Mothers who harm children. Their addiction to treatment is violence.
Children are innocent and delicate beings who require love, care, and concern. When we become parents, we want to keep them safe and give our kids everything that is best for them. However, it has not been known since today that some people harm or neglect their children for various reasons. There are also cases of extraordinary overprotectiveness, which often leads to real havoc in the child's body and psyche, and even to death. Famous, for example, is the story of Kathy Bush from Florida, whose daughter Jennifer, from the age of two to nine, spent 640 days in hospitals, underwent 40 operations and 1819 non-surgical procedures. As it later turned out, completely unnecessarily. The mother was deceiving doctors and causing her own child's illnesses. What makes some women poison their children and what drives them? How far are they willing to go and what are some of the most famous known cases?
Daughter Is A Dream Come True
When Jennifer Bush was born in 1985, her mother Kathy called her "a dream come true." Kathy and her husband Craig already had two sons, so the woman was thrilled that they finally had a baby girl. Although she seemed perfectly healthy at first, her mother began visiting the pediatrician with Jennifer more and more as she noticed troubling symptoms and subsequent illnesses. Her child had breathing problems, ear infections, and diarrhea. It seemed that despite many medical consultations, the girl's health continued to deteriorate, and doctors could not find the cause. Jennifer began being subjected to many unpleasant tests as an infant, and because her veins were so small and fragile, she had to have an infusion pump permanently inserted.
Her Health Deteriorated
Little Jennifer's health condition, despite tests and medication, was only getting worse. Kathy argued that her daughter was experiencing seizures, severe abdominal pain, and great difficulty eating. At age 3, the girl began receiving an anti-epileptic drug, which in high doses can itself cause seizures. At age 5, she was placed on a gastric probe. This means that a special, thin tube is inserted through the abdominal wall into the stomach so that the patient can be fed enteral nutrition. In turn, she was diagnosed with a rare and extremely serious infection at age 7. When Jennifer's condition began to deteriorate severely, her mother quit her job. However, she did not do this to be at home with her sick daughter. Instead, she took a job at a pediatrician's office, where she had full access to both Jennifer's doctor and her medical records.
The Brave Mother, Admired By Many
Kathy Bush, inspired admiration in others. After all, a sick child is the greatest tragedy for any parent, and Kathy was steadfast in her actions. She didn't give up and did everything she could to get the funds to treat her daughter and pay the massive medical bills. She contacted various charities that, like individuals, generously donated funds. Little Jennifer - a beautiful, smiling, sickly little girl - soon became something of a local celebrity who, among other things, appeared on television. Kathy became a dedicated activist for health care reform. She even traveled with Jennifer to Washington, D.C., to meet with then-first lady Hillary Clinton. The sick girl's mother stressed that she had to choose between groceries and medical bills, relying on the help of others, but at the same time, the family was going on trips such as vacations and buying a new sports car.
Eventually, Kathy's behaviors and her daughter's illnesses began to draw attention to themselves. In 1991, the staff at Coral Springs Medical Center, where Jennifer was a frequent patient, began to see disturbing facts, such as apparent tinkering with her daughter's medical equipment, misleading and false statements about symptoms and diagnoses, and constant pressure to perform more tests and procedures. The reported concerns were taken into consideration, and Dr. Newberger concluded that Kathy may have transferred Münchhausen syndrome or sham disorders. He believed that this was the cause of what he believed to be medical malpractice committed by Kathy on her daughter. He also informed Child Protective Services of his concerns and had Coral Springs Medical Center investigate. However, the outraged Mr. and Mrs. Bush sued the medical facility, so CSMC dropped its investigation. It took several years for someone to take a serious interest in Jennifer's plight again...
