Patient Tells Of Exorcism Attempt

State Examines Psychologist's Conduct

The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, TN/February 16, 2001

A longtime patient of a Memphis psychologist calmly described to a state panel Thursday how her psychologist tried to exorcise her demons - literally.

The testimony came in the second day of psychologist Terry B. Davis's hearing on more than two dozen conduct charges. The state Board of Examiners in Psychology adjourned Thursday and will reconvene, possibly in the next few weeks, to finish hearing testimony and to deliberate. Davis could face $24,000 in fines and the loss of her license. The board also could suspend her license, impose other discipline or do nothing.

Davis, who is also under federal investigation for alleged billing irregularities, will resume testimony when the seven-member board meets again. Referred to in the official record only as "P2," the former patient was among several to testify Thursday.

Unlike some former patients who were emotionally distraught during their testimony, P2 calmly told board members she believes Davis planted false memories of sexual abuse by her father during hypnosis sessions. Davis rejected the patient's repeated assertions that it didn't happen, P2 said.

"I felt like there was just no convincing her," the former patient said. "I was told I was running away and that (the false memories) were true." At board member Elsbeth Freeman's urging, the patient described the exorcism. "At that time, she told me that my father had been involved in satanic ritual and that demons were in control, and that apparently one of these demons came to the surface," she said. "I had a friend down and they prayed over me and (Davis) did a procedure, asking the demon to leave."

Davis spent her time in the witness chair Thursday outlining her credentials and experience treating child sexual abuse victims and adults with dissociative disorders, also called multiple personalities.

She told board members that psychologists who treat patients with the kinds of serious emotional problems as those she treated risk backlash from patients who don't want to accept that bad things happened to them. Davis said she has treated between 200 and 250 patients with dissociative disorders over the course of her career and between 1,000 and 1,500 patients overall.

And how many of those, attorney Ken Weber asked, testified in this case? "Five," Davis answered. She added that some of her clients wanted to appear at the hearing for support but that she wouldn't let them. After the state rested its case, state Department of Health attorney Laurie Lea Doty dropped several charges, including one that Davis had fondled a patient.

The former patient who was expected to testify about that allegation froze when Doty asked if any individual therapy sessions with Davis stood out in her mind. Doty didn't press the patient for a response. That patient testified that once, when she had become unusually upset during a therapy session, Davis gave her a "little blue pill." Another patient, known only as L.L.M., told the board she once saw Davis give a Valium injection to another patient who'd had a seizure. And she, along with most of the other witnesses, testified about the tackle box Davis kept patients' medicines in.

"I saw her give other patients discontinued medications," L.L.M. said. Psychologists are not permitted to prescribe medications. That patient told board members that Davis discouraged her from pursuing an interest in the Catholic church. "She told me it had cultish tendencies and told me it would not be a good program for me," the patient said.

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