The belief in "recovered memories" which have been suppressed due to some unspeakable trama is on the decline here in the United States -- at least among believers in a so-called "World-Wide Satanic Cult." Believers in alien abductions which have been subjected to false memory implantation by flying saucer nuts continues pretty much as it has for the past 15 years or so, however.

Part of the reason why Satanic Rital Abuse claims are on the decline is because such implanting of false memories adversely impacts innocent people's lives. When a flying saucer believer implants alien abduction "memories" into people, usually the only one harmed is the individual who is told to believe it actually happened to them; their families my shake their heads and wonder at their loved-one's sanity yet at least people who are convinced they were abducted by aliens aren't then demanding that their family members are in cahoots with the aliens.

Another big part of why False Memory Syndrome is on the decline is the solid support that the academic communition has shown in debunking the mistaken beliefs that memories such as what is claimed can be suppressed.

Finally, we see more and more victims of False Memory Syndrome taking their therapists -- and the Christian churches which advocate and condone such abuse -- to court and winning big settlements in conpensation for their destroyed lives. - flr


False Memory Suit settled


CHICAGO (AP) - A woman has reached a $10.6 million settlement with a hospital and two psychiatrists over accusations she was brainwashed into believing she was a satanic high priestess.

The settlement casts more doubt on techniques popularized during the 1980s as a way of helping patients recall traumatic experiences that doctors believed they had blocked out from memory, her lawyer, Todd Smith, said Tuesday.

Rush Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center agreed Monday to pay Patricia Burgus $3.5 million, Smith said. The remainder will be paid by the therapists.

Mrs. Burgus, 41, accused the hospital of using drugs and hypnosis to convince her during a psychiatric ward stay from 1986-88 that she was a member of satanic cult. She was persuaded that she had participated in ritual murder, sexually abused her two children and had herself been tortured - none of which was true - according to her lawsuit.

Burgus also said doctors persuaded her to hospitalize her two healthy children, then age 4 and 5, for close to three years.

Lawyers for the hospital refused to comment on the settlement, which comes after six years of litigation and involves no admittance of wrongdoing. One therapist, Elva Poznanski, the hospital's section chief of child and adolescent psychiatry, told The New York Times that the treatment for the boys was correct given the information available.

The other doctor, Bennett Braun, director of the hospital's section of psychiatric trauma, said the settlement was a ``travesty'' done over his objection.

``A patient comes into the hospital doing so bad that she belongs in the hospital and after several serious events in the hospital which I can't disclose because of patient confidentiality, she was discharged and is doing much better. Where's the damage?'' he told the Times.

The cult stories were raised by Burgus, said Braun, founding member of the International Society for the Study of Dissociation, which deals with multiple personality disorders. ``She just spit it out.'' He also said she exaggerated the use of hypnotism in the treatment.

Burgus first sought treatment for depression after the difficult birth of her second son in 1982, according to her lawsuit. She saw a number of therapists in her hometown of Des Moines, Iowa, before being referred to the Chicago hospital, where she said she was incorrectly diagnosed with multiple personality disorder.

Her sons, now 15 and 17, were brought to hospital because doctors feared they might also develop multiple personality disorder. They received a variety of treatments, and were given a gun on one occasion to see if they knew how to handle it, according to court documents.

``You cannot believe that this could happen in this country,'' Burgus said. ``This is not the neighborhood shrink shack. It's a well-respected institution. You expect cutting-edge treatment.''

She was transferred and then discharged from hospital, and started questioning her treatment only after reading a critical magazine article on recovered memory therapy, her lawsuit said.

The technique gained acceptance in the 1980s and was used in lawsuits and criminal cases. A Redwood, Calif., man was sentenced to life in prison in January 1990 for a 1969 slaying based on the recovered memory of his adult daughter who witnessed the crime. But the case was later thrown out on appeal.

In recent years, dozens of former mental patients have brought cases alleging that false recollections were implanted in their memories by their therapists, Smith said.

A church in Missouri agreed in 1996 to pay $1 million to a woman who said a church counselor persuaded her to believe she had an abortion after her being raped by her father - when in fact she was a virgin. That same year, a judge reversed a $750,000 jury award to a women who claimed she had recovered memories of being sexually abused 33 years earlier.

A study presented earlier this year at the American Association for the Advancement of Science said that given a few bogus details and a little prodding, about a quarter of adults can be convinced they remember childhood adventures that never happened.


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