The end of the year brings a lot of podcast lists. I don’t always heed them- I think most of us can agree that “best” of anything becomes a slippery slope of subjectivity in relation to podcasts. I always take a look, despite the slippery slope. Lists are nice to look at. So I read them, and add some podcasts to my “to listen” list.
Tink Media released a list of Audio Delicacies: The Best Podcasts of 2022. I was a contributor for this one, and it felt incredible to be asked. Call it imposter syndrome, but I still can’t believe people want to know what I think of podcasts. The idea of “How did I miss this?” is one of my favorites for the end-of-year lists. So this one ended up being one of my favorite media collections from 2022.
From this list, I have found a few of my more recent listens, including today’s podcast: Nobody Should Believe Me.
Fair warning, this podcast discusses child abuse. It is not an easy thing to listen to, and if you’re not interested in engaging with that feel free to check out my other reviews and find a podcast that will suit your listening interests more.
I chose this podcast because it’s one of those ones that deftly uses the true crime atmosphere and “craze” to bring forward an under-discussed topic. This isn’t a true crime podcast. It barely mentions the “big” cases we think of when discussing Munchausen by Proxy - a massive trigger of interest for some in the true crime spheres. Instead, this is an extremely personal series examining medical child abuse through a careful, emotional lens.
This podcast is from Larj Media and produced by Tina Nole. The host, novelist Andrea Dunlop, has a direct connection with Munchausen by Proxy medical abuse. Her sister was investigated for it. Like most families who experience this, her family was shattered. Now known as Factitious Disorder Imposed on Another (FDIA), The Cleveland Clinic defines Munchausen by Proxy as “a mental illness in which a person acts as if an individual he or she is caring for has a physical or mental illness when the person is not really sick”. Extreme cases have involved unnecessary surgeries, medications, and feeding tubes.
This podcast is both a personal cathartic journey for Andrea Dunlop and an extremely enlightening series for those of us walking into this with curiosity. While Dunlop didn’t go into this project with pure catharsis in mind, the case the podcast mostly explores, that of Hope Ybarra, has such striking similarities to that of the host’s own sister there was no way there wasn’t going to be a deeply emotional stake in this. It presents an effective and engaging story. It’s a hard one to strike, but the team on this podcast does hit a careful balance between personal catharsis and reporting. The unique position of the host gives it a power that a purely clinical podcast would not be able to have.
Through phone and in-person interviews, Dunlop speaks with family members, survivors, and outside experts about what these cases look like, how they can be discovered, and if there is hope for those surviving and those perpetrating this abuse. It’s incredibly uncomfortable, but Dunlop’s timbre and emotion is grounding and comforting because this is the beginning of finding the best ways to help those who experience this mental illness in particular.
Most of these eight episodes sit around 30 minutes, with one jumping to around 45 minutes. Easily marathoned, the overall feel of this podcast draws you in with morbid curiosity, nd keeps you there. You feel for every person who speaks on this subject and by the end of it you are somehow rooting for a better future for everyone.
The fact that this happens is difficult, and the lack of understanding is depressing. This is one piece of media that will bring forward the important subject and hopefully give resources to those who need it. At the end of every episode Nobody Should Believe Me shares https://www.munchausensupport.com where people can find resources.
I try to balance out podcasts I love and enjoy for the sake of good media, with podcasts that are good and important. Sometimes, podcasts can be all of these things and it’s something special when you find them. The thing is, sometimes they’re hard to find. If you have a podcast that’s telling important stories and want it to be reviewed: please submit your podcast to me on my submit page - right here on the website.