Ms. Morfit acknowledges that at this point she has a clear position on many of these issues. "Some would call this a 'bias,'" she says, "but I have done ten years of homework on these issues and if it is a bias it is a considered one." She says that although the views she expresses here are personal opinion, she is not an accused nor an accuser, not a therapist nor a plaintiff in a malpractice case, and she hopes the questions she raises may further some of the debate about these issues.
The opinions below are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position or opinion of the False Memory Syndrome Foundation.
First, this case is not about therapy, at least not directly. It is about fraud. In order to convict the defendants, the burden is on the prosecution to make a good case -- a "beyond a reasonable shadow of a doubt" case -- that the defendants were not only acting in ways that harmed their patients, but that their behavior was intentional and motivated. The prosecution will do its best to argue that the trail of insurance claims provides motivation, while certain patterns of apparent lies and directives to staff members demonstrate awareness and intent.
So why is there so much testimony about the treatment of patients at Spring Shadows Glen? There are three reasons. The first is that such testimony is intended to establish the means by which the defendants carried out their alleged fraud. The second is that some of the testimony has to be set against corroboration -- such as medical records or testimony of third parties -- to establish credibility (or the lack thereof) in the witnesses or the defendants. The third would be to raise questions about whether and under what conditions either the witnesses or the defendants might have told different stories to different people -- and why?
Does that mean, then, that what sure looks like extreme -- not to say "abusive" -- treatment is irrelevant to the case? That's a hard one to answer completely, but, yes, the extreme treatment and the harm it did to the patients is in some ways irrelevant here. This is probably an aspect of the trial that will be most upsetting to a sensitive audience, but it is nevertheless true.
Does this mean, then, that victims in this case are not entitled to some sort of justice? No! Even professionals who are concerned about this criminal trial have said they can see grounds for malpractice cases. In fact, most of the patient witnesses in this trial have already sought redress through the civil courts for malpractice and have won settlements. In most cases, the victims would prefer a malpractice trial because in a civil suit they have a chance to win the financial support they need to make themselves whole again -- with a lower standard of proof. In saying they see grounds for malpractice, but not fraud, professionals are acknowledging that treatments might not have been in line with standard practice, that they might have produced harm, etc. They are saying there is reason to question the methods, but not the motivation.
So does this trial have nothing to say about therapeutic practice? This is where I differ with some of my colleagues: I say it does. Even if we acknowledge that the defendants might have been true believers (and I do believe there were some true believers who are not defendants in this case) that raises questions about professional practice. And the biggest questions to me are these: