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Reveals the controversial practices of prominent psychiatrist Dr. Margaret Bean-Bayog, whose sessions with a young medical student included sexual interplay and proceeded the young man's suicide. Reprint.
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Paul Lozano was a beloved son of a Mexican American family in El Paso, Texas. In his first year at Harvard Medical School, he had a difficult time adjusting to the loneliness and the strange environment. He sought psychotherapy with Dr. Bean-Bayog, a member of the Harvard psychiatry faculty. She told him to think of himself as a 3-year-old, and gave him flash cards with messages such as "I'm your Mom--I'll always be your Mom." Paul regressed, and his mental functioning deteriorated. As their relationship grew more peculiar, Dr. Bean-Bayog apparently gave Paul more than 50 pages of her handwritten sadomasochistic sexual fantasies about the two of them. Then she stopped seeing him, because she was adopting a baby boy. Paul killed himself. It's a distressing, suspenseful story. As the New York Times writes, "Breakdown: Sex, Suicide, and the Harvard Psychiatrist, its lurid title notwithstanding, makes a serious attempt to arrive at the truth in this strange case." Author Eileen McNamara also uses the case as a springboard for discussing broader issues such as the need for professional standards and accountability in psychotherapy.From Kirkus Reviews:
A thoughtful examination of the headline-making Bean- Baylog/Lozano case that raises serious questions about psychiatric standards, unorthodox psychotherapeutic techniques, and the ability of the medical community to regulate itself. A staff writer for Boston Globe Magazine, McNamara had the cooperation of the Lozano family in her investigation of the story, but not that of Margaret Bean-Bayog. The Lozano family charged that psychiatrist Bean-Bayog seduced and inappropriately treated Paul Lozano, who committed suicide several months after she had terminated his treatment. McNamara traces Lozano's life from childhood in Ohio and Texas to Harvard Medical School, where the gifted young Chicano felt very much an outsider and where his constant depression led him to seek psychiatric help. Bean-Bayog, diagnosing him as a victim of childhood sexual abuse, devised an unusual re-parenting therapy in which she regressed Lozano to the age of three and took on the role of his loving mother. McNamara asks the right questions: Was Bean-Bayog's diagnosis properly made? Was her therapy a legitimate one? Did she become too involved with her patient? Did she in fact have sexual relations with him? McNamara concludes that Bean-Bayog failed her patient and that professional arrogance kept her from seeking proper consultations with her peers in managing a difficult case. In the end, Bean-Bayog resigned her medical license without admitting any wrongdoing, and the Lozano family dropped its malpractice suit against her for a $1 million out-of-court settlement. The larger questions of accountability and acceptable standards of care in psychiatric treatment remain unanswered. A well-researched and documented account of the breakdown of one fragile and deeply troubled human being and of the system that failed him. (For another view of this case, sympathetic to Bean-Bayog, see, Chafetz: Obsession, above.) -- Copyright ©1994, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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