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The Psychiatric Subversion of Justice
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The Courts

I Just Remembered...

Memory”: the
latest Psychiatric
Fraud on the Courts

By Jan Eastgate
ary Ramona of Napa Valley, California, lost his marriage, his children, his reputation and his career. All it took was his daughter, Holly, her psychiatrist and a family therapist to accuse him of sexually abusing her years previously when she was a little girl.

     Ramona’s shattered life was only one of many casualties of what has become a buzz phrase in certain psychiatric circles — “repressed memory.”

     And as with the many other diagnostic labels which the psychiatric industry invents each year to procure patients, this relatively new “syndrome” has caused untold misery among families — and placed stress on an already overloaded judicial system.

     In simple terms, “repressed memory syndrome” purports to involve “forgetting” a painful experience which can then be “remembered” through psychiatric treatment. Not surprisingly, the “revealed” experiences often give rise to civil lawsuits against those included in the newly restored “memories,” usually parents or relatives. The remembered crimes range from child abuse to witchcraft to even murder.

     The problem is that the one doing the “remembering” is not the patient but rather the psychiatrist or therapist. Therein lies the reality of this bogus syndrome: “repressed memory” is actually suggested to or imposed upon patients by psychiatrists and other therapists.

     Take the case of Gary Ramona.

     When he took his daughter’s psychiatrist and family therapist to court, home movies shown during the 1994 trial revealed family vacations, graduations and numerous scenes of a cheerful, happy Holly Ramona. From where, then, did the accusations come?

     It turned out that the real source of Holly’s memories of sexual abuse was... the psychiatrist, Richard Rose, and therapist Marche Isabella.

     When Holly first consulted Isabella, the idea of sexual abuse was nowhere in her mind. She sought treatment for bulimia — compulsive appetite. But early in her treatment, Isabella planted the idea of sexual abuse by telling her that 70 to 80 percent of bulimia patients had been sexually abused. Isabella also cited sexual abuse as a possible explanation for Holly’s fear of snakes. And when Holly pointed to her long history of urinary infections, Isabella reportedly had a ready diagnosis — sexual abuse.

     Isabella went even further. When Holly told her that dad had once glanced at her in what might be construed as a suggestive way, Isabella did not even need to look it up in psychiatry’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual to label her father’s conduct as “emotional incest.”

     Even with all this assistance, Holly’s “memories” of sexual abuse did not come as easily to her as they did to her psychiatrists. After several months of psychiatric treatment, Holly was still uncertain about the meaning of these “visions” and whether they were real or simply made up. When placed under sodium amytal, she claimed to recall incidents of abuse, although she admitted the details were vague and she could not see her father’s face clearly.

     So her psychiatrist and therapist supplied the needed clarity.

     Immediately, Isabella was on the phone to Holly’s mother, telling her, “It’s rape.”

     A forensic expert hired by Ramona called Isabella’s conclusion “outrageous” and the successful outcome of his lawsuit has now vindicated Holly’s father. But too late to save his marriage — his wife divorced him immediately after his daughter made her allegations. Too late to rescue his career — he was fired from his job as vice president for Robert Mondavi winery, where he had supervised worldwide marketing and sales. And much too late to prevent Ramona from being crucified in the press and to avert the destruction of his reputation in Napa Valley.

The problem is that the one doing the “remembering” is not the patient but rather the psychiatrist or therapist. Therein lies the reality of this bogus syndrome: “repressed memory” is actually suggested to or imposed upon patients by psychiatrists and other therapists.

     Although the details differ, the tragedy of Ramona’s case is shared by thousands of other parents accused by psychiatrically coached children of fabricated abuse. Founders of the False Memory Syndrome Foundation — a national support group for those accused of such molestation — say that 12,000 families have sought their help since the group was formed two years ago. Suits based on allegations of abuse arising from “repressed memories” crowd the already glutted court system. Yet what scientific evidence exists to support the existence of these “memories”?

     The short answer is, “None.”

     Instead, what the evidence does suggest is that these “memories” — as was the case with Holly Ramona — are actually planted there through suggestion by the mental health practitioners themselves, usually while the patient is undergoing some form of hypnosis or drug therapy or combination of both.

     This “creative therapy” has, in truth, nothing to do with therapy. It does, however, have a great deal to do with psychiatrists and contingency fee attorneys looking for a quick buck.

     Such “memories” provide unscrupulous therapists with a multi-faceted cash cow because: a) their existence can neither be verified nor denied; b) if the patient can be made to sue the alleged abuser, the psychiatrist gets the chance to testify and collect expert witness fees; c) a new potential client market is opened up for psychiatrists, since virtually anyone could be a prospect to claim these memories; and, d) persuading patients of the need to “recall” these memories provides a reason to extend therapy endlessly. And, as most psychiatrists are paid by the hour, this fills their coffers — though it continues to wreak havoc in the lives of innocent people. Little wonder then that since the mid-1980s, hundreds and hundreds of criminal and civil cases have been filed in North America based on “recovered memories” of childhood sexual abuse. The number soared after publication of a book, The Courage to Heal, which became the “bible” of repressed memory advocates. Authors Ellen Bass and Laura David wrote such “scientific” statements as, “If you are unable to remember any specific instances, but still have a feeling that something abusive happened to you, it probably did.”

     Such cavalier diagnostic criteria have enabled thousands of psychologists and psychiatrists to rack up tens of thousands of billable hours by feeding these alleged memories to their patients.

     Meanwhile, the truth is that psychiatrists themselves can’t even say what “repressed memory” is. “I have never been able to get two mental health professionals to agree on a definition of repressed memory,” said Bill Craig, a Los Angeles attorney who defends clients facing accusations of abuse based on “recovered” memories.

     Apparently all they can agree on is that it is a lucrative “syndrome.” Meanwhile, as they pretend knowledge and authority they do not possess, lives are ruined.

     Another highly publicized case involved Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, one of the most respected members of the Roman Catholic hierarchy in the United States.

     Bernardin had been a priest for more than 40 years, a bishop for nearly 30 and a cardinal for 10 when he suddenly found himself at the center of a flood of negative publicity over allegations he had sexually assaulted a 17-year-old aspirant to the priesthood.

     His accuser, Steven J. Cook, claimed that the incident had occurred 17 years previously and that details had only “surfaced” during hypnosis from a Philadelphia therapist named Michelle Moul. Cook’s lurid accusations against the cardinal became one of the hottest items aired repeatedly on a CNN special on priests and pedophilia. For Bernardin, the impact on his life was devastating. A man who had faithfully pursued his calling in the church for more than four decades was now being tried in the press on allegations of being a secret sexual predator.

     Curiously enough, however, although Cook was eager to provide details of Bernardin’s abuse of him, he was quite unable to remember the specifics of his alleged visit as a high school junior to Cardinal Bernardin’s private quarters. Before long, even Cook’s attorneys had to admit that his memories were completely fabricated. After it became obvious even to them that no court would be duped into awarding damages against Bernardin on the basis of Cook’s allegations, Cook suddenly stopped recalling an event that had never happened and his attorneys dropped the suit against Bernardin.

     The attorneys blamed the therapist, Michelle Moul, since Cook’s allegations had been based largely on memories “recovered” under hypnosis she had administered to him.

     For the innocent cardinal, however, the humiliation inflicted by the highly publicized but false accusations will remain for the rest of his life.

I Just Remembered... continued...
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