The Prevalence of Regressive Therapy
I want to have a separate lesson on this due to its prevalence among counselors, and to impart
knowledge that this kind of thing is taking place. As Beth Rutherford says: “Had I only known
that this type of thing could exist, I think it would have saved our tragedy,”
Beth begins by telling how she became involved with this awful deception, then on to some of
the things she experienced after moving away from home. She winds up with describing how she
was delivered, and offers a number of things that we, as counselors or as loved ones, may do to
facilitate this process. It is important for us as counselors to realize this kind of thing is going on
around us. We need to keep our hearts open to the voice of God as we guide the lives of others.
I too experienced what you will be reading, to a degree. The damages in my family came
nowhere near what the Rutherford family suffered. But I believe you need to know that these
things can tragically happen.
Many years ago while in counseling, I grew to believe that there had been an awfully destructive
fire in my babyhood home, and that my family had abandoned me… left me to burn up, as they
made their own way to safety. During the therapy, I remember actually feeling the flames, the
heat on my tiny body, as I lay in my crib. For a number of years I hated my family because of
this. And all the while, it was false. A memory instilled in my by a psychotherapist, supposedly
to help me heal and become whole. I later learned the truth when I visited with my family again
and learned, to my horror, that I had spent years in hatred when my family had never been guilty
of this terrible act.
Another reason I want to go into detail about this topic is because the psychology behind it can
permeate all phases of counseling and of life in general. It shows how a therapist can work
behind the scenes. Professor Elizabeth Loftus warns: “As we continue this work, it is important
to heed the cautionary tale in the data we have already obtained: mental health professionals and
others must be aware of how greatly they can influence the recollection of events and of the
urgent need for maintaining restraint in situations in which imagination is used as an aid in
recovering presumably lost memories.” (see footnote)
Better yet, let us not go into areas where we call upon the counselee’s imagination. This borders
on new age and hypnosis, and is best avoided in our work with others. The hurting soul is a
fragile soul. Exercise restraint.
Dr. Loftus tells about another counselee plagued by false memories: “In 1986 Nadean Cool, a
nurse's aide in Wisconsin, sought therapy from a psychiatrist to help her cope with her reaction
to a traumatic event experienced by her daughter. During therapy, the psychiatrist used hypnosis
and other suggestive techniques to dig out buried memories of abuse that Cool herself had
allegedly experienced. In the process, Cool became convinced that she had repressed memories
of [many things]. She came to believe that she had more than 120 personalities-children, adults,
angels and even a duck-all because, Cool was told, she had experienced severe childhood sexual
and physical abuse. The psychiatrist also performed exorcisms on her, one of which lasted for
five hours and included the sprinkling of holy water and screams for Satan to leave Cool's body.
When Cool finally realized that false memories had been planted, she sued the psychiatrist for
malpractice. In March 1997, after five weeks of trial, her case was settled out of court for $2.4
million. Nadean Cool is not the only patient to develop false memories as a result of questionable
therapy.” And on and on, there are many.
I go into detail with the story of Beth Rutherford and her family. Beth explains, step by step, how
this can happen to an innocent and vulnerable soul. A therapist can use these techniques to
convince a counselee of just about anything; it does not have to be about sexual abuse, although
most cases are.
Now, let’s delve into Beth’s life a little:
Family torn by false repressed memories settles for $1 million
SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) - Beth Rutherford never knew she had a tormented childhood until
she went to a church therapist for counseling.
Under the counselor's guidance, she recalled how her minister father repeatedly raped her, got
her pregnant, then performed a painful coat-hanger abortion.
In truth, Beth was still a virgin, and her father had had a vasectomy many years before.
Now the Rutherfords have settled a defamation and malpractice lawsuit against the church and
the counselor - and they plan to use the money to travel the country, warning others of what the
dangers of recovered memory therapy.
“Had I only known that this type of thing could exist, I think it would have saved our tragedy,''
Beth Rutherford, 23, said Friday by telephone from her home in Tulsa, Okla.
The story began in the fall of 1992 when Beth, then 19, was having trouble sleeping because of
work-related stress as a nurse in a cancer unit. Her father suggested she talk to Mrs. Strand, a
“Christian Counselor” in a nearby church.
After the presenting problem, stress, had been resolved, and without her parents' knowledge,
Beth returned for at least 64 sessions during which Mrs. Strand taught the young woman how to
enter a trance-like state through self-hypnosis.
“I can tell you one thing for sure, they did not come from my mind,'' she said. “There are times in
my therapy sessions that I have no memory of what happened.''
The lawsuit said two younger sisters also were interviewed by the counselor but had no
memories of abuse.
Nearly two years passed, and the Rutherfords still had no knowledge of their daughter's
allegations. But the Strands had informed the General Council of the Assemblies of God, where
Rutherford worked. He was confronted with the allegations and forced to resign Oct. 14, 1994.
