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Update on Castlewood Treatment Center Lawsuit: Other Ex-Patients Come Forward to the Press

December 11, 2011

According to St. Louis Today (stltoday.com), other ex-patients of Castlewood Treatment Center are now coming forward to the press, with their own allegations corroborating some of the allegations in the complaint filed November 21, 2011 by Lisa Nasseff against Castlewood and its Director Mark Schwartz.  Additionally, some former patients at Castlewood posted comments on the article, also corroborating Lisa Nasseff’s allegations. A 28 year old former patient stated that “Satanic ritual abuse was talked about a lot in group therapy” but yet ironically she felt that Castlewood seemed like a cult to her. Another woman who reports she was at the center at the same time as Lisa Nasseff, maintains that “Schwartz told the other residents she had returned to her cult.” and she saw several women “screaming and shaking” having flashbacks of abuse and hearing other patients saying they would die if they left.

It is most encouraging that other St. Louis mental health professionals such as Dr. Lynne Moritz have the courage to take a stand in challenging the “parts” therapy, Internal Family Systems, that is the main treatment offered by Castlewood. Unfortunately, all too often, mental health professionals are reluctant to publicly criticize their own. I can personally attest that this can frequently result in shunning and accusations of being “mean” spirited. However, what I consider “mean” is standing by and saying nothing when a therapist is engaging in potentially harmful therapies and making unsupported claims. It is a refreshing change to see St. Louis therapists who are not afraid to speak out.

Mark Schwartz is no longer making comments to the press. This is not surprising, as most lawyers advise clients involved in lawsuits not to comment publicly. However, Executive Director Nancy Albus is continuing to publicly defend the center and Schwartz. In an all too familiar refrain, she stated that Schwartz is an “internationally respected in the field of eating disorders.” However, at this point, arguments from authority are simply not enough. Really all that does is to provide evidence he is considered a public figure, but the question remains, respected by whom and what has he done to deserve it?

In an earlier paper that he coauthored, posted on his website,  with the founder of IFS, Richard (Dick) Schwartz and Castlewood clinical co-director Lori Galperin, they are honest enough to admit that “Unfortunately, no well-constructed outcome studies testing the IFS model and methods have been completed…” they assert that “the best evidence of IFS is from empirical observations in the clinician’s office.” (p. 7-8) I would have to beg to differ with them that this is valid evidence, especially given the heavy investment that ISF therapists have made in the training itself, which would render them far from unbiased. The most basic level, Level 1 alone, according to the IFS website training brochures, costs $3400.  Level 2 is $2500 and Level 3 is $1500 which comes to a total of $7400 and that doesn’t include additional expenses such as travel, lodging and textbooks. There are many reasons (which I have outlined elsewhere in my writings) why it is unwise to make claims based only on clinical successes and why it is premature, in my opinion, to be marketing such trainings when published well designed outcome studies are lacking.

Schwartz, Schwartz and Galperin also maintain in that same paper, that “Until the results of these studies are in, skeptical clinicians are left to test these assertions within their own practices.” What does this mean? Are clients being informed that they are test subjects, basically guinea pigs? Have they consented to what is essentially an experimental treatment? I see nothing about suggesting this on any of the IFS sites I have read. Instead, what I see are suggestions on how to introduce IFS to a client, with no mention that it is experimental. What I do see instead are unsupported claims based not on independent research, but on the clinical experience of therapists who have a big investment in the treatment. Even without such an investment, human beings, including clinicians are subject to confirmation bias, which is the tendency to focus on successes and ignore or explain away failures.

When we read client success stories on websites of novel unsupported therapies, we don’t hear about the failures and the clients who quietly dropped out of treatment who were too polite to tell their therapists that they got nothing from it or worse, clients who were harmed. As this lawsuit unfolds, if it continues into the discovery and trial phases, we may be hearing evidence from the Plaintiff and possibly others who consider that they were harmed. Since some clinicians don’t seem to have understood the importance of using well tested therapies or at the very least, if none exist or existing ones did not work for a particular client, to provide full informed consent to the client that the treatment is experimental, perhaps this lawsuit will provide an example of what the consequences of such practice may be.

Some recent anonymous commenters have given testimonials of positive experiences at Castlewood. Although this may be the case, given that Castlewood uses a number of different types of therapies, some better supported than others, this in no way takes away from those who have come forward, several now who have used their real names, reporting bad experiences. Although there is nothing wrong with sharing a positive experience, one of the positive commenters also proceeded to trash one of the whistleblowers, saying she was “defiant to to treatment”. I say, good for her! Defiance to the treatment described is, I would say, a very healthy response.

The positive testimonials being offered reminds me of the Conrad Murray trial where in his defense, he offered several witnesses who were former patients of his who had nothing but the highest praise for him, maintaining that he saved their lives. While this is most likely true, their positive experiences did nothing to change the facts of the gross malpractice against Michael Jackson when Dr. Murray engaged in reckless, dangerous and ultimately deadly practices that were gross deviations from the standard of care. Thankfully, the jury and judge recognized this and found Murray guilty and the judge gave him the maximum sentence.

Additionally, one of the commenters appears to be woefully misinformed on the research on recovered memory. Although he repeated the assertion “research shows” a number of times in the response, it actually does not show what he claims. “Research” does not show it is nearly impossible for therapists to implant false memories of abuse in people. On the contrary, there are now studies showing that people were led into highly improbable memories of having been abducted by UFO aliens, so unless he wants to believe in that, the research shows how easy it is to not only suggest false memories, but also to create distress about those memories. The participants who had been led into believing they had been abducted, had physiological responses that were the same as those who had been through very real war trauma. The research is overwhelming, that for the most part, severe child sexual abuse is most often continuously and well remembered, something the victims would like to forget, but cannot. For some actual citations, see Richard J. McNally’s book, Remembering Trauma that reviews all the research and also shows what is wrong with many of the studies that claim to prove repression of memories exists when actually there were other more plausible explanations. For example, in one of the studies, the children had been struck by lightening and so brain damage could not be ruled out as a cause for inability to remember the trauma. In another study, the children in question were under age 3. It is very normal for people not to remember events that happened prior to the age of 3 that have nothing to do with trauma or repression.

