Here, StopBadTherapy.com publishes the story of Susan, a retractor who was led by a "Christian therapist" to believe that she suffered from multiple personality disorder and that this was because she had been the victim of satanic ritual abuse at a day care center as a child. Today Susan says:
"I have a hard time believing SRA exists at all. That is not to say that all those hurting people aren't legitimately hurt. I just hesitate to accept the SRA explanation. And I don't believe that the patients are lying or making it up, any more than I was. Just that it is being put into a framework that they have been given, in a sincere effort to heal. My best friend also came to retract her SRA belief later in therapy, as have many other people I know. My goal is to give us a voice, because we are shouted down and silenced every time we try to speak our pain, and we deserve healing too. I lost a lot due to FMS and I need to be able to speak about it."
This story is a StopBadTherapy.com exclusive, never before published elsewhere!
How a Christian Therapist Caused MPD and False Memories of SRA
I was raised in a bible-based "cult", called the Worldwide Church of God. In any case, it was a destructive belief system, whether one chooses to use the word "cult" or not. This was the sole cause of my emotional problems.
When I was in my mid-twenties I began long term therapy for depression. I was working in a civil service position, I was doing quite well, with the exception I was in an abusive relationship. My twins were about 2 at the time. Well this therapist was a "Christian therapist". Now this term does not mean a therapist who happens to hold to the Christian faith. No, this term means a Christian who has a therapy license and uses it to convert others. He was a BCSW. This was the bad therapist I had. The first year was used to help me to see that the group I had been raised in, which I had left 10 years earlier, was a cult, and working through some of my anger issues about that. The second year was spent identifying that I had, as he put it, "a dissociative disorder", and later that I was "fragmented". This was the first time I had heard any of those terms. He stated point blank, "You were abused." This was odd because my parents never hit me, or touched me inappropriately, or drank, or anything. He asked me how many times a week my parents talked to thier parents, and said that once a week was "normal" so since they don't talk to them that often, that they were "estranged" from thier family. He said that my mother had emotionally crippled me and my brother and sister, in order to keep us living at home.
However, the third year things got really bad. We went from fragmented to MPD, then immediately, he instructed me to "map" my "system" words I had just learned, and to start referring to myself as "we". He talked me into going to group therapy with other multiples. I remember the first time I went I said, "I'm not like you people", a phrase they teased me with often later. He told me to read, "Uncovering the Mysteries of MPD," by James Friessen. Now, I had had problems for years, and I was so sick and tired of being sick and tired, that I was willing to do anything it took to get better. And these people promised me they had the answer. Do these trigger phrases ring a bell? "The only way out is through.... It has to get worse before it gets better."
So anyhow, I figured that if this is what it takes to get better, I'd do it. I was willing to do anything to get better. I've always been a hard worker who gives 100%. I threw myself into the MPD culture completely. I read everything I could get my hands on, I was attending therapy twice a week, plus group therapy. MPD culture became my whole life. All this time it didn't seem to make sense, but they assured me that was just my "denial" alter trying to protect me. I mapped an elaborate system, virtually every emotional state or conflicting world view was an alter, plus the male protector and little girl and little boy that went with it. There were sets of 12 for every ego state, complete with names. In the end, I had about 200 "alters". I still have my photo album of them all, I had to get extremely organized to keep up with them all. I also have a 4 poster board map of them all, each one with a room, it's a gorgeous place. I always had my doubts but I was assured what my mind was coming up with was literal fact.
Now along with all these alters is the question of how did they get here?
Now, we've all heard the story that you can't be this way without severe,
repeated, sexual or physical trauma from before you were 5. I'm really
pissed about this part, because look how they did this:
So, now it falls on me and the therapist to find these memories of abuse that never happened. I don't even remember how we got from abused to SRA, I think it was assumed that's what it was. Everyone in the support group was, and so was I. I never could suspend my disbelief and suppress my right mind enough to blame my parents. No matter how bad I wanted to get better, I wouldn't allow myself to go that far, it was as if the sane "part" of myself took a back seat and allowed my sick "parts" to take over hoping that I would get better, but my sane self reserved the right to draw the line, and that is where it was drawn. My parents weren't abusive, dammit, and I wasn't going to say that they were. But if it wasn't mom and dad, who were the satanists? I'll give you three guesses. If they can't blame satanism on mom and dad, who's the next scape goated group? You guessed it, daycare LOL. So we settled on a day care scenario, only to make a day care scenario work, you have to concoct some way for them to stay with you after day care is over. It's a little more complicated than the mom and dad are monsters one. You should see all the wonderful gruesome art therapy SRA "memory" pictures I drew. So I cooperated fully, for the sake of healing. Only I wasn't healing. Over that year, I got progressively worse, until I was completely unable to function, finally having to give my babies to my mother to take care of for a year. They were 4 at this point.
