Skeptic News: Lawsuit for "planted" repressed memories

Three women charge they were brainwashed at a St. Louis-area psychiatric facility into believing that they had repressed memories of childhood sexual abuse.

The existence of repressed memories is a controversial topic in psychology; some studies have concluded that it can occur in victims of trauma, while others dispute it. According to the American Psychological Association, it is not currently possible to distinguish a true repressed memory from a false one without corroborating evidence.

The three women involved in the Lawsuit attended Castlewood Treatment Center and received treatment that led them to believe they had been sexually abused as children and were suffering from multiple personality disorders.

Recovered memory therapy (RMT) is a term coined by affiliates of the False Memory Syndrome Foundation referring to what they described as a range of psychotherapy methods based on recalling memories of abuse that had previously been forgotten by the patient. The term is not listed in DSM-IV or used by mainstream formal psychotherapy modality.Opponents of the therapy advance the hypothesis that therapy can create false memories through suggestion techniques.

One complaint alleges therapist, Mark Schwartz “carelessly and negligently hypnotized [The Client]” while she was under the influence of “various psychotropic medications” to treat depression and anxiety. The hypnosis allegedly created false memories, including the belief that she was

“a member of a satanic cult and that she was involved in or perpetrated various criminal and horrific acts of abuse.”

The centre has defended itself against the allegations and stated:

“This lawsuit simply piggybacks on publicity generated by earlier false and outrageous allegations, we will defend this case vigorously, confident that the facts will underscore Castlewood’s professionalism and excellence in patient care.”

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