This is the short version of my entanglement with repressed memory therapy and multiple personalities/dissociative identity disorder that proceeded the decision to hold my former psychiatrist, and the hospital where he was employed, legally responsible for their reckless behavior in a court of law.
Suffering from unrelenting depression, I sought help. Easy as that.
I was referred to a psychiatrist and for nearly seven years – between 1986 and 1992, I was treated for multiple personality disorder/dissociative identity disorder that was believed to stem from childhood sexual abuse. Treatment was conducted at a prestigious psychiatric hospital in North Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.
My treating physician/psychiatrist is still well respected in his field and considered an expert in the diagnosis and treatment of multiple personalities. He is a former colleague of Dr. Cornelia Wilbur (deceased) who was the infamous Sybil’s psychiatrist. As you will see in the deposition that below, my doctor held Cornelia Wilbur in high-regard. He continues to have affiliation with the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (ISST-D) that offered him friendships and professional contacts with researchers and clinicians such as Richard P. Kluft, MD, Bennett Braun, MD, Colin Ross, MD and other mental health professionals who are still members of the ISSTD; They continue to believe that multiple personalities exist even in the face of enormous controversy among psychiatrists who disagree.
It took nearly 7 years before I realized that newly recovered memories of childhood sexual abuse were not true and the events my mind remembered during psychotherapy – never occurred. I fled Philadelphia and years later filed a medical malpractice and negligence lawsuit against my former psychiatrist and the hospital where he was employed.
* * * * * * *
Below are excerpts from the deposition taken of the psychiatrist who diagnosed and treated me for multiple personality disorder (MPD). This disorder was renamed and is now referred to as Dissociative Identity Disorder or DID – don’t be fooled, it’s the same ole’ horse with a new name.
Due to gag order generated from the settlement agreement, I am legally barred from disclosing the name of the doctor or the hospital where these events took place therefore I use the pseudonyms Dr. Stratford (for the psychiatrist) and Radcliffe Psychiatric Hospital (for the hospital). The names and places outside the reach of the gag order are real.
I realize the temptation to analyze me, instead of the circumstances I was caught in, are high. If you find the temptation ggoverwhelming and you choose to do so anyway – know that what is printed in the depositions below is what a psychiatrist created and does not represent me, my experiences in life, or for that matter – reality.
It is my hope that you learn that filing legal suits against doctors, hospitals, therapists, and other mental health professionals is rather boring for the most part. The process takes a long time and the monetary gain, if any, is low.
On the other hand, holding mental-health practitioners responsible for their behavior when they inflict irreversible harm is worth every tear and uncomfortable moment.
Learn from my experiences. Take the information with you and, please, if you are a mental health care provider – do no harm.
September Term, 1994 No. 1179
R. E. Stratford, M.D.
and Radcliffe Psychiatric Hospital
* * * * *
Thursday, December 21, 1995
* * * * *
Oral Deposition of Dr. Stratford, taken before Nancy Schreyer, Professional Shorthand Reporter, at the Law Offices of Richard N. Shapiro, 215 South Broad Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 19107, commencing at 9:45 a.m.
Richard N. Shapiro, Esquire. Attorney for the Plaintiff
Robert B. Mulhern, Jr. Esquire, Attorney for the Defendant
Sharon M. Reiss, Esquire, Attorney for the Defendant Radcliffe Psychiatric Hospital
by Mr. Shapiro:
Q. Doctor Stratford, as you know, I’m Richard Shapiro. I represent Jeanette Bartha in this lawsuit she has brought against you and Radcliffe Psychiatric Hospital.
Mr. Shapiro: Let me just put on the record, before I forget, that I spoke with Sharon Reiss yesterday afternoon. She is aware of this deposition. She is aware of the 9:30 starting time.
And she advised me that if she is not here, we should go ahead and begin the deposition. She has no objection to that, and she is going to get here as soon as she can.
By Mr. Shapiro:
Q. Have you ever given a deposition before?
A. Yes, I have.
Q. Can you tell me on what occasion?
A. As a fact witness in a lawsuit against another psychiatrist, and as an examining physician in a child custody suit.
Q. In the first matter that you are talking about, did that case involve issues of MPD?
A. It was someone in whom I had suspected the diagnosis, but the diagnosis was not made or confirmed.
Q. Where was that case filed?
A. Radcliffe Hospital.
Q, Was it filed in Philadelphia County?
