The tragic childhood of Gypsy Rose Blanchard

Let's start out by taking score: to date, the life of Gypsy Rose Blanchard has been utilized in the creation of television documentaries, a mini-series, a Lifetime original movie, and a subplot on Netflix's The Politician. Keeping in mind that all of these are based on events which took place before Blanchard's 30th birthday, it's clear that she's been through a lot in not much time.

One evening in June of 2015, Gypsy's internet boyfriend Nicholas Godejohn entered Gypsy's home where she lived with her mother. Gypsy handed Godejohn a knife, then hid in the bathroom while he stabbed her mom to death. Both parties later admitted as much to the authorities. What should be a cut and dry case just gets more complicated from there.

Gypsy Rose Blanchard has become the unofficial mascot for "Munchausen syndrome by proxy," also known as "factitious disorder imposed on another" or FDIA. It's a condition in which a person seeks the attention and other benefits gained through illness or injury by imposing them on someone under their care. By all accounts, Gypsy's mother Clauddine "Dee Dee" Blanchard was a FDIA poster child to the gills. Yeah, this gets pretty gross from here on.

Decades of bad

Dee Dee's behavior seems to have started early, with the HBO documentary Mommy Dead and Dearest recounting that she may have poisoned her stepmother with weed killer. It's also suggested that she may have killed her own mother through starvation.

Shortly after Gypsy Rose's birth in 1991, Dee Dee started taking her to various emergency rooms, claiming that her infant daughter suffered from sleep apnea, though no sign of the condition was ever recorded.

Things spiralled from there. Dee Dee claimed that Gypsy suffered from myriad but unspecified chromosomal disorders, as well as intellectual disabilities, muscular dystrophy, and ear infections, for which Gypsy was fitted with inner ear drainage devices. She was forced to use a walker or a wheelchair for most of her childhood.

Gypsy's hair was habitually shaved to maintain the appearance that she was receiving chemotherapy treatments. She was placed on anti-seizure medication, which contributed to her tooth decay and led to the loss of all of her front teeth. She was pulled out of school somewhere between kindergarten and second grade. As time passed, her mother kept changing her mind regarding how old her child was. According to Biography, she went so far as to alter Gypsy's birth certificate, shaving years off to keep up a story about a sick child.

No up sides

Through all of this, the only physician who seemed to take issue with the Blanchards' claims was pediatric neurologist Doctor Bernardo Flasterstein, who ran tests on Gypsy and couldn't find anything wrong with her.

Unfortunately, Flasterstein apparently felt unable to do anything. At this point, the Blanchards had garnered a certain level of celebrity. Gypsy was receiving backstage passes to concerts, television appearances, and comped flights to see specialists across the country. You don't swing at the perpetually sick king unless you know you can hit him.

Meanwhile, Dee Dee was allegedly ramping up to physical abuse, never failing to hold Gypsy's hand in public as a means of control, and smashing her phone and computer at home so that she wouldn't have a way to reach the outside world. Gypsy managed to find ways around this, waiting until her mother fell asleep to use the internet. And that's how she met Nicholas Godejohn. In the end, Godejohn was sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Dee Dee Branchard. Gypsy will be up for parole in 2024.