“We were just blown apart, in shock,'' Joyce Rutherford said. “You think they have the wrong
name, the wrong family.''
But they didn't. And it soon grew worse.
Tom Rutherford, now 46, took any job he could find - from seasonal postman to janitor. Many
friends turned away. Yet he never revealed to the church that he had had a vasectomy when Beth
was 4, making her pregnancy allegations physically impossible.
“I never told them because I was so personally outraged,'' he said. “I thought I'm going to
preserve a little dignity of my own and not tell them. I knew my innocence.''
It took nearly another year of being away from home and away from the hypnosis counseling for
Beth to know his innocence, too, they said.
In October 1995, at the insistence of the family's attorney, Beth underwent a gynecological
exam. It showed she was still a virgin.
The first time shewent into the counselor's office she was certain that she had awonderful family
and childhood. However, during 2 1/2 years of therapywith the church counselor, she began
recovering “memories” of beingsexually abused by her father between the ages of 7 and 14.
Allegations were made against her father (a credentialed minister).She accused him of many
things including impregnating her twice andperforming a coat hanger abortion on her. If
prosecuted, he would face7 years to life in prison. A series of events over many months brought
Beth to the realization that these “memories” were false memories.Beth later retracted and
rejoined the family. Upon being medicallyexamined, Beth was found to be a virgin. She now is
speaking out tohelp prevent what happened to her from happening to others.
Before we start thinking it could not happen to us, or to the people who come to us for
counseling, let’s hear what happened from the lips of Beth herself.
How did the reconstruction of my childhood and supposed recovery of “past memories” occur
It was a process. It happened slowly, and I never stood back and looked at 'A to Z' All at once.
I was absorbed into this process one “letter” at a time. The following is a general overview of the
P - Putting doubt in my mind about my family, our relationships, my childhood, and my own
R - Remembering my childhood.
O - Omitting the good and focusing on the perceived bad.
C - Commitment that dreams and ideas are “true memories” and flashbacks of reality.
E - Emotionalizing the memories and establishing loyalties to my therapist.
S - Separating from my parents and from all those who did not believe me. Then taking....
S - Steps of accusation and confrontation.
Each one of these phases was groundwork for bringing me deeper into believing that terrible
sexual abuse had actually happened to me. In my conversations with other victims of this
therapy, this process seems to be a common thread in all of our experiences with Age
Regression/Recovered Memory Therapy.
P - PUTTING DOUBT IN MY MIND
The starting point for me was the therapist asking me if I had ever been sexually abused. After I
got over the shock, I emphatically said, “No, never!” I was told that I fit the signs (symptom list)
of being abused.
The power of suggestion is an underestimated power. In my second session I happened to tell my
therapist that I sometimes had strange dreams of heated arguments between my father and me,
dreams of having my father send bears after me, and of his coming after me with a knife. I was
told that these were dreams that sexually abused people have and, therefore, I had to have been
sexually abused. This was the start of the downhill slide of my life for the next 2 1/2 years.
The following are a few examples of the conversations that I had in therapy that put doubts in my
mind, causing me to begin to wonder if perhaps I had been a victim of sexual abuse:
Therapist: You're a high achiever in school (4.0 GPA). This suggests that you have been
Therapist: You absorbed yourself with your academic studies in order to cope with the abuse
you experienced at home.
Beth: But, why don't I remember any of this?
Therapist: It is because you have repressed it. It's the only way you could deal with the pain.
Now you are mature enough to handle the information your mind is trying to reveal to you.
Therapist: You need to trust me. I know what I'm talking about when it comes to sexual abuse. I
will help you recover your past and work through it. You see, Beth, the only way you will ever
be a mentally healthy person is to recover these memories and deal with them. Then you can
become a truly whole person.
The suggestion that your family and childhood may not be as good as you thought is powerfully
R - REMEMBERING MY CHILDHOOD
I was asked to remember and tell what it was like growing up in my home. I shared various
stories, conversations, events, told about places, and gave multiple details. I described what our
home looked like, how many rooms it had, where all of the bedrooms were, etc.
These statements gave my therapist specific events and details to work with as she weaved an
amazing abuse story and all the while using my own stories with a new interpretation and twist.
For example, indescribing one of the homes we lived in, I told my therapist about alittle storage
shed that we had. This later became a place in my“memories” where I had been tied up and
objects were inserted in me.
O - OMITTING THE GOOD AND FOCUSING ON THE PERCEIVED BAD
In this phase of therapy, I began to talk less and less about the
good in my family. When I attempted to point out times of happiness, I
was told that this was not the focus of our session. Every wonderful
time I described from my childhood was taken and twisted into an
example of a dysfunctional family.
