BREAKDOWN by Eileen McNamara


Sex, Suicide, and the Harvard Psychiatrist
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 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.)

Pub Date: April 1st, 1994
ISBN: 0-671-79620-8
Page count: 304pp
Publisher: Pocket
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1st, 1994