A Family Under Siege
The truth is that psychiatrists themselves cant 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.
One recent lawsuit against a psychiatrist propagandizing repressed memories as a mental disorder was won in December 1994 by a Pennsylvania couple whose daughter had suddenly after seeing a psychiatrist recalled sexual abuse by her parents.
Most would agree that anything said by a 15-year-old girl who claims that her grandmother flies around on a broomstick should be treated with caution. But not psychiatrist Judith Cohen.
When Nicole Althaus also claimed to suddenly remember that she had been sexually abused by her parents, Cohen informed the authorities who promptly arrested the parents and put the child in foster care.
Why not? The authority on the mind had spoken. Just before her parents were to come to trial, however, Nicole had a change of heart or of memory. She refused to testify against them, telling the judge that she withdrew her allegations and wished to stop this snowballing kind of thing. So where had her memories come from? If they did not actually emanate from her psychiatrist, Cohen had certainly encouraged and nurtured them. For, like Holly Ramona, Nicoles memories of abuse took a long time to emerge. No less than 100 visits with the psychiatrist had been necessary for her to remember the details.
Nicole had also made other unusual claims, including that she had given birth to three children who had been murdered and had been tortured with a medieval thumbscrew device. According to her parents attorney, It didnt take a rocket scientist to realize that this kid was saying things that were impossible. She said she had a Caesarean birth, yet there was no scar. [The psychiatrist] was bombarded with information that was inconsistent with abuse, but she ignored it. The charges against Nicoles parents were dropped by prosecutors as soon as she admitted to their falsity. No other evidence had been found to substantiate any of Nicoles claims. Yet on the basis of a psychiatrists complaint and a young girls psychiatrically coached false memories, her parents were treated as criminals, publicly accused of a horrible crime and humiliated. As Nicoles mother stated, We were a family under siege. Again and again, in case after case, it has been found that the memories did not appear until the psychiatrist suggested their existence to the patient.
On the basis of a recent survey of more than 1,000 therapists, a San Diego psychologist concluded that psychologists and psychiatrists are creating the very problem that they would then have to treat. The result, he warns, is that they are propagating a cottage industry of discovering child abuse in their patients. According to one New York specialist, a therapist with an agenda can lead his tranced clients wherever he wants them to go. A good hypnotic subject will vomit up just what the therapist wants to hear, he said.
Sometimes the psychiatrist does not even wait for the patient to be sure of what he has recalled. Take the case of a Texan named Elaine. Dallas psychiatrist Wayne Jones calmly informed Elaines four daughters, aged 17 to 23, of their grandfathers alleged abuse of her. Forty-eight-year-old Elaine, however, had very different memories of her childhood to those so confidently advanced for her by her psychiatrist. As she later stated, I didnt have any recollection of my father abusing me until it was suggested that possibly he had. But once it had been suggested to me, my mind just took it from there. I was able to conjure up many things very vivid images. A jury found that Jones had slandered Elaines parents and the psychiatrist was ordered to pay them $350,000.
Elaines accused father stated, It was a terrible thing. We couldnt just let something like this slip by. We finally decided that this suit was the only way to clear our name. His wife added that another motive was to stop this from happening to anyone else.
When the falsity of such charges against parents is revealed, psychiatrists attitudes can be shockingly cynical. One therapist, exposed on national television by an ex-patient, attempted to dismiss the severity of his actions: What actually happened is irrelevant to me.... We live in a delusion. No doubt he does. But for those who are the targets of such false charges, the humiliation and ruin is no delusion, but a lifelong nightmare.
|While psychiatrists compete with one another to be the first to invent the next mental disorder, the real problems the psychiatrists are paid billions by the government to resolve crime, drug abuse and illiteracy skyrocket annually.|
Repressed Memories Should Not Lead to Prosecutions
|New York psychiatrist Renatus Hartogs leaves the courtroom after being ordered to pay $350,000 to a patient he sexually abused. Hartogs had attacked his accuser as an incurable schizophrenic, but at the trial two other women came forward to testify that the psychiatrist had similarly abused them.|
Harvard Law School Professor Alan Dershowitz wrote in a recent syndicated column: Because the theory of repressed memory has never been scientifically validated... the law should never authorize a criminal prosecution solely on the basis of a recovered memory.
His comments followed an April 1995 decision by U.S. District Court Judge D. Lowell Jensen in San Francisco to reverse the conviction of George Franklin, who had been jailed for the murder of an 8-year-old girlfriend of his daughter. The sole evidence convicting him of the 21-year-old unsolved murder were the recovered memories of his daughter, who had been aided by a therapist. The backlash of publicity against the repressed memory syndrome has forced even the American Medical Association usually reluctant to criticize potentially lucrative forms of therapy, no matter how unworkable they may be to issue a warning that there is no way to tell false from true memories of abuse. According to AMA spokesman John McGrath, We are not aware of what the techniques of memory enhancement are. There are no standards. There are no procedures.
On the basis of a recent survey of more than 1,000 therapists, a San Diego psychologist concluded that psychologists and psychiatrists are creating the very problem that they would then have to treat. The result, he warns, is that they are propagating a cottage industry of discovering child abuse in their patients.
No standards. No procedures. Herefore, the only standards and procedures are those set by the individual psychiatrist. And he knows that by spinning out his patients therapy sessions and persuading him or her to recall instances of abuse, he can vastly increase his fees and if the patient sues pocket a large check at the end of the widely publicized litigation.
This is yet another lucrative psychiatric scam by an industry that has never been bashful about foisting these so-called disorders on the public. The psychiatrists bible, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, is jam-packed with detailed inventories of invented and potentially profitable mental illnesses. Not that psychiatrists have an actual cure for any of them. But they do have a seemingly endless battery of ineffectual and destructive treatments from electroshock treatment to lobotomy to mind-numbing psychiatric drugs.
While psychiatrists compete with one another to be the first to invent the next mental disorder, the real problems the psychiatrists are paid billions by the government to resolve crime, drug abuse and illiteracy skyrocket annually. The solution to this new trend to rake profits from False Memory Syndrome is simple. Although psychiatrists have already been sued civilly over such cases, making it a criminal offense to coach a patient into recalling memories that can then form the basis of litigation would go a long way toward remedying this abuse. The result would be less burden on the courts, of course, but also an incalculable lessening of the pain and despair such false charges inevitably leave in their wake.