Ruth Speaks Out

This blog is maintained by the Ruth Institute. It provides a place for our Circle of Experts to express themselves. This is where the scholars, experts, students and followers of the Ruth Institute engage in constructive dialogue about the issues surrounding the Sexual Revolution. We discuss public policy, social practices, legal doctrines and much more.

What Lisa Miller has to do with ssm: Therapeutic Malpractice?

Posted on Friday, January 15, 2010

I decided to break this very long post up into three parts. this is part 3 analyzing this interview with Lisa Miller, and the significance of the Miller Jenkins case for whether we really ought to go careening over the cliff and redefine marriage. See Part 1 and Part 2. 3.  Of all the appalling things in this appalling case, the malpractice of the therapists is probably the worst.  Lisa Miller had a couple of therapists suggest to her that she was a lesbian. When she was hospitalized after her suicide attempt:
So, it was when I was in the psych ward – you get put through evaluations, group therapy, individual therapy and it was through this process of them trying to figure out what was wrong with me that they said, “Well, we don’t really know but we really think that you are probably a lesbian and you are having problems with coming out issues.” 
They actually put that as my treatment plan and I had to meet with my family before they would release me from the hospital to explore this issue.  So, that was the first time that I had really explored this issue.  It was in the hospital, with my parents, my extended family and also my husband at the time, even though we were separated, and soon after that we parted ways and we got a divorce.  So, back in 1994, was the first time that I really self-identified myself as a lesbian.... Q: Was there anything objective that actually provoked these doctors or staff to conclude that you were a lesbian or was this something that they sort of proposed to you or sort of pushed on you?  How did that happen?Miller: Well, this was a brand new program, it was in Prince William Hospital and literally at that time, it was a brand new psych ward.  It was part of the hospital but it wasn’t in the hospital – it was in a separate building on the ground.  They had what they called innovative therapy.  They did an eclectic view and at the time there were two lesbians there on the unit as patients and they were in just for a regular psych stay for emotional issues, I guess. My marriage was failing, they took that information in – I was sexually and physically abused as a child.  I did not get along with my mother at all – my mother was mentally ill as well.  She had multiple personalities and they took all of these and they also took the fact that medicine wasn’t working, according to them and I didn’t want to take it because it made me feel weird.  They took all of this and they said, “Well, we really think that you are a lesbian.”  And they had me be in a therapy group with these other two ladies who were on the unit.  So, that was their diagnosis.... They basically put together elements from my background.  At the time, where I was working – well, the last few places where I had worked, there were also self-identified lesbians and I am guessing, that they put that in the mix as well because those were the people that I would hang with.  I wouldn’t do anything with them but they were drinking buddies, essentially as well – at my last two positions before I ended up in the hospital.  In retrospect looking at it, especially now as a Christian, not once did they tell me – “You need to work it out with your husband.”  Not once did they even offer therapy to bring him in and we were not divorced at that time.  And he was not even a part of my therapy in the hospital. ...
After her mom's mental health deteriorated, she sought therapy again:
I finally just decided, ok, maybe I need some therapy to get myself through all of this….the only therapy that was available was at a clinic called Whitman Walker Clinic and it is usually based in DC but they had one in Arlington where I was living…It was during this process that I was told, “Well, your marriage didn’t work and your first relationship with a woman didn’t work but that doesn’t mean that a second relationship isn’t going to work and we really just think that you haven’t found the right woman.”  So, that was part of therapy for a year and a half, as well.  So, I did get into a relationship with another woman – it was very short-lived.  It was probably two or three months.  And then, my mom ended up dying of her mental illness is what we are assuming.  That was very traumatic.
No kidding, the death of your mentally ill mother would be traumatic.
She was actually dead for about two and a half weeks before anyone found her and I really went down hill – emotionally. 
It seems to me there was plenty of other material for the therapists to explore, other than their hunch that Lisa was a lesbian. It is not as if she went into therapy seeking help with sexual identity issues. So, where do these therapists get off trying to talk her into the thought that she must be a lesbian?  Is there a malpractice case here?
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