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What Is Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy? The Story Of Gypsy Rose Blanchard

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What Is Munchausen Syndrome By Proxy? The Story Of Gypsy Rose Blanchard

A new series about Gypsy Rose Blanchard explores this issue.

Audiences are buzzing over the new Hulu original series, The Act, about the strange case of Gypsy Rose Blanchard and the order of her mother Dee Dee. The Act, which stars Patricia Arquette, Joey King, and Chloë Sevigny follows the life of the mother and daughter, as the mother cons everyone around them into thinking that Gypsy is chronically ill. She convinced not only friends and fail but also medical professionals and social workers that Gypsy has decreased mental capacity, muscular dystrophy, leukemia and other related health issues. Gyspy was confined to a wheelchair, fed with a feeding tube implanted in her abdomen and took multitudes of prescription medications.

But Gypsy Rose was in perfect health. Dee Dee was lying and deceiving everyone around them. No one suspected the depths of her deception until after she was found murdered in the home she shared with Gypsy. And it was only then that people realized Gypsy was fine and also that she had helped kill her own mother.

The story has captivated audiences and has been the subject of news articles and documentaries since the murder in 2015. The conclusion all investigations have reached is that Dee Dee suffered from a mental disorder called Munchausen syndrome by proxy that led her to feign her daughter’s illnesses for her own gratification.

What is Munchausen syndrome by proxy? Read on to learn more.

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1. Gypsy Rose

Dee Dee was born Claudine Pitre in Louisiana. She was 24 when she started dating 17-year-old Rod Blanchard and got pregnant. The couple married but separated before Gypsy was born. Her pregnancy and birth were normal according to most accounts, though one family member recalls Gypsy being slightly premature, though without any apparent complications.

By the time Gypsy was three months old, however, Dee Dee was insisting that the baby had sleep apnea and needed a breathing machine. Tests did not back up Dee Dee's assertion. She continued to insist that her daughter had multiple health issues, all stemming from an undefined chromosomal disorder.

2. More diagnoses

Over time, Dee Dee convinced various doctors that Gypsy had an array of diseases.

She swore the child had muscular dystrophy and needed to be confined to a wheelchair, though muscle biopsies contradicted that claim. She succeeded in getting Gypsy and abdominal feeding tube and was honored by a non-non-profit that supported feeding tube kids. She had Gypsy treated for leukemia. At one point, she had Gypsy’s salivary glands removed to stop her from drooling. That, and other medications Gypsy took, caused such dental problems that she had to have all her teeth extracted when she was very young.

3. Other signs of disturbance

Dee Dee’s family remembers her as being troubling dating back to her youth. She was often in trouble as a teen, engaging in petty theft.

Family members questioned how she cared for her mother at the time of her death wondering if Dee Dee had denied her food. And she repeatedly tried to poison her stepmother by putting weeding killer in her food.

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4. Suspicion

After Hurricane Katrina devastated their hometown of New Orleans, Dee Dee and Gypsy moved to Springfield, MO on the advice of a doctor. There they started receiving many benefits as a result of Gypsy’s illness and their tragic story of losing their home.

They got a house from Habitat for Humanity, a trip to Disney World, and backstage tickets to concerts. But not everyone was fooled. A pediatric neurologist who saw Gypsy did not believe that Dee Dee was accurately portraying Gypsy’s history. He could tell Gypsy was able to walk and did not see evidence of other disorders.

He began to suspect Munchausen syndrome by proxy but never reported it because he felt there was too much support for the family for him to be believed.

5. Murder

By this time, Gypsy was close to 20 years old, though her mother told people she was much younger. She had an active social media life and spent a lot of time online, using Facebook and YouTube to interact with the world. She even set up a profile on a dating site, which is how she met Nick Godejohn, who lived in Wisconsin.

The two struck up an online romance and Gypsy felt that she was going to marry him. She began to confess all the secrets about the lies her mother told to him and they formulated a plan to kill Dee Dee and escape together. On June 14, 2015, Godejohn stabbed Dee Dee to death, and he and Gypsy took off for Wisconsin together.

Friends became concerned when a post appeared on the Facebook page Gypsy and Dee Dee shared reading "That Bitch is dead!” Friends asked the police to make a welfare check and they found Dee Dee’s body. Days later, they located Gypsy and began to unravel the story of the mother who pretended her child was sick and abused her until she had her killed. 

6. Munchausen syndrome by proxy

Psychological experts agree that Dee Dee sugared from Munchausen syndrome by proxy. WebMD says a person with Munchausen by proxy “gains attention by seeking medical help for exaggerated or made-up symptoms of a child in his or her care.”

The definition goes on to say “They may simply lie about symptoms, alter tests (such as contaminating a urine sample), falsify medical records, or they may actually induce symptoms through various means, such as poisoning, suffocating, starving, and causing infection.” It appears the Dee Dee did all of this to Gypsy. As Gypsy got older, she knew there was deception going on but her mother abused and controlled her to the point that she felt she and no recourse.

7. Aftermath

Gypsy ultimately entered a plea agreement and is serving 10 years for the death of her mother. She will be 35 at the time she is released. Godejohn was tried and found guilty. he is serving a life sentence.

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Rebekah Kuschmider has been writing about celebrities, pop culture, entertainment, and politics since 2010. Her work has been seen at Ravishly, Babble, Scary Mommy, The Mid, Redbook online, and The Broad Side. She is the creator of the blog Stay at Home Pundit and she is a cohost of the weekly podcast The More Perfect Union.

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