Is the Justina Pelletier Case Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy?

Over the last year and half, a case has been running through the courts and the media about teenage patient Justina Pelletier, who was inpatient at Tufts University Hospital in Boston for mitochondrial disease (rare and severe), then was transferred to Boston Children’s because her GI doc had transferred there and she needed to see him. Tufts and Boston Children’s are just a few miles from each other, so this makes sense.

But something weird happened in the transfer. When Justina got to Children’s, they kidnapped her and locked her in the psych unit! They stopped her treatment for mitochondrial disease, and though they didn’t use the actual term Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy (MSbP), they accused the parents of medical abuse! Child Protective Services got involved, and completely blocked the family from Justina. They went on the news pleading tearfully. It was all the family could do to get Justina back from the medical system. She didn’t even live in Boston – they live in Connecticut!

In this blog post, I will argue that Justina Pelletier’s case looks like a classic MSbP case – but not in the way you would think.

Justina’s Family is Probably Not an MSbP Family

I can’t be 100% certain, because I just have the news to rely on, but basically, I’m 99% certain. They are a normal family, as much as I can tell.

To make this judgment, I first watched her dad being interviewed on the news. He seemed just like a normal dad with a sick – and now kidnapped – kid. Also, it was interesting that the dad was being interviewed. In a typical MSbP family, the mom would be interviewed (as what happened in the Kathy Bush case, who was the main person interviewed on the news).

Compare Justina’s Dad…

5:33 – mention of MSbP

With Kathy Bush…

There are other pieces of evidence that suggest Justina is sick and her family is normal. Justina was doing rather well at Tufts, and was going to Children’s to get access to a GI specialist who had treated her before – who she didn’t even get to see because she was put inpatient in the psych ward. There, her health deteriorated as they would not medicate her for her disease. This is part of why the family is suing them now for malpractice – they destroyed Justina’s health through this horrible event where they locked her in the psych ward, would not medicate her thus making her sick, and kidnapped her from her family.

Eventually, they gave her back to her family and got her back on meds and didn’t charge anyone. Yeah, I know, WTF?

Where does the MSbP Come In?

Glad you asked! Here is my diagnosis after reading the news:

At least one clinician at Boston Children’s who is in charge of the psych ward is an MSbP Perpetrator – Provider Type.

These are the providers like Mariel’s mom, who was a psychiatrist engaging in MSbP behavior with her family and patients. There are also psychologists and social workers who are MSbP Perpetrators – Provider Type. There were the ones who cooperated with my mother. Most clinicians would avoid her, but these Provider Type MSbP Perpetrators would throw themselves into it. These providers engage in psychiatric MSbP behavior, and want to accuse everyone of having a psychological problem and lock them up. These are the type of providers who run Troubled Teen Industry (TTI) torture organizations.

Children's Hospital in Boston.

During the time Justina was court-ordered in this psych ward, almost no information was available to the media and the family. No one in the family was charged, so they could not even defend themselves. It was bizarre and disturbing.

MSbP Perpetrators – Provider Type are the Medical Abuse Version of Child Molesters

They try to get hired at pediatric outpatient clinics or children’s hospitals (or TTI torture organizations, as teens are there). These child-focused healthcare locations are full of these people because there are no specific screenings to keep these people from practicing in the medical system.

We have screening to prevent child molesters in schools, but no filters in the medical system, so these MSbP Perpetrators – Provide Type literally congregate in those settings.

And also, Mariel’s mother practiced for a long time before her license was taken away, and she had to behave egregiously. Had she had the emotional regulation my mother did, she would not have been identified. Heck, “The Good Nurse” killed an estimated 400 people before he was identified! That is evidence enough for what I am contending.

Will the MSbP Perpetrator – Provider Type be Identified?

The Pelletier’s are suing Boston Children’s. Will the Pelletier’s legal representation look for this angle? I hope they do. If they can find the MSbP Perpetrator – Provider Type providers at Children’s and actually charge that person or those people with child abuse, maybe those responsible will then be barred from having contact with children.

I admit that have heard rumors of MSbP Perpetrator – Provider Types at Children’s. Inevitably, I know there must be many, given this lack of occupational screening. Who were these people who orchestrated Justina Pelletier’s kidnapping? I hope media reveal who at Children’s is responsible.

Sorry, Joe Fitzgerald – I love the Boston Herald, but I think you missed the boat with “good intentions”. When it comes to MSbP Perpetrators, Provider Type or not, we are talking about serial killers, not good intentions.