Example 1: I told the therapist about times when my Dad and I wrote out checks and paid bills
together when I was 9 years old. Instead of seeing the good in this situation, that I was learning
about finances and enjoying a grown-up activity, my therapist focused on a twisted
reinterpretation, stating that my father treated me as a marriage partner, and that he really should
have been doing this with my mom. The therapist said that this was an indication that he
preferred me over my mother.
Example 2: I shared about a few times that my sisters and I got a peck on the lips as a good-bye
from my parents when they would be leaving on a trip or going away for a few days. Instead of
seeing this as a beautiful and simple demonstration of parental love, the therapist suggested that
only a husband and a wife should ever kiss on the lips, that it was wrong for a daughter and
father to do so, and that this was inappropriate sexual behavior on the part of my father.
Example 3: My parents would encourage me to do well in school since academics was a natural
ability and interest of mine. Instead of seeing this as parental support for my tendencies toward
and enjoyment of academics, the therapist reinterpreted the parental words of encouragement,
saying, “Your parents were feeling guilty about the fact that they were abusing you. If you did
well in school, they wouldn't feel like they were causing you any damage or harm by the
abuse they were committing.”
Over time I came to believe that I had an incorrect memory of my childhood and that my
therapist really had the correct view. I was told that people who were abused are not good judges
of their own pastbecause if abuse is all you have known or grown up with, you would not
see it as wrong or abnormal.
C - COMMITMENT THAT DREAMS AND IDEAS ARE “TRUE MEMORIES” AND
FLASHBACKS OF REALITY
As the focus on sexual abuse in our therapy sessions escalated, so did the sexual content and
intensity of my dreams. I would come into the next therapy session and was asked what I had
dreamed about recently. I was told that these were actual memories (not dreams or fantasies) and
that through dreams my mind was revealing facts to me. I was asked to concentrate deeply on my
childhood. In this state of deep concentration and focus on earlier years, I went into hypnotic
and trance-like states.
After “coming out” of one of these trances, I was told by my therapist that I had just revealed an
event of sexual abuse and described for her something that had happened to me. She would then
read back to me what she had written down about the “memory” I had recovered. I trusted my
counselor. I looked up to her (she had an MSdegree in counseling-psychology and BSW in social
work). She was aprofessional. Although I didn't consciously remember what happened in
those trance-like states, I felt that I could trust her when she wouldexplain, “Beth, you have just
had a flashback into your past. . .theseare real events that have actually happened to you. . .”
E - EMOTIONALIZING THE MEMORIES.
We talked about what a victim “feels” like and focused on theemotions of a victim: feelings of
helplessness, loss of control,anger, hatred of your mother for not protecting you from your
father,feeling dirty and afraid. As I began to internalize these emotions,they became a part of my
thinking and my feelings. I began having “body memories.” When coming out of a trance, I
couldactually feel the pain of being penetrated. My legs would go numb from'remembering'
times of being tied up. Again, I was told that this allwas repressed and was now coming out; my
mind was now allowing me toknow what really happened to me as a child. These physical
symptomsonly reinforced for me that these times of abuse had to have happenedor I would not
be feeling the physical pain.
A highly significant phase of fully believing in the reality of myrecovered “memories” was going
to other mental health professionalsfor evaluations. A psychiatrist and a psychologist concluded
fromtheir psychological testing and evaluation that indeed I had beenseverely traumatized as a
child. With these results, I fully believedthat my good and happy childhood was really a cruel
joke. (I only wishthat I realized then what I know now, that Psychological testing s
not a proof of history. It is only a reflection of what you believeand what is in your mind at the
time of testing.)
E - ESTABLISHING LOYALTIES TO MY THERAPIST
I told my therapist everything: every dinner conversation held athome, my parents' phone calls
that I overheard, the comments my dadand mom made to me, etc. I called her from my closet at
home if I feltscared. There were times I might call her four or more times a day inaddition to my
numerous therapy sessions. Sometimes I had two andthree therapy sessions a week. Some were
two- and three-hourmarathons each.
I sneaked into my father's office and got into his files and foundpapers he had to sign. I brought
them to the therapist so that shecould copy them for herself, and then I sneaked them back into
I would have given my life to be her daughter. An emotional bond wasformed between us. I felt
like only she could save me from my brokenlife. I thought that only she truly knew me and,
therefore, only shecould help me. I lived for my therapist and therapy sessions.
S - SEPARATING FROM MY PARENTS AND FROM ALL THOSE WHO DID NOT
I was told that the only way that I was going to be able to be ahealthy adult was to get away
from my infectious parents, because theywere like cancer and I had to “cut them out” in order to
be a mentallyhealthy adult. The therapist told me that they were the cause of allthe problems in
my life, and I must be the one to break the cycle ofabuse in my family so that I in turn would not
abuse my children. Iwas told that my parents' refusal to admit guilt meant that I must
separate from them, for they were in denial.
By this time, I had deteriorated physically. I weighed 87 pounds,was on medication, and hated
life. I was told that in order to haveany happiness in my life, I had to get away from my sick
parents andany relatives who would not believe me. Only by cutting them all out
of my life was healing possible.
S - STEPS OF ACCUSATION AND CONFRONTATION
Not every son or daughter takes this step. I was more thanencouraged; I actually felt pressured
to do this by the therapist. Myplan was to get away from my parents and never see them again.
However, accusations were brought against my parents in anecclesiastical meeting, an absolute
nightmare for them. It was thefirst time they were informed of what 2 1/2 years of therapy had
To accuse my parents was a statement of defiance. I told them thatjust because they wouldn't
admit what they had done to me didn't meanI would back down from my belief that they did it.
Making theseaccusations was driven by the therapist, who consistently told me thatto accuse is
the only way true healing can begin. I was never further from true healing! I went to her office 2
½ years earlier as a normal, well adjusted, happy young adult with jobstress. And after 2 1/2
years of “treatment” I was unrecognizable! Iwas a wreck mentally, physically, socially,
financially andeducationally. I was jobless with a destroyed past, present, andfuture. Thank God,
He helped me find my way out of “therapy” and putme on the road of recovery.
IN SUMMARY, each situation is different. Those of us who are victimsof False Memory
Syndrome initially go to a therapist for differentreasons. For me, it was job stress. For others it
may be a painfuldivorce, a death in the family, marital problems, problems with achild, a tragic
pregnancy, etc. But one thing is certain, we neverwalked into the therapist's office with the idea
that we had beensexually abused. Unfortunately however, we all left with that idea.
Each person is an individual with individual needs who warrantsbeing treated as such. If you
went to a medical doctor's office withindigestion and wanted him to treat you for the indigestion,
would itbe acceptable medical practice for a doctor:
*to neglect to give you a physical examination;
*to not verify symptoms with external evidence and tests, or not take a medical history, etc.;
*to extemporaneously diagnose you with cancer of the stomach;
*to proceed with years of treatment (chemo/radiation/experimentaldrugs);
*to talk you into having a surgery to cut out the cancer by removing part of your stomach;
*to watch you deteriorate in every way; only to discover you never had cancer at all?
Would this be acceptable medical practice? Of course not! So why aresimilar methods tolerated
in the professional mental health community?There is something wrong with “methodology” or
“services rendered” ifan unsuspecting client comes in with a little headache and goes outwith no
arms or legs....comes in with one problem and leaves with alife shattered to pieces. What ever
happened to the sensibility of theHippocratic Oath, “To Do No Harm.” Yes, there are real people
who dohave real cancer who need treatment. And of course, there are realpeople, who have had
experienced real sexual abuse who may needassistance in dealing with that horrendous load of
agony and pain.Those people deserve to be believed, listened to and helped. One caseof sexual
abuse is one case too many.... a nightmare for any who havelived through it. But to diagnose
someone as sexually abused and tolead people to believe that horrible things happened to them
that inreality never did....to destroy lives....to play with peoples' mindsis morally despicable
A R E T R A C T O R S P E A K S - P A R T II
by Beth Rutherford
My Journey Home and Back to Truth
At the end of 2 1/2 years of therapy, I had come to fully believe thatI had been impregnated by
my father twice. I “remembered” that he hadperformed a coat hanger abortion on me with the
first pregnancy andthat I performed the second coat hanger abortion on myself. I also
“recalled” that he had inserted [terrible things] inside of me, and other “horrors.” I came to
believe this withouta doubt and could “remember” it happening detail by detail.
I was told by my therapist that I had to separate from my parents inorder to break this cycle of
“abuse” in my family. Otherwise, mytherapist said, I would be at risk to abuse my own children
some daywhen I became a mother. By the end of this 2 1/2 years of therapy, Ihad so physically
deteriorated that my weight was down to 87 pounds,unable to eat because of the emotional and
mental battle that wasraging inside me. I was on medication and my mind was sinking deeper
and deeper into blackness. With my last bit of energy and in an effortto begin to “get well,” my
middle sister, Lynette, and I rented aU-haul and moved away from my parents in Springfield,
MO to Oklahoma City, OK. My youngest sister, Shara, went into hiding in Springfield,afraid
that my father would murder her. Both of my sisters had come tobelieve my “memories” of
abuse. We cut off all communication with myparents.
However, moving away from my parents also put me out of directcontact with my therapist.
This was the best thing that could havehappened to me, although I didn't realize it at the time.