Q. Do you recall the name of the case?
A. Ledbetter versus Ufner and Radcliffe Hospital.
Q. Did you say you gave testimony by way of a deposition?
A. That’s right
Q. Did you testify at trial, as well?
A. There was no trial.
Q. Approximately, when did you give that deposition?
A. About a year ago.
Q. Would you have copies of the transcript? Do you have copies of the transcript?
A. No, I do not.
Q. Were you subpoenaed to testify in that case?
Q. Do you remember the name of the lawyer that subpoenaed you?
A. Michael Barrett.
Q. Did he represent the plaintiff in that case?
A. That’s true.
Q. Now, the original lawyer that represented you in this case provided me with responses to our request for various documents, and that included your resume, curriculum vitae, which is dated October 26, 1993.
A. Yes, that’s current.
Q. I notice that in the back of the last two pages of your curriculum vitae lists 15 presentations that you have made over the years.
A. Actually, they are not all presentations, I think. Aren’t some of those listed as consultations clinics?
Q. The general heading that I’m referring to says presentations.
A. Maybe I’m wrong.
Q. You’re right, some of those are listed as consultations.
A. Yes, and those are not formal presentations. That was sitting down in a room of about 10 to 15 or 20 people, and sharing ideas.
Q. My question to you is, can you go through this
list, look at it by yourself, and tell me if any of these presentations or consultations have been reduced to a writing, insofar as you know.
A. The best I can think is, that some of them are handwritten, at lease, notes, and possibly some detail.
Q. Are you still in possession of the notes?
Q. Can you tell me what numbers?
A. Well, I probably can’t tell you that. I’m not really sure, let’s see. I probably have some notes, at least, on the 1988 presentation at the VA Medical Center in Lebanon, That’s No. 9.
An Whether I have anything on any of those, I’m really not clear on this point.
Q. Just so I’m clear, aside from any notes that you may have, is your testimony that none of these other presentations or consultation you made, have reduced to —
A. They would not have been
Q. — a form writing, or printing?
A. That’s right, no.
Mr. Mulhern: Let him finish.
The Witness: Oh, I’m sorry.
By Mr. Shaprio:
Q. And again, just so I’m clear, is it your testimony that you have made no other presentations or consultations clinics since the last one you have listed here in October of 1993?
A. That’s true.
Q. Maybe just to expedite this, according to your resume, it says you received a Bachelor of Science Degree from Dickinson College, it has 1947 to 1971. I assume that’s a topographical error?
A. That’s a typs, n’51.
Q. And then you went to Medical School of Jefferson Medical College?
A. That’s right.
Q. Upon graduating from medical school, you then did a general rotation internship at Reading Hospital?
Q, And from that, did a residency in psychiatry at Norristown State Hospital?
Q. Did you receive any training or instruction in — for the purpose of this deposition, I’m just going to use the term MPD, we are referring to this whole
A. What’s currently known as dissociative identity disorder.
Q. Okay, and that’s this business with the recovered memories, with the condition of multiple personality disorder?
a. If we are referring to MPD, we are referring to a disorder, no to anything else.
Q. The let me ask this question. During the period of time that Jeanette Bartha was your patient between 1986 and 1992, what was your diagnosis of her condition, and I mean your overall diagnosis?
A. Initially, the diagnosis was atypical dissociative disorder, and borderline personality disorder.
Q. Can you define those two conditions for me?
A. Atypical dissociative disorder is currently known as dissociative disorder, not otherwise specified. And it means, a patient has dissociative symptoms which do not reach the proportion which would permit a more definitive diagnosis within the dissociative category.
Q. And what was the second original diagnosis?
A. Borderline personality disorder.
Q. And what’s the definition of that?
A. Borderline personality disorder is a characterological disorder resulting from developmental problems in childhood, resulting in a person who has problems with sense of identity, with the management of aggression, a persona who tends to feel feelings of boredom and emptiness, a person who is driven to a relationship with other people in which the patient tends to either idealize, or very much devalue the other relationship.
And often there’s cycling between the idealization and the devaluation. It’s kind of like, all good, all bad, and nothing in between, which is known in the trade as ego splitting, which is said to be, and I believe, is on of the major kinds of defenses in the disorder.
Other defenses that characterize the disorder are, projection and denial, which are considered to be relatively primitive kinds of defenses, projection sometimes giving rise to paranoid-type thinking.
