COSA [North] Casualties Of Sexual Allegations News & Views August – September 2000 Vol 2 Issue 4
Contents of this page:
Editorial: Compensation, ACC counselling, Law Commission on Limitations Act, Sex offenders List, no one is immune (Dover Samuels), the arrogance of counsellors, woman convicted of perjury after falsely accusing a man of sexual abuse says sorry, Professor Elizabeth Loftus invited to address the NZ Psychological Society on 27 August. Auckland University’s John Read has resigned from his NZPS position as Director of Scientific Affairs in protest. Mark Todd has done exactly the right thing by remaining silent.
A Bouquet for a Change of Heart Dr. Dianna E. H. Russell, frequently quoted by Recovered Memory therapists, is considered by many feminists to be among the foremost of experts on sexual violence against women and girls: "I used to believe that recovered memories of… incestuous abuse were always authentic… My thinking has changed… I now believe a high percentage of memories recovered in therapy and outside of it are false"
In Response to a Slur A Sunday Star-Times Letter to the Editor wrote that convicted Dr Morgan Fahey would probably have become a Committee Member of COSA. The Chairman of COSA (South), John Lindsay, had a response published: "Leonie Myers appears to imply the despicable behaviour of Dr Fahey could be camouflaged by his plausible charade of respectability and somehow penetrate the vigilant and very experienced judgement of the support group Casualties Of Sexual Allegations. Absolutely no way could he have succeeded."
COSA Correspondence with Government On 6 April, I sent a letter on behalf of COSA North to Justice Minister Phil Goff about his Ministerial Inquiry into the Peter Ellis case. Broadly, I couched it in terms of the many virtually identical cases world-wide, and the recent paper by Dr Yolande Lucire. Here is Phil Goff’s reply.
Letters fom members Bill: "I know, speaking for myself, that although I have not been taken to court or any such thing, I never see by daughter or my grandchildren. She never writes or rings. So why should I (and my daughter) continue to suffer when the counsellors continue their cosy lives? I feel a letter must be sent to all past and present members explaining why we should continue. We know that the groups who drove the false sex abuse disaster are now driving the domestic violence catastrophe. This is another reason why we should continue. Many more men are going to suffer if no one is going to take up the fight." Don: "Dr. Offer’s and other research over recent times which show how unreliable memory is….. puts us into a whole new ball game as regards the credibility of allegations and of evidence. All uncorroborated evidence is now suspect. Corroboration will have to come largely from technology and that raises the question of expert witnesses and how reliable they are and what risk is there in their opinions."
Local News Man falsely accused of rape wins damages, Former Kingslea staff member acquitted.
Overseas News Manitou Springs therapist loses license, Bennett Braun, M.D. expelled from membership in the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and the Illinois Psychiatric Society. An article reporting the death of an innocent child during a "rebirthing" therapy session is a tragic example of unsuspecting patients bearing the burden of ignorant and incompetent therapists who use dangerous and experimental procedures, disguised as "mental health treatments." Quackwatch Inc., a national consumer education agency, lists a dozen such mental health procedures to be avoided
A Research Paper "Memory’s mirror is a little smudged : Adult recollections like distorted video, study shows." A research team led by Dr. Daniel Offer, a Northwestern University psychiatrist found that a group of 48-year-old men had wildly inaccurate recollections of how they answered questions they were asked when they were freshmen in Chicago-area high schools. It turns out the adults’ memories were way off about a number of issues, including their perceptions of their mother’s love for them, how much their fathers disciplined them and how important friendships were.
Sound Advice! From Psychology Today Dear Dr. E, I’m seeing a therapist who wants me to undergo hypnosis to retrieve memories that I may have repressed. I believe, that if I have repressed memories, it was probably for good reason. Ever since my therapist made this suggestion, I have been having anxiety attacks. What should I do?
COSA (North) Housekeeping & Notices
I apologise for this Newsletter being a bit late. My computer had a hissyfit of significant proportions – nearly as big as the one Dr John Read had over the visit to NZ of Professor Elizabeth Loftus [see later comments]. All sorts of interesting things have happened since our last Newsletter a couple of months ago.
