Is social media becoming a catalyst for mothers with Munchausen’s Syndrome by proxy to gain the sympathy and attention of people around the world? Mothers with Munchausen’s Syndrome by proxy are believed to cause or fake illnesses in their children and to seek out otherwise unneeded medical care. They have been known to withhold food, falsify fevers and give their children drugs to cause vomiting and diarrhea. The children are often hospitalized with a baffling bunch of symptoms, that just don’t fit any known disease.
The children are subject to multiple tests and procedures with the mother being very attentive, even gaining the appreciation of the nursing staff for her dedication and help in caring for her child. This is the very reason it’s not suspected that this caring, devoted and self-sacrificing mother could be causing her child to be sick. Staying close by during hospitalizations gives the mother the ability to induce further symptoms and some go so far as to nearly suffocate their child that set off monitors signaling the child was not breathing.
As the medical team rushes in, the mother will react like any distraught mother wanting to know why her child stopped breathing and if they’re okay. The behavior of the mother can make it hard for staff to recognize that she is intentionally harming her child out of a desire for attention for herself and sympathy for what she is going through. In cases where it’s recognized that the mother may be suffering from Munchausen’s Syndrome by proxy the child needs to be removed from the mother’s care. The results of separating the child and mother often bring about a return to health for the child.
Since the parent is seeking attention, and it’s that sympathy and admiration she receives that has her harming her child, should we be alarmed that social media could be a constant source of gasoline for an already raging fire? Think about it, blogs, tweets, Facebook posts, Instagram and Pinterest are social networks that can help sick mothers gain the accolades, adoration and sympathy from people all over the world. Now she has a fan base that is devoted to her and her sick child and waiting for every update.
Yesterday, in my home state of New York, one mother, a blogger, was charged with fatally poisoning her son Garnett. Lacey Spears appeared to be a devoted mother to her son Garnett and chronicled about the five-year old’s many hospitalizations and his constant battle with illness. She even captured the last moments of her son’s life, as he lay gravely ill in the hospital in photos she then posted to her Facebook page. She would talk about her son’s incredible courage and referred to him as “Garnett the Great” on her blog. The little boy died in January from what doctors said was acute sodium poisoning.
People from all over followed her updates, posts and tweets and a huge outpouring of support, sympathy and prayers were offered to this mother and her son. Now formally charged, she is believed to have poisoned her son with sodium through a feeding tube in his abdomen. As Garnett lay dying in the hospital, a Chestnut Ridge neighbor said Spears called and told her to dispose of a bag Spears used to feed the boy through a tube. Police later recovered the bag which had extremely high levels of sodium.His killing, police said, was the final act of a deranged mother who, fueled by attention on social media, medically tortured her child for years.
Lacey Spears pleaded not guilty Tuesday to murder and manslaughter charges in the poisoning death of her five-year-old son, Garnett. She was ordered held without bail at Westchester County jail and is due back in court July 2. The only words the 26-year-old Alabama native uttered in state Supreme Court in White Plains were “Yes, sir,” when Justice Barry Warhit asked if she was Lacey Spears.
It seems that Lacey lived a life of lies and it’s all coming out now. Besides sharing her son’s nearly lifelong medical battles on social media she wrote about the loss of her soul mate, Garnett’s father who she said was a police officer killed in a car crash. It’s now apparent this was a lie along with so many others that seem to keep surfacing.
This homicide case may be one of the first involving Munchausen by proxy in the era of social media. I keep reading that last sentence, now that this has all come out, so many people are coming forward saying things about the mother and yet no one was able to prevent Garnett’s death. This may be the first homicide case involving Munchausen by proxy that has come this far, but do you truly think it’s the only one?
Do you think it’s possible that other mothers with this syndrome are right now updating statuses about their sick child, fueled by the comments and likes that are peppering their pages. Are any of us guilty of supporting a mother who is doing the unthinkable? Scary thought for sure and one that will cause us all to look just a little deeper into the lives we follow through social media.
And in closing, I turn my thoughts to a beautiful blond-haired boy that walked the beach on Honeymoon Island where I vacationed with my children and who lived in my state. This beautiful little boy should be playing with trucks, chasing butterflies and looking forward to a full and happy life. Instead his life on Earth is over and those of us that believe in God will pray that he is in the arms of Jesus and will forever be loved and cherished. God Bless you Garnett and may you rest in peace.