Q. And at some point during your care and treatment of Jeanette Bartha, did your diagnosis change to multiple personality disorder?
A. It was, I think, in January of 1986 – ir ’87 rather ’87.
Q, What is the definition of MPD?
A. That would be a person who has two or more rather distinct personality states, or ego states, that have their own enduring character traits, and their won enduring patterns of thinking and behavior, at least two or more of which alternate in taking over consciousness and behavior from time to time.
Q. Let me go back to my original question then. During your medical school education, did you receive any instruction or training in multiple personality disorder?
A. No, I did not.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ To Be Continued. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Q. During your general rotation internship at Reading Hospital did you?
Q. How about during your residency psychiatry at Norristown State Hospital?
A. Very little bit.
Q. Can you recall for me what —
A. If I recall, the standard textbook for the day was written by the director, the superintendent of Norristown State Hospital, Arthur Noise. And in that textbook, there maybe two or three, possibly two or three sentences regarding multiple personality disorder.
It was considered a very rare, exotic type.
of disorder that most psychiatrists would never see in their lifetime.
Q. Do you recall whether you saw any patients at Norristown State Hospital that carried that diagnosis?
A. No, no one that I saw carried the diagnosis.
Q. Now, after you residency at Norristown, what did you do next, professionally?
A. Spent two years in the Navy in psychiatry, Philadelphia Naval Hospital.
Q. Were you on active duty?
A.. Actuve duty in the U.S. Naval Reserve
Q. Did you see or treat any patients there that carried a diagnosis of MPD?
A. No, I did not.
Q. And after your two years of active duty in the U.S. Naval Reserve, what did you do next, professionally?
A. I went into practice in Camden, New Jersey. I had an office right across the street from Cooper Hospital, and practiced there until I went to Hahnemann, I think, in 1967 was it?
Q. On your resume, you note that you had post-graduate training in psychoanalysis at the Institute of the Philadelphia Association for
psychoanalysis in Bala Cynwd.
Q. What is that, and what did you post-graduate training consist of?
A. Boy, I can’t remember in detail at this point. The evening/weekend courses, and supervised experience in doing psychoanalysis. Also, it meant I had to have my own psychoanalysis.
So I was in psychoanalysis for, approximately, two years before entering the course work, and then took the standard course work, as I say, evenings and weekends. That included a lot of reading in psychoanalytic literature, a lot of writings of Freud, and subsequent to that, other psychoanlaysts abroad and in this country.
It was training in the long-term analytic treatment of patients who were deemed analyzable, and for the most part, those were reasonably healthy people with neurotic illnesses, period.
Q. Did you receive some sort of post-graduate degree?
A. A certificate.
Q. Did you have to pay a tuition to attend this institute?
A. I had to pay a tuition, right.
Q. Does this institute still exist?
A. Oh, yes.
Q. And this, according to your resume, took place between 1964 and 1974?
A, That’s right.
Q. Was that on a consistent basis?
A. There was a period during my analysis when I interrupted the analysis, so that extended the time before I could start classes. I had some physical illnesses at the time that interfered with me continuing with that analysis for a while.
Q. Just so I’m clear, are you saying that you, yourself, were in analysis?
A. Oh, yes. I had to be in order to qualify for training.
Q. Were you in analysis for any particular condition?
Q. This is just a general —
A. When I went for one of my screening interviews with a training analyst, initially, and was asked the question, what are the problems, I said, I don’t have any.
Q. An that’s when they decided to put you in analysis?
A. Kind of, they said, oop, you really got it.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Continued 3/01/12 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Q. Did any of this post-graduate training at this psychoanalysis institute, include training in multiple personality disorder?
Q. Under faculty appointments, it says that from 1962 to 1963, you were a clinical instructor in the department of psychiatry?
