THERAPIST: The Shocking Autobiography of a Woman Sexually Exploited by her Analyst by Ellen Plasil

THERAPIST: The Shocking Autobiography of a Woman Sexually Exploited by her Analyst

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Ellen Plasil was in her early twenties, suffering from severe anxiety and periodic depression, when she entered psychotherapy for the second time. At age eleven, living with a domineering mother and a sexually abusive father, Plasil had already attempted suicide and would try twice more before age 15. Work with a therapist then eventually put her life back on track. But, trapped in an unhappy marriage and expecting a child, Plasil reentered therapy with Lonnie Franklin Leonard, M.D.: a practitioner of Objectivist Psychology--Plasil's ""support system of friends and acquaintances"" consisted of Ayn Rand adherents. Many, in fact, were in therapy with Leonard, and spent hours discussing their therapeutic experiences and extolling his virtues. At first, Plasil also thought she had found someone who could help--and then things went awry. Leonard behaved increasingly erratically in therapy sessions (finally, meeting Plasil nude at the door); then he accosted her sexually, establishing a pattern of exploitation and guilt that continued for years. Having put herself in Leonard's hands, still hearing his praises sung by other patients, Plasil couldn't bring herself to question Leonard's methods, motives, or sanity. Chance remarks finally indicated that other women were being similarly mistreated; and, with their support and that of her future husband, Plasil was able to act. She terminated her therapy--probably the most difficult step for her--and then brought suit against Leonard. (The case was settled in 1982, ten years after her initial visit, for $150,000 in damages.) Plasil manages to relate this soberly, and without bitterness. She means to caution women against giving themselves over to a power-wielder--but in any context it is a disturbing account.

Pub Date: April 27th, 1985
Publisher: St. Martin's