Illinois-Wisconsin FMS Society
July 2002, Vol. 8, no. 2
The Daly case begins in Monroe, WI
Marilyn Daly started out by taking a weight loss program.Several years later, this formerly competent and well functioning woman was disoriented, self-mutilating and suicidal.Marilyn Daly’s dramatic deterioration resulted finally in a malpractice suit.This malpractice trial began June 17, 2002 in Green County Circuit Court in Monroe, Wisconsin and is scheduled to last for six weeks.
The suit is brought by some of the Daly family (Marilyn Daly, her husband Thomas and son John) against the Monroe Clinic and three of its affiliated professionals – Psychiatrists William Bell and Rachel Long and clinical psychologist Robert Beck. The suit alleges that the three misdiagnosed Marilyn Daly as having multiple personality disorder and induced false memories of physical and sexual abuse in her through hypnosis, guided imagery and age regression in the early 1990’s.As a result, according to the suit, Marilyn Daly suffered severe impairment and was unable to work and live a normal life.
Thomas Daly is the current Green County Board chairman.He taught mathfor 35 years.Bill Smoler and his wife Pam are representing the Dalys.Bill,you may recall, was the attorney in the Cool, Hess, and third party Johnson and Sawyer cases.The Monroe Clinic employs 900 people and is the second largest employer in Green County.The judge is Thomas Barland of Eau Claire.
One of the first witnesses to take the stand was the Dalys’ daughter.It was she who in 1997 was the first in the family to discover the false memory phenomenon and gave her mother books about it.
Tom Daly recounted his wife’s grim downward spiral during the years she was in therapy at the Monroe Clinic.Before therapy Marilyn Daly was working as a registered nurse, was an active parent and was a good housekeeper.By the end of 1996 she was not working, sleeping little, took no interest in parenting or keeping house, was self-mutilating and suicidal.
In 1990 Marilyn signed up for a weight loss program at the clinic.By 1991 she had lost in excess of 100 pounds.She was referred to Beck after she became extremely distressed in the “refeeding” part of the fasting program, fearing she would regain the lost weight.(An expert testified that people normally get upset at this juncture.)Once in therapy with Beck and Bell, Marilyn became tormented by memories of supposed repeated sexual abuse by neighbors, relatives and strangers as a young child and even recalled a ritual murder and mutilation of babies who were chopped up and fed to animals.Marilyn’s therapists insisted that for her to get well that she had to recover more and more memories and relive the pain of what she had supposedly experienced.But Marilyn only got worse and worse.One suicide attempt even took place in Dr. Beck’s office.Once Dr. Beck told Marilyn to get down on her hands and knees and shriek to get over the “recovered memory” of an anal rape as a child.At another time, according to her own testimony, she was asked to bang her head against the wall.“You had to pound harder and harder to numb your senses from any type of painful feelings you might have.”This method was supposed to release pain.“It really didn’t help,” she said.At another point in her testimony, Marilyn Daly described being stripped of her street clothes and put into four point leather restraints because she wanted to leave the hospital. (Would a locked ward not have been enough? -editor)Her “recovered memories” which included violent flashbacks, came out during endless hypnosis sessions with Dr. Beck, she testified.
Dr. Paul McHugh, who until he retired last year, served as director of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins University Medical School for 26 years, testified for more than eight hours for the Dalys.(Johns Hopkins is one of the country’s leading medical schools.)He testified that the treating therapists did not follow medical standards to treat and diagnose Marilyn Daly.Though their patient kept getting worse and worse they did not change their recovered memory therapy treatment.The therapists never took into account Marilyn’s rather standard anxiety response to the extreme weight loss program as the source of her initial symptoms.Instead they unwaveringly pursued the wild goose chase of the recovered memory approach.It was a case of a “therapist with an agenda.” (As is typical with recovered memory therapists, whatever the initial symptoms they look for extreme childhood abuse as the cause of the problem–editor)
McHugh also testified that Beck, who did the hypnosis to recover memories, was not qualified to use the technique without supervision.His only training was in workshops for pain management.McHugh further testified that there was no evidence hat the therapists ever talked to the Daly family to find out if any of the bizarre “recovered memories”, such as the killing of babies to be fed to animals, had any factual basis.This should have been done, he said.
A summary of the concluding four weeks of the trial will be published in our next newsletter.