A. We got to back up. I left out of couple of years there. After the Navy, I was Director of the Male Inpatient Service in the Eastern Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute for two years, and then went into practice in Camden. [NJ]
Q. Give me those years, again.
A. Those would have been let’s see. The Navy was 1959 to ’62, so that would have been ’62 to ’64.
Q. I just want to point out, on your resume, you have the Navy as ’59 to ’61.
A. Sorry, that’s correct.
Q. And then from —
A. ’61 to ’63, Eastern Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute.
Q. What’s it called?
A. Eastern Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute.
Q. And your position there was?
A. Director of the Male Inpatient Service.
Q. What did your duties include there?
A. They were both administrative and clinical duties, and some teaching.
Q. Did you see any patients carrying a diagnosis of MPD there?
A. Not that I recall.
Q. Now, in 1962 to ’63, you were a clinical instructor at Penn Medical School; is that right?
A, Yes, through that affiliation with EPPI [Eastern Pennsylvania Psychiatric Institute]
Q. Okay, And what did that practice consist of?
A. That was a general practice of psychiatry, some psychoanalysis, some office psychiatry, general psychiatry, and some hospital psychiatry.
During that period, I first treated two dissociative patients, starting in 1966, and had recovered memories confirmed in those patients. I have, still, a write-up that I did for a study group in the psychoanalytic training program on one of those patients. And I may have a write-up on another.
I also had a patient in analysis who recovered memories from 19 months old, that were confirmed by his mother. I don’t think I have — I’m not sure whether I have a record of that at this point. Many of my records were lost in 1972, when the office that I was in burned to the ground.
Q. Do you recall, prior to seeing the patients that you just mentioned, what, if any, formal training you had in diagnosing and treating multiple personality disorder?
A. I had no, virtually, no formal training in diagnosing or treating those patients.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~update 03/17/12 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Q. In answers to interrogatories, those are questions we had sent you, you had listed a number of psychiatrists — I’m trying to get the specific question we asked you.
Well, is it your testimony that during your residency, you did not receive any formal training or instruction concerning MPD?
A. It was mentioned, and that was about it.
Q. DID you give up your practice in Camden at some point?
A. I left that practice and went to Hahnemann Medical College in the Department of Behavioral Sciences, I think it was in 1967.
Q. Was that full-time employment?
A. That was full-time. I was Assistant Director of Education and Training in the department at the time.
Q. Did you see any patients during that period of time?
A. Yes, I did. I continued part-time practice.
Q. Was that a private praactice?
A. Private practice. And I was treating a patient with multiple personality disorder during that time.
Q. That’s between 1967-1970?
A. She is, as a matter of fact —
Mr. Mulhern: (the doctor’s lawyer) Wait just a second.
The witness: Yes.
By Mr. Shapiro: (the patient’s attorney, that’s me)
Q. The answer is:
Mr. Mulhern: I’m not sure what the question is. But why I interrupted is, I just wanted to raise an objection, and really to remind Dr. Stratford that there may be some
question about confidentiality with these other patients.
The witness: Right.
Mr. Shapiro: Right.
Mr. Mulhern: And it’s certainly something within his judgment as to where that line is drqes, I think. But it was just showing up a red flag right there.
Mr. Shapiro: And believe me, Dr. Stratford, I understand that. And I can tell you right up front, I’m not going to ask you for any names. I don’t want you to compromise that privilege.
By Mr. Shapiro:
Q. Now, after — and again I’m referring to your resume — in 1970, your position at Hahnemann changed from an assistant professor, to an associate professor; is that correct?
A. I would have to look at that to be sure. Okay, that’s correct.
Q. What’s the significance in that change in disignation?
A. That’s simply an elevation of academic rank.
Q. And you remained as associate professor at Hahnemann between 1970 and 0990; is that correct?
A. That’s correct, although physically, I left
Hahnemann in 1975 and went to Radcliffe Psychiatric Hospital as their Director of Training. Radcliffe Hospital was affiliated with Hahnemann Medical College for training purposes at that time.
Q. First let me ask you, as an associate professor at Hahnemann, and I guess this would have been between 1970 and 1975, tell me what your duties were?
A. Duties were administration of teaching programs in the department, and some teaching. Let’s see, in 1972, I became the Director of Education and Training in the department. And then my duties included fiscal management also.
It was because I was — I had arrived at the point where U had a very heavy load of administrative work, and almost no teaching, and almost no practice that I left there.
Q. Did you also have a private practice during that period of time?
A. I did have it, but it dwindled. It was getting smaller all the time.
Q. In your teaching duties for the entire time you were at Hahnemann, so I guess I’m talking between ’67 and ’75, did you teach medical students about multiple personality disorder?
