Real abuse victims hurt by false claims - author
Amy Smith, Provincial Reporter
The Chronicle-Herald, Halifax, Nova Scotia, September 27, 1997
Real victims of abuse are losing credibility because of so many false claims, says the author of a book called Manufacturing Victims.
"I think we've gotten to the old story of crying wolf," said Tana Dineen, a Canadian psychologist who no longer practices.
Ms. Dineen was in Halifax this week to talk to the annual conference of the Canadian Association of Provincial Court Judges about psychology and its influence in the courtroom.
"Playing the victim is probably the most powerful role you can play in society today," she said in an interview Friday. "It's a very popularized role."
More and more people are turning to psychology to back up claims of abuse, and many psychologists don't know or don't care if their clients are lying, she said.
"The problem is we have all these crimes that you can sue for that there is no corroborating evidence," she said. "Certainly lawsuits are better than the lotto these days for your odds."
A Dorchester Penitentiary inmate admitted this week to helping a former resident of the Shelburne boys reformatory make up a story that he was sexually abused at the school.
Instances like this happen all over the country, Ms Dineen said.
"We have some people who will lie, thinking they are telling the truth, thinking, "This must have happened because I am hearing it happens to a lot of people," she said.
"We also have counterfeits who lie simply because people are likely to believe you now."
Ms Dineen, who worked as a psychologist for more than 20 years, said she used to have patients who figured they were victims after watching something on television or reading a book.
She said the psychology industry is creating victims out of people who aren't and giving patients excuses for bad behaviour.
"Some of the things that psychologists say now are very, very dangerous things to be saying."
The author's comments have not made her popular among colleagues. One psychologist has filed a complaint against her with the Ontario College of Psychologists, claiming Ms. Dineen's statements are hurting people and the profession.
"I do it because I think I have an ethical responsibility to say something when I see so many bogus statements being made and taken seriously."