(Summary drawn from reports in “The Monroe Times”, June 19 to June 28, 2002. Reports on the trial will be found at www.themonroetimes.com/o0619cli.htm and for subsequent dates insert the relevant date in the above URL)
National Public Radio exposes recovered memory therapy
On the weekend of June 14, 2002 “This American Life,” a weekly syndicated program on National Public Radio produced by Ira Glass, which has a wide audience, aired a wonderful forty minute segment on recovered memory therapy.
Reporter Alice Spiegel interviewed Beth Rutherford about how it happened to her.Beth told how she became depressed working in a cancer ward.Her parents suggested she see a church affiliated therapist; her father Tom (an Assemblies of God minister) even made the appointment.The first hour of therapy was very productive.Beth talked about her experiences on the ward.She immediately felt a lot better.The therapist suggested a second appointment, “just to make sure.”By the time Beth came to the second session, four weeks later, she was feeling so much better in fact that she ran out of things to say half way through the session.The therapist prodded her to say something more – “This is time that you have paid for, after all.”Is there anything at all that’s bothering you the therapist asked Beth?So Beth dug around and mentioned some horrific dreams she had been having sometimes.She had a good relationship with her father but in these dreams he was sending bears after her and the like.“Wait aminute,” the therapist said, “were you ever inappropriately touched sexually?”Dreams like that indicate that you were sexually abused, the therapist said.“Oh no,” Beth said.The therapist told Beth to go home and see whether she could come up with any memories of abuse.Beth came back for a third session because she wanted to convince the therapist that nothing like that happened because the therapist and her parents knew each other.But now she was trapped and the therapist began to pursue her quarry.
The therapist began to give her books to read about people who had been abused.Beth couldn’t think of any abuse but she became totally preoccupied with the subject.She began to dream a lot and she would talk about those dreams in therapy.At one point her therapist told her that those were not dreams, “they’re flashbacks of what happened.”
The reporter called up the American Psychological Association to find out how the Association felt about recovered memory therapy today and she was referred to an expert, therapist Michael Yapko (author of Suggestions of Abuse.)Yapko explained what went wrong.He said when clients in distress came to therapists who practiced recovered memory therapy (RMT), these therapists, believing that most of their clients problems were due to childhood sexual and /or Satanic ritual abuse, told their clients that such abuse was the cause of their problems.When their clients then told them that such abuse had never happened, the therapist would smile knowingly and say that’s all been repressed.We need to use various techniques such as hypnosis, guided imagery, medications, etc., to dig up the repressed material.“That’s the only way you will recover.”
But the memories the clients retrieved were not accurate, Yapko said.Memory is prone to all kinds of distortion through all types of suggestions, coming from therapists’ remarks and questions, from reading matter, from support groups, from guided imagery, hypnosis, etc., etc.
Beth illustrated how guided imagery worked with her.She was asked to imagine herself sitting on her bed as a child.“What are you wearing?” she was asked.So you build on that and build and build , “till half a teaspoon of real memory becomes a whole fruit cake,” Beth said.Then one day Bethconcentrated so hard she worked herself into a trance-like state in which she recounted about how her father supposedly brought her into his bedroom, and lay down beside Beth….”The foundations of your life collapse.”
Linda Ross, a former recovered memory therapist from Arizona who was interviewed, learned these techniques in continuing education workshops after graduation with an M.A. in counseling, though they were taught in many other places.She learned about a long list of symptoms that were supposed to indicate a history of child sexual abuse, and she learned techniques of memory retrieval.She assumed what she was being taught was thoroughly and scientifically tested and researched (which they were not).So she used the techniques on many of her patients who had no prior memory of being abused as children.No matter how bizarre the tales she heard she always believed her patients.“Don’t question, don’t doubt your patients” had been hammered into her.Her patients got worse, but that too she had been taught to expect.Always her patients were urged to get more memories yet.“Unless you finish this you will do it to your children - you must break the cycle.”
Then Linda reached a breaking point.She refused to believe a story of one of her clients that she had seen a neighbor eat the arm of a fried aborted fetus. Linda felt like a failure and referred the client to another therapist with whom the client got worse yet.Another turning point came when Linda, at the urging of a former client who had come to disbelieve her memories, attended an FMS meeting.She stopped believing in recovered memory therapy.She met the client’s parents and promised them to go public with her story, and hence her participation in this radio program. She wrote to all her former clients and told them their memories might not be real, one of only a handful of therapists who took this step, as the program pointed out.“And the experts are strangely quiet,” they said.Beth of course became a much valued recanter, as most of you know.And she was found to be still a virgin despite having had vivid “memories” of an abortion and the supposed father of that fetus, her father Tom, had had a vasectomy when she was four.