A. I don’t think so.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~update 03/27/12 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Q. Now, I believe you testified in 1975, you went to Radcliff? (pseudonym)
A. That’s correct.
Q. What was your title there?
A. Director of Education and Training.
Q. What did that encompass?
A. That encompassed a small amount of administrative responsibility, scheduling and that kind of thing, for residents and medical students, some contact also with the psychology internship program. And it included a fair amount of teaching of residents and medical students.
Q. Where would you teach them, physically?
A. Physically, at Radcliff Hospital.
Q. Were you paid by Radcliff Hospital?
A. I was paid by Hahnemann during those years – – well actually, let me see. I was a purchased service – – yes, I was paid by Hahnemann, and Radcliff Hospital paid Hahnemann for my services.
Q. Did you actually — strike that.
Did you maintain a private practice after going to Radcliff Hospital?
A. I did.
Q. Were was your office?
A. It was at Radcliff Hospital.
Q. Did you have to pay rent for that office?
A. No, I didn’t.
Q. How did you get patients, private patients?
A. Private patients were referred mostly by people on the staff at Radcliff, but also by some outside sources.
Q. During that period of time, and I’m talking 1975 to 1990, did you have admitting privileges at any hospital?
A. At Radcliff Hospital, and at Hahnemann.
Q. And during that period, did you admit any patients to Radcliff Hospital?
Q. Did you admit any patients to Hahnemann Hospital?
A. No, I didn’t.
Q. Did you have as private patients, individuals that had no other connection with Radcliff Hospital, other than they would come to see you at your office, which was physically at Radcliff Hospital?
Q. How would you be compensated for the treatment of the private patients?
A. Either by their paying me directly out of pocket, or through insurance.
Q. If it was submitted through an insurance company, would the payment come directly to you?
A. In most instances, yes.
Q. In some cases – – that leads me to believe in some cases it wouldn’t?
W. I guess the times that were most likely to come indirectly, that is, come by way of the insurance company to the patients, and then to me, were instances were either a patient elected to have that be the arrangement, or where I slipped up and didn’t get a signature on an insurance paper granting the priviledge of the company to pay me directly.
Q. Were there ever occasions where payment would be made to Radcliff Hospital, and then to you?
A. No, not for my private patients.
Q. Now, for patients that you saw who were admitted to Radcliff Hospital, how would you be compensated for the time you devoted to those patients?
A. They were only a few, well, relatively few of those patients. For a number of years at Radcliff Hospital, there was a rotation list of psychiatrista.
(Arrival of Sharon Reiss, Esquire, at 10:15am)
MR. SHAPIRO: Could you read the last part back.
(Whereupon the reporter read back the last question and answer.)
THE WITNESS: Ok, I guess I need to clarify something first. Most of the patients that I admitted to Friends Hospital were privately referred patients that were referred to me personally, and I was compensated in the ways I have already described.
For a number of years, there was a rotation list of psychiatrist [sic] at Radcliff Hospital for admissions purposes, so that on a given afternoon or week, I would admit patients for other physicians, as well as myself.
I would be compensated for that procedure through the patient’s insurance or self pay, not by the hospital.
BY MR. SHAPIRO:
Q. Okay I need you to explain that statement to me. You are saying you have a private patient that’s referred to you?
Q. And you feel it’s necessary for this patient to be admitted to the hospital, correct?
Q. You can admit this patient, or have the patient admitted under another doctor’s service?
A. That’s right. If the patient came in on an afternoon where I had a busy schedule, another physician might do the admission procedure, or a resident might do the admission procedure either on an afternoon, or at night, or on weekends.
Q. My question, my specific question is, let’s take a situation where you, personally, admit the patient.
A. And it’s my personal patient?
Q. My question is, how are you compensated for seeing that patient on an inpatient basis?
A. Usually by the patient’s insurer, or self pay.
Q. If it’s your patient that was referred, specifically to you, and you decide the patient needs to be admitted, but because of your busy schedule, whoever is available admits the patient, does that make any difference in the compensation you would receive – –
A. I wouldn’t receive compensation for that procedure.
Q. For the initial admitting procedure?
Q. But once you begin to see that patient on an inpatient basis, would you be compensated directly?
A. That’s right.
Q. And can we agree that the compensation that you would receive for seeing a patient in the hospital, is over and above whatever salary or remuneration you would receive from either Hahnemann or Radcliff Hospital?
A. Completely separate from that.
Q. And these arrangements that you described, were they in effect between the period of 1986 and 1992?
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ to be continued ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~