Mommy Dead and Dearest
2017 1h 22min
Available on HBO
This is a “stranger than fiction” documentary with many fascinating social implications. When Gypsy Rose Blanchard aided in the murder of her mother back in 2015, friends and family were shocked-- not only because of the murder, but because they all knew Gypsy as a sickly, wheelchair bound girl physically incapable of such an act. This documentary explores a fascinating case of “Munchausen syndrome by proxy” (aka factitious disorder imposed on another), an abusive situation whereby a parent or guardian forces an imagined illness onto a vulnerable dependent. As a result, the once-healthy person often becomes sick from forced treatments and/or unnecessary medication. Gypsy’s mother was guilty of this terrible practice and used Gypsy’s conjured illness to elicit sympathy, money, and other kindnesses from family, friends, and neighbors. The con went on for over a decade until Gypsy’s desire to break free led her and her Internet-boyfriend to kill the mother. Gypsy ends up on trial for the murder despite that fact that her acts were arguably justified. This documentary forces the viewer to contemplate criminal responsibility and the inadequacies of our current system in dealing with victims of abuse. It also make one contemplate the power of modern medicine as an institution, as hundreds of healthcare professionals must have encountered Gypsy without becoming suspicious.
Sociological themes include: Families, health & illness, child abuse, criminal justice, victimology, power, and sexuality...