After fourmonths of continual phone contact with my therapist in Missouri, I wasinstructed by
her to try and find a new therapist to continue my“treatment.” But, I decided, I had participated
in all the therapy Icould handle and wanted a break from the tormenting sessions thatdwelt
exclusively on abuse events. This crucial decision was thebeginning of my journey home. When
you don't have someone interpretingyour parents' every move and word, you begin to think on
After I left home, my father and mother were brought before thesouthern Missouri state
leadership of our church. My father'sministerial credentials were taken from him because he was
chargedwith molesting and abusing me as a child. My mother was accused ofparticipating in
some of the molestation by restraining me so myfather could carry out his sadistic acts. Three
months before these accusations were made, my father had losthis job at our denominational
world headquarters, but he never knewthe real reason why he was fired. Now, however, he began
to realizewhat had really been going on behind the scenes. My parents were toldthat they were
not to contact my two sisters or me. It was explained to them that if they didn't sign a statement
of guilt, their filewould be turned over to the district attorney's office and my father
would be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, and he wouldface seven years to life in
prison. My parents refused to admit guiltto our denominational leadership for something they
had not done.
All communication ceased between us. I fully believed that myparents had committed these
atrocities as much as they fully knew thatthey had never done them. What changed my mind?
What brought me to thetruth?
On April 19, 1995 at 9:02 AM, a bomb went off in Oklahoma City. Mymother, a nurse like me,
was working at the hospital that day inSpringfield, MO. As she went from patient to patient, she
overheardTV reports about the shocking devastation in Oklahoma City. A lot ofhorrible things
happened that day, but one good thing came out of itall.
My mom knew that two of her daughters were in Oklahoma City. She wasworried about my
sister and me, knowing we worked in the vicinity ofthe explosion. She also knew that she had
been told that if shecontacted her children it could be used in a court of law against heras
harassment. But she decided, “There is no law against expressinglove and concern for my
children. If they want to lock me up fortrying to find out if my daughters are alive, then let
them.” Whenworry overcame fear, she called. But I was not home, so she left amessage on the
My sister and I were caught in the massive traffic on the interstatethat day. We missed the phone
call, but it is a day I will neverforget. It was our first contact from home. You see, when I came
homeand listened to my mom's voice, it was the most soothing andcomforting thing that could
have happened. As I later learned, my momhad prayed for an opportunity to be able to show her
love for herdaughters, and kept her mind and heart open to any circumstances thatwould allow it.
She didn't know if it would happen in months, years oreven maybe never, but she was looking
and hoping. With that thought inher heart, her words that day were ones of love and concern.
Shestated that if we needed anything to let her know and that they (myparents) were always there
for us. She then hung up the phone. I canremember listening to that message and hearing that
“past” mom that Ihad hidden away in my memory, and I thought of times when she would
rock me at night as a little girl or hold me when I was upset. For abrief moment, good true
memories crept into my thinking. I quicklyshoved them back into the “closet,” though, as I felt I
had to keephatred toward them alive. But, it was the next little step in myjourney back home.
My youngest sister, who during this time had been living in hidingfrom my parents in
Springfield, MO, started making contact with myparents. She was the first to go home. She
called and told me thatafter having a nine-hour talk with our parents, she was planning to
move back home. I felt so betrayed. I told her, “Shara, you and I willalways be sisters and in that
context I will always love you. But, youhave stabbed me in the back and I feel betrayed.” I hung
up the phoneand turned to my sister Lynette and cried. I said, “Lyn, please don'tever do to me
what Shara has just done.” I can remember lying in bedat night and hurting over being so
Shara and I had very little conversation on the phone from thenon. I can remember thinking that
if I proved to Shara that she waswrong, she would come back and “join my side” again. I decided
thatthe best way to do this was to show my parents how much better off Iwas without them in my
life and Shara would perhaps see how cruel myparents were to me when I was with them. After
all, my parents werehorrible monsters and only mean things would come out of their mouthsat
me. In my desire to prove Shara wrong and to show my parents Ireally didn't need or want them
in my life, I made another contact. Inretrospect, it was actually another giant step toward home.
I called up my mom and asked her if she wanted to go shopping withme. I told her that I would
meet her halfway (in Tulsa, OK) where myaunt and uncle lived, and we could shop together if
she would agreenot to talk about “the situation.” She agreed and off to the mall we went! So
many important things happened in that one afternoon thatwere so vital to my coming back
home. I want to share them with youand explain why it was so helpful to me.
1. WE MET IN A NEUTRAL PLACE. By meeting in a neutral place therewere no emotional
attachments to it. If I had met my mom at theirhome, it would have been too emotionally
threatening. If I left thatday thinking good and warm thought about her, I would have later
chalked it up to having been emotionally manipulated into feeling thatway. It needed to be a
place that had no emotional components.
