I love reading about psychological conditions and how the human mind works. I am fascinated with disorders such as Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Histrionic Personality Disorder, and how these conditions affect individuals and the people around them. One psychological condition that is equally fascinating and horrifying is Baron von Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy (BVMP). This is where a parent or caregiver seeks attention and sympathy through the intentional medical abuse of his/her child. I’m being fair and politically correct here because most people with BVMP are women and hence, mothers. These mothers seek constant medical treatments and often intentionally make their kids sick to perpetuate the lie that the child is chronically ill.
The issue of BVMP has come up recently in the case of Lacey Spears, a self-proclaimed mommy blogger and rejector of science-based medicine. Before the birth of her son, she had a long history of compulsive lying and story telling. One example of her outrageous lies was when she claimed a boy she nannied was her own child, even using the child’s image on her Myspace page and captioning his pictures with such phrases as, “Hey there mommy Lacey”.
For the five years her own son was on this earth, he was sick. It started with constant ear infections and 23 visits to the hospital in the first year of his life. Garnett (Lacey’s son) was put on feeding tubes because of a “failure to thrive”. Lacey Spears chronicled every last detail of Garnett’s medical issues on social media, where she received an outpouring of sympathy and attention for her plight. This is why BVMP do what they do. They thrive on the attention and in the age of the internet, this level of attention increases exponentially with every like and share.
How was Lacey Spears able to get away with her crimes for so long? For one, she moved frequently during her son’s short life. Another reason could be disbelief; no one wants to believe a mother would harm her own child simply for the attention. However, I believe the most important reason why Garnett is no longer with us and suffered needlessly at the hands of his BVMP mother is because of the popularity of the alternative medicine movement, especially online.
Lacey sought out “holistic” doctors who would most likely not question why her son was so sick all the time. She moved to an “organic and alternative lifestyle commune” in NYC’s northern suburbs, where she could hide away and not have to account for her behavior. Finally, Lacey received the attention she craved from an online community of parents, self-proclaimed experts and FAUX medical professionals (i.e. naturopaths and chiropractors) who believe that science-based medicine, chemtrails, fluoride, non-organic food and vaccines are killing our children slowly. (What a terrible irony that Lacey was the one who was killing her child slowly). In a June 2012 Facebook post, Lacey proclaimed the following:
“No (Garnett) does not watch tv, drink purple kook-aid (sic), eat ice cream or consume sugar of any form… He isn’t vaccinated, doesn’t follow western medicine “
It is my hypothesis that Lacey’s BVMP is much more prevalent in the online alternative medicine/anti-vax/anti-science community. It is my belief that many of these anti-science moms either suffer from intense maternal narcissism, and/or some varying degree of Munchausen by Proxy–most not as severe as Lacey Spears’ but enough to where it is causing psychological harm to their children and might be causing physical harm.
Go to any anti-vaccine Facebook page and you will see moms like Lacey everyday; moms who claim their children’s myriad health issues–everything from eczema, asthma and autism–are caused by science-based medicine and science-based nutrition. How many times have you seen stories of “immediate vaccine injury” and not think the parent was just-a-wee bit exaggerating her story? I saw a woman claim she knew her daughter was vaccine injured because “as soon as the poisons were injected into (her little snowflake) she let out a blood curdling scream.” Um, yeah–pretty much every kid does that when he gets a needle put inside him. I know quite a few adults who do too.
On pages such as My Child’s Vaccine Reaction, you read of heartbreaking stories of kids succumbing to SIDS and the mother blaming the child’s recent DTap vaccination. And do you know what else you will see when these parents discuss their children’s health issues or death? An outpouring of sympathy from their online community. Even if you know the kid’s health problems and/or death was not caused by vaccines, you’d be a real douchebag to question a grieving mother, right?
And how many kids are being harmed? How many kids are being subjected to pediatric chiropractic to cure a strep throat? How many kids are needlessly going through torturous chelation therapies to “detox” themselves from vaccines? How many kids are being given belladonna instead of Tylenol for a fever because their mom thinks Tylenol is “the red liquid of death”? How many kids are going to suffer through months of whooping-cough to satisfy their mother’s endless need for attention?
I think we need to hold the alternative
health death community accountable for the harboring of terrible, awful people such as Lacey Spears. It is time to re-examine cases that sound all to familiar to Garnett’s case before we lose another beautiful child like him; a beautiful child who had no say in who his parents were and who had the unfortunate luck of having Lacey Spears as a mother. We need to speak for children like Garnett.
Written in Garnett Spear’s memory and in the memory of all the victims of child abuse.
Sources/Links for further reading:
Losing Garnett. A multi-part piece on the Garnett Spears case:
NY Times article on the case:
Detailed explanation of Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy:
Lacey seeks holisitc doctors for Garnett: