after the sleeping comes the waking up.

Can a therapist do much more harm?

Posted by c. wagner on November 4, 2009

A while back, I posted a note about how the existence of “recovered” or “repressed” memories was not supported by science. Today I stumbled upon a news story that brings up the subject again. This time, it happened in St. Cloud, Minnesota.

A therapist supposedly “helped” her client recover memories of abuse by a cult, government mind control experiments, murdered babies, and a forced marriage.

But whenever the troubled woman expressed doubts about her lurid delusions, her psychologist, Suzanne James, told her she was “in denial” and encouraged her to concoct even crazier theories, state investigators concluded. Without a shred of proof, James believed it all. The St. Cloud psychologist even provided dark sunglasses to shield her client from the cult’s lasers.

Needless to say, those were mind control lasers. Hoo boy. But there’s a little bit of light in this dark corner of psychotherapy.

In a report released last week, the Minnesota Board of Psychology found James violated numerous laws and regulations governing doctor-patient conduct. Instead of helping her client get better, the board said, James made her sicker, fostering a state of unhealthy dependence that made it virtually impossible for the client to function independently.

That said, James has not lost her license to practice. She will be monitored and can accept no new clients with multiple personality disorder.

The human memory is a frail thing at the best of times, but is even less secure when a person is hurting or even just stressed. It’s horrible when someone trusted with healing a person introduces more trauma into that person’s life. Trauma that is going to be very difficult for the patient to forget. The science does show that.

Read more from the Star Tribune.


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