Millionaire Psychiatrist Accused of Deliberate Misdiagnosis for Gain

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Multimillionaire U.K. psychiatrist Dr. George Hibbert is being investigated – potentially by Parliament – for deliberately misdiagnosing hundreds of parents with ‘personality disorders’ in order to fit the view of the social service agency for whom he worked that their children should be taken away. The lawyer for one of the parents said “we believe this may be the tip of a very big iceberg.”

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Mad in America hosts blogs by a diverse group of writers. These posts are designed to serve as a public forum for a discussion—broadly speaking—of psychiatry and its treatments. The opinions expressed are the writers’ own.

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Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected]

7 COMMENTS

  1. Perhaps someone can shed light on these questions:

    1. Dr. Hibbert could not have engaged in his allegedly highly profitable activities without a partner in the social service agency. What are the likely motives of the agency or its personnel? Money? A genuine belief that the mothers were inadequate? Pressure (from whom?) to acquire adoptable babies? Other motives?

    2. What are the probabilities that there are numerous other Dr. Hibberts in the U.K.?

    3. Is Dr. George Hibbert, the psychiatrist, a member of the famous Hibbert family of Jamaica sugar plantation owners, especially George Hibbert, author of the influential polemic, “The Slave-Trade Indispensable” (May 13, 1789)?

    3.

  2. They damn and condemn those who they can, serving the sole purpose of their lust for power, control, dominance, superiority and authority.

    In my “case”, I had been *begging* for support and help. In tears. The state went out of their way to call me, I did not call them, to tell me that even though they COULD pay for the hotel room (where my three kids and I were staying, and I was working 55 hours per week to pay for the room) that they would NOT pay for it (would not help, support, assist). They did NOT want to keep me and my kids together (although they CERTAINLY could have done exactly that, and, with great ease. It would not have been difficult, at all). They DID go out of their way, in increments (which I helplessly watched them do) to TAKE my kids.

    It is literally just for them to be the authority. That’s really all it is. They do whatever they want (INCLUDING lie), nobody can hold them accountable, and that’s the way they want it.

    They like TO WIN.

      • Oh yeah. And the day after I faxed a letter, that I had my kids write, to the school, begging for help with transportation according to the McKinney Act, was the day they came to steal my kids.

        I had been calling DAILY for weeks – anyone and everyone – in the chase and the runaround that they send people on (which makes people crazy). Each person said to talk to the next person. Finally, I got fed up with it. I had my kids write a letter so that THEY WERE THE ONES asking for help.

        Very next day, they came and stole my kids.

        The McKinney Act guarantees that homeless and displaced families are entitled to support, including transportation, to ensure that the kids remain in school. The kids had just started the new school year in a new school system. We moved to the hotel room a month later. I could not drive them to school every day. The state told me that I had to enroll them in the school system in the new town. NO, I didn’t have to do that. According to the McKinney Act, they were entitled to continue to go to the school they were already enrolled in. And there was no direction – which school would provide the transportation, town one or town two?

        I BEGGED. I CRIED. My kids were frustrated and so was I.

        Evil world, and those people ARE evil. They’ll call me crazy for saying it – instead of facing themselves in the mirror.

        • Their reason for stealing my kids:

          That I wasn’t taking them to school. Neglect, for not taking them to school.

          Yet, they knew:

          1. I have a sleep disorder
          2. I was working 55 hours per week to pay for a hotel room, which was our shelter
          3. I had been BEGGING for help, to get the kids to school
          4. The four of us had JUST MOVED 500 miles away from our home to a brand new state. We needed a LOT of support to make that transition. We weren’t getting that support, not in the least bit.

          I can’t believe I’m STILL CRYING about it – online. In public. Oh God, strike me dead. Have Mercy. Strike me dead.

          It’s been years, and I just won’t “get over it” or “move on”.

          I knew better than to click on a trigger puller.

  3. In the interests of fairness & accuracy: from the British Medical Journal

    Psychiatrist vilified by UK newspapers is cleared of all charges
    BMJ 2014;348:g1893

    A psychiatrist who was accused in the tabloid press of wrongly diagnosing mental illness in mothers so that social services could take their babies away has been cleared of all charges by the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service.

    George Hibbert, dubbed “the doctor who broke up families” in a front page story by the Daily Mail, ran Tadpole Cottage, a private centre in Wiltshire where mothers were sent with their babies for assessment of their parenting abilities.

    In a case that echoed that of the child protection paediatrician David Southall, the newspaper took up the cases of mothers whose babies had been taken into care through the courts on Hibbert’s recommendation. The Daily Telegraph also ran similar stories.

    The case took five and a half years to reach a hearing, at which the tribunal service panel found all the factual allegations unproved, meaning that there was no need to go on to consider whether the psychiatrist’s practice was impaired.

    The panel noted that the expert witness for the General Medical Council, Margaret Oates, had confirmed under questioning by Hibbert’s counsel, Martin Spencer QC, that the criticisms she had made of his conduct “were matters which could have been dealt with locally, between professional colleagues, and need not have been brought before the [Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service].”

    Oates admitted to the panel that she was not an expert on “the dual role of a doctor who had a duty as a psychiatrist to his patient but who also had an overriding duty to the family court, having been instructed to provide an expert opinion,” said panel chairwoman Carrie Ryan-Palmer.

    The hearing concerned the case of Miss A, who sold her story to the Daily Mail through the website http://www.cash4yourstory.co.uk. She had “a long and complex history of mental illness, familial difficulties, alcohol abuse and personal problems,” said Ryan-Palmer.

    The consensus of psychiatrists was that Miss A had unstable personality disorder, borderline type. Hibbert gave her a diagnosis of bipolar affective disorder.

    Her four previous children were taken into care, and the family court ordered that she go to Tadpole Cottage in 2007 with her fifth baby to assess whether she was fit to care for him. At the centre she displayed disruptive and threatening behaviour, threatening to “smash the place up” if she was made to stay.

    Hibbert recommended that the assessment be terminated, and Miss A left with her solicitor, leaving the baby behind. The next day she was admitted to St George’s Hospital claiming to be suicidal, although she later admitted that she was not.

    The tribunal cleared Hibbert of telling a nurse at St George’s that Miss A had left of her own accord when he knew this to be untrue and of submitting a final report to the court that did not provide an accurate account of Miss A’s discharge from Tadpole Cottage. He was also cleared of failing to provide a care plan in advance of her discharge, and the panel accepted that he had no duty to provide one. Two other charges were dropped by the GMC.

    The baby was put into foster care. He was later returned to her after another assessment elsewhere but was subsequently taken into care permanently. Miss A’s treating psychiatrist before her admission to Tadpole Cottage, who had encouraged her to complain to the GMC, gave evidence, but the panel “did not find her to be an impressive witness.”

    Hibbert, 61, has retired from clinical work and had offered to give up his registration voluntarily. He said that his case showed why doctors were reluctant to undertake child protection work. “It’s a high price to pay for protecting other people’s children,” he said.