I received this event account on October 26th, 2005, as part of an Email asking me for information about whether I would be teaching in the author’s area in the future.
This was only the SECOND TIME, in more than 12 years, that a deadly restraint event “SURVIVOR” had ever contacted me. (As I noted in the introduction to A NEAR-DEATH Forceful-Prone-Restraint SURVIVOR's Story, I’m usually only contacted by “surviving family members” of individuals killed by restraint asphyxia, or the attorneys who represent them.)
As with the previous survivor’s story, I found this account so moving and so universally-representative of what other NEAR-DEATH victims of “HOLDING THERAPY” likely endure that I asked the writer for permission to POST the event account on my website.
Thankfully, the writer agreed to allow me to do so.
SO! Here it is!
Dear Ms. Miller,
In the mid-1970’s (I was about 9 or 10) I went with my parents to The Bach Institute, a psychotherapy clinic founded by Jerome M. Bach, MD, for family counseling. Dr. Bach was well-known at the time, and I was under the impression my father was pleased to be able to secure his services.
I needed to be “sat on” for reasons that escape me.
I thought he was talking about some kind of game,
and did not really worry. In front of my family, Dr.
Bach quite abruptly forced me to the carpeted floor
and straddled my chest in a kneeling position and sat
back so his body weight was pressing on my stomach
and chest. Dr. Bach was a short, stout gentleman,
and breathing became nearly impossible as I slipped
into successive states of anxiety, fear, pain, panic and
rage, and began hyperventilating as I struggled to free
myself without success. He calmly explained that he
was in charge and that I could struggle all I wanted.
I could not communicate that I couldn’t breathe, and
was coming to the conclusion that I was going to die
right there on the floor. I felt like I was drowning and
briefly passed out. I recall losing control of my bladder.
and was coming
to the conclusion
that I was
going to die
on the floor.”
Suddenly the pressure was released and I was placed in my parent’s arms to be held. I was disoriented and exhausted and did not resist being cuddled and hugged, which was viewed as a breakthrough (I was not a very cuddly child, I guess). While I was being held by my parents, appearing to be loving and compliant due to my exhaustion, and relief that the restraint was gone, I was definitely not pleased by my treatment at the hands of Dr. Bach, and I had no wish to go back for another session. I think my parents were a little freaked out by what had happened, but not enough to confront a supposed expert psychiatrist.
Back for another session about a week later, this one was worse because I knew what was going to happen, and I fought back as soon as he grabbed me. I remember punching him in the stomach, which made him laugh. Down I went, he sat on me, I panicked a lot quicker and started coughing which led to vomiting, possibly from the pressure on my stomach. I started choking on my vomit and was eventually released, and Dr. Bach gave me a box of tissues to clean the vomit off myself.
I think my parents realized this was not working, and I do not recall seeing him again. A year or so later, it brought me great pleasure to show my parents a newspaper article about Dr. Bach. He got into trouble for having sexual relations with four of his female patients. My way, I suppose of showing them what I thought of their choice of therapists. At that time they assured me what he did was wrong, but no steps were taken to address how Dr. Bach’s treatments affected me.
How did these incidents affect me? In many ways.
I never really trusted my father again after that, both because he took me to Dr. Bach, but even more because he sat there and did nothing to protect me (and presumably wrote him a check for the treatment).
I vowed as a child to not ever go through that experience again, even though I had no real plan to prevent it and was physically passive. I had some problems with being bullied in school. I resented anyone who used physical power to control people. To this day I get anxious watching someone getting arrested by police, especially if the police get rough. The sight of poorly-applied psychiatric restraint also causes me great discomfort.
As a teenager, I became fascinated with learning martial arts. I thought it was great that I could learn how to protect myself, and it did wonders for my confidence. I have studied several different martial arts over the last 20 years. I have seven years experience (and a black belt ranking) in Ju-Jitsu, which specializes in ground restraints, of all things. I have even had the opportunity to teach police officers restraint techniques!
thought that what
I went through
was an isolated
ago, and I was appalled that other kids went through this, with sometimes
fatal results. I had always thought that what I went through was an
isolated experience. Before that, I never realized exactly how bad
and potentially dangerous my experience was. I even brought it up
with my father, who seems contrite about the whole thing, but he did
not appear angry about what happened, which I certainly would be if
it had happened to my child. I believe if I ended up dying during my
treatment, he would not have had the guts to interfere. I think he has
been shaped by his own childhood issues.
After learning about attachment therapy, I have become interested in issues like restraint-related positional asphyxia as it relates to law enforcement and mental health care, and how a person’s instinctive response to restraint is often used as a justification for an increased level of force or restraint, creating a ratchet effect. I have explained to police officers the difference between self-directed oppositional defiance (“resisting arrest”) and an instinctive survival/panic reaction, how the first can transform into the second, and how they need to be handled differently.
I think a lot of assessments/conclusions were formed in my mind because of what I experienced in Dr. Bach’s office. And, I think that this type of treatment teaches children the following “rules”:
I hope that those who read this will spread the word. Besides being potentially lethal, use of any form of restraint as an “aversive” doesn’t benefit children or their parents.