Therapy Gone Mad: The True Story of Hundreds of Patients and a Generation Betrayed

Carol Lynn Mithers, Author
Carol Lynn Mithers, Author Addison Wesley Publishing Company $23 (419p) ISBN 978-0-201-57071-7
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Calling psychology a ``perfect window to a country's soul,'' freelance journalist Mithers documents the little-known but sorry story of Feeling Therapy, a psychotherapeutic movement whose original aim, following Arthur Janov's Primal Scream theories, was to deal with complaints of ``numbness.'' Feeling Therapy was an outgrowth of the human potential movement that swept the nation in the early 1970s, and its charismatic leaders, Joe Hart and Riggs Corriere, built their success on the proposition that people had become estranged from their real selves. Their cure was to strip away layers of socialization and defenses, until patients were as unintellectual and ``open'' as children. The techniques they used--brutal, nasty and protracted--relied on amateur therapists to inflict feelings of worthlessness on the mainly young patients who moved into the Center in L.A., becoming part of a new ``family.'' When the Center closed in 1980 amid multiple lawsuits, the judges in the cases ruled that the plaintiffs (who realized some $7 million in judgments) had been the victims of an abusive cult, whose leaders were motivated by greed and the quest for personal power. Hart was stripped of his license to practice psychology; Corriere turned to corporate counseling. Mithers had access to diaries, letters and court papers and interviewed many of the patients, who give graphic accounts of their treatments. As the documentation of a seemingly benign movement gone awry, this expose is engrossing. (Apr.)
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