The Alsana / Castlewood Victims Unite Co-Founders Personal Story
My family was basically destroyed after sending our daughter for treatment of a relatively minor eating disorder to the Castlewood Treatment Center, under the direct care of Mark Schwartz, Lori Galperin, and Nancy Albus in 2011. Very soon after her arrival Castlewood encouraged her to alienate her family members and this was particularly distressing since family therapy is the empirically supported approach to eating disorders. Instead, to treat her eating disorder, Castlewood used several “memory recovery techniques” including; powerful psychotropic drugs, hypnosis, IFS – parts therapy, regression therapies, guided imagery, literal dream interpretation, journaling, ”drama therapy”, and even peer pressure from other patients. According to statements made by several experts in eating disorders, the use of these controversial treatment modalities is not the standard of care for eating disorders primarily because patients are malnourished and vulnerable to psychological damage.
Clinical Director and Co-Founder, Mark Schwartz, encouraged our daughter to remain secluded at Castlewood for months, during this time she withdrew more and more from her family and the world around her and sank deeper and deeper into the inward-directed rituals of recovered-memory therapy. It was an extremely controlled environment where she was bombarded with strange ideas and encouraged to search for buried memories and hidden alter personalities. Over time, she became disturbingly worse, to the point of suffering. Eventually, a diagnosis of Dissociative Identity Disorder (previously known as multiple personality disorder) was suggested by one of her therapists, Mike Rechtien. Mark Schwartz even convinced our daughter that she would die if she left Castlewood. It was like her mind was in a virtual train wreck.
Bizarre and implausible beliefs were developed in the course of her treatment at Castlewood. While under the influence of various medically prescribed psychotropic medications she was coerced into believing that she endured horrendous physical abuse, the kind of abuse that should have left lasting physical scars, and that she was sexually abused by more than 50 different individuals including family members, coaches, lawyers, and policemen. She came to believe that she operated an underage prostitution business from her home, that she was a high-level drug abuser, and that her family members were aware of all of this abuse and did nothing but laugh at her. The only thing more tragic than actually being subjected to this kind of abuse is to believe it happened when in reality NONE of it is true.
After Mark Schwartz and other Castlewood Staff encouraged our daughter member to cut all ties with us, the remainder of my heart-broken family was devastated by her false and impossible allegations of abuse. Before destroying my family and attempting to ruin our reputation, Schwartz and Albus should have sought out independent validation of her claims, especially the more bizarre and less than plausible stories that emerged. Yet no attempt whatsoever was made to vet or verify ANY of the ridiculous claims she began making as a result of their terrible and long-debunked “therapeutic” techniques.
Luckily, however, the officials in our state were compelled to look more objectively at these claims of abuse. My family and I were thoroughly investigated by the Special Victims Unit of the State Police, Child Protective Services, and Family Court Judges. After many months and several hearings, we were officially cleared of any wrongdoing. Beyond being cleared, not a single portion of any of the hundreds of abuse allegations were supported. After almost a year of intensive investigation one lead investigator looked at my husband and said simply, “Sir, there is absolutely nothing here.” A simple sentence that summed up the entire horror story. Sadly, this did little to restore the broken ties with our Castlewood-damaged family member, with whom we remain estranged to this very day.
At first, we believed that we were the only ones enduring this hell, but slowly others came forward with similar experiences from Castlewood and Mark Schwartz. There were four civil lawsuits filed against Castlewood, all claiming similar stories of wrongdoing and malpractice. Sadly these cases were each settled out of court with gag orders, probably for large sums of cash. Unfortunately, these victims are now bound to an agreement that they will never disclose the facts of their case to the public at large. Even still, victims continued to come forward and we learned of over forty individuals that suffered similar fates after treatment at Castlewood. We founded a support group called Castlewood Victims Unite and discovered truly, that we were NOT alone in our suffering.
Therapy should be a very gentle exploration and unburdening of problems, not cause a fresh gaping unhealable wound. Therapy should never manufacture delusional problems and horrors for the patient. Today my family member is left in an untenable psychological state, one that is much worse than when she began treatment with The Castlewood Treatment Center. Their treatment caused serious damage at great expense. We are aware that some patients actually have been helped by treatment at Castlewood. We are grateful for this. But it does not change what happened to my family or the more than 75 other families I know about. As a result, I encourage anyone seeking treatment to get help but to look at facilities NOT called Castlewood. My family will never be the same as the result of our Castlewood experience, but if we can warn folks and perhaps prevent some other family from going through what we did, we may rest a little easier.
Don't be fooled by the pretty facade
Alsana - Castlewood Treatment Center Victims Unite is a resource dedicated to helping victims of the harmful therapists from Alsana / Castlewood Treatment Centers or Harmony Place Monterey. These therapists have been sued for malpractice, censured by licensing boards, and falsely accused of the most heinous abuse imaginable. Once they commit wrong doing in one state, they pick up and move onto another treatment center to start all over again. If you, a family member, or loved one was damaged by these therapists or any other horrific therapeutic practices feel free to contact us. Tell us your story, or read the stories of other victims and family members who have had their lives destroyed or irrevocably damaged by Mark Schwartz, Lori Galperin, Nancy Albus, Jim Gerber, Mike Rechtien, Nicole Siegfired, or Richard (Dick) Schwartz. Our goal is to bring together as many Alsana, Castlewood, and Hamrony Place, Monterey survivors as possible in a support group environment. There is strength in numbers. United we can help each other cope with the results of bad therapy malpractice, and find ways to have these business investigated by local and state agencies. Contact us using your real name, or anonymously until you feel more comfortable. Always remember, no matter how badly your loved ones were damaged by Alsana / Castlewood or Harmony Place, there is always hope. You are NOT alone!