2. WE MET IN A PLACE OF ACTIVITY. By meeting in a place surroundedby action and
noise, the pressure was not there to talk. If we had metin a favorite restaurant, it would have been
difficult for me-too mucheye contact, too much quietness. It would have been very
uncomfortablefor me to sit across a table staring at my mother and struggling totalk about
something. In fact, I probably would have gotten up andwalked out because of the sheer
awkwardness that would have beenpresent. However, at the mall there was no pressure for
3. WE DISCUSSED NEUTRAL TOPICS. Since we are both nurses, we talkedabout work and
our frustrations and enjoyments about a career innursing. We talked about our dog, Ginger. I
missed her dearly and mymother talked about the newest crazy thing she had just done. We
nevertalked about my dad or what was occurring in our lives because of mybelief in the sexual
abuse. By my mother keeping her agreement not toaddress the “situation,” I soon came to realize
that my parents wouldrespect the boundaries that I had placed and that they could be
trusted. My mom and I laughed together and for a few hours ourrelationship was just like what it
had always been.
4. SHE ASKED MY PERMISSION TO DO THINGS. While at the mall, my motherasked me if
she could buy me a loofah sponge. I said, “yes,” and shebought it for me. I can remember
standing at the counter and holdingback tears as she paid for it. You see, I knew my father was
unemployed and I knew that she didn't have money to be spending.Watching my mother's love in
action was something I thought aboutafter we had parted ways. Also, when my mother asked me
if she couldbuy something for me, it left me with the consequences of my decision.If I had said
“no,” I couldn't have walked away thinking “See mymother doesn't even care about me. She
never even offered to dosomething for me.” If I said “yes,” I couldn't walk away and say,
“Mymother feels guilty for what she did to me as a child, so she isbuying me gifts to make up for
it.” By her asking me, I couldn'tmisinterpret her gift.
These basic elements in our meeting together for the first time madesuch an impact on me. How
could such an evil parent be loving and warmtoward an accusing daughter? I began to think for
the first time thatthis picture wasn't lining up. However, I didn't allow myself to dwellon those
thoughts for too long. You see, it would be too conflictingon the inside to do so. It was easier to
just ignore thoughts of loveand affection for or from my mom. Fortunately, this was a short-
livedpattern. Although my mom wondered what good the shopping trip haddone, little did she
know that as I drove back to Oklahoma City Idwelt on every word said, every twinkle in her eye
and her smile. Herobjective of showing LOVE had been accomplished, but only I knew that.
Since my experience with my mother had gone so well, we kept intouch and I became more open
to the idea of seeing my father. A shorttime after the shopping visit, my mom began asking me
repeatedly if Iwould allow my father to see me. I repeatedly told her “no.” Iexplained to my
mom that I would vomit if I saw my father. I stillbelieved that he was a monster of a human
being. My mom, again,respected my answer but continued to gently prod on. I finally agreed
to see my dad. It happened at my uncle and aunt's house in Tulsa, OK.
I came down from upstairs and walked into the kitchen. I was anervous wreck! Out of the corner
of my eye, I saw my dad coming acrossthe kitchen toward me. I closed my eyes and was waiting
for the impactof his fist. I thought he was going to hit me, as I believed he was anevil man.
Although he had never hit me with his fist before, I hadcome to believe through therapy that this
was a common occurrence inmy growing-up years. Beside me, I heard muffled sobbing. I
opened my eyes and there nextto me stood my dad. I stood in disbelief. Why is he crying? He
quietlywhispered through his tears, “Thanks for letting me see you. . . Ithought I had lost you
forever. . . . I didn't think I would ever seeyou again . . . Can I say your name?” I nodded my
head quietly in a“yes” motion. He began to say my name over and over. He explained “Itjust hurt
too much to say it before.” You see, I was expecting anangry man to come at me with
accusations and tones of hatred. Iexpected that he would demand answers and give me
ultimatums orthreats of permanent alienation. But he displayed the exact opposite. He showed a
heart of a real dad, full of love. I remember standing atthe kitchen counter that day. It was a
tender moment that my dad and Ishare to this day. It still brings tears to our eyes when we talk
about it together. But standing there that day, I was blown away in mythinking. How could such
an ugly monster be so caring, loving, brokenand tearful? I started to wonder if all those
memories weretrue. After all, this just wasn't lining up. Let me explain somethings that began to
turn my thinking around that day.
1. MY FATHER AVOIDED ANY KIND OF ANGRY TONE OR HOSTILITY. Had my
dadtold me that I was all wrong and that if I ever wanted to see himagain, I must apologize, I
would have promptly gotten my keys and gonehome. If he had wanted to hash out all of my
accusations and go overthem, I also would have left. But, by wanting nothing more than to see
me and by not bringing up a single detail of the wreckage of his life,I went away thinking only of
his tears and gratitude toward me forallowing him to see me.
