ReligionNewsBlog.com — A second woman has filed a malpractice lawsuit against a St. Louis, MO treatment center, claiming she was hypnotized into thinking her eating disorder was rooted in “repressed memories” of cult involvement.
Leslie Thompson, 26, filed the suit late yesterday against the Castlewood Treatment Center and her former therapist, psychologist Mark Schwartz.
The suit filed alleges that while undergoing treatment at Castlewood for anorexia between December 2007 and May 2010, Thompson was led to understand that she had “multiple personalities,” and that she had repressed memories of participating in satanic rituals, even “witnessing the sacrificing of a baby.”
Last November another woman, Lisa Nasseff, also sued Castlewood Treatment Center and Mark Schwartz, Sc.D., (Doctor of Science) in St. Louis County Court.
The woman claimed that Schwartz hypnotized her while she was on psychotropic drugs, inducing false memories which caused her to believe she was the victim of sexual abuse, rape and satanic ritual abuse; caused her to believe she was a member of a satanic cult that had committed crimes; and that she had 20 different personalities.
During the mid-eighties there was a period when the media was full of hysterical reports (read: urban legends) about ‘Satanists,’ ‘Pagans,’ ‘Witches’ and others who used secret underground networks to traffic in stolen children.
There were sensational reports about the alleged sexual torture of children and the ritual sacrifice of babies. Stories appeared in newspapers and on Usenet of people who, often with the help of therapists, had ‘recovered’ memories about their early childhoods — claiming they suddenly remembered having been subjected to ‘satanic ritual abuse.’
‘Recovered memories’ that have no basis in reality are known as ‘false memories.’
In Nasseff’s case, however, her lawyer said, “We’re not talking about memories from when she was a little kid. We’re talking about a 28-year-old woman who believed that a couple of years ago that she participated in satanic abuse and sacrificed babies. These aren’t memories that happened to little kids. These are memories that supposedly happened two or three years ago that this woman was brainwashed to believe.”
KMOX says that both Thompson and Nasseff are from Minnesota, and their attorney Ken Vuylsteke thinks that’s no coincidence:
“We also allege in the petition that there was a calculation on the part of this therapist, Mr Schwartz, to target people who have unlimited insurance coverage. Both these ladies come from Minnesota , which under Minnesota law allows unlimited coverage for residential care for eating disorders.”
The suit seeks an open-ended sum in excess of $25,000. The suit alleges that Thompson incurred medical, counseling and therapy bills of $600,000 and also had an additional sum of $10,000 in medical expenses from St. Lukes Hospital Hospital.
Nasseff seeks repayment of $650,000 in unneeded medical bills due to the false memories. She also asks for punitive damages.
Meanwhile KMOX notes that “Vuylsteke claims a dozen other former Castlewood patients have told him similar allegations, but most fall outside the two-year statute of limitations that allow for a suit to be filed.”
The story of this period of hysteria can be read in the book, “Satanic Panic,” by Jeffrey S. Victor.