To refute some of the ridiculous assertions that are now being made by some of the defenders of Castlewood, click here for a list of a large number of “nationally and internationally prominent psychiatrists, psychologists and behavioral scientists, Federal grant recipients, private foundation grant recipients, members of professional journal editorial boards, journal reviewers, recipients of national research awards, collectively publishers of thousands of peer-reviewed scientific journal articles, and/or licensed clinical health care practitioners” that signed an Amicus that strongly challenges the kinds of claims being made by some people who are posting here implying that their “experts” are the only ones and making highly questionable interpretations on what “the research” shows. Anyone who doubts who is in the mainstream should have a look at these names. It is obvious that there will be no shortage of qualified experts to testify for the Plaintiffs.

 

51 Comments
  1. Sarah permalink

    I received treatment at McCallum Place, another St. Louis treatment facility, and was treated primarily with IFS. Never was I informed that this treatment was experimental. Never was I asked whether or not I would consent to receiving a treatment with such little evidence behind it. Now, a few years later, I feel that the treatment I received there (which, incidentally involved several therapists who had once worked at Castlewood) was inferior at best and reckless/harmful at worst. Then, as an outpatient, I was advised by treatment professionals at McCallum Place to try another controversial treatment–EMDR–which had horrible effects on me. What passes off as eating disorder treatment at some of these places is totally unacceptable and needs to be checked. I’m glad that someone is addressing this at Castlewood, but this is happening at other facilities too. And they all need to be held to account before more people are robbed of their savings…and their quality of life.

    • Russ permalink

      Sarah, you are so correct and I think this could well be an epidemic in these “treatment centers” especially that deal with eating disorders (I know for a fact it is a huge problem at Mercy Ministries and there many families being torna apart because of these bogus therapy practices. It seems there are many “counselors/therapists” who are so convinced that every eating disorder MUST be the result of sexual abuse (usually by the father) that it taints their therapy and exerts and undue influence on the patients. I have talked to many who have been exposed to this type of “therapy”, and it is heart-breaking and sad that this has been allowed to continue, with no accountability. Some of these women do not realize that the memories were false until the statute of limitations has run out, and in those cases they don’t even have a legal option.
      My family has been severely impacted at Mercy Ministries, and what I have learned about them and what they have done to other girls and their families is absolutely horrifying. I and others are working to get this story out, it is a scandal and one that will be revealed in time,,,but in the meantime, how many more girls and their families will be devastated???

    • abai permalink

      Sarah I am wondering if you can message me at abai44182@yahoo.com about this – I received EMDR therapy also and I am curious of your experience, because I often feel like it’s still causing me problems, as if I need to “complete” it, revisit it, or erase it somehow. I consider going back to EMDR because of this, but maybe it’s just wishful thinking hoping I can resolve my issues with nighttime-phobia. I really was sexually abused but I also experienced false memory of young childhood sexual abuse during EMDR. The real abuse was always completely clear. The fuzzy “memories,” severe dissociation, and agony came through EMDR.

      I would be so appreciative if you would be willing to share a little more via email because I’m wondering what about the EMDR hurt you and if you were able to resolve it. Just knowing someone can relate validates it a lot and helps. Thanks.

  2. Murray permalink

    Mark Schwartz DESTROYED my family. I am CERTAIN that a thorough investigation will result in his ultimate downfall.

  3. Mrs. Stevens permalink

    Lynne Moritz is a psychiatrist, not a psychologist — two totally separate fields. Using her statements to refute the practices of a psychologist would be like using a gynecologist to refute the practices of a urologist. Readers shouldn’t be misled to believe this woman is an expert in the best therapy practices used to treat eating disorders because she isn’t a therapist. Mark Schwartz, however, is a renowned therapist and has a proven track record in the field of eating disorders. I’m not buying Lisa Nasseff’s story. It sounded hokey when I first read about it, and it just keeps sounding hokier.

    • You are more than welcome to post your opinions here, Mrs. Stevens, but I suggest you do your homework before doing so or I will need to correct you on some misinformation you apparently have. Of course I completely understand that psychology and psychiatry are two separate professions and what the differences are, but both are mental health professionals and “therapist” is a vague term that can cover a number of different mental health or other professions in spite of your attempts to arbitrarily restrict it to psychology when there are no legal restrictions on that title or even “psychotherapist” in most states (although in some states such as NY, only licensed psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and marriage and family therapists can call themselves “psychotherapists”). And yes, psychiatrists can and have frequently been recognized as expert witnesses to testify on mental health issues involving psychologists and vice versa, so your arbitrary invocation of the term “expert” and argument from authority does not hold. Your analogy does not hold. In fact, there are people from a variety of different mental health practices that do practice and are certified in IFS including psychiatrists, social workers, marriage and family counselors and others. In fact, looking at a brochure for an IFS conference, I see that psychiatrists are among the presenters. You are aware that IFS founder Dick Schwartz is a marriage and family therapist and his licensure as far as I’ve been able to determine, is in that discipline, are you not? If we wanted to follow your line of argument, we would have to say that he too is not qualified because he is from a separate discipline, but of course that is ridiculous, since he is the founder of IFS. Anyone with a background in research who has the ability to evaluate evidence is qualified to evaluate whether the therapies he practices are evidence-based and Dr. Moritz is correct that there is very little evidence to support the safety and efficacy of IFS. Are you aware that even the Schwartz “brothers” (I use the term as a figure of speech) even admitted this in an article they wrote, that there are no well-designed outcome studies on IFS? That is the issue to be addressed and an issue very likely to come up is the extent to which clients were accurately informed of the evidentiary status of IFS prior to treatment via written and verbal informed consent. Not all the shouting of the term “expert” in the world is going to help him when he appears in court and will be asked to account for his practices. Either they will hold up or they won’t.

