Repress-Memory Doc May Lose License

Associated Press/August 13, 1998.

CHICAGO (AP) -- A prominent psychiatrist targeted in a repressed memory lawsuit settled last year for $10.6 million now could face loss of his medical license.

In filing a 19-count complaint Wednesday against Dr. Bennett Braun, state medical prosecutors noted his role in the case of Patricia Burgus.

Burgus' lawsuit claimed she was misdiagnosed in the mid-1980s and then convinced -- with the aid of drugs and hypnosis -- into believing she'd been a member of a satanic cult, had participated in a ritual murder, and had herself been tortured.

She also said Braun, who works at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Hospital in Chicago, and Dr. Elva Poznaski, another therapist, persuaded her to hospitalize her two healthy children, then age 4 and 5, for almost three years.

"He's misused the course of treatment of multiple-personality disorder the way a surgeon misuses a knife," said Thomas Glasgow, chief of medical prosecutions for the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation.

Braun's attorney, Harvey Harris, declined to comment on the state's charges except to question the accuracy of the news coverage of Burgus' case. None of those named in the suit admitted to any negligence in the settlement.

Dr. Marlene Hunter, a Canadian psychiatrist, defended Braun as "a very dedicated psychiatrist."

"Sure it's a blow, because it's one more very unhappy situation where a therapist has done the best he could according to what he thought was right at the time," Hunter said. "It didn't turn out well, and the consequences have been devastating."

Braun, 58, faces a Sept. 28 preliminary hearing before a Department of Professional Regulation administrative judge.

Braun is founder of the International Society for the Study of Disassociation. He specializes in repressed memory therapies, and has helped train several therapists who treat multiple personality disorder.

The technique had gained acceptance in the 1980s and was used in lawsuits and criminal cases, but has since come under question. Burgus' suit was among several in recent years brought by former mental patients alleging that false recollections were implanted in their memories by therapists.

A study presented last 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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