Therapist takes big risk with unproven claims

Dear Annie: We have not seen our adult daughter in over two years. She cut off all ties with her entire family after going to a therapist. The therapist convinced her that her stress and anxiety were due to abuse by her father and me when she was a child. These accusations are absolutely false.

My daughter grew up in a loving family with other siblings. She claims to have repressed what happened to her as a child. We believe she has “false memory syndrome.” Her only hope is to get away from the therapist, so that the false memories that have been implanted through hypnosislike techniques during therapy sessions might fade over time.

We might never see our daughter again, and our family is absolutely shattered with grief. Please put out a word of warning to others who are choosing a therapist, and let them know how unethical repressed-memory hypnosis therapy is. If you print this, maybe our daughter, or one of the thousands of others, could be saved from this travesty. – A Grieving, Shattered Family

Dear Family: There is still controversy over pseudomemories. While some events can be traumatic enough to be repressed, it is not a common occurrence, and more importantly, memories can be manipulated. Therapists can find themselves on the other end of a lawsuit if they encourage their clients to accuse others of abuse without any kind of corroborating evidence. We hope you and your daughter will reconcile some day. Please leave a light in the window.

Dear Annie: I have a friend and co-worker who constantly dominates the conversation. “Mabel” will ask me a question and then cut me off when I begin to talk. She turns every conversation into something about her or her family. She talks incessantly about her children and has little interest in mine.

Mabel is an expert on all subjects. I wonder sometimes if she is capable of listening. At first I put up with her rudeness, but now it is beginning to drive me crazy, and I’m considering a job change to get away from her. How can I fix this without jeopardizing the workplace or our friendship? – Sick of Listening in Minnesota

Dear Sick of Listening: This is a rather lopsided friendship. Real friends take an interest in one another’s lives. Your situation falls into the “nothing-to- lose” category. You have an opportunity to teach Mabel how to be a better friend, but it will require some effort on your part, so decide how much you value this friendship.

Take Mabel aside privately and tell her that when she interrupts you, it seems as if she doesn’t care about you. That when she monopolizes the conversation, she appears self-centered. That you’d like to remain friends, but her behavior indicates she doesn’t feel the same way. The next time she interrupts you, look her straight in the eye and say, “Mabel, remember what we talked about?” If she shows any improvement, give her another chance.

Dear Annie: I recently found out that when someone is cremated, if they have a pacemaker, it has to be removed. When my father recently died, I asked for the pacemaker and donated it to the NCSU College of Veterinary Medicine, in Raleigh, N.C. The pacemaker will be implanted into a needy dog. Due to the expense of such an operation, this would not be possible without the donation of the pacemaker.

Please print this so others can donate the pacemakers, which would otherwise be discarded, to help “man’s best friend.” – G.P. in Charlotte, N.C.

Dear G.P.: Thank you for this compassionate suggestion. To make a donation, contact your local veterinarian, or find a vet who specializes in cardiology through the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (www.acvim.org) at (800) 245-9081.

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