2. MY FATHER LET HIS EMOTIONS SHOW THROUGH. This perhaps had thebiggest
impact on me, for I had never seen my dad cry like he did thatday. I learned that my father did
not let this devastating experienceharden him. Instead, it softened and broke his heart and that
softnesswas what won mine.
3. WE WERE ONLY TOGETHER FOR A SHORT PERIOD OF TIME. Had my fatherand I
spent all day together, it would have been too emotionallyoverwhelming for me. The short
encounter allowed me to dwell on thedetails in a better way. It also kept him from saying the
wrongthings! In other words, I didn't have too much to remember from ourmeeting, and what I
did have to remember weren't the wrong kinds ofthings.
Remember (parents), the therapist suggests that you are monsters. Becareful to do and act in
whatever manner that keeps you from looking like and acting like a monster or someone you are
not! That doesn't mean it is easy to do. If you were to ask my parents, theywould tell you that
there were times when they wanted to come to Oklahoma City and barge into my place. For they
thought that if I would just see them, it would “snap me out of it.” But, this would have been the
worst thing they could have done. I would never havecome home. I became a returner before I
became a recanter.
Over the next few months, we began to talk on the phone. Theconversations were neutral and
short. Finally, I told my parents thatI wanted to talk with them. They came to Oklahoma City and
came to myplace for the first time. My parents battled between themselves overwhether or not
they should address my accusations with me. But, theydecided to let me bring that subject up
when I was ready, and in mycase it was the right thing to do.
I eventually brought up the subject, and when I did we had aneleven-hour talk. We even went to
a fast-food drive-thru so that wedidn't have to stop and make dinner. We talked the whole way
there andthe whole way back!! It was in those 11 hours that I first heard thewords “false
memories.” Over time I came to understand what hadhappened to me. My parents did a lot of the
right things in that firstdiscussion of the whole situation. (Although if you were to ask my
parents, they would say, “We had no idea what we were doing. We feltlike we were walking on
thin ice not knowing from one moment to thenext if we might say the wrong thing and ruin the
These are some of the things they said that really helped me:
1. MY PARENTS CONTINUALLY REASSURED ME
One of the first things out of my parents' mouths when I announced I wanted to talk about what
had happened in our family was,“Beth, we don't care what it was that brought you to believe
thesethings about us. What matters most is that we have you.” My parentscontinually reassured
me that no matter what I told them about mytherapy sessions or the beliefs I once held about
them that they wouldalways love me and want me in their lives. As the conversation
progressed, so did the feeling of guilt on my part. It was theirreassurance of love that kept me
continuing the path back home and notshutting the door for fear I would cause them to want to
2. MY PARENTS UNDERSTOOD WHAT HAD HAPPENED. By my parents'understanding
what happened to me even before I understood it, I foundI wasn't shocking them as I unfolded
details of my therapy. They werealready aware and familiar with the therapy process. It made me
notfeel so stupid when I realized I wasn't the only one who had had thiskind of therapy.
3. MY PARENTS WERE NON-THREATENING. I never felt like “a bigpunishment” was
going to be given to me when I walked in the frontdoor. They accepted me just as I was, pieces
and all. In time, my parents and I sat down and talked about the wholeordeal. This included
everything that my mom and dad had beenthrough. My sisters and I have talked, too. We have
asked my parentsfor their forgiveness and they willingly and quickly gave it.
My prayer to God shortly after we were reunited was, “God, pour somuch Elmer's glue over us
that we won't ever be separated again!!” AndGod has answered my prayer. My family and I love
each other so muchand we're as close as before, but I'd say even closer because we've
individually and collectively survived this almost fatalnightmare.Yes, we are still a normal
family with our differences ofopinion and personalities, but we cherish our times together as
neverbefore, knowing we almost lost each other.
Family love is strong and resilient. Love prevails . . . It bearsall things, believes through all
things, hopes through all things,endures through all things. We now walk our life's journey
What happened to the therapist who treated Beth? A telephone call to the Assemblies of God
headquarters produced the information that the therapist to whom Beth turned, Donna Strand “is
not one of our ministers so she would not come under our discipline.” As far as we know, Donna
Strand, continues to practice.
Dissociative Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD)
There are Christians who see a demon behind every bush and psychotherapists who see multiple
personalities behind every emotional or behavioral issue. I want to briefly mention what is
commonly called MPD, and not spend a lot of time on this subject. Several years ago I came in
contact with a pastor and a saint, which was my first actual encounter with MPD. The pastor and
his wife were highly regarded, and when they said this young saint had several multiple
personalities, I was confused. They had both heard her speaking in tongues when she received
the Holy Ghost. Not believing that Christian could be demon possessed, I chose to believe this
lady had “multiple personalities.” It is not that difficult for us to convince ourselves. We saw
from Beth Rutherford’s case that people can be convinced of just about anything. The power of
suggestion goes far.
