Psychologists believe that it is common to consciously repress unpleasant experiences although the unconscious repression of traumatic experiences such as sexual abuse or rape is a defense mechanism that usually backfires (Carroll, 2005). Loftus (1998) wrote an article on “The Price of Bad Memories” that leaves a room for doubt for people who are contemplating on seeking treatment and those who are already being treated by a psychiatrist.
It is difficult for those who are emotionally and psychologically helpless to determine the best possible treatment when their main concern is to seek assistance from mental health professionals who are in the best position to help them gain a better quality of life. In many cases, patients who are subjected to hypnosis, guided imagery, influence of drugs and other methods during therapy sessions to uncover unpleasant memories of childhood sexual abuse, rape, satanic ritual abuse and cult activities are also isolated from their families, friends, and the outside world (United States v.
Peterson et al. (n. d. ). Hence, implanting false memories into the minds of patients is not only alarming but also unethical and a serious criminal offense. The case of Patricia Burgus and other patients who were diagnosed with Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) is a wake-up call to the medical profession. The neglect on the part of the psychiatrist and Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke’s Medical Center with regards to documenting and safeguarding the tape records of the patient’s therapy sessions may earn a questionable mark on the reputation of the professionals and health centers.
Questions with regards to the safekeeping of patients’ records may arise. The mix-up of tapes is an indication that tape recordings are not properly labeled with the patient’s name, date of therapy session and the name of the mental health professional who conducted the therapy. There were also failures on the part of the mental health providers to keep a hard copy of patient’s therapy, treatment and progress. From the cases that were filed, it is apparent that administrators of the hospitals or medical centers do not impose strict policies in terms of securing patients’ records.
The conspiracy among the psychologists, psychiatrists, psychotherapists and medical centers leads us to a thought provoking situation. As one would seek an answer to the question regarding the hidden motives of several mental health professionals who risk their professions and be subjected to malpractice suits by unjustly collecting insurance payments as a result of exaggerating diagnoses and overstating the need for expensive treatments remains doubtful. Psychiatrists maintain patients who seek their treatment and advice on a regular basis.
Hence, deriving income at the risk of their profession and reputation is not a motivating factor. The question of benefiting from insurance payments is unbelievable to some extent although therapy for the treatment of multiple personality disorders may take a long period of time. From the standpoint of a reader who is neither a health professional nor a patient, one may not discount the possibility that these mental health professionals may be subjecting their patients to an experiment in order to test the effectiveness of their technique.
However, there is no evidence to prove this accusation. With the multitude of lawsuits filed against the mental health professionals and medical centers regarding claims of corroborated repressed memories, there will be more patients and families who may take advantage of the situation. False accusations regarding misdiagnosis and improper treatment may also grow in numbers as the victims gain awareness of the monetary settlement that may be derived from the litigation.
The American Psychological Association (1996) claimed that most people who were sexually abused as children have memories of all or part of what happened to them although they may not fully understand or disclose it. Amidst the controversy on recovered memory, people who are victims of substance and sexual abuse, depression, personal adjustment and problems of relationship should not hesitate to consult their mental health providers. As a precautionary measure, it is important to choose competent professionals and get a referral from the state psychological association in the local community.