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Gypsy Rose Blanchard phenomenon proves to be a layered subject

Trigger warning: Contains descriptions of child abuse, murder, medical abuse, medical negligence and mentions of crude language and sexual assault.

After eight years, Gypsy Rose Blanchard was released from prison on parole and became an overnight media sensation. Her life has been thrown into the forefront of the internet, but this time, it is on her own accord. Having suffered a great deal both before and while being incarcerated, many are wishing her a peaceful integration into a normal life, which this will be her first time truly experiencing.

Many people are questioning her newfound stardom, considering the public support she has garnered since her release. While Gypsy's story is tragic, some argue that others face tragedies too. Many are asking: Why is Gypsy receiving all this attention? How does society pick and choose the face of respectable retribution? 

Who is Gypsy Rose Blanchard? 

Gypsy Rose Blanchard is one of the most prolific cases of medical neglect and abuse from the 21st century. Her story starts with her mother, Clauddine "Dee Dee" Blanchard, who experts believe suffered from Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy, or MSP.

Since her birth in 1991, Gypsy was falsely diagnosed with an array of illnesses, conditions and diseases by her mother. At 8 years old, Dee Dee "diagnosed" Gypsy with leukemia, muscular dystrophy and epilepsy. 

Gypsy was forced to use a wheelchair, feeding tube and oxygen tank. Later, Dee Dee would also state that Gypsy had other medical issues, including asthma and seizures and others that were treated by hearing and visual implants. 

Gypsy underwent multiple surgeries, chemotherapy, procedures on her eyes and the removal of the salivary glands from her neck. As a result of her medication, quality of care and unnecessary procedures, Gypsy suffered tooth decay that left her with just 16 teeth.

When Gypsy's medical tests came back inconclusive or with results contradicting her mother's diagnosis, her mother would find a new health care provider. Dee Dee stopped any doctors from challenging the notion that her daughter was not ill. 

After Hurricane Katrina, Gypsy and her mother relocated to Aurora, Missouri. Gypsy was treated for illnesses Dee Dee claimed she had, despite not having documented proof, due to Gypsy's medical records being destroyed during Hurricane Katrina. 

In 2008, the two moved into a home in Springfield, Missouri, that was owned by St. John's Hospital. Through countless donations, the home was updated to be wheelchair-accessible. 

Dr. Bernardo F. Flasterstein, a neurologist in Missouri, grew suspicious of her muscular dystrophy diagnosis, as he could find no abnormalities in Gypsy's MRIs and blood tests. He contacted Gypsy's former health care providers in New Orleans, who informed him that Gypsy's original muscle biopsy came back negative and disproved Dee Dee's claim that Gypsy's medical records had been destroyed. 

Flasterstein did not report his discovery to social services and, according to OzarksFirst, stated he was told by previous doctors to treat Gypsy with "golden gloves" and doubted that law enforcement would believe his claims. 

Gypsy suffered horrific abuse for 23 years. Not only being subjected to medical abuse but also incidents of her mother's anger and control. In an incident recounted in the Law & Crime Network documentary, "Killer Cases: The Twisted Case of Gypsy Rose Blanchard and Her Controlling Mom," Gypsy was locked in a shed with only a toddler bed after her mother discovered Gypsy was messaging boys online. 

In 2011, Gypsy tried to run away with a man she had met at a science fiction convention. Her mother eventually tracked the two down and convinced the man that Gypsy was underage, while in actuality, she was 19 years old. Dee Dee destroyed Gypsy's computer and restrained her to a bed. Gypsy also stated that her mother would hit her and deprive her of food. 

The murder

In 2012, Gypsy joined a Christian dating site, where she met Nicholas Godejohn. Not liking the amount of attention that Gypsy gave Godejohn, Dee Dee ordered Gypsy to stay away from him. Gypsy confided in Godejohn about her mother's horrific actions and eventually asked him to kill her so they could be together.

In June 2015, a series of explicit messages, involving murder and sexual assault were posted on Dee Dee's Facebook page and concerned neighbors notified the police. On June 14, law enforcement found Dee Dee dead, face down on her bed with multiple stab wounds. She was stabbed and killed by Godejohn several days earlier. 

Why are people so obsessed with Gypsy Rose Blanchard? 

In an article for The Tab, psychologist Dr. Dannielle Haig, who specializes in psychopaths and maladaptive personalities, stated that there is a fascination with "the bizarre and tragic nature of her story, which involved severe child abuse, deception and murder."

There has been so much attention brought to Gypsy Rose's case due to its unique and rare circumstances. Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy is not a common form of abuse. For something like this to end in murder, abuse and gross medical negligence, it is a prolific case.

In recent years, true crime stories have been sensationalized and the lines between perpetrator and victim are often blurred. Gypsy's story has been told in various film and TV adaptations, documentaries and docuseries. Not only do these dramatize and spread her story, but they have allowed her to tell her own narrative. 

Gypsy is not a perfect victim nor a perfect criminal. However, she is undoubtedly one of the best-documented cases of being a victim of society. Her entire life has been cataloged and recorded by not only her mother but her appearance in the public eye. 

Her entire life story is a tale of medical, parental and governmental failures that allowed for her to be victimized. This is something that garners sympathy from the public. 

The corruption of the systems meant to protect and help us is actively being exposed every day. Other medical negligence and abuse within the health care system are actively being exposed, from the treatment of Black people in the medical system and the maternal mortality rate of Black women to women not receiving the proper reproductive care. 

Distrust in these systems is turning into not only hatred but a near revolt. Many are choosing to hold onto anything that contradicts the criteria of victimhood. 

Why is Gypsy Rose gaining more attention than other former criminals? 

Gypsy rose to celebrity status when she became a face for children with deadly and debilitating illnesses, along with those impacted by the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. 

Today, despite her constant reinforcement that there were better ways to handle the situation and her regret over having her mother killed, many see her choices as righteous retribution. They believed that it was the only way she could escape her mother.

This is not the type of grace afforded to other criminals. Many have not been rewarded or positively received by the public. 

Cases like Cyntoia Brown-Long and Piper Lewis, emphasize the privilege and distinctiveness of Gypsy's case.

Brown-Long and Lewis are women of color who were charged with killing their sex traffickers. Brown-Long was convicted for 16 years after killing a man who paid to sexually assault her. She was released at age 32. Lewis, at age 15, killed the man who sexually assaulted her multiple times. She was ordered to pay his family $150,000 in restitution. 

There are many similar cases to these that have not gone as viral as Gypsy’s has. Their cases are perceived as so horrific and "taboo" that they can not be sensationalized the way that Gypsy's can, particularly because of the involved party's race. 

Gypsy's case has been framed in such a way to focus on the "relatable" story about a teenager yearning for freedom. She has lived a life of tragedy and come out the other side with a sense of autonomy she never had. Many find themselves in their teens and 20s, and Gypsy spent those years confined to a house and then to a jail cell. After being imprisoned her whole life and serving the time for the crime she committed, she deserves a chance to integrate into society and live a normal life. The hope is that Gypsy Rose lives a happy life. 


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