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Brain Stains

Traumatic therapies can have long-lasting effects on mental health
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A wave of nausea washed over Sheri J. Storm when she opened the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on a February morning a decade ago and saw the headline: "Malpractice lawsuit: Plaintiff tells horror of memories. Woman emotionally testifies that psychiatrist planted false recollections." The woman in the article shared a lot with Storm--the same psychiatrist, the same memories, the same diagnosis of multiple personality disorder. At that moment, Storm suddenly realized that her own illness and 200-plus personalities, though painfully real to her, were nothing more than a figment of her imagination--created by her trusted therapist, Kenneth Olson.

Storm initially sought treatment from Olson because of insomnia and anxiety associated with divorce proceedings and a new career in radio advertising. She had hoped for an antidepressant prescription or a few relaxation techniques. But after enduring hypnosis sessions, psychotropic medications and mental-ward hospitalizations, Storm had much more to worry about than stress. She had "remembered" being sexually abused by her father at the age of three and forced to engage in bestiality and satanic ritual abuse that included the slaughtering and consumption of human babies. According to her psychiatrist, these traumatic experiences had generated alternative personalities, or alters, within Storm's mind.

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