A 31-year-old Minnesota woman has filed a medical malpractice case against her former psychologist and others in Missouri, alleging that the psychologist implanted her with false memories in order to run up her treatment bills that were being paid by her health insurance company.
The woman spent sixteen months over the course of two separate inpatient stays at a treatment center in Missouri during which she claims one of the psychologists at the treatment center used hypnosis and psychotropic drugs to implant false memories in her of being sexually abused, raped, and being involved in satanic rituals during which babies were eaten. She claims that she was told that she had 20 different personalities. Distraught over her false memories, she allegedly attempted to obtain drugs during her inpatient treatment in order to commit suicide.
The woman had originally sought treatment for anorexia (an eating disorder). She was a resident of Minnesota, which requires that health insurance companies cover in-patient treatment for eating disorders. By the end of the treatment, the woman had run up bills in the amount of $650,000. The woman claims that she has learned of other Minnesota women who had been treated at the same treatment center who were led to believe that they too were involved in satanic cults.
While experts agree that people can have false memories of events that never happened and that the power of suggestion can influence false memories, there is debate as to the extent that false memories can be implanted in patients.
The woman filed her medical malpractice claim in November, 2011. The psychologist has denied that he ever hypnotized the woman or that they ever discussed satanic cults.
The woman’s claims, whether or not they are proven at trial, are disturbing. If false memories can be fabricated, suggested, and implanted with the victim unaware of their falsity, then eye-witness testimony may be wrong. People have been convicted of major crimes and sentenced to long prison terms and even given the death penalty based solely on the faulty or false memories of alleged eye-witnesses.
Vulnerable patients with psychological issues rely on their health care providers to provide them with necessary and appropriate care. They must surrender to the professionalism, competency, expertise, and good intentions of their medical providers if they hope to become mentally healthier. This level of trust necessarily exposes the patient to possible abuse of that trust. While we offer no opinion or view of the validity of the Minnesota woman’s claims in the medical malpractice case that she filed against her psychologist and others, her alleged claims raise important issues regarding mental health care and possible abuses by mental health care providers.
Claims of malpractice by psychologists or psychiatrists should be investigated by medical malpractice attorneys. Click here to visit our website to be connected with medical malpractice lawyers in your local area who may be able to investigate your possible claim and file a medical malpractice claim on your behalf, if appropriate. Our toll free telephone number is 800-295-3959.
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