Update: March 7, 2016: More info on Accused Perpetrators

Thank you for your helpful comments, and for those who have referred me to your blogs with more information about this news issue.

Also, I was able to find the accused MSbP Provider Type perpetrators discussed in the media as a result of a press release from the Pelletier family! I made a few more blog posts that will lay out my hypothesis better. Please read these if you are interested in the MSbP Provider Type hypothesis I have about Children’s clinicians who perpetrated on Justina:

Part 2: Dr. Alice Newton of Children’s was named as an accused perpetrator in the press release. She has a reputation! Read my review of her reputation here.

Part 3: In the 1970s, Dr. Roy Meadow of England actually identified and named MSbP. In the 2000s, he falsely accused parents of MSbP and had them wrongly imprisoned. One even ended up committing suicide. I describe Dr. Meadows’ descent from apparent MSbP champion to apparent MSbP Perpetrator – Provider Type in this post.

Part 4: In this post, I draw the eerie parallels between Dr. Meadow and Dr. Newton.

Part 5: This one is a must-read for anyone who uses Children’s Hospital in Boston for care for their children. I review public information on the other two accused perpetrators, Jurriaan Peters and I. Simona Bujoreanu. I’m not so afraid of Dr. Peters, but Dr. Bujuorneau looks pretty scary – see for yourself.

Part 6: October 2016 update! The Anonymous “hactivist” group launched an attack on Boston Children’s in 2014 because of Justina Pelletier’s case. One of the hackers who was caught, Martin Gottesfeld, is sitting in a Rhode Island jail on a hunger strike with demands that the presidential candidates pledge to “protect children who’ve been sent to residential treatment centers, psychiatric hospitals and other institutions”. Check it out!

Did you know that manipulating Child Protective Services is another symptom of being an MSbP Perpetrator?

Dierdre Conway Rand points this out in her research she describes here.

Photograph by Joseph Barillari.




14 thoughts on “Is the Justina Pelletier Case Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy?

  1. You do realized that information regarding all aspects of Ms Pellitier’s treatment are protected by federally mandated HIPPA regulations. I would be concerned if information regarding the specifics of her condition and treatment were made public by BCH. On another note it is my understanding that once DCF becomes involved they manage the child’s care and make all placement decisions.


    • Hi there,

      Thanks for the comment. You bring up an interesting point, because there are certain exceptions in HIPAA, and one is in the reporting of child or elder abuse. In those cases, PHI can be shared without permission. I do not know who at Children’s filed the paperwork, but they undoubtedly included some PHI in it.

      Of course, if you pull out only one of your medical records and show it to someone, it can give the wrong impression. By selecting the PHI they included carefully, they could have pulled the wool over DCF’s eyes. They could have made it look like the picture was much simpler than it actually was – which is what I suspect they did.

      HIPAA was intended to protect patients, but after implemented, many have observed that it does a better job of keeping healthcare organizations safe from accountability no matter what they do, because they cry “HIPAA!” when anyone tries to accuse them of anything. There is a term for this – “hiding behind HIPAA”. It is probably the case that you are right – DCF became the autonomous decider of Ms Pelletier’s treatment decisions once they gained control.

      While I strongly agree in the basic tenets of patient privacy, other countries do a better job of handling this and balancing it with transparency. In the case of HIPAA, it is difficult to obtain the transparency necessary for the public to decide if public funds were used appropriately by DCF in this case.



  2. CPS has a duty to do when there are complaints. But it’s authority is at best only for emergencies. After that all power resides in the court.

    Parents who abuse their children will not admit such. They will fight and fight and fight to prove that they are right. This has to be understood.

    Need to look at evidence of wrong doing, not symptoms of supposed illness MSbP.



    • I like your apt observation of the function of CPS and the courts. I will add this corrollary – so if you are the person reporting the abuse to CPS, it behooves you to hand-deliver nicely-organized evidence so it makes it into court ASAP. Otherwise, your effort at CPS is wasted. There are some MSbP articles that point that out, and both that book I mentioned by Artingstall and some scientific articles talk about how to gather that evidence so CPS goes more smoothly.

      You say parents who abuse their children will not admit such, but with MSbP parents, it’s been a mixed bag. Some admit it when confronted. Some only admit it when confronted with evidence (like video). Some refuse to admit it even when confronted with evidence – can you imagine? It takes all kinds!

      You are right about the evidence. One point we make in our book chapter is that all the evidence is in the healthcare system, so it really needs to do a good job organizing it and providing it to the courts so prosecution can go smoothly.

