Repressed Memory, Multiple Personality Disorder and Satanic Ritual Abuse – Critics characterize MPD as a therapist-induced social construction. For example, where a patient comes to a therapist with standard psychiatric complaints such as anxiety or depression, a MPD therapist may suggest that these symptoms represent the actions of “alters” co-existing in the patient’s mental life. Dr. Paul McHugh, Director of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Johns Hopkins, treated MPD patients referred to Johns Hopkins and found that in each case, the MPD diagnosis had been therapy-induced, played out in a stereotyped, script-like way. Each woman initially sought assistance for some straightforward set of psychiatric symptoms, e.g., depression, demoralization. Thereafter, her therapist would stretch the psychiatric symptoms into a diagnosis of MPD by suggesting that the patient may harbor “alter” personalities and eventually, an accusation of prior sexual abuse was leveled against a family member, usually the father. Dr. McHugh found that proper rehabilitation could occur only by directing attention away from the manufactured behaviors.
One of the most notable cultural factors credited with bringing the issue of child abuse and MPD together in the minds of the public and mental health community is the popular 1973 book and film, Sybil. MPD proponent, Frank W. Putnam, M.D., wrote, “Schreiber’s account [of Sybil] is both detailed and accurate enough to serve as mandatory reading for students of MPD.” After Sybil, many therapists began to cull both “alter” personalities and corresponding ìrepressedî memories of childhood abuse from their patients, often with the use of hypnosis. Significantly, however, there exists strong evidence that Sybil herself was mis-diagnosed MPD. Herbert Spiegel, M.D., a recognized specialist in hypnosis, who worked with Sybil and her psychiatrist, Dr. Cornelia Wilbur, maintains that Sybil was a highly hypnotizable ‘hysteric’ and not a multiple personality. Dr. Spiegel reports that when he told Dr. Wilbur that it would not be accurate to label Sybil a multiple personality, Dr. Wilbur retorted, “But if we don’t call it multiple personality, we don’t have a book! The publishers want it to be that, otherwise it won’t sell.” Recently, psychologist, Robert Rieber, reported at the annual American Psychological Association meeting, that newly discovered 25-year old tapes show that Dr. Wilbur clearly led Sybil into the MPD diagnosis through the use of hypnosis, sodium amytal and other therapeutic techniques. According to Dr. Rieber, her psychiatrist wanted to “make Sybil a multiple personality no matter what. Once the book became a financial success, there was no turning back.”