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Matters of mental illness have long played out in books and movies. The more recent surge in popularity has turned a spotlight on psychological suspense, and specifically, mental illness. The discussions sparked by the media can aid in removing some of the stigma surrounding mental illness, and encourage people to seek help. Sharp Objects, for example, a book written ten years ago by author Gillian Flynn, and more recently made into a television show airing on HBO, is a terrific example.

From Newsweek.com (CAUTION: CONTAINS SPOILERS):

Sharp Objects, the Gillian Flynn novel-turned-HBO series, has struck a chord with viewers and critics for being dark, thrilling and forward thinking on mental health. In its first two episodes, viewers saw the series lead, Camille, played by Amy Adams, dive deep into the culture of her hometown where her past resurfaces and leaves her searching for answers about both the case she’s reporting and her own family history.

In her hometown of Wind Gap, Missouri, two teenage girls were murdered. In the television series, as Camille reports on the deaths for a St. Louis paper, viewers are left wondering who the killer is. If the result of the HBO version aligns with the book, many will be shocked at not one, but two crucial plot twists that drive the book’s unpredictable ending. If you’re dying to know what happens, keep reading.

Adora Has An Illness

In the first episodes, viewers quickly see the toxic dynamic between Camille and her mother, Adora. After Camille’s younger sister, Marian’s, early death, Camille’s relationship with Adora was strained. Camille joins her younger step-sister, Amma, for a drug-filled night out, and the next morning, Adora ends up tending to their serious bruise and hangovers. Tending to her children is nothing new for Adora, as both Marian and Amma were ill most of their childhoods.

Camille notices Adora’s remedies make her sicker. She comes to the conclusion that Adora has Munchausen syndrome by proxy (MSP) an illness in which a caretaker keeps those in their care sick.

“The person with MSP gains attention by seeking medical help for exaggerated or made-up symptoms of a child in his or her care,” according to WebMD. “As healthcare providers strive to identify what’s causing the child’s symptoms, the deliberate actions of the mother or caretaker can often make the symptoms worse.” 

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