(This wonderful program is available as a tape for $12, including postage, from: This American Life, WBEZ Radio, Navy Pier, 848 E. Grand Ave., Chicago, IL 60611.Ask for June 14, 2002, Episode 215, Act One, “This American Life,” or you may call them at 312-832-3380. You can also listen to the show at www.thislife.org click on “Episodes”, “02”, “Ask an Expert” andthe pertinent “ra” icon in the left column.
Professional conference on accusations of child sexual abuse
Psychologists, attorneys, social workers and law enforcement personnel were invited to a one day conference, From Rumor to Reason: Accusations of child sexual abuse, April 13, 2002 at Mellon University in Pittsburgh.This conference was sponsored by the Center for Applied Psychology, Indiana University of Pennsylvania and two other organizations.
According to the sponsors, the conference addressed the issues involved in differentiating between true and false allegations of sexual abuse, and offered suggestions for incorporating knowledge into clinical practice.It examined the factors which affect the reliability of both children’s and adults testimony.Participants learned about the history f false memory syndrome, the science of memory, and the role that rumor and irrational thinking often play in the genesis of false beliefs.
Authors Mark Pendergrastspoke on Memory creation and science.Terrence W. Campbell, Ph.D. spoke on Children, suggestibility and autobiographical memory, and attorney Jack Quattrocchi, discussed The Roles of the legal system and experts.
(Information from OARMHP Ohio Association of Responsible Mental Health Practices, April 2002.)
The last couple of months (May and June 2002) have been good ones for FMS stories and articles in the media.On television “Good Morning America” hada short segment on false memory as part of a series on hypnosis, “This American Life” on National Public Radio had an excellent 40 minute feature (see our article, p.3) and Liz and Rodger were interviewed on Fox television.There was also a favorable article in the May/June issue of Skeptical Inquirer Magazine.Even in Germany there was a TV show on MPD and RMT in connection with the first RMT trial in that country.
Although the segment on “Good Morning America” was only about five or six minutes the program reaches a very large audience.The segment featured the Rutherfords’ compelling story and was sympathetic to our perspective
The Fox television program showed the damage that recovered memory therapy can do.The LaPlant’s story began the short segment.In the late 80’s their daughter Pauline had gone into therapy and was treated by drugs and hypnosis to recover memories to help her cope with her problems. Liz LaPlant told how her daughter began making horrible accusations that her father was a Satanist and that Liz had killed many babies.The LaPlant’s story was followed by Pat Burgus whose family won a $10 million dollar lawsuit against Dr. Bennett Braun and Rush Presbyterian Hospital in 1997.Pat and her children had been hospitalized for several years. The show pointed out that although Braun lost his license in Illinois he has resurfaced in Montana.It also showed Dr. Helen Morrison stating that she would give no credence to recovered memories without outside evidence.The program stated that experts say that these memories are much more likely to be implanted than retrieved.
The May/June 2002 issue of /Skeptical Inquirer Magazine features the first part of a two-part report titled “Who Abused Jane Doe?,” by Elizabeth Loftus (a speaker at our fall conference), professor of psychology at the University of Washington, and Melvin Guyer, professor of psychology at the University of Michigan Medical School.In this article, they describe their investigation of psychiatrist David Corwin’s case study alleging the existence of repressed memory.They find this often cited research fails under hard scrutiny.
In this 1984 custody case Joe Doe’s father accused her mother of abusing her. Corwin believed the evidence that 6 year old Jane Doe’ had been abused.His 1997 follow-up included a 1995 videotape of the adult Jane viewing tapes of her childhood testimony.Many professionals who had heard Corwin’s account and saw his videotape saw his research as strong evidence for the reality of a repressed memory phenomenon.
Loftus and Guyer interviewed Jane Doe and her mother and reviewed the case histories.They found that Corwin favored the father and failed to take into account evidence that would have cast doubt on the sex abuse claim.
Efforts to extend statute of limitations on sexual abuse
The sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church has led to calls to extend the statue of limitations on sexual abuse.In Chicago, Barbara Blaine and Mary Dean on behalf of the Network of those Abused by Priests delivered their demands to the archdiocese of Chicago to reform state laws on child sexual abuse.Ms Blaine, executive director of SNAP, called on U.S. Catholic bishops to lobby state lawmakers to extend the criminal statue of limitations of sexualabuse to at least 30 years beyond the age of maturity.According to an article in the Chicago Tribune (5/10/02), Cardinal Francis George has already stated his support for extending the statue of limitations and adding clergy to the list of professionals who are mandated by Illinois law to report suspicions of sexual abuse.
