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Bennett Braun Lawsuit

FMSF News Alert - May 29, 2019

Dr. Bennett Braun (See FMSF Newsletter compilation)(1), is once more facing a malpractice lawsuit - and this time he is not covered by insurance. Although the current allegations do not include claims of recovered memories or alter personalities, it again calls into question the judgement of a pivotal player in the development of recovered memory theory and the diagnosis and treatment of Dissociative Identity Disorder (formally Multiple Personality Disorder).

This most recent lawsuit against Dr. Braun alleges that he prescribed antipsychotic medications to a patient with a physical brain injury (2) and then failed to properly address her symptoms of "tardive dyskinesia" - an involuntary movement disorder. Because Dr. Braun is not covered by insurance, the patient, Ciara Rehbein, is asking that the board which allowed him to practice take financial responsibility for her injuries. (3) The Board of Medical Examiners argues that they are immune to liability lawsuits. (Government agencies are usually immune from liability claims, except in cases of "gross negligence".)

Bennett Braun became an internationally recognized name in the 1980’s as an "expert" in Multiple Personality Disorder/ Dissociative Identity Disorder. He participated on the committee to describe the condition in the DSM-V Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (4); he opened the first ever hospital unit dedicated to its treatment (5); and he was a founder of the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (ISSTD). ISSTD members are responsible for nearly every piece of research purporting to find supporting evidence of this controversial disorder. (6)

By the mid-1990’s, several of the patients Dr. Braun had relied upon in his case studies were suing him for malpractice. The patients declared that their "memories" of abuse and the development of alter personalities were actually caused by suggestion, hypnosis, and excessive medication. (7)

This is (at least) the 12th time that Dr. Braun has been sued. Previous lawsuits against Dr. Braun have resulted in some of the largest settlements for psychiatric malpractice in US history. Dr. Braun didn’t deny the treatments he’d imposed but defended them as appropriate. Insurers saw things differently, settling the cases for $multi-millions rather than face a jury’s award decision. His dissociative disorder’s unit was closed. (Video) (7)

In addition to the large monetary settlements, the state of Illinois sought sanctions against Dr. Braun. These sanctions included a license suspension and period of probation. Soon after the probationary period, Dr. Braun applied for and was given a license to practice in Montana.

Dr. Braun isn’t the only psychiatrist associated with large malpractice claims for diagnosing Dissociative Identity Disorder now working in Montana. Dr. Kenneth C. Olson now practices in Bozeman, MT after having settled a series of malpractice lawsuits in Wisconsin. (8) (9)

News of this new lawsuit has been difficult on those who spoke out about Dr. Braun’s behavior in the past. Carol Mayer (aka Elizabeth Gale) who was awarded $7.5M in a suit against Braun (and several of his associates) commented on the MT Standard Newspaper website: "Braun hasn’t changed and obviously feels that he does no wrong. Too bad he didn’t follow the tenant: ‘First do no harm.’ I am saddened that Braun’s unscrupulous behavior has harmed another patient". (3) Or, as Patty Burgus said in her 1998 Dateline NBC interview, "I fought fiercely in the settlement not to have a gag order. I would not take this money in exchange for keeping quiet." (8) Now Ciara Rehbein is echoing those same sentiments, begging for the protection of the public: "I want people to know who and what he is. I hope this never happens to anybody else". (2)

The diagnosis that Dr. Braun helped to define (DID) remains an entry in the DSM-5. Research continues to be published which relies upon his work in reference citations. The organization he started, the ISSTD, held its 36th annual convention this past spring.

It is profoundly disappointing to learn that license boards are still not adequately protecting the public from irresponsible practitioners.

1) FMSF Compilation regarding Dr. Bennett Braun: http://fmsfonline.org/Assets/FMSF_Compilation_Dr_Bennett_Braun.pdf
2) Dunlap, Susan. "Butte Psychiatrist with Troubled Past Faces New Suit Alleging Negligence." Montana Standard, 5 May 2019.
3) Dunlap, Susan. "Medical Board Sued for Licensing Psychiatrist with Troubled Past." Montana Standard, 6 May 2019.
4) Noll, Richard. "Speak Memory." Psychiatric Times, 19 Mar. 2014.
5) Hanson, Cynthia. "Dangerous Therapy." Chicago Magazine, 1 June 1998.
6) https://www.isst-d.org/
7) VIDEO "Dateline." MPD Malpractice Lawsuit, NBC, 27 Oct. 1998.
8) "Woman Says Doctor Made up 126 Personalities." Desert News, 30 Nov. 1997.
9) Wallace,Mike. "60 Minutes." MPD - Cool v Olson, 1997.

J. Bean and Pam