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 Illinois-Wisconsin FMS Society


Braun's influence
Burgus case
Shanley case
List of civil cases involved in
Unindicted co-conspirator in Houston trial
Illinois seeks Braun license
Braun license suspended

Dr. Bennett Braun's influence

Until not long ago Dr. Braun was a nationally recognized expert on satanic ritual abuse (SRA) and on Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD) or Dissociative Identity Disorder, as it is now called.  Bennett Braun was one of the most important figures in the development and spread of recovered memory therapy.  For a long time he headed a Dissociative Disorders unit at Rush Presbyterian St. Luke's Medical Center in the Chicago area, a hospital with a national reputation. Bennett Braun has been a key figure in the multiple personality and satanic ritual abuse belief dispersion. Along with Richard Kluft, Frank Putnam, Roberta Sachs, Jane Dubrow and Richard Greaves, he was a founding member of the International Society for the Study of Multiple Personality and Dissociation  in 1983 and was a leading member of that group until very recently. (This group has since been renamed  the International Society for the Study of Dissociation.)  The association's  journals and conferences taught many others about techniques for recovering repressed memories. Braun was the most active organizer of early conferences on MPD and SRA,  where many therapists first learned about these notions. He also served as an expert witness and wrote many papers about these subjects. He delivered speeches about satanic cults, referring to them as "a national-international-type organization that's got a structure somewhat similar to the Communist cell structure." 

His colleague Dr. Richard Kluft, when honoring him in 1994, is quoted as saying: "Every MPD patient in the country owes a personal debt of gratitude to Buddy [Braun]. He's the first ever to get a unit set up for these people, and all the other units around the country follow the trail he has blazed." (quoted in Keenan, M., June 22-28, 1995, New City, "The Devil and Dr. Braun.") 

Burgus family wins  $10.6 million settlement - November 1997

(The following story first appeared in the Society's Nov. 1997 Newsletter)

On November 5, 1997, Pat Burgus and her family had their first victory against two of their therapists and Rush-Presbyterian St. Luke's Hospital here in Chicago. On that day the media reported a $10.6 million settlement (the largest ever in a recovered memory case) of a lawsuit against the hospital and two therapists. These therapists were identified by The New York Times, in a front page story, as Dr. Bennett Braun, director of the trauma unit and Dr. Elva Poznanski, chief of child and adolescent psychiatry.

It had taken fifteen agonizing years to get to this point. Pat's story had started with a horrible delivery which had led to post-partum depression, a straight forward enough problem, it would seem. Her first therapist induced the highly hypnotizable Pat to believe instead that her problem was that she had 21 personalities. This "diagnosis" led Pat to the Rush Dissociative Disorders unit headed by Dr. Bennett Braun. The latter is considered one of the country's leading experts on multiple personality and satanic ritual abuse (SRA). [By the early 90's he had treated more than 100 patients diagnosed by him as having suffered from SRA.] He had been co-founder and an early President of the International Society for the Study of Dissociative Disorders.

As those of you who watched the 1995 Front line show "The Search for Satan" may remember, Pat's case rapidly took on the character of the darkest of dark Gothic novels once she entered Rush.

There, using a daily program of hypnotism and high doses of medication, her therapists "recovered" her "memories": Pat's rape on a satanic altar by her father and cult members; her participation in the cannibalization of her own aborted fetuses and those of others (parts of up to 2,000 people consumed); and the abuse of her own children. Pat was supposed to have been a "high priestess" of the cult, in a national and possibly even an international conspiracy existing for many generations. And her personalities blossomed to number over 300 while she was under Braun's care. Pat certainly became Braun's star patient, whom he paraded at conferences and in the media. While all this was going on, Pat's young children (ages 4 and 5) were also hospitalized for nearly three years at Rush and sucked into the same bizarre "therapy". All in all these cases cost the insurance company $3 million dollars. In 1993, after Pat, with the help of her husband Mike, had extricated herself and her children from this nightmare and realized what had been done to her, she filed her lawsuit. By this time she had shed all but one of her 300 plus personalities.

There followed four years of arduous preparation, agonized waiting and legal maneuvering. Witnesses and experts were deposed. Those of Pat's side made up a stellar team of seven: Dr. Bennett Leventhal (University of Chicago), Paul McHugh, M.D. (Johns Hopkins), James Hudson, M.D. (Harvard University), Richard Ofshe, Ph.D. (University of California, Berkeley), Elizabeth Loftus, Ph.D. (University of Washington), William Grove, M.D. (University of Minnesota), August Piper, M.D. Only two experts were deposed on the other side. Obviously the evidence and expert testimony piled up by these depositions convinced the insurance company that its case was hopeless; otherwise it would never have agreed to such a large settlement.

Asked after her victory how she felt Pat said, "There is still a lot of work undone… I have not done fighting. I intend to pursue their [the therapists'] licenses. I will do whatever it takes."

The next chapter of this story has already begun. On December 10, 1997 Chicago's Channel 5 in an excellent report on Pat's lawsuit, in which Pat and Dr. Almy were interviewed, revealed that Rush will be closing Braun's Dissociative Disorders unit by January 16, 1998. More wonderful news! Also the Burgus case will be featured in articles in Readers Digest and Chicago Magazine and in a segment of "Dateline" that is supposed to air this January. Nor is Pat finished with her own litigation.  Cases against two other therapists are not yet concluded. And of course there are lawsuits by other former patients against the hospital and the therapists still in the wings - six of them at the moment. [This number had swelled to eleven against Bennett Braun by December 1999.] Unfortunately another two cases have already been settled but with gag orders.

