Dr. Phil Scheduled to Air Potentially Harmful Segment Friday, January 11, Despite Advanced Warning from Journalist

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A Mental Health Care consumer advocacy group, The False Memory Syndrome Action Network, decries Dr. Phil’s episode of January 11th, 2013 as “a potential mental health menace”

This Friday, January 11, celebrity Psychologist Dr. Phil will air an interview segment on his popular daytime talk show about a woman alleged to be possessed of over 20 personalities despite the show’s producers being warned in advance of serious problems with the story’s premise.

Retired therapist Judy Byington, author of the book “Twenty-Two Faces” will appear on the Dr. Phil Show with the subject of her book, Jenny Hill, to talk about Jenny’s multiple personality disorder and the alleged Satanic Ritual Abuse that brought her to this condition.

According to Douglas Mesner, a freelance journalist specializing in psychiatric abuse, conspiracy theory folklores, and the on-going recovered memory controversy: “I was made aware in advance of the show’s filming that Judy Byington and Jenny Hill were scheduled to be on Dr. Phil, and I tried numerous times to contact the show regarding problems with the Satanic Ritual Abuse narrative endorsed in Twenty-Two Faces and the questionable Recovered Memory Therapy techniques by which this narrative was drawn from Jenny Hill. I published an open letter to which the show never replied [1].

"Not only is Multiple Personality Disorder a controversial diagnosis on flimsy scientific footing [2], but Recovered Memory Therapies -- by which therapists presume to surface repressed traumas by way of hypnosis or other methods [as took place with Jenny Hill] -- have long been demonstrated to be highly unreliable and even harmful [3]. Further, the conspiracy theory of Satanic Ritual Abuse has been debunked again and again as part of a moral panic that exploded back in the 1980s.”

The fear, shared by Mesner and his colleagues, is that a new popularization of the idea of repressed memories could lead to a resurgence in false recollections of abuse, the likes of which confused the legal system during the 80s and 90s in an episode of collective hysteria now referred to by sociologists as the "Satanic Panic" [4].

Mesner, as a co-administrator of the nascent False Memory Syndrome Action Network (currently an online-only resource for those negatively effected by Recovered Memory Therapies) represents a larger of body of concerned advocates for consumers of mental health care who seek to end what they see as a concealed epidemic of licensed mental health professionals spreading "toxic delusions" to vulnerable clients. "Many people have been hurt by recovered memory therapies in the past [5] and continue to be hurt by pop psychology fads popularized in entertainment but lacking in scientific credibility. Many people forwarded my letter to Dr. Phil's show", Mesner notes, "many people are disappointed by his decision to air this segment."

Mesner outlines a number of supernatural claims contained in Twenty-Two Faces. “There are levitating people, there are claims of ESP, divine intervention, prophecy, mind-control, and demonic possession. For this reason, I believe the story to be best categorized as 'paranormal' rather than as 'Psychology', and I hope Dr. Phil distinguishes it as such for his viewers.”

Mesner admits he has not seen the episode in question in advance, however, he believes that the very act of airing the episode gives the conspiracy theory of Satanic Ritual Abuse undeserved credibility, “There is truth to the idea that no publicity is bad publicity, and Dr. Phil risks doing a horrible disservice to some vulnerable mental health care consumers who may be led to look favorably upon a point of view that we feel foments a harmful approach to personal mental health.”

1. Mesner, Douglas (2012, October 19). "Open Letter to Dr. Phil" retrieved from http://www.examiner.com/article/journalist-denounces-dr-phil-open-letter-a-public-mental-health-menace

2. Blackwell, Tom (2012, December 09). "Canadian doctor’s scathing report on multiple-personality disorder says it should never have been included in DSM-V" retrieved from http://news.nationalpost.com/2012/12/09/canadian-doctors-scathing-report-on-multiple-personality-disorder-says-it-should-never-have-been-included-in-dsm-v/

3. Neimark, Jill. (2004, August 02) "Are Recovered Memories Real?" retrieved at http://discovermagazine.com/2004/aug/are-recovered-memories-real#.UO8iA3fkrCt

4. Goleman, Daniel. "Proof Lacking for Ritual Abuse by Satanists" retrieved at http://www.nytimes.com/1994/10/31/us/proof-lacking-for-ritual-abuse-by-satanists.html

5. Loftus, Elizabeth (1997, September) "Creating False Memories" retrieved at http://faculty.washington.edu/eloftus/Articles/sciam.htm

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