That’s Lisa Nasseff’s story and she’s sticking to it. The Minnesota woman went for help at Castlewood Treatment Center in Ballwin once she decided to deal with her anorexia. She’s claiming the psychologist she saw over the 15 months, Mark Schwartz, duped her into believing she’d been abused by satanic practitioners.
Nasseff’s lawsuit said she was treated for anorexia with psychotropic drugs and hypnosis, which brainwashed her into believing she was repeatedly raped, had multiple personalities and suffered from and participated in satanic ritual abuse.
The lawsuit filed by Nasseff’s attorney, Kenneth Vuylsteke of Webster Groves, also claims that Schwartz implanted the false memories to keep Nasseff in the Castlewood treatment center long-term because she had insurance that would pay her medical bills of $650,000.
Vuylsteke could not be reached for comment.
Castlewood Treatment Center's director, Nancy Albus, and Schwartz deny the allegations. Albus reportedly pledged to fight the lawsuit, which seeks the repayment of medical expenses and punitive damages.
It’s he said/she said right now. Dr. Azfar Malik, CEO of CenterPointe psychiatric hospital in St. Charles was asked for his opinion on this case. He stated that no doctor would use hypnosis to treat an eating disorder.
“An eating disorder is a very complicated disease, and basically is treated with a medical model,” Malik said. “Hypnosis and going into the past are not indicated, there’s no data or research showing that would be the treatment of choice.”
But he also states that he’s unfamiliar with all the practices that would go on at Castlewood, saying only, “They don’t have a lot of physician oversight of the cases that I know about.”
“Oversight” being doctors keeping an eye out for questionable ethical practices? There’s mention in the article of psychologists pushing the notion of repressed memory on patients in the past but that entire style of treatment has been largely debunked. Some still like to claim it’s possible to get to the root of a problem this way anyway, though. Psychoheresy links the continued practice to some Christian counselors. Considering the accusations coming from Nasseff re: satanic rituals, would that include Scwartz, I wonder? No way to know from where I’m sitting.
Psychologists operate from a position of authority and it’s important for the patient to be able to trust the treatment and advice. If he did somehow abuse his power over her, and the Center did nothing about it… It will be interesting to see what comes of it. If I remember to look for an update, of course.
Until then, here’s a site that gives instructions on how you, too, can create fake memories and amuse/freak out your friends and family. I don’t actually recommend doing that; the brain’s entirely capable of inventing memories without any outside help, actually. What might be real fun are these perception tests that help demonstrate just how fallible our minds really are. Maybe it will turn out that Nasseff invented these memories all on her own.