False memory syndrome “recanter’ tells of horror — (The Denver Post)

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The Denver Post

April 24, 1994

Author: Kevin Vaughan Fort Collins Coloradoan; DENVER POST

FORT COLLINS – In her strange, twisted visions, Lauri Stone saw herself sacrificing babies or being drawn toward her father in a bedroom. She imagined her father was in a cult and her grandfather abused her.

“It wasn’t like a memory,” she said of the visions. “It wasn’t like I graduated from high school – I know that. It was like a daydream. They were so different from reality. At the time, I thought that was how you discovered repressed memories.”

Stone is a “recanter.”

According to Pamela Freyd of the False Memory Syndrome Foundation, a nonprofit group that helps people who contend they are wrongly accused of sexual abuse, about 200 Lauri Stones have come forward across the country in the past two years.

Stone, 32, was a senior art designer for a large Christian ministry in Colorado Springs when she started having problems in late 1990. A doctor thought she was suffering from a combination of stress and premenstrual syndrome and prescribed Prozac.

She had a bad reaction and quit taking it on the doctor’s advice.

Eight days later, Stone – depressed and psychotic – “lost it” at work. She went to her boss, who in turn called his wife, a psychotherapist. The wife, in turn, set up an appointment with another therapist. Stone went to see him.

“He said I was a very sick woman,” she said.

Stone ended up in a mental hospital, she said, and during hypnosis she learned that she suffered from multiple personality disorder. The disorder – known as MPD – often is diagnosed in victims of sexual abuse and other long-term trauma. She was stunned.

Stone was the consummate all-American girl: She grew up in a nice home and was voted most likely to succeed in high school. That image belied the notion she was sexually abused as a child.

“The doctor kept saying, “You’re so sick you can’t even remember this happened,”‘ Stone said. “And, “You’re so sick you didn’t even know you had MPD all these years.”‘

After eight months of therapy – in a time when she was barely able to function and was trying to hurt herself – one of Stone’s alternate personalities was put into a trance. Her therapist said he found memories, visions of her in a bedroom. Stone said she was asked leading questions, such as: “Where is he touching you?”

“These memories weren’t like things you know about your past,” Stone said. “They played in my mind, like if you are writing or something you imagine – something in your mind for an instant.”

The doctor said he was devastated to learn how sick Stone was.

“I’d read a book about satanic ritual abuse,” she said “I called him up and said this happened to me, and he said, “Oh, I believe it.”‘

She imagined that her father was in a huge cult that sacrificed babies. She tried to commit suicide. When her therapist suggested that she consider prosecuting her parents, Stone said she had had enough. Months of therapy hadn’t made her feel better.

She left therapy after 14 months and complained to the Colorado Mental Health Grievance Board, which, after a probe, issued a letter of admonition to the therapist because he loaned Stone money.

Thankfully, Stone said, she never had accused her father. After visiting a prayer group, Stone started to get better. Her memories “just faded away.” A trip to see her parents last year went wonderfully, she said.

Today, she is sure her multiple personality disorder was “learned,” planted by her therapist. She is happy he was reprimanded by the state, but fears therapists using improper methods may be taking advantage of others.

“It’s like a women’s health issue,” she said. “I know it happens to men, too, but it’s mostly women. … It’s psychological rape.”

Record Number:  DNVR212910

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False memory syndrome “recanter’ tells of horror