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Dangerous Podcast Disappears

FMSF News Alert - September 18, 2013

We prepared the following News Alert on September 11th after FMSF supporter Adriaan Mak brought the offending material to our attention. Adriaan sent a letter of complaint to the CBC ombudsman and received a response stating that his concerns had been passed to the Program Director. As we prepared to send the News Alert, we noted that the podcast has now disappeared from the CBC website - although all previous and subsequent shows are still listed: http://www.cbc.ca/andthewinneris/podcasts/.

Dear Friends,

On September 4th, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) radio show ‘And The Winner Is’ re-aired the documentary ‘The Voices Within: Living with Multiple Personality Disorder’. The entire presentation is without skepticism - even in the recently added introduction. This we find unconscionable and think that some FMSF supporters may want to voice complaints to the CBC for this lack of judgment. (Contact information is provided at the end of this Alert.)

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The Voices Within, which first aired on CBC’s Center Point in 1991, is the story of forty-one year old patient "Sandy" as she, her psychiatrist*, and her social worker attempt to explain the various personalities Sandy exhibits throughout the show.

Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) is described in the show as the result of childhood sexual abuse for which the adult patient has no awareness:

Chris Howden: "People with Multiple Personality Disorder fragment their identity, or self, to repress traumatic memories. Those additional personalities hold memories the victim finds too painful to live with." (1:12)

Dr. Curtis: "Dissociation of psychic trauma or physical trauma is when you literally dissociate these memories off and put them into another personality state."(8:46)

Sandy: "I had [visions of] a particular abuser from the past who was chasing me. And I knew, I could say "It’s the past but why is this man chasing me? Why are these things happening to me?" but I had no explanations as to why." (4:55)

Dr. Curtis: "One of the major struggles of therapy is to get the individual to accept, not only the parts of themselves, but also when they accept the parts of themselves, they’re accepting the memories. They’re accepting that "this happened to me."" (17:49)

Sandy and her social worker therapist, Willa Stolzman, describe how Stolzman arrived at the MPD diagnosis, apparently just after her initial consultation with Sandy. Sandy had been admitted into the psychiatric unit of Halifax, Nova Scotia’s Victoria General Hospital following a drug overdose:

Sandy: "I was diagnosed [with MPD] by Willa, my therapist. It actually took place in the kitchen at the hospital over a cup of coffee." (5:38)

Willa Stolzman: "I had been consulted to see Sandy to check in on her children - to see how they were while she was in hospital. I had done my usual assessment, and left, came back, and she (Sandy) was in the kitchen. She put her head down on the table and looked up and she said, "Who are you?" and I thought ‘Hmm. This is interesting.’"(5:50)

Although her diagnosis was immediate, treating psychiatrist, Dr. John Curtis explains how long it took before Sandy herself believed she had alter personalities:

Dr. Curtis: "Sandy spent - and I laugh about this with her every day - She spent the first year and a half of therapy coming in every week and the first statement that came out of her mouth when she would sit down is ‘I don’t have this disorder and I don’t know why you’re trying to make me think I do.’"(18:09)

Dr. Curtis: "It was interesting that [Sandy’s] children had never seen her dissociate until about a year and a half into her therapy." (4:00)

While Sandy may have had difficulty believing she had any alters for the first year and a half of her treatment, she now switches personalities with relative ease:

Wendy Scott: "I wasn’t prepared for the moment when Sandy changed. I’d thought that Willa might hypnotize Sandy and she’d go into a trance. But instead, Sandy put her head down, her eyelids fluttered, she breathed deeply and then jumped up on her feet - and this forty-one year old woman became a little girl". (10:45)

Sandy is apparently still finding new personalities at the time of the documentary’s taping:

Wendy Scott: "Sandy told me at first that she had fourteen personalities, but now she has more."

Dr. Curtis: "Yes. She, I believe, now has nineteen. There was just another new part that came about the other day which I’ve not met." (31:40)

But Dr. Curtis is optimistic about Sandy’s treatment:

Dr. Curtis: "Multiple Personality Disorder is a disorder which has a very high rate of cure. The bad news is that it is painful and the therapy tends to be prolonged. It’s probably on the average of two and a half to three years long." (42:50)

Several times during the show, listeners are told that an estimated 1 percent of the population - or approximately 250,000 Canadians - currently suffer from MPD. Interviewer Paul Kennedy questions psychiatrist John Curtis about this statistic:

Paul Kennedy: How is it that that many people can go undetected by family, friends, and people close to them?"

Dr. Curtis: "I think it’s a number of things. One of them is that we tend to be a denial society in many respects. We’ve tended to deny that people have different parts to them." "...Also I think that the medical profession, even the psychological profession - social workers, etcetera - have tended to deny and ignore, if you will, dissociation. As you know, psychiatry is heavily invested in, for instance, biology at this point in time and is really not too interested in dissociation as a phenomena." (49:20)

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For the moment, full audio can still be found here:
http://castroller.com/podcasts/AndTheWinnerIs/3721845.

Featuring

Sandy: Patient
Willa C. Stolzman: Sandy’s Social Worker
*Dr. John C. Curtis: Sandy’s Psychiatrist and past-president of the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (ISSTD).
Wendy Scott: Halifax reporter who interviews Sandy.
Paul Kennedy: Guest host of Center Point program who interviews Dr. Curtis.
Chris Howden: CBC Host for this episode of "And the Winner Is" program.

Sandy’s Personalities (In the order in which they appear in the show)

Erica: Observer personality. Erica "calls out" the other personalities.
Theresa: Protector personality. 15 year old girl.
Cindy: First personality discovered in therapy. 8 year old girl.
Jennifer: Fun-Loving personality. 16 year old girl.
Jeremy: Abusive personality. 7 year old boy.
Hope: Angry child personality. Toddler or preschooler age.

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Please send your comments regarding this content to:

Ms Esther Enkin Ombudsman CBC
P.O. Box 500 Station A
Toronto, Ontario M5W 1E6
e-mail: ombudsman@cbc.ca

A special thanks to Adriaan Mak.

J. Bean and Pam