      Lynne Moritz is, according to a search I did, Director of the St. Louis Psychoanalytic Institute, so yes, she does have clinical experience, contrary to your misguided implications to the contrary.

      In fact, evidence-based practice originated in the field of medicine, later to be used by psychologists and social workers. You might be interested in my earlier blog entry, Expert: A Meaningless PR Term where I called someone else out on his argument from authority and invoking the term “expert” rather than responding to the substance of the issue. Looks like you are doing much the same. Buzzwords like “proven track word” and “expert” just don’t cut it and are unlikely to persuade anyone other than your fellow true believers. The courts and justice system will now be looking at the facts and deciding whether Lisa Nasseff’s charges are valid and the case will involve evidence, not arguments from authority.

      You are, of course, entitled to your opinions about this case, Mrs. Stevens, but fortunately, the case will be decided by an impartial judge or if it proceeds further, an impartial jury comprised of members who are not followers of Dr. Schwartz and will undoubtedly exposed to court qualified experts on both sides (that kind of “expert” does have precise definition), not “experts” in the loose, authoritarian sense you appear to be using the term. Most ironically, one of the most frequent expert witnesses for cases involving Dissociative Identity Disorder whether they involve psychologists or psychiatrists is Richard Kluft, a psychiatrist.

  4. Mrs. Stevens permalink

    With all due respect, Dr. Pignotti, I must point out that Dick Schwartz and Mark Schwartz are not “the Schwartz brothers.” In fact, they are not even distant cousins; Mark and Dick are not related at all. When I was in journalism school, I learned that when one fact in an article is inaccurate, it calls into question the credibility of the entire article.

    Furthermore, as a former patient at Castlewood, I have direct experience with IFS. Although neither Mark nor Dick were my therapists, IFS was the treatment of choice used by my Castlewood therapist. With a diagnosis of DID, IFS was the first and only type of therapy that allowed my internal family system a means to communicate with each other. I think I speak for all of us when I say that without IFS we would either be locked up or covered up by now.

    • Whatever the Schwartz’s are to one another (I was using “brothers” as a figure of speech but I realize figures of speech are difficult for some people to comprehend, so I put quotes around “brothers” — also the word “brother” doesn’t have to mean blood relatives. Religion uses the term to mean two people who have the same beliefs and so in that sense the “Schwartz brothers” is most appropriate since both strongly believe in IFS), what is most important is that their main therapy, IFS, by their own admission, has no well designed, outcome studies to support their efficacy. That is by Schwartz & Schwartz’s own statement so you can question my article all you want, that fact regarding the lack of outcome studies to support IFS stands unrefuted. If you don’t believe me, fine, check out what Schwartz and Schwartz themselves admitted about it. Click here to access the article (see p. 7-8)

      Unlike therapy gurus, I don’t demand people accept things I write without question so your repetition of dogma from journalism school is irrelevant to the issue at hand. People can check them out for themselves. Go do a search on Medline or PsychInfo databases for outcome studies on IFS. They’re not there (as Schwartz also admits) and it makes no difference whether the Schwartz’s are brothers but of course people who don’t want to look at the facts will persist in nit picking on irrelevant minutia so they don’t have to face the relevant facts.

      As for your direct experience, good for you, I’m glad you feel you benefited but that is not evidence that in any way can be generalized to others. What I am hearing are mixed testimonials, some such as yours are positive where others who have also had “direct experience” have reported very negative experiences with IFS. That’s why we need to do scientific studies, which on IFS are sorely lacking. Client testimonials are not a good substitute for scientific evidence. What the courts care about is scientific evidence, not testimonials. It makes no difference whether you want to call Schwartz an “expert”. As a licensed mental health professional he is responsible to demonstrate that what he is practicing is safe and effective and the only way to know that is through well designed outcome studies, not client testimonials.

      Did you happen to see the Conrad Murray trial? He attempted to defend himself by parading a string of successful patients he had treated as witnesses, but it did him no good at all because the issue was how he treated one patient, Michael Jackson. The judge threw the book at him to the fullest extent California law allowed him to. In this case, the focus is what Mark Schwartz did with Lisa Nasseff and that is what will need to be determined.

  5. Mrs. Stevens permalink

    Thank you for the link to the article. It was difficult to read because of the horrendous editing job — pages of conversation with a Vietnam vet are presented with all of the punctuation outside of the quotation marks. Those guys need to find a new copy editor.

    One thing I did notice in the article, however, was this statement: “Until the outcome studies are complete, the best evidence for the efficacy of IFS is from empirical observations in clinician’s offices.” It also appears that four studies were ongoing at the time of publication; hopefully, some of them will have been completed before trial.

    I totally agree with the judge’s decision in the case of Conrad Murray. If nothing else, it was gross negligence on his part. I’m sure Lisa must have signed a disclaimer when she entered Castlewood Treatment Center, and Mark wasn’t treating her away from the Castlewood campus. I don’t really understand the correlation between Conrad Murray and Mark Schwartz.

    I’m not defending Mark; I wasn’t there when he treated Lisa. I’m defending IFS. One good thing that I hope will come out of this trial is that therapists who treat DID patients and who aren’t familiar with IFS will learn how it can help their patients.

    • The statement ” “Until the outcome studies are complete, the best evidence for the efficacy of IFS is from empirical observations in clinician’s offices.” — Dr. Schwartz appears to have a misunderstanding that this is valid evidence. It is not and now that he is in the legal system, he will likely have to abide by the Daubert standard for evidence, which means scientific evidence is required. Clinical anecdotes are not good, reliable scientific evidence and what this means is that he would need to be providing full informed consent to clients that they are being subjected to an experimental treatments.

      As for — “It also appears that four studies were ongoing at the time of publication; hopefully, some of them will have been completed before trial.” Future studies or studies published after the date that the client was treated are not good enough and are not valid evidence. At this point we have no idea if they are even methodologically sound or publishable. That too came up at the Michael Jackson death trial. The defense tried to cite a study (and a very preliminary one at that) that was published after the time Dr. Murray practiced with Michael Jackson and it was soundly struck down. Standard of care means the evidence that existed at time of treatment. Studies that appear after the date of treatment do not count, although anything that would be published at this point on IFS would be a highly preliminary study and it is not known at this time whether it would even be accepted for publication anywhere or what the outcome would be.

