NPR 4 THE DEAF: We Hear It Even When U Can’t



FRESH AIR: In 2015, a woman named Dee Dee Blanchard was found stabbed to death in the Missouri home she shared with her teenage daughter, Gypsy Rose. As the details surrounding the murder came out, it was revealed that Blanchard had falsely convinced Gypsy Rose and everyone they knew — including doctors — that Gypsy Rose was seriously ill and needed to use a wheelchair. After her death, Blanchard was posthumously diagnosed with Munchausen syndrome by proxy, a mental health disorder in which a person makes up or causes illness in a person under their care. Actor Patricia Arquette, who plays Blanchard in the new Hulu series The Act, says it was “very weird” to get into the character’s head: “I had to kind of think of who Dee Dee was outside of all of those judgments people had after the fact.”

Arquette sees Munchausen syndrome by proxy as a sign of “toxic codependency,” in which a parent feels the need to care for a child to an extreme degree. “We all have natural instincts as parents. When something’s wrong with our kid, we think we have an instinct of what it might be,” Arquette says. “I think Dee Dee has all these things in excess and in dangerous amounts.” Arquette has taken on a series of complex roles in the past few years. In 2019, she won a Golden Globe award for her portrayal of civilian prison worker Joyce “Tilly” Mitchell in the Showtime series Escape at Dannemora. And in 2015 she won an Academy Award for her role as a single mother in Richard Linklater’s film Boyhood. MORE