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Beware of Repressed Memory Therapy!

Repressed memory therapy, or RMT, was back in the news last week when a second woman filed a malpractice lawsuit against a Missouri treatment center for allegedly hypnotizing her and leading her to believe her eating disorder was due to "repressed memories" of Satanic ritual abuse.

KMOX of St. Louis reported that Leslie Thompson, 26, filed a lawsuit against the Castlewood Treatment Center in Ballwin, Missouri and her former therapist, psychologist Mark Schwartz, alleging that she was led to believe that she had "multiple personalities" and that she had repressed memories of being involved in satanic rituals, including the witnessing of the sacrifice of a baby.

"Only after she went to Castlewood and had this therapy did she recover these memories,” said Thompson’s attorney Ken Vuylsteke, “supposedly told to her by another personality that she also didn’t have before she went to Castlewood.”

The suit claims the Castlewood therapy caused or contributed to false memories and a belief that Thompson had ten personalities, including one named “Freddie” who was the “personification of the devil.”

The suit also alleges that therapist Mark Schwartz told Thompson if she left his care and treatment, she “would die from her eating disorder,” and that if she doesn’t listen to her “parts” (multiple personalities), they “will try to kill you.”

Thompson isn't the only woman suing Schwartz for the same reason. Lisa Nasseff, 31, was also hypnotized and led to believe her eating disorder was linked to forgotten memories of satanic cult involvement.

Vuylsteke, who is representing both women, thinks it's no accident that his clients happen to be from Minnesota which allows unlimited insurance coverage for residential care for eating disorders.

Castlewood denied the charges and issued a statement in which they claim to have treated more than a thousand clients and are "a leading treatment center for those suffering from anorexia, bulimia and compulsive over-eating. Castlewood is confident in the care that has gone on for over a decade.”

But Vuylsteke claims to have evidence to the contrary and says there are a dozen similar cases of Castlewood patients who had phony repressed memories fed to them by Castlewood therapists, but most of these fall outside the statute of limitations. He also told KMOX that former patients and employees of the Center are willing to come forward and confirm the allegations.

If proven true, these cases are a prime example of what's wrong with RMT, which is used to uncover suppressed memories of incest, satanic ritual abuse, past life regression and space-alien abduction. It's popular among an eclectic mix of feminists, Christians, New Agers, and science fiction enthusiasts. And, in spite of its total lack of scientific evidence, 28 percent of U.S. therapists also subscribe to belief in past life regression therapy, including the likes of  Yale educated Brian L. Weiss, M.D., Chairman Emeritus of Psychiatry at the Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami.

Most professional medical associations do not agree with Dr. Weiss, however, and have taken a stand similar to that of The American Medical Association which stated in 1993 that recovered memories are “of uncertain authenticity which should be subject to external verification. The use of recovered memories is fraught with problems of potential misapplication.”

Many courts of law also refuse to accept testimony from people who have been hypnotized for purposes of ‘recovering’ memories, “because such techniques can lead to confusion between imaginations and memories.”

One of the problems with RMT, whether it be of a past life or alien abduction, is that it is relatively easy for a therapist to implant a false memory. For example, Dr. Elizabeth Loftus, professor of psychology at the University of Washington, cites numerous studies of this phenomenon, including one where researchers successfully convinced half the adult participants that they had been lost in a shopping mall at the age of five. Several of these participants actually provided detailed embellishments of the alleged event.

However, this type of therapy should not be considered harmless. It has damaged the lives of numerous people and their families.

For example, officials in the state of Washington, where individuals were once permitted to receive RMT under their Crime Victim's Act, decided to study its effectiveness and uncovered a veritable house of horrors.

As detailed in this article by Paul Simpson Ed.D,  once patients began RMT therapy, suicide attempts increased by 500 percent. Hospitalizations rose almost 300 percent. Self-mutilation increased by more than 800 percent. Unemployment increased by 700 percent. One-hundred percent of the participants were estranged from their family with nearly half becoming separated or divorced during the time of therapy. Not a single patient was well after three years of intensive therapy. 

If you or someone you love is in therapy and the doctor decides it's time to go digging for lost memories, head for the nearest exit!

Send your New Age question to newage@womenofgrace.com

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