In the end, it was determined that she had fooled this highly respected ministerial couple—the
reason behind my being fooled. A lot of what was experienced was drama. Many therapists and
people with so-called multiple personalities don’t like me at all. This particular lady grew to hate
me, and slandered me. But I have to go with what the Bible says.
What does the Bible say about MPD? Nothing.Not a word. The Bible mentions demon
possession. “Legion” was called that because there were many. Mark 5:9 The Bible mentions
lying and deception. But nowhere does it talk about a person—Christian or otherwise—having
Pamweb.org elaborates on the subject:
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-III-R) describes MPD as:
The existence within the person of two or more distinct personalities or personality states . . .
[each having] a relatively enduring pattern of perceiving, relating to, and thinking about the
environment and one's self. . . . At least two of the personalities, at some time and recurrently,
take full control of the person’s behavior.
This description sounds authoritative. However, neither the description nor diagnosis has been
established by objective scientific standards.
The usefulness of MPD being listed and defined in the DSM-III-R is financial. In fact, one might
look at the DSM-III-R as the guide to financial gain through psychiatric diagnosis. If a therapist
can attach a DSM-III-R label to an individual, he can be paid by insurance companies. Beyond
that, the DSM-III-R has numerous problems, with most of the "diseases" not being true diseases
at all, but rather problems of living.
We contend that the current craze of MPD diagnosis is mistaken and misguided. Such a
diagnosis covers up the real problem—sin—and the true answers given in Scripture.
Advantages of MPD
So why do people get caught up in this? Pamweb.org goes on to point out:
There are distinct advantages of an MPD diagnosis. MPD provides a personally blameless
explanation for why the person’s life is not working. MPD provides a convenient excuse—just
blame the sin on one of the multiples and avoid having to own up to responsibility. It may be a
case of wanting one’s cake and eating it, too—doing what one knows is wrong but not having to
feel guilty or bear the consequences. Generally the alleged alters do what the patient would
MPD can also be a very dramatic way of making sense out of life or drawing attention to one’s
own importance by having a condition that seems beyond the scope of most people. The person
becomes both the star and the entire cast in a drama that challenges all who try to help, even the
therapist, who is a partner in the drama—the joint playwright, producer and director.
The diagnosis is also an advantage for the therapist. MPDs are fascinating and long term. If a
therapist has enough MPD cases he won’t have to drum up business. He can participate as the
paid partner in this production for a "long run."
So how does a counselor “treat” this condition? The same way you would treat any other
condition. The Bible is full of explanations of why people behave the way they do and how
theychange. From the very beginning, God demonstrated the basic problem of
mankind:separation from God through sin. And, God provided the only lasting remedy for
change: arestored relationship with God. A person’sseparation from God or his active
relationship with God will affect every attitude, everychoice, and every action
Ascertain that this person truly wants deliverance. Take them to the Word of God. Give them
homework—memorize scripture, immerse themselvesin the Word. And if it is determined they
are possessed by demons, cast them out. That is what Jesus did and the end result is what you
also want. Then they went out to see what was done; and came to Jesus, and found the man, out
of whom the devils were departed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed, and in his right mind: and
they were afraid.Luke 8:35
Sister Doty, are you saying all of these people are demon possessed? No. I am not making that
call. But I can say that, if they are pretending—or even if they genuinely believe that these
personalities dwell within them—they are deceived, and therefore open for further deception. If a
person continues to live in deception, there is an open door for demon possession.
Rutherford, et al. v. Strand, et al., in the Circuit Court of Greene County, Missouri, Case No.
1960C2745. Malpractice suit brought by Tom and Joyce Rutherford and their three children,
Beth, Lynette and Shara for the treatment of Beth Rutherford, alleging defamation, intentional
interference with economic relationship, professional malpractice, negligence, negligent
infliction of emotional distress and intentional or reckless infliction of emotional distress. her
parents and two siblings is suing the unlicensed therapist. See, also, Springfield, MO News-
Leader, November 12, 1996, “Assembly, family reach settlement in lawsuit: A local church and
therapist had been accused in a false-memory case,” by Ron Davis. See, also, San Antonio
Express-News, November 16, 1996, “Family settles $1 million over false repressed
memories,”Associated Press. The article reports that the Rutherfords plan to use the settlement
money to travel the country, warning others of the dangers of recovered memory therapy.
Data excerpted from the FMSF Legal Survey, March, 1997
From article by Elizabeth F. Loftus, University of Washington, can be found in
Scientific American, September 1997, vol 277 #3, pages 70-75