Perhaps the most important matter is that Cabinet is looking to compensate a man wrongfully convicted of sexual abuse. This news was spread throughout the media. The accusations against him were largely due to ill-advised assumptions made by a counsellor. When are counsellors going to begin repairing the enormous damage they’ve done to society, to families and to children? What accountability does this one have?
While we are talking about counsellors, some ACC statistics are now available on the Internet www.acc.org.nz They make astonishing reading. Here is one such Table:
ACC Injury Statistics 1999 – Section 9 – Sensitive Claims & Criminal Acts
Number and Cost of New and Ongoing 1998/9 Paid and Accepted Sensitive Claims by Duration Band. This includes claimants who are in long-term residential care or are receiving long-term counselling.
|Duration of Counselling||No. of Claims||Cost of Claims|
More than 12 thousand claimants! More than $15 Million!!
If counselling is as efficient as ACC and its counsellors would have us believe, there is no excuse for people to be having counselling for years. There is no scientific or common sense support for the belief that counselling needs to be spread over years. It’s high time ACC got its feet on the floor over these sorts of issues. All they are really doing is lining the pockets of counsellors with taxpayers’ funds, for no good or sensible outcome.
The Law Commission recently presented recommendations to Government to tidy up the Limitation Act. One of the proposals relates to calculating time for limitations purposes by leaving out any period in which a plaintiff "is unable, by reason of some or all of the matters on which the action is founded, to make reasonable judgments in respect of matters relating to the bringing of such action." In civil cases where a woman is suing for compensation for ALLEGED historical sexual abuse, the proposal allows scientifically unsound or dubious psychological concepts to be used as a basis of action, for example "repressed memories", Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and similar nonsense. Providing a ten-year window for such civil cases also means that a plaintiff can dodge the rigours of a criminal trial. Incidentally, I understand that Rape Crisis had an input to this proposal.
One of the commissioners, Donald Dug dale, took me to task and reckoned I’d made a elementary blunder by relying only on a newspaper report without reading the commission’s Report No 61: Tidying the Limitation Act. Wrong! Of course I studied it. This resulted in my writing a Letter to the Editor of the Sunday Star-Times, (Aug 6) as below:
Had law commissioner Donald Dugdale (July 29) done his homework, he would realise I’ve studied Report No 61: Tidying the Limitation Act. While wrongly castigating me, he has sidestepped the main issues.
Sexual abuse is a criminal matter demanding the highest standards of evidence. It must remain wholly in the criminal courts. Opening a ten-year window for women to sue for alleged historical sexual abuse in civil courts allows complainants to dodge rigorous examination in criminal trials.
Acceptance of scientifically unfounded or dubious psychological concepts in civil cases seriously dilutes standards of evidence and shifts the burden of proof. They are dangerously poor substitutes for testable evidence in criminal trials. Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, which Dugdale cites, is one such concept now open to misuse. It has a shared history with "repressed memories". The mere diagnosis does not substantiate the occurrence of the claimed event. It has no place in our courts.
Reparation for genuine victims would be better handled as an adjunct to criminal sentencing. Sexual cases should be specifically excluded from the Limitation Act.
Sex offenders List
Deborah Coddington and Alister Taylor are going to publish another version of their sex offenders list. Just last month, a newspaper in the UK began publishing names, address and photographs of sex offenders, with a result that citizens wrongly identified people living in their areas as those published in the paper, and took matters into their own hands. Police rescued the men involved. Coddington’s book, and that newspaper action, are pretty stupid exercises. The guilty will almost certainly go underground. However, the Sunday Star-Times reported (Aug 6th, Page A11) that the tabloid has suspended its campaign to "name and shame" paedophiles after a series of mistaken identities and vigilante attacks. The Herald (Aug 8th) reported that the British Government is refusing to make public the register of convicted sex offenders.
No-one is Immune
Allegations of sexual abuse respect no-one. Labour MP Dover Samuels has been hit with them. It has now been alleged that he raped his accuser some 16 years ago. I understand these allegations result from counselling. He put them down to "repressed memories". It was interesting to note Prime Minister Helen Clark’s comment that she believes in the principle of "innocent until proven guilty."
[STOP PRESS! ! It was announced on TV1 News last night, Tues Aug 8, that the police had cleared Dover Samuels of the rape allegations. There is one remaining matter still under police investigation and that is whether the woman involved was, at the time of the alleged offences, legally under his care and protection. The outcome is expected to be known in a week or so.- Ed]
The Arrogance of Counsellors
The arrogance of counsellors seems boundless. Of course they know better than parents what is good for their children. Cases have been reported in the news media of counsellors arranging for school girls to get the pill and in one case to have an abortion. The girls are under-age. Males involved in sexual relations with such girls are committing crimes which attract severe prison sentences. Counsellors who arrange for girls to get the pill are often aiding and abetting the commission of crimes. No matter how mature children may think they are, they seldom have the emotional or financial resources to deal with a sexual relationship. Parents – and counsellor – should teach kids how to say "NO". It’s the world’s best contraceptive.
Boot on the Other Foot
Debra Helen Wood, convicted of perjury after falsely accusing a man of sexual abuse, [see later report] has said she wants to say sorry. Sorry to the man whose life she ruined. Sorry to the police for wasting their time. Sorry to her family and friends for the pain and hurt she has put them through. That is a refreshing, courageous and welcome thing to do. We applaud her. A Wellington District Court judge ordered her to pay the man $88,537 in damages, but as she does not have a job and has no resources or assets, it is unlikely he will ever get paid. But a strong point has been made to women who make false allegations.
Of course, Rape Crisis had to get into this. It’s Wellington Centre sent out about 40,000 annual appeal brochures to local households, but apparently got little support. Instead, it seems they received "a barrage of obscene mail" (in reality, not a "barrage", but about 15 replies) including ripped out copies of media reports about false rape reports. Ms Amy Ross says the publicity distorts the truth about false accusations, which are rare – she says! "Conversely, only 10 per cent of rape victims are estimated to go to police." Same old silly arguments. No wonder no-one takes notice of them!
In the June/July Issue, we reported an alleged case of ritual abuse. We understand that all charges against the couple involved have been dropped. That is a salute to common sense.
Visit by Professor Elizabeth Loftus
Prof Loftus, an acknowledged and honoured world expert on memory research, has been invited to address the NZ Psychological Society as a Keynote Speaker at its annual conference in Hamilton on 27 August. She is responsible for much of the research which shows the fallibility of memory. Amongst her hundreds of publications, she co-authored a book "The Myth of Repressed Memory", which many of you may know about. She will also give a presentation at a public meeting at Victoria University on Tuesday 29 August. Kim Hill said she will interview Prof Loftus on National Radio on that same day. You must listen to this! !
Dr John Read of Auckland University, an avid believer in "repressed memory", spat his dummy over this visit. The Dominion (Aug 5) reported that a row over academic freedom has erupted after attempts by a group of child sexual abuse campaigners to have Prof Loftus stopped from giving a keynote speech at the Society’s annual conference this month.
The dispute is so bitter that an executive member of the society, John Read, has resigned from his NZPS position as Director of Scientific Affairs, in protest at the society’s refusal to revoke its invitation to her. So much for open minds and academic freedom!
Incidentally, Read’s claim to fame is his "research" which pretends to show a causal link between abuse and psychotic disorders, including schizophrenia. Did he in fact obtain credible, objective verification that the psychiatric patients he studied actually were abused?
Kim Hill interviewed Read on National Radio (Aug 7). Read made astonishingly wrong and preposterous claims about the research done by Prof Loftus and misinformed the public on numerous issues. His comments and attitudes do no credit to Auckland University or to the NZPS.
Kim Hill followed up on Tuesday (Aug 8th) by interviewing Dr Maryanne Garry, of Victoria University, who has previously worked with Prof Loftus in America. Dr Garry laid it on the line with her final comment – if people believe in "repressed memory" they should front up with the evidence. The Kim Hill Interviews are here
I’ll round out this pot-pourri by commenting on the Mark Todd matter. A UK newspaper made allegations about him. He declined to comment. The Olympic Committee selected him for our NZ Equestrian Team and it seems that many in our community, including politicians Jim Anderton and Jenny Shipley, are demanding that he either confirms or denies the allegations. Our viewpoint is that those who made allegations carry the onus for producing the proof. They should – if their allegations were honest – have taken them straight to the police. In our view, Mark Todd has done exactly the right thing by remaining silent. Like anyone else, he is entitled to be treated as innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Is there anything to deny?
A Bouquet for a Change of Heart
Dr. Dianna E. H. Russell, frequently quoted by Recovered Memory therapists, is considered by many feminists to be amongthe foremost of experts on sexual violence against women and girls. She helped underline belief in "recovered memories". But she has been persuaded by clear scientific evidence to change her views. We applaud her for having the academic nous and courage to change in the face of genuine evidence.
(Source: Illinois FMS Society Newsletter). In a new introduction to the second edition of The Secret Trauma: Incest in the Lives of Girls and Women (1999) first published in 1987 by Perseus Books, the author, Diana Russell writes in a new introduction:
"I used to believe that recovered memories of . . .incestuous abuse were always authentic . . . My thinking has changed"
"I now believe a high percentage of memories recovered in therapy and outside of it are false"
" . . . many therapists in the recovery movement severely underestimate the prevalence of women and children who have had, and continue to have false memories of incestuous and ritual abuse."
"Had therapists and incest researchers denounced [The Courage to Heal] as trash, as dangerously suggestive, as unscientific, as the work of unqualified people instead of recommending it to clients . . . it would not have been popular."
Dr Russell’s change of opinion came about after she read a study which was published by Stan Abrams in The Journal of Psychiatry and Law, Summer, 1995, pp 283-293, where Abrams examined the outcomes of polygraph examinations of two groups of men accused of molesting children, all of whom denied being perpetrators.
Of a group of 46 subjects accused by plaintiffs on the basis of professed recovered (or repressed) memories, 44 tested as truthful in their claims of innocence. By contrast only 22 percent of a group of 300 subjects accused by plaintiffs on the basis of allegedly continuous memories tested as truthful in their claims of innocence. These results convinced Abrams that a high percentage of recovered memories are false. Finally, Russell also contrasted the difference between the recovered memories reported by women who later became retractors and the continuous memories of 900 women she had studied in the 1970’s and early 1980’s, when no one had heard yet of recovered memories.
The contrasts turned out to be striking: While in the recovered memories fathers were typically the perpetrators and mothers were very often listed as co-perpetrators, fathers made up only 4.5% in the continuous memories with rarely a maternal incest perpetrator remembered. The recovered memories always involved completed penetration, whereas these made up only 9% of the continuous memories.
Recovered memories never involved a single incident, but a large number of incidents of rape over a long period of time, whereas 45% of the continuous memory group reported only a single incident and 10% reported more than 20 incidents.
Those in the recovered memory group often reported that abuse started at a pre-verbal age. In Russell’s study only 11% were below the age of five.
Recovered memories included memories of satanic abuse. No such memories were reported by those with continuous memories.
Recovered memories often grew over time with more, often bizarre, incidents of rape and more perpetrators added at each attempt to remember. Very few of the always remembered cases were bizarre or elaborate or involved more than one perpetrator.
Some of those recovering memories developed MPD. None of those who always remembered had MPD.
Those who recovered memories often doubted that abuse indeed had taken place. No such doubt was reported by those who always remembered.
In Response to a Slur
A Sunday Star-Times Letter to the Editor (Jun 18th) by correspondent Leonie Myers, wrote that convicted Dr Morgan Fahey, a Christchurch resident and former Deputy Mayor, would probably have become a Committee Member of COSA. Fahey pleaded guilty to a large number of sexual crimes he committed on his female patients. We had no contact with Fahey. The Chairman of COSA (South), John Lindsay, had a letter published in the Sunday Star-Times, Sunday 25 June 2000, Page A10, with the title : "Fahey and COSA". John wrote:
Leonie Myers (June 18)appears to imply the despicable behaviour of Dr Fahey could be camouflaged by his plausible charade of respectability and somehow penetrate the vigilant and very experienced judgement of the support group Casualties Of Sexual Allegations.
Absolutely no way could he have succeeded. COSA is resolute in its condemnation of occurrences of sexual abuse which we find abhorrent. Along with the problem of genuine abuse, society is however afflicted by a parallel problem of false and unfounded accusations. These have very serious and adverse effects on individuals, families and the greater community.
COSA resources are directed to these cases of injustice while striving to facilitate a reduction in such destructive falsehoods. We are committed to uphold the principles of justice, scientific knowledge and valid professional practice as false allegations are often reinforced by misguided investigative and therapeutic intervention.
COSA South is a transparent, inclusive organisation interested only in minimising trauma and tragedy arising from false allegations of a sexual nature.
Well said, John!
COSA Correspondence with Government
On 6 April, I sent a letter on behalf of COSA North to Justice Minister Phil Goff about his Ministerial Inquiry into the Peter Ellis case. Broadly, I couched it in terms of the many virtually identical cases world-wide, and the recent paper by Dr Yolande Lucire. I gave him a copy of her paper, and asked him to pass it on to Sir Thomas for possible use as background to his inquiry. Here is Phil Goff’s reply, dated 1 June 2000:
Dear Mr Waugh
Thank you for your letter, plus enclosed literature, regarding the Ministerial inquiry into the Ellis case.
I have considered your request to refer the literature you have enclosed to Sir Thomas Eichelbaum, for him to consider as part of the inquiry into the Ellis case. However, I do not think it is necessary to refer this material to Sir Thomas, having regard to the purpose of the inquiry and the nature of the issues it has been set up to consider.
It may be useful if I outline the nature and purpose of the inquiry into Mr Ellis’s case. You may be aware that, prior to the announcement of the inquiry, Mr Ellis’s convictions had been referred to the Court of Appeal pursuant to section 406(a) of the Crimes Act 1961. In its judgement on that referral, the Court determined that, in its opinion, no miscarriage of justice had occurred in Mr Ellis’s case. Simultaneously, however, the Court also indicated that there were a number of matters, including a large body of literature which had been adduced before it by counsel for Mr Ellis and the Crown, which it was unable to look into but which might be better addressed by an inquiry. Subsequently, the Governor-General received a further application from Mr Ellis for a pardon and a Royal Commission of Inquiry into his case.
I have enclosed a copy of the terms of reference for the inquiry for your information. As you will see from these terms of reference, Sir Thomas has been specifically asked to provide advice on matters that will enable resolution of Mr Ellis’s application for a pardon, by examining the limited set of issues that were left open by the Court of Appeal. In particular, he has been asked to identify current best practice for investigating mass allegation sexual abuse cases, and to determine whether these practices were followed in Mr Ellis’s case. He has also been asked to seek the opinion of at least two internationally recognised experts in the area, and has been asked to receive submissions from certain parties on these matters.
Finally, Sir Thomas has been asked to examine the literature which the Court indicated would be more appropriately reviewed by and inquiry. As you correctly note in your letter, however, Sir Thomas has not been asked to invite and consider general public submissions, either on the literature relating to mass allegation sexual abuse casesor on the circumstances surrounding Mr Ellis’s case.
Yours sincerely, (signed) Hon Phil Goff Minister of Justice
Letters to the Editor from Members
From Bill in Wanganui:
It would seem that the original reason for COSA was to assist men falsely accused and to bring this to the attention of New Zealanders. By your letters of late, this in the main seems to have been achieved.
But I feel we must continue. There are still girls and young women out there who still believe they have been sexually abused. That is sad. They need to be released from that. If we don’t help release them, who will?
Then there is the role played by the Police, the law and the counsellors. Are they just simply to be allowed to quietly sweep this under the carpet? Should not they be held accountable for the lives they have wrecked?
I know, speaking for myself, that although I have not been taken to court or any such thing, I never see by daughter or my grandchildren. She never writes or rings. So why should I (and my daughter) continue to suffer when the counsellors continue their cosy lives.
I feel a letter must be sent to all past and present members explaining why we should continue. We know that the groups who drove the false sex abuse disaster are now driving the domestic violence catastrophe. This is another reason why we should continue. Many more men are going to suffer if no one is going to take up the fight.
I realise some men just want to forget what’s happened to them and get on with their lives. But I believe that they must be made to realise that without COSA taking up the fight on our behalf, they would still be jailed for sex abuse they did not commit.
Maybe we could scale down to a small committed group, a $5 subscription with say a once-a-year Newsletter. What I thought that may achieve is a bigger membership (being cheaper) and the fight for justice to continue. That for me means those who have wrecked my life and that of my daughter should have to pay.
I would be happy if the contents of this letter go out to all.
And from Don in Palmerston North:
Memory and Justice needs Monitoring and Examination
Your informative e-mail keeps coming with the constant messages about how unreliable memories are. Relentless prejudice from parties with entrenched ideas of ten or more years ago is common in the reports. But the use of DNA testing offers considerable hope.
Dr. Offer’s research [see later report] where 64 adolescent boys were interviewed at 14 years old and then again as 48 year adults, can be used as a basic fact about memories. Personal questions and the answers from the boys were recorded and compared with the same question and answer session 34 years on. The men gave widely varying answers to most of the questions and showed the passage of time made their recollections useless as information about their adolescent years.
There is other research over recent times, which show how unreliable memory is and support the Offer results to a credible extent. The results annul the idea of memory being like a videotape. Instead memory is a hotchpotch.
That puts us into a whole new ball game as regards the credibility of allegations and of evidence. All uncorroborated evidence is now suspect. Corroboration will have to come largely from technology and that raises the question of expert witnesses and how reliable they are and what risk is there in their opinions.
Too often, expert witnesses team up with the police and in fact they can get a sense of righteousness and say things that are not objective – this has had publicity with regards DNA testing. Because of their feeling of righteousness and security in their field of knowledge they can be quite reckless with the truth when they subconsciously know it won’t be tested.
Monitoring and examining all evidence whether it is in a custody case or a murder case is essential, but is often overlooked. Instead, reliance is placed on cross-examination where probing questions are expected to unsettle a witness enough that the truth will somehow automatically emerge.
Human nature being what it is will naturally cover up to the extent available. But also witnesses are often mistaken in spite of being absolutely sure of their facts!! As doubts about memory hopefully become accepted more reliance is likely to be placed on technology and expert witnesses, both of which have potential to provide much more accurate evidence than in the past.
Thorough monitoring and examining of evidence is an essential step towards better justice in our lives.
From The Dominion Wellington, Friday, 30 June 2000: Man falsely accused of rape wins damages
A man falsely accused of assaulting a woman with intent to rape her will be awarded damages against his accuser, Judge David Ongley said in Wellington District Court on Thursday. But lawyer Bruce Davidson, who presented the man’s $100,000 damages claim against Debra Helen Wood, said any award was likely to be meaningless because Wood had no money.
The man falsely accused had not originally been a potential witness, though he had become one when Wood was charged with perjury. She pleaded guilty and got a two-year jail sentence, so the man was not required to give evidence against her.
Accepting that the man had suffered a grievous harm, the judge told the man that an award of damages would be a vindication, though he was unlikely to get any money from Wood. He said he hoped the man and his family could put the incident behind them, regain their future and prosper.
Mr Davidson said Wood had seen the man in the car park of a polytechnic where he was studying part time and had noted the number of his car. Motivated by a need for attention, she had scratched herself severely on August 14, 1997, and complained to polytech staff and police that a male fitting the man’s description had sexually assaulted her. She gave his car number to back her story.
After police arrested him, the man spent 14 days in jail and seven months on such restricted bail conditions that he could not work. He had faced a jury trial, and the fact that Wood was lying had emerged only after she had given evidence on oath against him, Mr Davidson said. He said he now avoided women and took his wife with him when he went out because he feared being falsely accused again. Word of the accusations had spread round his community but many people did not realise he had been completely exonerated. He had looked to the authorities for compensation but had got none.
Hot Off "The Press", Christchurch, Tuesday 8th August 2000: Former Kingslea staff member acquitted
Applause broke out in the public gallery of the Christchurch District Court after a former Kingslea Residential Centre staff member was acquitted of sexual abuse charges. The man, who was yesterday granted final name suppression by Judge Stephen Erber, had denied 13 charges relating to abuse of former inmates of the centre.
The Crown prosecutor said the complainants now did not wish to proceed with the case. Some had commented that the alleged offences occurred more than three years ago and they had now moved on, and another said she did not wish to travel and leave her child, despite offers by police to assist. Another had said she was "sick of it".
The Crown would not seek warrants to arrest the complainants, given they did not want to appear. The police had tried to change their minds, to no avail.
Asking for a discharge on all counts, defence counsel Nigel Hampton, QC, said there were a number of unresolved matters. The man’s life had been in turmoil because of the charges, which were made in a climate of increasing difficulty between management and staff at Kingslea.
The complaints had come from girls who had been inclined to make complaints against staff, often on sexual matters. The complainants were known to be unreliable, and capable of deceitful and collusive behaviour.
Some of the allegations were contradictory. Management had chosen not to investigate the complaints, but put them in the hands of the police, he said. In one case, two complainants and the accused were not even present in the same unit at Kingslea, and could not have been. The girl had finally retracted that complaint and admitted it had no substance.
The defence did not accept the explanation from the complainants as to why they did not appear, he said. Judge Erber said he shared those concerns.
Therapists in Trouble
Manitou Springs therapist loses license
In 1997, a Colorado Springs woman complaining of being shy and depressed went to see counsellor Laura Hardie. Two years later, the client believed she was a high priestess in a Satanic cult who was being stalked and "remembered" she had given birth to two children as an adolescent, one of whom was ritualistically killed.
Hardie’s treatment contributed to her client’s mental deterioration, state mental health officials said, in announcing the counsellor had given up her license "She surrendered her license, and it will be treated as a revocation,"
Dr Bennett Braun
The Psychiatric News, the Newspaper of the American Psychiatric Association, Volume XXXV Number 9 May 5, 2000, reported the Expulsion of Dr Bennett Braun.
Bennett Braun, M.D., of Skokie, Ill., has been expelled from membership in the American Psychiatric Association (APA) and the Illinois Psychiatric Society. The APA Board of Trustees voted on this expulsion at its meeting on March 18. Braun was found to have violated: Section 1, Annotation 1; Section 2, Annotations 1 and 2; and Section 4, Annotations 1, 2 and 3, of the Principles of Medical Ethics with Annotations Especially Applicable to Psychiatry.
Braun was found to have provided incompetent medical treatments unsupported by usual stands of practice; of boundary violations that occurred with the patient, including inappropriate sexual behaviour and exploitation; and serious breaches of the patient’s confidentiality with the media.
Dangerous therapies: (A Letter to the Editor of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch).
The May 22 article reporting the death of an innocent child during a "rebirthing" therapy session is a tragic example of unsuspecting patients bearing the burden of ignorant and incompetent therapists who use dangerous and experimental procedures, disguised as "mental health treatments."
Quackwatch Inc., a national consumer education agency, lists a dozen such mental health procedures to be avoided including:
- eye movement desensitisation and reprocessing (eye wiggle therapy),
- stimulation of false memories (recovered memory therapy) and
- thought field therapy.
There is no scientific proof that any of these procedures (often taught at unregulated weekend workshops or seminars) help anyone with a mental illness. Yet even the best therapists sit quietly by as their co-workers foist them upon vulnerable and uninformed patients. But therapists want a law enabling them to bill health insurers the same as medical doctors do.
Only when the American Psychological and American Psychiatric Associations establish safe and effective standards of patient care should therapists have parity with medical doctors. Until then, this entire industry should hang its head in shame. (The authors were Susan Herrmann and Des Peres.)
A Research Paper
Memory’s mirror is a little smudged: Adult recollections like distorted video, study shows (from The Chicago Tribune, June 1, 2000).
A research team led by Dr. Daniel Offer, a Northwestern University psychiatrist, has written a study that could be called "The Psychological World of the Aging Baby Boomer."
Time’s tendency to warp how adults recall their youth is so commonplace that many families treat the problem as a running joke, including yarns about how some older relative used to walk every day to school-seven miles, in the snow. Uphill. Both ways.
According to a paper published by researchers at Northwestern University, adults’ memories of their youth are even worse than most eye-rolling adolescents would suspect. The study nails down the peculiar human tendency to alter the past, sometimes portraying it as tougher than it really was, but often making it rosier. Experts said the results may drive another stake into the widely held but probably mistaken notion that the mind replays events exactly as they happened, like videotapes.
In an unusual memory study spanning nearly 40 years, the team found that a group of 48-year-old men had wildly inaccurate recollections of how they answered questions they were asked when they were freshmen in Chicago-area high schools. It turns out the adults’ memories were way off about a number of issues, including their perceptions of their mother’s love for them, how much their fathers disciplined them and how important friendships were.
Some of the mistakes may say more about how the men’s current attitudes shape their memories than how they actually saw things when they were younger. They generally remembered their fathers as stricter than they reported at the time and overestimated how much they had enjoyed intellectual activities when they were first interviewed in 1962.
Perhaps not surprisingly, one of the only responses the adult men recalled correctly was how important they had thought it was as teenagers to have a girlfriend. (The answer: Very).
"It is often said that adolescence is the period in the life cycle that is most difficult to see clearly," the team wrote. "Our study demonstrated that this may indeed be so." The study is a follow-up of sorts to Offer’s 1969 book, "The Psychological World of the Teenager," which was based on his original interviews.
The resulting freeze frames of memories over the decades provide an unusual way of testing a controversial theory about how the mind retrieves memories. Although memories seem stable, many psychologists believe remembering can be a haphazard and unreliable process.
Offer’s results give fresh evidence that memories are reconstructed from scratch, often introducing errors, said Elizabeth Loftus, a psychology professor at the University of Washington in Seattle specializing in false memories. "I think this is going to be very important," Loftus said. "This is going to help show that we have memory distortions for all kinds of childhood experience."
To the team’s surprise, most of the men’s recollections matched their prior responses no better than would be expected by mere chance. The study did not ask the men what they felt when they were 14. It asked them to remember how they answered certain questions during interviews when they were 14. The difference is important because it makes the study one about memory, not about how their attitudes have changed.
Nonetheless, some of the altered memories may have been shaped by societal changes. The men may also have been affected by changing views about physical punishment-as young men, 82 percent said they received physical punishment, though only 33 percent of the adults recalled such experiences. Such outcomes, Offer said, should make psychiatrists take their patients’ memories of their personal histories with "a grain of salt-or a small rock."
Loftus agreed. "The implications are enormous," Loftus said, "because [therapists] do spend so much time trying to talk about the past, pressing theories about how the past affects the present."
From Psychology Today 1 July 2000:
Ask Dr. E. Robert Epstein
Answers to your questions about getting married, retrieving repressed memories , treating depression and more.
Dear Dr. E,
I’m seeing a therapist who wants me to undergo hypnosis to retrieve memories that I may have repressed. I believe, that if I have repressed memories, it was probably for good reason. Ever since my therapist made this suggestion, I have been having anxiety attacks. What should I do?
Cat, Salem, MA
The British Psychiatric Association now forbids its members from deliberately seeking to uncover "repressed" memories , and many American mental health professionals are also wary. Decades of research show that memory is a highly imperfect process. False memories can easily be established by an overzealous therapist, and it’s nearly impossible to distinguish a real memory from a false one. If you’re curious about your past, try learning about it from written records or people who were there.
COSA (North) Housekeeping & Notices
We hold a public meeting in conjunction with the North Shore Men’s Centre at 7.30 pm on the second Monday of each month. Everyone is welcome. The venue is the Onepoto Community Rooms, Pearn Crescent, Northcote. If you want to attend but are unsure of the exact location, give them a call on 415-0049.
The Men’s Centre North Shore carries all the COSA material including all the old newsletters on its website. For those of you with computers, visit the site at: www.menz.org.nz/cosa. There is much material on other related topics as well.
Positive Partners Strong Families.
This is a course on communication and conflict resolution for couples, run by two trained Facilitators. For more information, contact Dr Felicity Goodyear-Smith at the Department of General Practice & Primary Health Care, University of Auckland, PB 92019 Auckland.
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