Also, during that year, I began attending the church that my therapist and the other group therapy members attended. An Assembies of God denomination. I ended up getting baptized there, and began speaking in tongues and getting caught up in all that hysteria. This is when the most ridiculous "memories" evolved. It's a total Christian paranoia. I have a theory that I'm researching that the majority of the SRA folks either were raised fundamentalist Christian, or are currently fundamentalists. I could be wrong but that's what it feels like, based on the one's I personally have witnessed. Every week at group therapy, there was an "exorcism" of one group member or another, complete with vomiting in the waste paper basket. Very dramatic. Also during this year, I met my best friend, who also believed herself to be SRA with polyfragmentation. We hit it off famously. Another interesting aspect about the SRA phenomenon that I have noticed is that the vast majority of them are white middle class females who all remember being "breeders" and being "groomed to be high priestesses of thier coven" which explains why they weren't killed as kids like the rest of the children who were killed. The story is so universal, instead of making the stories more believable, it makes them too scripted to be authentic.
So at this point, I'm completely unable to function, my kids are with my mother, and I was a powerless mess. I broke with that therapist when circumstances no longer allowed me to live in the area, and I moved. I had never heard the term false memory syndrome, I had been well shielded from the controversy. I found a new therapist, whom I saw only briefly, during that time I saw a television program about the FMS controversy, and it made a lot of sense, I began to have a sinking feeling. I asked my therapist about it and she told me it was best if I didn't watch things like that, that it would only serve to trigger me and feed my denial, and that the people who "made up" the concept of FMS are just perpetrators who don't like being told on.
So I put those nagging thoughts and feelings in the back of my head with the rest of the clear thoughts and continued therapy. After all, I had already sacrificed everything, job, kids, family, everything to the MPD/SRA cause for the sake of healing, and the thought that it had all been a lie was too much to bear. I can completely understand the panic and desperation "multiples" feel at the thought that it might all be a lie, because if it is, all this is for naught. If I'm "faking" it, I'll have to kill myself. That's the feeling one gets when you are totally immersed in MPD culture and the possibility that FMS even exists, let alone that it might be your truth.
So after I moved again, and started slowly taking my kids back (I didn't want to overdo it and fall apart again), I found a new therapist. This was a wonderful therapist! My best friend Lisa and I had been living together two years now, and we have the most wonderful relationship, she is a blessing to me. She and I both believed ourselves to be MPD/SRA. So we both got this therapist, and we told her that we were MPD and SRA. As I began to work with her, and got some distance from the old therapist, I began to tentatively explore the possibility that maybe the SRA didn't happen. I said, I know I'm multiple, and I know *something* happened, but those "memories" don't feel right. It was finally safe for me to speak that doubt outloud.
Back when the "memories" were being created with the old therapist, I was told to suspend disbelief and do what if exercises. You know, imagine what might have happened. Then after you imagine something, you are told that it wasn't your imagination, it was your subconscious bringing up actual memories, and when ideas and thoughts floated through your head, you were encouraged to let them come out of your mouth, and those were other alters speaking through you trying to give you pieces of thier story. So anyway, I never had any memories the way I remember other things, no pictures, just stories, which I was told the pictures to match were in some other alter which would come together later. I now know that this isn't how memory works.
So my new therapist (the good one) said, maybe it happened, maybe it didn't. But let's focus on getting you stable in the here and now. Oh what a beautiful idea. So we worked on what wasn't functioning in my life, and how to get it that way. She taught me the skill of reframing, which to this day is the most powerful coping skill I have. She taught me creative ways to deal with my problems, and opened my world up to all kinds of alternative ideas. I was finally able to speak out loud that I know the SRA wasn't real, and that the "alters" weren't real. I realized that the reason I fell apart under that diagnosis is because it is expected that multiples behave a certain way, and so I fulfilled that expectation. It is still hard for me to see a "multiple" in full blown histrionics because it is hard for me not to think it is dramatics that are being played because it is expected of them. I have to bite my tongue because my story is not everyone's. I just get so upset because it reminds me of my past.
Anyway, after these changes my life got 110% better. I was able to take my kids back permanently, I was able to get off the medications, and I never again will set foot in a hospital. I have learned many healthy coping skills, and while I am still not ready to return to work, I went back to college.
I have a new therapist now, I gave up the good one when I moved across country to pursue my college career. My best friend and I have been living together 5 1/2 years, my twins are 10 now, I'm president of the PTA at the girls school, and I'm a full time student. I have a very busy and very happy life. Most of my therapy now focuses on the religious abuse, and my anger at what happened with the FMS. My therapist said that basically, researchers know so much more now about memory than they did 10-15 years ago when this all started, and now they know that memory isn't like a video tape as was first alleged.
I have a hard time believing SRA exists at all. That is not to say that all those hurting people aren't legitimately hurt. I just hesitate to accept the SRA explanation. And I don't believe that the patients are lying or making it up, any more than I was. Just that it is being put into a framework that they have been given, in a sincere effort to heal.
My best friend also came to retract her SRA belief later in therapy, as have many other people I know. My goal is to give us a voice, because we are shouted down and silenced every time we try to speak our pain, and we deserve healing too. I lost a lot due to FMS and I need to be able to speak about it.
StopBadTherapy.com has withheld Susan's last name name in order to preserve her her family's privacy. StopBadTherapy.com congratulates Susan and all other retractors who have the courage and strength to stand up and warn others about the harmful therapy that has needlessly ruined so many innocent people's lives.