      It’s just that in this case I write about, we have a potential problem with a provider being MSbP, and thus CPS doesn’t work because their “expert” is tainted. The parents don’t seem to have any MSbP traits, and the provider seems to have the provider-type traits. The reason I say this is not because I know this to be the truth, which I don’t, but because I want the media (Boston Globe? Herald? WGBH? WBUR?) to investigate and find out what’s the deal with this bizarre situation. Kids who need inpatient placements can’t get them, and here this girl is stuck in one out-of-state for a year! What went on behind the scenes? And do we need to fear this Roy Meadow-like provider who keeps falsely accusing people of child abuse and getting cases overturned?


    • “But something weird happened in the transfer.”

      Well what would have happened is someone raised the issue that there was suspicion of this being MSbP. We hope that doesn’t have to happen everyday, and we hope that everybody is being ethical and using good judgment. But there is nothing “weird” about this, as this is how children get protected, by separating them from their parents.

      So the decision had to have been made by doctors, CPS, or the court. But once the basic steps were taken, sole authority would reside with the court.

      It is the job of CPS to protect children in any situation where child abuse is suspected. And this Dr. Alice Newton is the person in charge of child protection at that hospital. So there is so far nothing strange, though we don’t know if there really was MSpB, or what there was to this mitochondrial condition.

      So there would have been 3 issues:

      1. Placing Justina in the isolation ward, and keeping her there.
      2. Prohibiting the parents from visiting.
      3. Discontinuing the treatment for her mitochondrial condition.

      I read this and quite frankly I am suspicious that this mitochondrial condition could be bogus.

      In discontinuing her treatment they might have contacted this doctor at Tufts.

      And do we know what that treatment was or that it was discontinued?

      Remember, the Boston Children’s Hospital staff is not allowed to give press conferences.

      And then, did they give her any psychiatric medication or other type of psychiatric treatment? They should not have. But how would we know? Again, the BCH staff will not be allowed to comment.

      But if the parents thought something wrong was being done, it is the Family Court which will have jurisdiction.

      I hope people can see how extremely political all of this is. And if you are dealing with parents who have money, you can expect that they will lawyer up and counter attack. This is after all a challenge to the legitimacy of the middle-class family.

      And then today, they can butter Justina up. And then there is the unspoken issue of inheritance.

      Join My Forum:

      Munchausen By Proxy – Interview with Victim Author Julie Gregory ( extremely good book and video )


  3. Hello Monica,

    This is a topic which I wasn’t aware of, and therefore I find interesting enough to read and understand on. Might I ask, what happened to that girl? Is her condition under control now? Has she received appropriate psych counselling? I ask the latter as this entire incident might have been mighty traumatic for her.

    In conclusion, your article was very well assembled and easy to understand. Very thorough. Kudos on that.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for your comment and kind words!

      First, you ask “is her condition under control” – and I assume you mean her physical condition. Per the press release and the recent article I link to, it looks like her health really deteriorated while she was denied care for mitchondrial disease. Of course, mitochondrial disaese will deteriorate you anyway, so if they want to demonstrate in the malpractice suit that this denial of care was malpractice and contributed to her current physical condition, it will unfortunately be difficult even if it is completely true.

      Next, you ask, “Has she received the appropriate psych counseling?” The problem is – there is no “appropriate psych counseling” for surviving MSbP behavior. People who have survived MSbP childhood behavior (like me) are people who have adult problems with complex PTSD and physical problems. We have trauma that hasn’t been studied very well because 1) our brains were developing while the trauma was occuring, unlike in Soldiers where they are already adults, and 2) providers who participate in MSbP behavior have prevented study on the topic of provider behavior.

      What’s in Justina’s favor is that if this really was Provider Type MSbP behavior, Justina was already 14 when it started and is apparently part of a loving family. These are protective factors that increase her likelihood of healing more expediently from this trauma.

      One last point – like Justina, me and Mariel (of the Proxy Project) were both locked in psych wards against our will in our teens. This is abuse, but once we survived it, we could not use the mental health industry effectively for healing from this abuse because it was the actual weapon of abuse. We didn’t trust it anymore. Justina might have the same issue.


      • Hi Monika, Thank you for the detailed, descriptive and prompt reply. I do hope Justina recovers and is able to be as strong as you seem to be, having read your coverage of her case and then answering my queries. Hope you have a safe and pleasant day ahead. Will be following your blog henceforth. Take care.


  4. I had to add this new article today from the Boston Globe about Arbour Counseling.

    Arbour has likely killed many people who have not been identified.

    My personal experience was at the Jamaica Plain office on Green Street, where the Director, Brian, told me he was “not accountable to his patients” in a phone interview after he poisoned my (now ex) boyfriend with medication known to cause a reaction in him. The ex is now in jail because of this poisoning and has permanent physical and mental damage.

    My ex and I tried very hard to file a criminal complaint of poisoning with the police. They would not file the complaint! I also could not file a criminal complaint against Brian when he blocked our records, even after several valid HIPAA requests.

    There is really no recourse in Massachusetts for charging healthcare providers who blatantly break the law, with criminal assaults and such. I wrote to the Attorney General (Coakley at the time) who said it was not in her jurisdiction! Who will arrest the criminals at Arbour? Where is our legal system? These should not be civil suits (just like with the Pelletiers) because criminal behavior took place.

    Is it that all you have to do to be a murderer is become a healthcare provider, and then you have immunity in Massachusetts?

    Arbour Counseling has many MSbP Provider Types and a connection to the Troubled Teen Industry! Beware! Seek mental health treatment in another state. If you can, see if you can go to Minnesota if you have a mental health or substance abuse problem, which has a comparatively good reputation. You risk death and permanent injury in Massachusetts, as approximately 1/3 of our mental health system is run by Arbour Counseling, and MSbP Provider Types are running rampant there.


  5. BCH did not charge the Pelletiers. That’s just lovely. The Massachusetts AG should start investigating that institution, top to bottom- and, armed with a DSM-V and a passel of search warrants, root out the perps- starting with everyone at BCH who had contact with Justina.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I agree!

      According to the HIPAA law, the Pelletier’s have control over their own health information. If they got all their health information and made it public, we could see all the notes/orders/etc. and it would be quite clear where there was tension. I read medical records constantly (as I’m an epidemiologist), and there is a lot of sociology in there that tells about the culture of the organization and what’s going on between clinicians/labs/family/etc.

      The reason I say this is you point out “search warrants”, but actually, if the Pelletiers donated their health information to researchers somehow, search warrants and other requests would not be needed to start analyzing what went wrong here. The only way BCH could get out of fulfilling a valid HIPAA request by the Pelletiers is by violating the HIPAA law (which would take 60 days to do, because BCH would have 60 days to fulfill a HIPAA request). After that, if BCH did not produce all the records (except psychotherapy notes by law – a rant for another post), the Pelletiers could appeal to the federal Office of Human Rights Protections (OHRP).

      I’m sure BCH would not want that press, so if we had the records, it would be simply the mess of wading through all the records to try to piece together what happened. While this same info could come out during a typical discovery process as part of the lawsuit, HIPAA is actually a faster way to get the health information.

      In my experience, if you need someone’s health info (e.g., you are helping them) and you can get them to request it themselves under the HIPAA law and then give it to you, you are way more likely to get it comprehensively and quickly than if it is requested as part of a legal discovery process. That is because HIPAA is a stronger law, and also, the records people may not realize you are taking action against them if you request it under the HIPAA law. Discovery is pretty much a red flag, so healthcare places suddenly produce a lot of red tape that you don’t see in a HIPAA request and can delay delivery of records indefinitely.


  6. I would be interested in the rationale for taking a GI referral and placing her into a psychiatric ward, without medication prescribed by a reputable professional. The contrast between the Pelletiers and my own family are quite striking, let alone with the footage of Kathy Bush. The “good intentions” excuse is, at best, pathetic, in my opinion. In lieu of good intentions, what about a good screening to confirm a patient diagnosis, and in this case, detect a provider’s possible disorder? Even if there is a systemic problem, rather than an abusive provider, the result is the same. Harm to the child. Yet the first premise of medical care is meant to be “First do no harm”. I could rant all day and night (as Monika well knows, LOL). And if a health care provider network or institution has reason to doubt the legitimacy of the diagnosis given by someone it recently hired, then why in heaven’s name hire that person? My mind continues to boggle.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The lioness speaks with clarity! You are right – it should be pretty straightforward to find the doco behind why she was whisked away to the psych ward when GI was waiting for her, and then made sick again by having her meds withheld. The whole thing would have required a lot of doco (including CPS doco), so why isn’t it obvious why this happened? It seems like there is an obvious coverup.

      I’m realizing as I’m reading your post that there are probably a lot of dead children as a result of the lack of MSbP screening of providers at BCH. There are probably decades-old mechanisms to protect the small gang of MSbP perpetrators Provider Type that poison the well there.


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