FMS activist – Claudette Grieb
This month we are starting a new feature –in each issue will tell the story of a person who is making a mark with their work in the FMS struggle.
Claudette Grieb of Kitchener Ontario, Canada worked to change legislation in Ontario.In 1998 her daughter Jackie killed herself and her own daughter.Police said she had been depressed by a deteriorating relationship with a lover.Her mother contends that the therapy she received aimed at recovering hidden memories of incest, which she said Jackie was receiving from an uncertified Kitchener therapist, helped push her over the edge. Months before her death, Jackie accused her parents of sexually abusing her when she was two.Grieb flatly denies the allegations.
Last year Claudette Grieb appeared before a committee holding hearings on a proposed bill called the Personal Health Information Privacy Act.Grieb wanted a provision in the legislation that would allow friends and family ofmentally ill patients to call for the release of records when they have reasons to fear therapy is threatening the patient’s safety and possibly that of their children.“Third parties should be able to access a mental heath ombudsman or a government committee or judge to investigate,” she said. After her daughter’s death she was also unable to get the therapist’s records.“While client confidentially is of prime concern, such confidentiality should not be allowed to hide malpractice,” she wrote in her submission to committee.
Her 60 pagesubmission to the committee included a document which she wrote: Recommendations to improve mental health care.The introduction to this document states:
“Many leading figures in psychology and psychiatry have noted for decades that Canada’s mental health system is in desperate need of reform.The most serious and widespread problem is the continued use of ‘psychotherapies’ that have never been proven safe and effective by credible scientific research.Many of these ‘psychotherapies’are harmful or even dangerous.
Hundreds of Canadian families have been destroyed by these increasingly bizarre ‘psychotherapies’ or ‘mind games’.The most damaging of these quack treatments involved the controversial and unscientific notion of ‘repressed memories’ of childhood abuse.Ignorant that they were using subtle methods of brainwashing and coercion, believing themselves to have found the secret to tapping the unconscious of their clients, therapists convinced thousands of depressed and therefore vulnerable patients that their mid-life problems were caused by hidden or lost memories of child abuse.These malpractitioners have escaped sanctions, because it was believed that these therapists were dealing with actual child sexual abuse that was always remembered, but not acted on by the clients.”
Her recommendations in this document are very good ones.Here are some of them:
1.The Government should pass a Standard of Care/Informed Consent bill that mandates mental health therapists to specify to the clients and patients which particular treatment they intend to pursue and what the possible outcome of the treatment may be…
2.The Government should post the specific guidelines and warnings issued by these professional mental health bodies about these controversial and experimental therapies.
3.When a relative of the client… recognizes that a client is not receiving proper care and is deteriorating as a result of malpractice, third parties should have access to a mental health ombudsman or commissioner who has the powers to make a speedy intervention to prevent clients and the children in these clients’ care from coming to grave harm.
4.Aggrieved parties should likewise have the right to avail themselves of the services of a mental health ombudsman in order that the Government as a power of last resort reassert ultimate control over the professions when they fail to properly regulate themselves.
5.When such records (of childhood sexual abuse) are subpoenaed by a judge who finds that unprofessional practices were used to contaminate the memory of the client such as happened again in a very recent Manitoba case, the Government should take action to put the therapist or the counseling center out of business and certainly stop government funding…
6.Professionals must keep accurate records indicting the specific methods and practices used to help their clients.Not keeping records, destruction or withholding records must be made punishable by law…
We salute Claudette Grieb for turning her tragedy into action and for her work to improve legislation in Ontario, Canada.
(Based on information fromOARMHP, Ohio Association of Responsible Mental Health Practices, Feb. 2002 issue)
Paul McHugh on Bioethics Council
President Bush named 17 leading scientists, doctors, ethicists, social scientists, lawyers and theologians to serve on the President’s Council on Bioethics.Council members have been chosen not only for their specialized knowledge, but also for their thoughtfulness and their devotion to serious ethical inquiry.
Paul McHugh, M.D., has been chosen as one of two psychiatrists.McHugh is Professor of Psychiatry and former Director of Psychiatry, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and, as we all know, he is a leading scientist on the FMS Foundation Scientific Advisory board.He will also be a featured speaker at our October 2002 national conference in the Chicago area.
(Information from:OARMHP, Ohio Association of Responsible Mental Health Practices, May 2002)