In conclusion, it should be pointed out that Pat strenuously resisted any settlement that would tie her hands or gag her except in the most token of ways. She rightly saw her lawsuit as part of a larger cause which would only be properly furthered by the widest publicity. We hope most other recanters will follow her example. They owe it to the cause, and to the rest of us.

Big Shanley settlement - May 1998

(The following is part of an article from the Society’s  Aug. 1998 Newsletter)

In May 1998 Dr. Bennett Braun, Rush Presbyterian Hospital and many other defendants agreed to another settlement with an ex-patient. This time it was won by Illinois resident Mary Shanley. This makes at least the fourth recovered memory therapy settlement that Bennett Braun has agreed to in the last couple of years. There are likely to be many more, since there are about nine other recovered memory therapy lawsuits against him that are not yet settled. Attorney Zachary Bravos would only say (as he did in our May 1998 conference): "The parties are satisfied with the settlement", but, by its terms, cannot disclose the amount. This editor interprets this statement to mean that the settlement was a big one, in view of the $10 million Pat Burgus settlement (a very similar case against the same principal defendants) and other settlements around the country in like cases.

If you saw Frontline's 1995 "The Search for Satan" you will probably remember Mary Shanley. In 1988 she came to therapist Karen Graneay for treatment of depression. Within a year Graneay was treating her for MPD instead and by 1990 she had Mary at Rush under Bennett Braun and Roberta Sachs. Later she was transferred to a Texas hospital. In these places Mary recovered "memories" of having been part of a satanic cult of horrific proportions similar to the one that Pat Burgus had supposedly been part of. This hospital stay lasted until 1993… Mary's complicated case started in Federal court in Texas and then was shifted to Illinois. Zachary Bravos and Texas attorney Skip Simpson shared the legal work. After endless depositions of witnesses and experts, the defendants caved in and agreed to settle. Clearly the defendants concluded (as they had in the Burgus case) that they could not win. In another victory for Mary, the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services has completely and voluntarily expunged her record. They had originally put her on record as a child abuser.

Civil cases in which Baun is involved as of Sepember 1999

Braun named in criminal prosecution, Sep.1998 - March 1999

In a federal criminal trial in Houston of  four therapists and a hospital administrator, Bennett Braun was named as an unindicted co-conspirator, along with Roberta (Bobbie) Sachs and Dr. Corydon Hammond. The trial was almost complete when a mistrial was called by the judge because, owing to the length of the trial, so many jurors and alternates had been excused for personal reasons that the jury was reduced to eleven people.  The trial could have continued if both sides had agreed, but the defendants refused to do so.  The government did not seek a new trial because it did not wish to subject all their witnesses (many of them frail) to the agony of reliving their horrible experiences a second time on the stand.  Mary Shanley and many other recovered memory victims testified during the trial.

Braun license sought by Illinois - Nov. 1998

(The following is from the Society's Nov. 1998 Newsletter)

Dr. Braun "misused the course of treatment of multiple personality disorder the way a surgeon misuses a knife…The problem here is that someone with an inordinate amount of trust, who was caring for extremely fragile and susceptible psychiatric patients, misused both his prestige and his medical ability." These are the words of Thomas Glasgow, chief of medical prosecutions for the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation. The occasion was the filing of a nine-count complaint against Braun that alleges gross negligence, dishonorable, unethical and unprofessional conduct, making false or misleading statements, and improper prescription of controlled sub stances. The last charge refers to the use of irresponsible combinations of medications and the prescription of Inderal at levels "that weren't even animal tested at the time." The state wishes to strip Dr. Bennett Braun of his license and hearings on the matter are now scheduled for November 9 before an administrative judge. Braun, of course, has been sued by the Burgus family and by Mary Shanley, with both of whom he has settled. At least three other patients have lawsuits pending. Other patients who also say their lives were ruined by his methods wish to add their testimony for the state's case.

Bennett Braun: the end ?

    Chicago psychiatrist Bennett Braun has come to the end of the road. In early October of this year, poised to go to trial before an administrative judge of the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation, he plea bargained. (Our readers will remember our numerous previous articles on Braun, especially in relationship to the Burgus case.) The terms of the pleas bargain are:
    • Braun's license is suspended for two years.
    • This suspension is to be followed by a probationary period of five years during which he cannot treat any M.P.D. patients, supervise other physicians, and during which he must show the disciplinary order to anyone who hires him.
    • In addition, he must undergo additional medical training during the probationary period.
    • He must pay a $5,000 fine.
    • To get off probation after 7 years, Braun, who is 59, must prove to the Medical Disciplinary Board that he is no longer a danger to the public.

    "It is going to be very difficult for him to seek employment in Illinois," said IDPR spokesman Tony Sanders. Tom Glasgow, who originally prosecuted the case, was quoted as saying: "He's never again going to have the chance to destroy someone's life like he has destroyed the lives of so many in the past." It should be added, also, that with eleven civil lawsuits against him, four or five settled and the rest pending, Braun is very unlikely ever to get malpractice coverage again. 

    Pat Burgus, who was the most instrumental in bring Bennett Braun to justice, summed it up the best when she said: "This is a strong message to all the therapists who practice this way … this is wrong, you are going to be punished, you're going to be sued. You don't use hypnosis to rewrite someone's life." 

    No so long ago, Bennett Braun was regarded as one of the top national authorities on multiple personality disorder and satanic ritual abuse. He did much to spread the popularity of these "diagnoses" and trained many others in the field.


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