Diagnosis

After being drugged, hypnotized and bound by restraints, the patients of Judith Peterson say they came to believe they had multiple personalities or had belonged to satanic cults. So, apparently, did their therapist.

The man's wife -- Peterson's patient -- also wrote to the board about her therapy for incest (it is unclear from the letter where she underwent the therapy):

"I also went to a group session she had with several other women, one whom she had just diagnosed as MPD ... we saw this other patient get lots of extra attention (gifts for alters, etc.). We were all a little jealous. Soon she was also said to be a 'satanic cult victim.' Our incest group was then filled with stories of killing babies and eating body parts .... Dr. Peterson began pressing me about letting her use hypnosis. I finally agreed. I got deeper and deeper into a trance. Dr. Peterson would tell me things I had said and didn't remember. I always trusted her.

"Dr. Peterson had gradually gotten to where everything related to some satanic cult. All her patients in our incest group were eventually diagnosed as cult victims and MPD .... I stopped therapy at a point because it was getting so crazy. Dr. Peterson had hospitalized me at least 12 times over the past 16 months and was doing restraint sessions. I would be on a locked unit, would be in 11-point restraints [that is, restraints at 11 points on the body] and she would insist that there were more layers that had to come out before I could leave the hospital. I would make them up, and I told her that was what was happening ... she would just say I was in denial."

In a letter Peterson wrote the board -- which was stamped "confidential" -- the psychologist complained about the ex-patient and a problem she said she understood was occurring "in other practices nationally."

"On November 4, 1991, a patient that I had seen for a year told me in detail how she had been specifically sent to my practice to slander me or kill me, and if she was not successful she was to kill herself .... The patient said she was to lie about me and say that I put ideas in her head during hypnosis to make her believe that she was in a cult or that she sexually abused people. She also said that she was to say that I sexually abused her in my office, particularly in my quiet room. She said that the people who sent her want me out of practice, in jail, and, hopefully, dead. This woman indicated that people have been and are being sent into my practice as patients with the specific purpose to slander me .... When I asked this patient how long the upper alters had known that their job was to slander me, she indicated that they knew about that job the entire year. They knew about trying to kill me for a month. They were specific about how to quietly kill me by strangling me."

The woman was informed by the examiners board in March 1992 that it had found no probable cause "to continue an investigation of this matter" and did not contemplate disciplinary action against Peterson.

Lucy Abney came to Spring Shadows in 1992, and under Peterson's care discovered that she was a breeder for a satanic cult. In the lawsuit Abney's family filed in 1993, it is alleged that Abney's two daughters were eventually hospitalized and diagnosed as having multiple personality disorder and being members of the cult.

In August 1992, L.T. Abney, an insurance salesman with American General, complained to the State Board of Examiners of Psychologists that his wife and stepdaughters had been hospitalized since that February and Peterson was making it difficult for him to visit them. At a session held shortly before he filed his complaint, Abney wrote, he himself was accused of being in a satanic cult.

Peterson wrote the board the following month on the results of psychological tests performed on L.T. Abney in Chicago.

"The report was the worst I have ever read. Mr. Abney was described as a complete sociopath with a cunning criminal mind and as extremely cruel and profoundly sado-masochistic .... They said he presented the worst profile they had ever seen (of over 200 cases) and said that what they had found was a man who could present as helpless and victimized and also as a cunning sociopath .... Mr. Abney presented as potentially a high level criminal leader ...."

In a follow-up letter in October, Abney said he was concerned because his wife was acting strangely. "At the meeting, attended by all doctors, therapists and family involved, my wife was like a robot; she was definitely not there, hypnotized possibly."

It was at that meeting, he wrote the board, that his wife told him about an experience she claimed the family had on an outing: "We all went to a field somewhere and took turns tying each other up to a tree and bullwhipping each other and then took turns sexually molesting each other." Abney told the board that when he asked a doctor present, "Why would I not feel the pain or have marks or scars from this action?" the doctor's reply was, "The cult knows how to do it without leaving any marks."

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