Belle Gibson blogged her way to success and fortune by claiming to have had brain cancer and then claiming to have cured herself from it using holistic remedies. Her lie began to unfold when she failed to donate $300,000 in proceeds from her cookbook “The Whole Pantry” as promised in 2015. Legal action was brought against Gibson by Consumer Affairs Victoria and were upheld by Federal Court.
The court ruled that Gibson engaged in “misleading and deceptive conduct” with the public by promoting a book and an app on false pretenses. She is also justly accused of deliberately playing on the desires of the community to help someone in need. Her app and book sales grossed over $420,000 due to the generosity of people who believed she was sick and may have been sick themselves. However, a judge says Gibson may have actually believed she was sick.
“It seems to me that, at least in some respects, it might be open to find that Gibson suffered from a series of delusions about her health condition.” Federal Court judge Debbie Mortimer said, advising that, “Not all human beings are rational and reasonable all of the time.” This may be true. However, people who feign illness for fame and monetary gain are at another level of irrational and unreasonable. Her book has been withdrawn by Penguin, and the app has been deleted.
When one goes to this extreme to get attention, it is normal to start to look at whether or not there may be some type of disorder present that may explain the person’s behavior. Histrionic Personality Disorder is usually characterized by a need for constant attention, and the tendency to overdramatize situations. There are also various types of psychosis, which includes delusions and hallucinations. Gibson’s behavior, however, points to another type of disorder.
Factitious disorders include a person deliberately acting as if they have a physical or mental illness, when they are not sick at all. People with this disorder may lie about symptoms or fake them, they may purposely hurt themselves to bring on symptoms, or may even alter tests such as urine samples hoping to make it look as though symptoms have been exacerbated when they are not really there.
Factitious disorders by proxy involve a person caring for another person and acting as if that person is sick when they are not sick at all. Personality disorders such as these are usually attached to childhood and the way the person was treated by their caregivers. It is evident that something was clearly missing from Gibson’s upbringing that prevented her from growing up mentally sound and well-adjusted. She does seem to be making a bit more sense these days, though.
She told Women’s Weekly that the reason she decided to come forward with her story was because it was “the responsible thing to do.” and she stated, “I don’t want forgiveness.” That is good, because forgiveness will be hard to come by. Many who bought into Gibson’s story may have done so because they were looking for alternative solutions to their own health issues. What Gibson did was wrong on many levels, and now she will have to live that down.
What do you think of Gibson’s confession? Too little too late? Let’s discuss here or on Twitter @lcarterwriter.