Shrink Rapped

Did a local Psychologist conjure a patient's "memories" of cannibalism and torture?

WHEN LOCAL PSYCHIATRIST Dr. Diane Bay Humenansky was hauled into court the summer of 1995 ("Spellbound," 8/23/95), experts maintain it marked the beginning of the end for the "recovered memory" movement. Since that day, courts have gone after other psychiatric professionals who promoted such beliefs as the widespread existence of satanic cults, individuals' ability to "repress" horrific memories that could be "recovered" through hypnosis, and the commonality of Multiple Personality Disorders (MPD) among the general population. Bennet Braun and Colin Ross, MPD gurus and founders of a slew of MPD treatment clinics, are being sued for malpractice by numerous patients. Harvard psychiatrist Dr. Judith Herman, author and leader of the recovered-memory movement, recently pleaded no contest to charges of improperly prescribing drugs, and Humenansky--following two multimillion-dollar judgments--settled out of court with nine additional plaintiffs and recently had her medical license suspended.

Last Friday, in what he calls "the end of the end," St. Paul psychiatric malpractice attorney R. Christopher Barden filed suit in Ramsey County against Dr. Renee Fredrickson, local psychologist and author of the 1992 best-seller Repressed Memories: A Journey to Recovery from Sexual Abuse. According to the complaint, a former patient and her husband claim Fredrickson led them to believe that "Jane" was a victim of "intergenerational ritual cult abuse" and had "repressed" childhood memories of cannibalism, torture, and dismemberment. She also claimed such practices so permeated Minnesota that one out of 100 people in Brainerd belongs to a cult. While the suit is eerily similar to those filed by the Humenansky plaintiffs, Barden maintains this case will garner even greater national attention "because Fredrickson's controversial beliefs and practices are so clearly documented in her own book on repressed memories."

CHECKED OUT

WHEN KAREN ROSS recently tried to cash her paycheck at First Bank's IDS tower branch, she had to press her thumb into a non-residue ink and leave a print on the check's front. Never mind that the payroll check was written by First Avenue on the nightclub's account with First Bank; Ross was fingerprinted because she doesn't have an account with the bank. "I felt kind of uncomfortable," she says. "It makes you wonder where your thumbprint might end up." The program was started by the Minnesota Bankers Association, the larger of the state's two banking trade groups. The association says its members aren't tracking or cataloguing the prints and will only use them if a check is bounced or suspected of being forged.

Sen. Warren Limmer (R-Maple Grove) isn't so sure. He's had numerous complaints from constituents who say local banks are requiring prints from accountholders, too, and that a handful of tellers may be wrongly telling people that fingerprinting is now law. "I get really concerned when the private sector says 'do things our way or you won't do business with us,'" says Limmer. "What happens if this becomes universal?"

The Bankers Association says more and more financial institutions are signing up and talks are underway with local retailers groups, which are considering fingerprinting patrons who make purchases with checks.

PRODIGAL DAUGHTERS

LOOKS LIKE DELEGATES in Minneapolis's 4th Ward will get some action at their convention this Saturday after all. The favorite for the City Council endorsement is still Barb Johnson, daughter of retiring council member Alice Rainville. But the race now also has a challenger--attorney Sheila Scott, who boasts some illustrious parentage of her own (her father is former Hennepin County Attorney George Scott). Her background as a staffer for powerful labor lobby groups should make Scott a force to be reckoned with down the road, if not in this race.

VACUUM PACKER

NEIGHBORHOOD NEWSPAPER publisher and onetime maverick City Council member Eddie Felien wants to jump into what he says is a market niche left vacant by New York-based Stern Publishing's recent acquisition of City Pages, and its subsequent closing of the Twin Cities Reader. The "domination of the alternative-newspaper market by a corporation that owns more newspapers than the Star Tribune," Felien announced in this month's issue of his monthly Southside Pride, leaves a need for "a newspaper that can reach young people--show them where there's a good time, give them the keys to the car." The first issue of PULSE is out today. CP


PUBLIC DOMAIN

As if there wasn't enough to worry about between flooding, missing the Next Level, and the White House scandals, now we have to worry about fleas! The following press release from Novartis Animal Health US Inc. arrived in our office the other day:

THE PROGRAM® FLEA FORCAST PREDICTS LONG,
INTENSE FLEA SEASON FOR 1997

--Nation's Pets May Face More Sever Infestations This Year

Greensboro, N.C., March 14--The nation's 111 million dogs and cats may be threatened by fleas earlier than usual this spring and may face more severe infestations than in years past, according to The PROGRAM Flea Forcast.

Issued by the makers of PROGRAM, Novartis Animal Health, The PROGRAM Flea Forcast combines the flea expertise of leading parasitologists with the latest information from the National Weather Service Climate Prediction Center.

This year's prediction is based on a long-term forecast from the Climate Prediction Center that anticipates warmer than usual temperatures and higher levels of precipitation for several regions of the U.S. throughout the spring.

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