      The two cases do have similarities in that both were using experimental treatments that did not have good evidence to support their safety and efficacy (propofol for sleep problems and IFS or whatever else he did, for eating disorders and DID), although thankfully Lisa Nasseff did not die from the treatment although according to her claim, she did attempt suicide and she attributes this to her treatment. If she can prove that link between her suicide attempt and the treatment in court, that is a very serious consequence.

      The issue is whether clients were provided with written and verbal informed consent that they were receiving a treatment for which no well designed outcome studies currently exist. Just signing a “disclaimer” isn’t enough. Full informed consent means not making unsupported claims, listing in detail any possible benefits and risks, making the client aware of other treatments that are available, going over the statement fully with the client to make sure the client understands she is being subjected to an experimental treatment. What I saw on the Castelwood website was that claims were being made for IFS that went far beyond the available evidence.

      As for this case giving IFS good publicity for the treatment of DID patients, that gives me chills to think about, but I wouldn’t bet on that happening. I have no idea what the strategy will be or if IFS will be part of that, but if it does, this does not bode well for IFS, in my opinion, given the damages Lisa Nasseff is claiming from allegedly being misdiagnosed with DID. Quite possibly others with negative experiences with IFS and DID will come forward and based on some of the responses I have seen, this is not just limited to IFS at Castlewood.

  6. Mrs. Stevens permalink

    What other successful treatments are available for DID patients? We did not get to stay at Castlewood long enough because our insurance wouldn’t pay. Do you know of any local therapists who have had success treating DID patients without the process taking 10 years? I need to find a therapist and continue with treatment.

    Will you be testifying in Lisa’s case?

  7. I can’t really give specific advice or referrals to people on this blog.

    This is not intended as specific advice, but as a more general comment, DID is a highly controversial diagnosis to begin with. Some such as Lisa, get better when that diagnosis is dropped and they get treatment for the problem they presented with before the diagnosis, such as PTSD, depression or an eating disorder and there are many well qualified therapists who can competently treat these types of problems. Although I cannot personally vouch for each therapist listed there, the ABCT website has a good database with therapists. See
    http://www.abct.org/Members/?m=FindTherapist&fa=FT_Form&nolm=1

    No, I am not testifying in Lisa’s case, as I have not done any expert witness work. If I were, I wouldn’t be posting about it, as that would not be advisable for a witness. I’m sure there are many people with strong track records as expert witnesses who would be very qualified to testify for the plaintiff, if the case gets that far.

  8. Mrs. Stevens permalink

    I checked out the link you gave me but couldn’t find a therapist in the state of Missouri who specializes in dissociative disorders. (DID wasn’t presented as a choice on the list of specialties.)

    What do you mean by “DID is a highly controversial diagnosis”? Have we been misdiagnosed?

    Maybe IFS isn’t as great as I thought it was. A month after I started IFS treatment with my first therapist, I got cut and ended up in a mental ward. Then, seven months later, Josephine cut me in the therapist’s office (49 stitches and destroyed my median nerve; after surgery to repair it, I have no feeling in my right hand anymore.) Josephine hadn’t been around in years but had showed up at our therapy sessions a few weeks before she cut me. The therapist said she couldn’t treat us anymore and referred us to Castlewood because the therapists there have experience with IFS and DID.

    Did the IFS cause me to get cut? What do we do now? The IFS has got everyone communicating and screaming at me all the time, which I thought was a good thing. But now that all these people are around and want to take over my life, how do I get rid of them again? It seems as though my only choice would be to continue treatment with someone who is familiar with IFS.

    • I can’t say whether or not you have been misdiagnosed, as there is no way for me to know that via the internet. If you are having doubts, what you might want to do is find someone from whom you can get a second opinion. It looks like Lynne Moritz is in touch with the mental health profession community in your area. Maybe she would know someone she could refer you to, so it might be worth contacting her. Otherwise, I can ask around and see if anyone I am in contact knows of someone in your area.

      What I do know is that there are differing points of view on DID. Outside of the group of therapists who bill themselves as specialists in DID or DD, there are many therapists who take the position that DID does exist, but it is overdiagnosed and very rare. Others believe it is completely constructed either by therapists or exposure to the media.

      There definitely are a number of people who feel that they have been misdiagnosed with DID. One of the people who has written very publicly about this is Jeanette Bartha. You might want to check out her blog: http://jeanettebartha.wordpress.com/
      which contains a number of links on the topic.

  9. Mrs. Stevens permalink

    Thanks for the information. I would like to get a second opinion about the DID diagnosis. I attempted to email Dr. Moritz through the address provided on her website, but the email came back as undeliverable.

    I posted a message on Jeanette’s blog to see if she knew of anyone in my area who could give us a second opinion. I’ve not heard back yet.

    If you hear of anyone in the St. Louis area who specializes in DID, I’d really like to get a second opinion. Thanks.

    • You might want to try phoning Dr. Moritz. She might not be in because of the holidays, but I’m sure the number given with her contact information has a way to leave a message. http://www.stlpi.org/institute/facultystaff/faculty/lynnemoritz/

      I’ll still ask around and see if anyone else knows of anyone, although someone who has a different opinion about DID would probably not describe themselves as an expert on DID, but rather an expert on trauma, eating disorders or whatever type of problem the person originally went into therapy to deal with.

