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  • Comprehensive, measured & sensitive

    A measured, compassionate recount and analysis of the whole saga from start to finish. Never digressing into the sensational or speculative. Takes risks by not fiercely condemning the subject herself, as is so easy and tempting to do, but instead bestows on her a delicate balance of humanity and culpability, as well as what at times feels like frustration, disappointment and pity. The book offers thoughtful insights into the personal stories associated with the deceit, as well the wider implications and repercussions. The authors resolutely comment on and analyse the social responsibilities of those who enabled and profited from the scam, remarking that those who were most eager to associate themselves in the successful times were among the first to abandon and condemn. The most interesting insights come from the authors’ bizarre interactions with Gibson’s family - and although it is barely more than a (fair) implication, any person capable of rational empathy can discern that a severely disordered upbringing almost certainly would have influenced Gibson to behave abnormally - although it of course does not justify her actions. The authors themselves, as well other interviewers and reporters can barely cope with the stress and utter chaos of a mere phone conversation with Gibson’s erratic parents, which begs the question of what years (in fact, vital, early childhood years during which attachment patterns are established and one’s values systems and sense of identity is formed) under their influence would have had on the average person’s psyche. It is unfortunate it cannot be understood further as Gibson appears to have never been professionally psychologically assessed. This being said, enormous portions of the book are dedicated to compassionate accounts of people truly suffering from cancer and the physical, emotional and psychological agony they endure. Reading these accounts alongside an analysis of the damage that health charlatons like Gibson can cause to the public’s understanding of health and disease, it is difficult to empathise with her, mentally ill or otherwise. The book is compassionate, insightful, measured and comprehensive, I would recommend.

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