Child Abuse Hotline
Four years later, in April 1995, an anonymous nurse from another hospital contacted a child abuse hotline claiming she feared for Jennifer's life. The woman revealed that she had seen Kathy tinkering with her daughter's feeding tubes and intravenous lines connected to the girl. Not only did the child often have levels of medication in her system that did not match the prescribed dosage, but she also had medication that was not prescribed at all. The testimony of the anonymous nurse was thorough and extensive. The woman also noted that when Jennifer was in better condition and about to leave the hospital, moments later, when the nurses were not around, she would suddenly suffer a seizure. Healthier and smiling, she would turn into vomiting, pale, and lethargic. The anonymous woman also added, among other things, that Kathy seemed almost "euphoric" when her daughter had a serious medical crisis. This time, the report of concerns about Kathy's intentions went to the appropriate authorities and Florida state prosecutors. In April 1995, police arrested Kathy Bush and charged her with severe child abuse and multiple counts of medical fraud. Jennifer's life changed that day. She was placed in foster care, which proved to be a savior for her health…
Kathy Bush was convicted. Jennifer has begun to recover
From age 2 to 9, the girl was hospitalized 200 times and spent 640 days in the hospital. She underwent 40 surgeries, as well as 1,819 non-surgical procedures. Her gallbladder, appendix, and part of her intestines were removed. Once she was out of her mother's care, her feeding tube was removed, many of her illnesses and symptoms disappeared. Prosecutors contacted doctors and health care professionals from hospitals across the region who treated Jennifer. Their testimony matched the words of the anonymous nurse and included much more detail. There was repeated information about the falsification of medical histories and diagnoses, frequent tinkering with medical equipment, drugs in Jennifer's bloodstream that should not have been there, including in concentrations approaching those that were life-threatening. There was also shocking testimony about recurrent infections related to contaminated feeding tubes or catheters - some of which can only be explained by the introduction of fecal matter. The doctor who cared for Jennifer during the trial also testified: away from her mother she was perfectly healthy, the only illness she got was a viral infection from which she recovered. In October 1999, Kathy was sentenced to five years in prison, followed by five years of probation. She served three years and was released on parole in 2005. Because the State of Florida was pursuing a case to terminate Kathy's parental rights to Jennifer, the woman decided to voluntarily relinquish her rights.
Dee Dee Blanchard & Gypsy Rose
The fate of Jennifer Bush and her mother Kathy may perfectly remind you of the famous case of Dee Dee Blanchard and Gypsy Rose, although in the latter case a real tragedy occurred. Dee Dee, who like Kathy Bush probably had Munchausen syndrome by proxy, inflicted on her daughter a childhood of pain and exclusion from normal life. She made Gypsy believe that she was younger than she really was and forced her to feign disabilities and chronic illnesses. She gave Gypsy massive amounts of drugs that destroyed her health and made her look very sick indeed - mentally disabled with mobility problems due to alleged muscular dystrophy, among other things. Gypsy underwent many surgical procedures, and her mother controlled her through mental and physical abuse. The girl's nightmare lasted more than 20 years. While Gypsy's close ones believed she was still a teenager, by 2010 she was an adult. As she grew into adulthood, her independence increased, and her awareness that she was not as sick as her mother told her she was. She began to test what she could afford around Dee Dee and to cheat on her. Later, she met a boy online and secretly started dating him. After some time, she talked him into killing her mother. Dee Dee died in June 2015. Gypsy Rose pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and was sentenced to ten years in prison. As she confessed, she did not expect the boy to actually be able to do it. While Gypsy ended up behind bars for ten years, he was sentenced to life in prison for first-degree murder after a short trial. In 2019, a series called The Act was created, which is based on the true events of this story. Why do mothers poison their own children? Read more.
Munchausen syndrome by proxy
Why do mothers poison and torment their children, condemning them to suffering and endless hospital visits? Mainly they want to gain attention, recognition, and sympathy from those around them. As various cases show, women often raise funds for medical treatment and belong to many charitable organizations. It can be said that in order to satisfy their needs, they are caring to the grave. In such cases, a certain mental disorder is said to be known as Munchausen syndrome by proxy. The term "Münchahausen syndrome" was first used in 1951 by British physician Richard Asher. He called it a disorder of adults who deliberately induced or faked their symptoms in order to undergo unnecessary treatment and focus the attention of medical personnel. In contrast, the term "Munchausen syndrome by proxy" was introduced in 1977 by English pediatrician Roy Meadow after observing the mental disorders of two mothers. The first one induced symptoms of the disease in her child, while the second one led the child to death by poisoning it. With MSBP, symptoms of the disorder are induced artificially and attempted to be sustained for as long as possible. It is believed that up to 95% of cases of Munchausen syndrome by proxy involve women who are the biological mothers of the victims. It is difficult to find a reported case of child abuse with the father in the lead role. Women with MSBP are adept at manipulating the environment, family, and medical staff. It is estimated that about 80 percent of them worked as nurses or medical registrars. In the United States, more than 1200 cases of child abuse by a parent suffering from Munchausen syndrome by proxy are detected annually.