  10. No1nosmypain permalink

    I was a former patient of this facility and APPLAUD the women coming forward against them. For a long time I have found myself questioning any sort of therapy when it was really their therapy that was the problem. A large portion of their patients talk about themselves as a “we” (in the plural tense), because of the IFS model and “parts” therapy. Patients who are already unhinged and out of their element have now given themselves a part of themselves to blame for all of their actions instead of being honest with themselves and accepting responsibility, forgiving themselves, and moving on. Castlewood is one of the few treatment centers that welcomes DID, and what better way to make sure you’re never short on patients if you can actually give it to them directly. They were blatantly manipulative, including Mark. He would grace one of our most intimate groups and stand in judgement of us, and play the Distant/Judging Father in effort almost to play up Daddy issues. It was very unnerving to me, but I was told that he was “the best,” so I tolerated it, even though I hated every time he sat in a group. The first time I understood the “we” comment’s I bucked, and was looked at by the other patients like I was the freak. After that I was not allowed to leave the communal locations during waking hours so they could “monitor” my conversations.
    I was put in hostile situations with other patients intentionally. I was not there for them, I was there for myself, but I felt like we needed to be protected so I was constantly in the middle of things. I won’t lie, I did not leave on good terms. Hearing about this suit made it even more clear that there was something wrong and that therapy is not supposed to go the way it went in there. I heard 2 stories of cults, but all of the patients there had admitted it before I came, why would I have any thought to question it? Though they seemed to push for more stories, they were not able to convince me of events that didn’t happen, the things that happened were bad enough and unforgettable despite my efforts. But they often challenged my stories. Mark stated upon my exit that was I was immature and secretive. I’m sure I was just dangerous because I wasn’t buying their bs. They had good people who worked close to the patients, I wish them the best. But there’s a nice warm place waiting for anyone who would take advantage of the sick intentionally.
    Parts therapy may be ok for well-documented DID patients, but it is not for everyone, and I’m completely certain that they knew that.

  11. Russ permalink

    This sounds similar to my daughter’s situation, which has been a nightmare for our family and that is ongoing. My daughter went to the CA branch of Mercy Ministries, a free residential Christian-based treatment program in CA, back in March of 2010 and was there for one year before “graduating”. After seeing a therapist there, the therapist/counselor called to tell my wife and I not to worry, that this didn’t involve any of my family, but that my daughter had “recovered memories” of being sexually abused by some schoolmates. We were shocked and dismayed, but after reading up on “recovered memory therapy” we were skeptical that this really happened. A couple of months later, my daughter changed therapists and suddenly stopped/refused all contact with us. We came to find out that at her “graduation ceremony” from Mercy Ministries, she said that her dad sexually abused her since she was 4, and that she was the caregiver for her youngest sister since she was 8(both utterly false and without basis). Mercy Ministries has chosen a “new family” for her which she is living with now, and we have since been in contact with several girls from Mercy who say they cut ties to their family because of their repressed memories through the therapy they received…both girls (and some others) now realize that one of it was true and they are now in therapy at a reputable therapist to try to undo the damage from the therapy they received at Mercy Ministries. This kind of therapy destroys families, and I would advise anyone who sends their daughter to a treatment center for eating disorders (or any other kind of therapist for that matter) to make sure before they go what kind of therapy they will undergo. My daughter will be welcomed back with open arms when she does eventually realize that she is a victim of bad therapy. I hope noone else has to go through this, and I want to get the word out about how at least this place (Mercy Ministries) operates.

  12. Carr Conway permalink

    Repressed memory therapy should be criminalized akin to yelling fire in a crowded theater. Based on the harm done to the primary victim and the extended family, the crime should be classified as a felony with a stiff prison sentence. If the nonsensical therapy resulted in a death, the crime in RMT should then become a capital offense. This is the only way the therapists will ever stop the wrongdoing!

    • Russ permalink

      I agree totally, and I have recently come to learn of more heartbreaking occurrences of this happening with Mercy Ministries, including two women who had the same counselor 9 years ago who developed false memories because of this form of “therapy”….and one of the women has now lost almost an entire decade of her relationship with the father and the rest of the family. This counselor in question just recently retired…I wonder how many devastated families there have been in the last decade who were “counseled” by her alone? I also know of 3 families besides mine at the Mercy Ministries branch in CA who have recently been severely impacted, our daughters have cut ties completely and now have new families called “host families”, courtesy of Mercy Ministries who pick these famlies out. There are people in prison who have committed lesser evil than those who practice this “therapy”, and these “treament” centers need to shut down because they are devastating women and their families. This is going to come out in the media soon, it’s in the works and when it does I hope it has a major impact and forces significant changes (or shuts them down like it did in Australia).

  13. Shanda Frankson permalink

    Wow, there seems to be some serious difference in opinions here. I am a former client of Castlewood. I did stay for an extended period of time. However it was not Castlewood that diagnosed me. I knew my past and I knew my diagnosis upon going there. I think there is a great misunderstanding of IFS.

    Have you ever found yourself saying something negative about something you have done.? Do you ever almost hear those voices in your head saying dang it I should have done it this way. Those are te parts. Everybody has dissociation. When is the last time that you got in your car and drove somewhere and you don’t remeber driving, but you there and your safe? That is a type of disociation,

    Now I have marks all over my body. Marks that are now scars that began when I was very young. When I was at Castlewood I worked with my parts. My parts have amnesic barriers that is when it is labled as DID. Not one therapy is ever right for everyone. When I went to Castlewood, they not only helped me learn to have better self communication, they made it possible for me to spend time with my family which has nto happend in a long time.

    As part of the treatment families come in and work on family relationships, I brought some of my family to Castlewood and I told them some of the things that I had hidden from them for years. I found it to be very healing.

    My other experience in hospitals were not pleasant. I cannot even begin to say how many times I found myself in the back of a police car headed to the state hospital and I did not even know how I got in the car. That is no longer the case. After being at Castlewood, I am able to meet my own needs. I journal a lot to make sure all my needs are being met.

    Just because people have doubts about something does not mean they should tear it apart.

