trenton loves me to the moon and back. We both triumphed over things, but in two very different ways. Gypsy had to go to jail because of her mother’s murder, but I’d go to jail too if it meant that my parents absolutely had to be killed because of their guardianship. I wanted freedom, total freedom to do what I wanted and marry and buy a house like other adults, and my parents totally made up the mental health and PDD and autism issues I supposedly had but didn’t. Munchausen by proxy is a very serious illness, so here’s what I would do to spot it.
First and foremost, think about the medical things the parents are telling, especially to you doctors out there. If a parent over exaggerates medical issues, it’s probably something to investigate. Talk to your child patient, your young adult patient as well. If the patient’s mother doesn’t want you to, odds are something is wrong. Do not tell a blind patient or truly disabled patient that a parent must be in the room with them. The parent must be out and out of sight, out of mind during all appointments. Make sure that you as a treatment provider explain to the patient’s guardian, caregiver, or parent that you are a medical expert, someone who’s been to school for 8-12 years, done residency and other types of work to specialize in the care you give. Make sure the parent knows that you will see the patient, and if the parent does not wish for you to talk to the patient, that it is the doctor’s obligation to look into the situation. The system must help the patient, not the other way around. Munchausen by proxy is a dangerous condition, and in Gypsy’s case, DD had to die because of her lies. Who else would have died? Why, Gypsy of course, she would have been cut up and torn to pieces by that woman if not for her own brain that fought and flew from her mother. This should not have to happen. Dr. Phil would say that there would be no excuse for parents to act this way toward their children, and he is a father of two grown adult sons. They’re successful in their own way.
For doctors experiencing problems with Munchausen by proxy patients, first follow some of the steps above, and if it gets worse,
- Take a deep breath, be mindful of the patient’s situation. Keep your med school materials handy, and if possible, do your homework.
- Call the police or if possible, adult or child protective services.
- Show the social workers all the medical records that the parent faked, this way you can keep the workers up to speed.
- Establish, if possible, a client centered practice with your patients, especially if they’re able to voice what’s going on. However, if a patient is nonverbal, make sure you learn your ASL and sign language of some sort so you can tell the patient what’s up.
- What happens if the mother tries to consult surgeons? If a mother or father tries to do anything, whether it’s amputation without necessity or removal of a body part without first being consulted themselves, warn the surgeon of what is happening. Again, call adult or child services and alert them with medical records, and see if they’ll investigate.
- If you must, record the appointments, and if you have a transcriptionist or med secretary, make sure all this is recorded on paper so you have access to the evidence. Turn it over to child and family services if this gets any more out of hand.
Social workers may be bombarded if anything with calls like this, so below are some steps for social workers. I may not be a social worker, but as a victim, these steps are very important.
- First, listen to the caller and take down any information you can, as you might have been taught before.
- While an interview happens, insist that the perp not be present in the house or proximity or you will have them arrested. Come up with something creative to separate the perpetrator suspect from the victim. Talk to your victim.
- Ask yourself, while talking to your victim, does your guardian/caregiver let you in on any of the medical symptomology you have or the victim has? Does the doctor insist on talking to the victim? What does your caregiver or guardian think when you do basic things like eating, dating, or even bathing yourself? Ask questions, get answers as much as you would like to.
- Make sure when you leave the interview, you put this as a priority, depending on whether the victim’s life is in jeopardy. If their quality of life is at stake, make sure the stakes are higher for the guardian or caregiver so that they know they cannot doctor shop, remove body parts, or worse, lobotomize, or therapist shop in my case. Brainwashing is a common problem with ableist parasitic guardians or caregivers. Watch for the signs of brainwashing. They include a two different things that you see in the victim. The victim might respond differently with their caregiver around than the times they’re alone. This is surefire brainwashing.
If you are like me and you’re a victim of Munchausen by proxy, make sure you know what is happening to you before it’s too late. My best advice is, do your homework. If you feel you’re not autistic, PDD, or allergic to something, tell your caregiver, and if they do not let you use a digital means to do your work, call a social services hotline immediately and report them for Munchausen by proxy. This might be a hard decision to make, but it’s your life we’re talking about.
I wish Gypsy had had access to this information before she went haywire and her mother found dead in the house. This might have been what DD needed to see, and she might have been put in jail for medical abuse/neglect if not for this information.