Psychiatrist Graham Craig "had affair with patient 40 years younger..."

June 9, 2010

A psychiatrist had an affair with a patient who was almost 40 years younger than him after he exploited her wish to have a 'father figure', a medical tribunal heard today.

Psychiatrist Dr Graham Craig was 61 when he began a relationship with the 23-year-old woman after she was admitted to his clinic for severe depression, it was alleged.

The patient, who harboured self-destructive thoughts, panic attacks and low self esteem was said to be full of self hatred and 'uncomfortable in the presence of her parents.' 

Dr Craig allegedly kissed her during an appointment then began an affair with her, during which they had sex twice at week in his counselling rooms.

He also taught her to drive, took her out for lunch and asked her to walk his dogs for him.

The alleged affair, which occured whilst Dr Craig was working in Adelaide, Australia, went on from 1999 until 2001 when he moved to Britain after being suspended over an innapropriate relationship with a second patient.

The woman - known as Patient A - did not report Craig until 2006 when she claimed she was in a 'frame of mind' where she could tell people.

She had initially hoped to get some compensation but said she was now not expecting any.  

A review by Citizens Commission on Human Rights of more than 800 convictions of psychiatrists, psychologists and psychotherapists between 1998 and 2005 revealed that more than 30% were for sex crimes.

At a General Medical Council displinary hearing in Manchester the patient, now 34, said: 'I adored Graham. I wanted him to be like a father figure to me because I didn't have a great relationship with my father. He always listened to me very carefully.

'At that time I thought I was too ugly to leave the house. I was ashamed and humiliated, I didn't want to see anybody - I thought everybody was judging me.' 

'He was interested in what I was saying and said helpful things so I really enjoyed talking to him.

'I wasn't a typical 23-year-old, because of my isolation I was quite young and very much looking for a father figure. In Graham, I saw someone who could fulfill that role. I was just thrilled by that.'

'Now I think the relationship kept me depressed and dependant and isolated for much longer than I would have been if I'd had a pyschiatrist that didn't do that.

'I feel like I lost years because of him, but at the same time I loved him and I wanted to be with him. Obviously now I realise he had taken advantage of that, and I feel exploited and used, and I hate him.'

The hearing was told how Patient A had gone for treatment with Dr Craig for symptoms of body dismorphic disorder in February 1999.

He introduced her to cognative behavioural therapy, as well as discussing issues from her childhood.

But the tribunal was told that during appointments Dr Craig brushed her hair, massaged her shoulders and kissed her on the foreheard, before lying next to her and 'cuddling her.'

When Patient A moved into a flat owned by her parents she gave the doctor his own key, and they regularly met, the tribunal was told.

Giving evidence via video link from Australia, Patient A said of the affair: 'I knew it was odd and it was something that I had to hide from the nurses but I think I liked the attention.

'I was very upset and confused because I realised that he felt sexually attracted to me. I didn't know what to do.'

She said she justified his behaviour as 'something adults did', and when they talked about the incident the next day Dr Craig told her, 'I was tired and when I get tired, I get smoochy'.

Patient A said she would described the doctor as her 'partner' and said she became upset when he chose to spend his birthday with his family rather than with her.

She added, 'I loved him. I wasn't in love with him but I loved him and was very dependant on him emotionally.'

Patient A was formally discharged from the clinic in December 2000 but Dr Craig told her he could no longer be her psychiatrist as he was being investigated by the Medical Board of South Australia for an inappropriate relationship with another patient.

The doctor moved to Scotland the following year and when Patient A came to visit him their affair ended. In the years after, she disclosed the relationship in counselling sessions and to her new partner who encouraged her to report the matter.

Craig, now 72, of Newcastle-upon-Tyne admitted hugging the woman and taking her out for lunch but said it was part of her 'therapy.'

He denied a sexual relationship, saying he had been impotent for many years, and denies misconduct.

Counsel for the GMC Miss Heather Norton said: 'Patient A was clearly a very vulnerable young patient.

'It became clear that patient A rapidly became very close and very dependant upon Dr Craig. She was someone who felt alienated from her family, isolated and someone who had few social skills.

'You would have thought that the treating pyschiatrist would have been very cautious and be more, rather than less concerned that the appropriate professional boundaries were maintained.

'If those boundaries were at the start in place, they soon fell away.'

The hearing continues.

Source: "Psychiatrist 'had affair with patient 40 years younger who wanted a father figure in her life,'" Daily Mail, June 9, 2010.

IF YOUR PSYCHOLOGIST, PSYCHIATRIST OR OTHER MENTAL HEALTH PRACTITIONER HAS ENGAGED IN THREATENING, VIOLENT OR SEXUAL BEHAVIOR WITH YOU, REPORT IT TO THE POLICE AND TO CITIZENS COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS, WHO CAN ASSIST YOU IN FILING REPORTS, COMPLAINTS, ETC.  PLEASE CONTACT STEVE WAGNER, DIRECTOR OF LITIGATION AT swagner@cchr.org

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