    • Wow, I think you seem to misunderstand where I am coming from. I have actually studied parts work quite extensively and am very familiar and well aware with the views you express, that hearing various voices in the head are “parts” speaking. Nevertheless, I do not agree with this and have never seen any kind of evidence that this is helpful to people in healing what they need to heal. What I do understand about IFS is the fact that it does not have well designed studies to support its safety and effectiveness, only testimonials and the testimonials are very mixed. There are some people who feel they have been greatly helped and others who feel they have been greatly harmed by IFS. When there are such negative reports, it is best to err on the side of caution, especially when good studies have not been done and by this I mean studies done by people with no vested interest in the treatment, that account for treatment dropouts and are open about and carefully monitor exactly what was done in the sessions — and studies that have been peer reviewed and published in professional journals that do not have a vested treatment in the intervention. Since such studies have not been done, any therapist doing IFS has an ethical duty to provide their clients with a very thorough written and verbal informed consent, stating that the treatment is experimental and may have benefits, but may also be harmful. As for DID trauma therapy, there is clear evidence from the court cases in the 1990s that this has been extremely harmful for some people. In contrast, there are now studies showing quite remarkable improvement rates in people with dissociative disorders if, rather than treated for trauma, they were treated for sleep problems and taught ways to get a better, more restful sleep. See my other posting about the recently published review of DID and dissociative disorders for details.

      That being said, I’m still glad to hear that Castlewood helped bring your family together. Unfortunately, other people have alleged just the opposite experience took place for them and that they were estranged from family members, especially if the family members questioned or opposed the kind of treatment that was taking place. Evidence for this may come out in the upcoming cases. If some people had good experiences at Castlewood, that’s good for them but it does not take away for or in any way lessen people who may have been harmed, nor does it absolve them of their responsibility to deliver well tested treatments to their patients rather than experimental ones at such a high price. The issue here is not about tearing things down, but rather, in building up, and requiring and enforcing professional ethics that ensure the safety and wellbeing for all patients professionals come into contact with. If the profession will not do it for itself, the law has to step in.

  14. The danger of this “parts” therapy is in the wrong hands its slips all too easily into a DID diagnosis. You get someone with a license to do social work, a little hypnosis training (which takes all of 20 hours! the average Walmart worker has more training in the first week on the job) and a “certificate” in Internal Family Systems and you have a recipe for some pretty serious harm.

    The Castlewood case does not begin to address the people who are being subjected to the therapy outside of the center where Richard Schwartz resides. (Interesting to note Castlewood with a tiny resident population is having GROUP meetings on Dissociative Identity Disorder. It’s in their activity schedule! DID is supposed to be rare….how does population of a few dozen folks all come down with so many cases of DID that they have to have group meetings?!?!? The court papers and newspaper articles allege it is being foisted on people.)

    Both Richard and his co-worker who is being sued along with Castlewood seem to think trauma lays at the root of eating disorders. Where is the evidence? You get poorly trained therapists hunting around for trauma and talking to “parts” while putting people on drugs and under hypnosis and we are right back to the 80s again where people and lives were literally destroyed by this sham therapy.

    I do hope Internal Family Systems is deconstructed in this court case. Any therapy that is promoted at weekend workshops (at a few grand a pop) and through a book and then becomes the basis of therapists assigning a DSM diagnosis deserves much more scrutiny.

  15. Russ permalink

    It’s obvious that the only cult these women at Castlewood were ever in was there at Castlewood. Sounds very familiar, as in Mercy Ministries. Castlewood, Mercy Ministries and all others who use therapy methods that destroy families deserve all the bad publicity they can get.

    • Carr Conway permalink

      They deserve a lot more punishment that bad publicity. CW has done enormous harm to their primary victims and their extended families. CW and their therapists should be left naked and penniless from these civil suits because of the harm they have done. In all fairness their actions should be criminalized with stiff prison sentences. That is the only way these screwball therapists will ever stop the wrongdoing. The fact that therapies are experimental and harmful mean nothing to these therapists as long as the money keeps flowing in. People in psychobabble have no regard for the “standard of care” that govern conduct in most professions. The fires of hell will not burn hot enough for these miscreants!!!

  16. Russ permalink

    Unfortunately, some of us don’t have the financial resources to use legal action even though the truth is on our side. I agree, they do deserve more than bad publicity and I do agree that any punishment they receive (within the law) is well-deserved.

  17. WOW! Just found a news article from 2000 that shows things did not start at Castlewood. Seems like Schwartz and Galperin have been running their Satanic Ritual Abuse and multiple personality horror show for years. They were pulling this stuff back when they did their Masters and Johnson gig. Twelve years later and they are still pulling the same stunts. Now they want to open a center in CA. Shut these people down!

    Dick Schwartz, their coworker and co-author should also be investigated for the role his Internal Family Systems therapy played in this fiasco.

    http://www.pitch.com/kansascity/could-it-be-satan/Content?oid=2161553

    • Russ permalink

      Yes I agree about Castlewood, and I wonder if any of the “apostles” of IFS have been involved in therapy at Mercy Ministries as well, the therapy methods (and results of those methods which are often false memories) are rather similar and just as destructive. Mercy just hasn’t been sued yet…but they should be afraid, very afraid because they may be next, it’s just a matter of time.

    • That’s quite a find! I wonder if the lawyers for the plaintiffs are aware of Schwartz and Galperin’s prior history.

      The problem is that state boards, more often than not, fail to act when they should. That is why the law must step in and deliver justice, since the mental health profession is all too often turning a blind eye.

  18. From the Internal Family Systems model by Richard C. Schwartz:

    “Exiles
    Exiles are parts that are in pain, shame, fear, or trauma, usually from childhood. Managers and firefighters try to exile these parts from consciousness, to prevent this pain from coming to the surface.”

    So, looks like Mark Schwartz and Lori Galperin are being sent far, far away to California. Mark will no longer be the CEO at Castlewood. They are hiring someone new. http://www.stltoday.com/lifestyles/health-med-fit/fitness/st-louis-county-treatment-center-expanding-to-california-despite-lawsuits/article_22d24647-c6d4-51ab-b601-f05ffb12920a.html

    Hopefully CA authorities will wise-up to these Internal Family Systems “exiled parts,” and not allow them to operate their satanic ritual abuse/dissociative identity disorder/hypnosis/recovered memory circus act out there.