"Britain's sickest child"
Although many such stories have not been heard of by the world, more cases than those we have mentioned are known. More than 11 years ago, Britain was shaken by the story of Lisa Hayden-Johnson's son. Everyone kept their fingers crossed for the health of the toddler, whose mother described him as "the sickest child in the country." Lisa knew perfectly how to make sure that her struggle for her son's health evoked admiration and sympathy. His illness was believed by all. She and her boy received the Child of Courage Award from the then Prime Minister, Tony Blair, and she even met with the royal family! She was a guest on breakfast television and sold her story to colorful magazines. Thanks to her benefits and disability pension she has raised £130,000 and has been supported by various charities, receiving gifts which included a cruise to Tenerife and a new car. Not surprisingly, kind-hearted people tried their best to help "the sickest child in the country" by donating money to make her life a little more bearable. She managed to fool everyone for six years that her son, (whose name cannot be mentioned for legal reasons), was terribly ill so that she could scam state benefits and donations from the public and relish the attention given to her...
Lisa Hayden-Johnson’s Son
By the age of seven, the boy had had more than 325 medical appointments and undergone nine surgical operations. As it later turned out, they were completely unnecessary. Lisa maintained that her son had a neurological disorder and cerebral palsy that required him to use a wheelchair. On top of that, she managed to convince others that he suffered from diabetes, cystic fibrosis, metabolic disorders, food allergies, intolerance to sunlight, among others. She convinced doctors that he needed to be fed with a probe. She did everything to make his poor health credible to the medics. For example, to make diabetes credible, she added glucose to the boy's urine. She invented more illnesses and bullied medical professionals, threatening to sue when they said there was nothing seriously wrong with the boy. Lisa claimed, however, that she was a qualified nurse and knew full well how sick her son was. Eventually, the doctors concluded that there was nothing wrong with the boy and a police investigation was then launched. However, it took several years for the boy to be freed from his life in hospitals. When Hayden-Johnson's fraud finally came to light, she was sentenced to three years and three months in prison for faking her son's illness.
The True Story of a Lost Childhood
Munchausen syndrome by proxy is classified as a syndrome associated with child maltreatment. A study conducted by Mary S. Sheridan in 2003 found that 7% of victims of Munchausen syndrome by proxy suffer long-term impairment or permanent disability, while 6% of children die. Virtually all suffer mental health damage. The childhood memories of Julie Gregory, a victim of Munchausen syndrome by proxy, have been published in the form of a book titled “Sickened: The True Story of a Lost Childhood”. In the publication, she told her story - the story of a child who was killed by her mother. The shocking story of the now-adult Julie shows what physical and emotional problems the adult victims of the MSBP have to face. All she remembers of her childhood is her doctors. There was always something wrong with her, no one could help her or give her the right diagnosis. Her mother was always determined to prove another disease, and when the doctors could not find her the woman would get angry and aggressive. When she was 13, a nurse informed her that she was facing surgery - a heart catheterization. It was then that Julie exclaimed: "My mom is making this up!" It took quite a few years for the girl to realize that all her illnesses are invented by her mother, and she meticulously plans her next visits to doctors. For many years no one wanted to believe the girl that her caring mother was actually doing her harm. She was 23 when she managed to leave home. Then she heard about Munchausen syndrome by proxy in one of her college psychology classes. Although she was "chronically and very seriously ill" as a child, in adulthood she does not struggle with any of these diseases. Despite this, her mother has never confessed.
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