Mick Brown has written a long article in the Daily Telegraph on the Anne Craig controversy. Anne Craig has been accused of separating young women from their families and implanting false memories of abuse. An outline of the civil case made against her by the parents of one of her clients has been given in a previous post.
What I had not expected was to become embroiled in a story of considerable complexity, calling into question the nature of memory, its fallibility, and its propensity to be manipulated. It’s the story of a woman who was able to set herself up as a life coach, with no training, no qualifications and no supervision – with calamitous consequences; a story of the struggle between two mothers and the woman they believe has stolen their daughters from them. Above all, it is a story that raises urgent questions about the role of therapy in treating emotional problems, and the need for stricter regulation of those who practise it.
…. ‘A certain group of people would say, “I can’t take my mother’s anger any more,” and I want to know why. I look at a pattern, and then take it back and back until you actually get to the root of that. And then you take it out of the root, and that is the only way it is ever going to dissipate.’
…. Fearing for her daughter’s well-being, Lady Caledon employed a private investigator, who interviewed other young women who had been Craig’s clients. The Caledons discovered that Laura Hue-Williams had also broken with her family after seeing Craig, and made contact with her parents. Laura’s father, Timothy, is a retired stockbroker; her mother, Sarah, is now married to businessman Henry Strutt.
In February 2014, lawyers acting for the Caledons wrote to Craig, accusing her of manipulating Victoria, Laura and others by implanting false memories, leading the young women to believe that their parents had been guilty of ‘the most heinous of crimes’, and encouraging them to cut themselves off from their families and friends. ‘It would appear,’ the letter alleged, ‘that not only are you using this as an opportunity to extract money from the targets but you are also seeking to use them for your own emotional needs.’
The letter demanded that Craig cease communicating with the ‘targets’ forthwith. Craig replied through her lawyers, vehemently denying the charges.
The article examines the type of therapy Anne Craig gave to her clients and assesses its validity. It addresses how a predisposition on the part of a therapist to see sexual abuse as the root cause of the psychological problems presented by patients can lead directly to accusations of sexual abuse. A number of the young women treated by Craig rejected the diagnosis she gave them and considered themselves better off immediately.
Many therapists, Professor Loftus told me, will never admit that they have acted as a spur to false memory, ‘and are most probably not even aware they are doing something terribly wrong.’
…. In April 2015, the Crown Prosecution Service decided not to prosecute Anne Craig, and the charge of fraud was dropped. Freed from her bail conditions, she started to see both Victoria and Laura again, without charging for her services.
No longer their ‘personal development coach’, she had now become their ‘friend’. Both Victoria and Laura told me that Craig was the person they trusted most in the world.
The article gives a remarkable insight into one type of regressive therapy, and how patients gradually turn from clients into ‘friends’. A dependant relationship seems to be created that lasts for many years. The fortunes of some of the patients treated by Craig do not appear to have improved, and their separation from their families has continued.
The article may be read in full here.