    • In order to practice in California, if they haven’t already, Mark Schwartz and Lori Galperin will have to obtain state licensure in their respective professions, psychology for Dr. Schwartz and Social Work for Ms. Galperin. I wonder if the state licensing board in California is aware of these lawsuits and the serious charges that have been brought and whether, in light of these lawsuits, they will still grant licensure.

      • From the article:

        “Schwartz has been licensed as a marriage and family therapist in California since July 2011 and has no disciplinary actions on his record. In Missouri, he is licensed as a psychologist with a clear record. Galperin is licensed in Missouri as a clinical social worker. She plans to apply for a license in California, according to a spokesman.”

        Looks like Mark can do his form of “therapy” right now and Lori is on the way. Who can stop these folks?

  19. In that case, shame on the California licensing board for Marriage and Family therapists. This is a prime example of why it is necessary for the law to step in when a profession sits back, hides their heads in the sand and does nothing. Not too surprising, sadly enough, since there are faculty who teach their students that expressing concern over “psychic” social workers is politically incorrect.

    Interesting that he did not state he is licensed as a psychologist in California. I wonder if he tried to be.

  20. Russ permalink

    Who can stop these folks? That is a good question, one way would be to get so much publicity out there about the consequences of the “therapy” they empoly that no thinking person would become a patient of theirs and their clientele will dry up…or maybe eventually lawsuits will exact such a large amount of money from them that they’ll have to crawl back into the hole where they came from.

    • Sandra Burkes permalink

      Just a small note. Take into consideration the clients who were treated well and appropriately at Castlewood. Many other types of therapy are used there , and there are many other therapists, other than Mark and Lori, who treat the patients. Publically Bashing Castlewood and all that they do is essentially bashing those who have recovered and found life again through the treatment they received there. More individus should not be damaged due to this case. Apparently enough damage has been done. Just something to keep in mind as you follow and comment about this case.

      • The danger in giving them any consideration is that the repressed memory/mpd/did horror show has likely permeated the entire staff to an unknown extent. Anyone going to CW may encounter the therapists who have been contaminated with the unscientific ideas. BUYER BEWARE!!!

      • “Publically Bashing Castlewood and all that they do is essentially bashing those who have recovered and found life again through the treatment they received there…”

        Sandra, with all due respect, nobody but nobody is bashing those who have been helped. Castlewood as an institution brought this on itself. They hired two people with a published history of satanic ritual abuse, repressed memory and hypnosis therapy. Why didn’t they vet these folks? Not only did they hire them, they promoted Mark to CEO. He pulls the same stunts and they are to this day defending him. Now they are moving him to CA to “expand.”

        In addition, the dangers of the “internal family systems” model this institution endorses has been labeled potentially harmful by other professionals Richard C. Schwartz the inventor is on the staff and trained/trains not just Lori and Mark but others as well. This questionable therapy has no clinical trials and by definition is “repessed memory therapy” under a different name as it encourages therapists to engage “parts” in dialogue, a practice which can result in DID iatrogenesis … that is dissociative identity disorder brought on by the therapist in vulnerable people through the very “treatment” they are using.

        DID is very rare yet Castlewood was holding group meetings with DID patients. There are two lawsuits but both the lawyers and postings on others sites refer to other cases where women were led to believe untrue things about their pasts. The law only allows for the therapy to have been done in the last two years. Mark and Lori have been pulling this stuff for far longer than that.

        Why are you taking issue with the people who are trying to stop the harm instead of Castlewood itself which has done absolutely positively nothing to ensure others are not harmed; far from that, they defend the people who have a history of using very harmful therapy and continue to employ them? If you were helped, that is fantastic, but what of those women who were harmed and will continue to be harmed if this stuff is not rooted out?

  21. Russ permalink

    Sandra, I hear what you are saying and it is good that Castlewood now has someone else running the show. There is hope that Castlewood will learn from this, so that it never happens again but this is assuming they change their therapy methods. However…when you look at Mercy Ministries (which cult experts say fits all the criteria of being a destructive cult) ,where the same kind of destructive therapy methods responsible for the Castlewood lawsuits have been practiced for at least a decade and continue to this day, there is absolutely no evidence to show that they have significantly changed anything since they had to shut down in Australia in late 2009 (for lack of donors when the donors found what they they really were) and paid almost $120,000 in claims to 110 women for abuse/mistreatment. It is just a matter of time until the Mercy homes in the U.S. suffer the same fate. Instead of actually changing their methods to benefit their patients, their response was to increase fund-raising so they could build more homes in the U.S. and they have also gone extraordinary lengths to keep the truth from coming out (like denying women their own medical records as they did in Australia), threatening legal action to any who speak out and manipulating google searches and wikipedia so that negative information about them is not seen by the public. I have hopes for Castlewood, but not for Mercy Ministries and watch in the coming weeks and months for alot to come out about Mercy that will make Castlewood seem like small potatoes.

  22. Russ permalink

    Carr and CW you make very good points. Telling the truth about an organization is not “bashing them”. Those of us who are critics are not concerned about how will affect the organization, but we are advocates for all of those who have been damaged by this type of therapy, and are trying to stop this from happening in the future to other vulnerable women and their families. Can anyone tell me if Castlewood is privately funded? I know Mercy MInistries is 100% privately funded, and the only way to stop this from happening in the future is for donors to withhold any future contributions until significant, transparent changes are made. If changes are not made, they they wlll have to shut down, and rightly so.

    • Sandra Burkes permalink

      I was a former patient at CW. I was treated at the same time as the women who have filed the lawsuits. It makes me sad to think that either of them may have experienced what they are claiming. However the reason I posted previously was just to point out that there are many positives that have come from Castlewood and that are being completely negated. The staff at Castlewood does not operate as one unit. Each therapist treats his or her patients individually with many types of therapy, most of which are traditional. My therapist never even treated me with IFS despite being trained in it. So, no the entire staff is not “infected”. There are many of us who care about the staff and who hold Castlewood very close to our hearts and it is hard to see everything that saved us being bashed and negated due to the few who abused their power. I do not disagree with you that the hiring staff at Castlewood and the accused therapists at CW are in the wrong IF these accusations are true. I actually completely agree with you that any and all abusive therapies should be done away with. Arguing against you was not the point of my original post at all. I was trying to shine a little light on those who did do the right things and who are innocent of this entire issue. If you have not been a patient there you have no right to make accusations that the entire staff is poison and have probably done more harm than good. Also if you have never struggled with an addiction as depeatig and consuming as an eating disorder, and then found life and light when there was none, then you have no idea how important a place like castlewood is to those of us who have. Please be gracious, and while defending those who have come forward sharing their pain, do your best not to cause pain to others.

      • Thanks for taking the time to respond, Sandra. I looked through my comments to see if I was bashing Castlewood. I don’t see evidence of that. I am very, very glad you found help at Castlewood. However, Castlewood as an institution is still defending Mark Schwartz and calling him the head of its leadership team on its website. Both Lori and Mark are still holding group meetings according to the online schedule. These meetings were previously listed as “DID” group meetings, now they are ‘Core.” These kinds of meetings we referred to in an article in 2000 as a place where women started to break down and tell horrific stories of abuse that could not have been true. They were as bizarre and similar to ones in the lawsuits. According to the article, Mark and Lori tried to get the staff doctor who pointed out the the damage and legal risk of such groups fired. Twelve years later and the same type of group therapy is showing up in lawsuits. It appears Castlewood allowed this to go on for a long, long time. Not only allowed it but let Mark run things there and now they want him to run things in CA where he has the potential of starting up a whole new cycle of behavior, which is more than a little concerning.

        (It’s interesting to note that Castlewood has toned down its statement on its website regarding the suit. I wonder if their legal team reads this blog. Previously they had listed the allegations as “bizarre”, but when an article shows up showing Schwartz and Galperin trained doctors and therapists circa 2000 to conduct the same type of therapy that resulted in the bizarre stories of satanic cults and murder, by calling the allegations “bizarre” they are potentially damaging themselves since there is evidence the therapists had been practicing it for over a decade. If the outcome of the therapy has a history “bizarre” allegations, why allow it?)

        There is a evidence that good things indeed are going on at Castlewood. But one has to wonder why Castlewood does not police itself, why it continues to stand by Mark, allow therapies like IFS, which has no clinical trials associated with it, to be practiced and the train the staff in it. This is not bashing Castlewood, it’s a genuine question after having read about how Mark and Lori were given such power at Castlewood, reading about a previous lawsuit with similar allegations from 2000 when Mark and Lori headed their Masters and Johnson unit and the kinds of therapies the lawsuit alleges were practiced then in that unit which were corroborated by another doctor at that time. All of it seems to foretell the lawsuits against Castlewood.

        My best to you. I am so glad you found healing. If places like Castlewood can find the courage to address therapies and therapists that are potentially harmful, hopefully these the consequences of such treatment will diminish and women who enter places like Castlewood can all be assured they will have your good experience.

  23. Russ permalink

    Sandra-I’m glad that you were not exposed to the type of therapy that is so destructive that was likely used on these other women…believe me if you or a loved one of yours had been exposed to it you would feel very differently and would be leading the charge against whoever it was (Castlewood, Mercy Ministries, etc) if and when you realized what was really going on and how you or your loved one have been harmed, sometimes for years. There is an analogy that perhaps may be appropriate here…if you had a large bowl of cereal and most of it was just fine but there was even just a little bit of feces in it…would you still eat it? Now perhaps the “feces” at Castlewood is gone now (but I know it is not at Mercy MInistries, they won’t change a thing because they are a destructive cult and believe that whatever therapy they use is inspired by God) but what if it isn’t, and this place is still contaminated???

  24. Great article just came out on Castlewood. There’s yet another story at the end…this time from a family. I hope they can go after these guys, bigtime.

    I disagree with Debbie Nathan, who was interviewed. I think this same crap is going on in non-residential settings…all you need is patient in need and a therapist willing to manipulate “healing” narrative into a DID/PTSD nightmare, reconstructing and robbing someone of their past.

    http://www.dysgenics.com/2012/11/05/remnants-the-last-stand-of-the-satanic-ritual-abuse-movement/

  25. Altus permalink

    Fourth lawsuit, Thanks Monica for being one of the folks who broke this and maintaining a great archive to the entire mess. http://stlouis.cbslocal.com/2012/11/12/fourth-patient-at-ballwin-treatment-center-alleges-abuse/

    • Thanks for the update! It appears that the other cases are sealed, so we won’t be getting any updates on their progress, but at least we are learning of the new lawsuits.

      • Altus permalink

        Notice how they refer to Castlewood at the end of the article as: “one of the rare facilities specializing in eating issues involving post-traumatic stress often caused by sexual abuse.”

        And yet women have neither coming in. Manufacture your specialty and then treat it. What a concept! If I was a lawyer, I would have never have let that very telling wording leak out in a press release.

  26. Castelwood Victims permalink

    castlewoodvictimsunite@yahoo.com is an on-line email and blog based resource dedicated to helping victims of the Castlewood Treatment Center in St. Louis, Missouri. If you, a family member, or loved one was damaged by the Castlewood Treatment Center’s horrific and dangerous 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 and the staff he leads at Castlewood. Our goal is to bring as many Castlewood victims as possible together in a support group environment. There is strength in numbers. United we can help each other cope with the results of Castlewood’s malpractice, and find ways to have that 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 family was damaged by Castlewood, there is always hope. You are NOT alone!

  27. castlewood victims permalink

    Monica…we are in the process of putting up a facebook page and a yahoo group. We want to be sure we have the proper privacy controls to discuss such sensitive matters. We have been following your work and appreciate your dedication to this topic. It has been a source of great comfort for us in dealing with the Castlewood ordeal. Please keep the pressure on and thank you shining a light on this. I will keep you posted on our progress.

  28. castlewood victims permalink

    please join our group at http://health.groups.yahoo.com/group/castlewoodvictimsunite/ to share & read other Castlewood victims experiences.

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