This piece by Mercy Survivor Christan was originally published on her personal blog, Pretty Pink Koolaid, and can be viewed here.
Read about it in Scientific Journals or “Psychology Today”, listen about it at the “Committee of Scientific Inquiry” Conference, or overhear a friend talking about an article in the Huffington Post. The implantation of false memories is something that, intentionally or unintentionally, has and is occurring in therapy.
Scientific studies, like the one conducted at the University of California in Irvine, that involved hundreds of experiments involving thousands of subjects…has proven that it’s relatively easy to change people’s memory.
This, folks….scares the shit out of me.
This scares me because I attended an inpatient “treatment program” in 2002 that advertised qualified counseling staff, medical assistance, and boasted of a 95% success rate. In retrospect, the counseling staff was not qualified (not even a Bachelors in Psychology, rather they were “called by God” to counsel young women), no medical assistance was provided to me (though I was on medication with a Bipolar diagnosis), and their success rate was the result of bogus “studies.”
At this Nashville, TN based facility called Mercy Ministries, the retired school-teacher who was “called by God” to cure me of mental angst, eating disorder behaviors, and substance abuse, implanted a memory that I had been sexually abused as a child.
For those of you who think that I just sat down on her couch one afternoon and walked out with a memory of sexual abuse an hour later – it’s not so easy.
The entire environment in which Mercy Ministries program is/was based centers very heavily on stories of sexual abuse. I started off my time at Mercy Ministries by being required to listen to Joyce Meyer’s detailed encounter of sexual abuse by her father, and how God/the Bible “cured her” from that.
I was told repeatedly while in the program that most of the girls who encompass the “95% success rate” as quoted by Mercy Ministries, had been sexually abused and healed from that abuse the same way Joyce Meyer was…though God and the Bible.
I was required while in the program to read books about Nancy Alcorn (President and Founder of Mercy Ministries) and how she worked in a juvenile prison – then went on to act as a social worker, seeing young children who were horrifically abused and taking them from their homes. Nancy Alcorn writes about the connection in her mind of the young children who were sexually abused, then many ending up in the juvenile prison.
Now let me make something clear before I proceed: The terrifying fact is that there are many young men and women who have been, and are being, sexually abused. There is, indeed, a connection between children who are abused (sexually or otherwise) and teens who end up in juvenile prison or struggling with additions, etc. I understand that this is very real and very frightening.
The examples I am using, are to provide a basis of why my mind (and the minds of other young women in the program) were repeatedly on the issue of sexual abuse. It was a topic that we read about, talked about, listened to “sermons” about…and in an underlying way, it was stressed to the young women at Mercy Ministries that abuse (in particular sexual abuse) was quite possibly a problem that we had in the past or were hiding “deep down.”
The underlying potential issue of past sexual abuse was exacerbated by a few more things while I was there: First of all, upon graduating the program, the vast majority of girls said that they realized while at Mercy Ministries that they had been sexually abused – and that was at the root of their addictions, eating disorders, homosexuality, etc. So at each graduation, I listened to girls who struggled with issues like mine, and had been cured by Mercy Ministries by recognizing they were sexually abused, and then by forgiving their abuser. Since we could have as many as 4 girls graduating each month, this was a lot of “sexual abuse information.”
The second thing that exacerbated the underlying potential issue of past sexual abuse was the method of therapy. The “meat and potatoes” of Mercy Ministries counseling criteria was based on “Soul/Spirit Hurts” (from “Restoring the Foundations” counseling criteria). Here is how Soul/Spirit hurts worked:
Soul Spirit Hurts (SSHs)
The soul/spirit hurt session is usually the most memorable part of the ministry. Within this session Jesus communicates with us in a unique, and radical way; often revealing painful and even blocked memories. Our participation in this session begins by asking the Holy Spirit to bring us to a memory that He wants to heal. Often times, we re-experience the memory and identify our negative emotions. We then invite Jesus to come and take us through the memory, with Him in charge. Incredible things happen during this time, helping us to forgive and release the negative emotions to Jesus. No two sessions are alike. Once Jesus is finished in the memory, we will be able to go back to the memory without pain, and with new revelation that Jesus brings.
So when the day came that I sat in my counselor’s office and was “letting the Holy Spirit speak to me” about my past and an image popped into my mind – my counselor was more than happy to confirm that the image was symbolic of being sexually abused. My counselor didn’t stop at that bold statement, she went on to tell me that “no one does the amount of drugs that you did” without there being severe sexual abuse in my past.
The rational from her uneducated brain was that: No one with a normal, happy upbringing would ever abuse their body the way you abused yours.
Now, I won’t go into the psychology and scientific reasoning’s of why her statement was so ignorant (as I didn’t realize it until almost a decade later), but let’s just say that education is power.
After that counseling session, where I believed that I must have been abused, and then prayed to forgive my abuser…I was treated by the other staff members as “healed and whole.” After all, I had finally found the answer to all of my problems. I had been an addict because I had been sexually abused. I had struggled with anorexia because I had been sexually abused. I had been “acting Bipolar” because I had been sexually abused. And now that I recognized it (through revelation of the Holy Spirit), Jesus had cured me…from everything.
For more information on why I believed by counselor so readily, please refer to the postings:
Now that I had completed my “revelation” of sexual abuse…I could now forgive, pray, and never struggle with anything ever, ever again (unless I sinned and invited the devil back inside of me, that is).
The part I struggled with, and vocalized, was that I never had any memory of the sexual abuse. On top of that, even though I prayed to forgive my abuser…I wasn’t angry at him. When I asked my counselor why I had no memory of the abuse and why I wasn’t angry – she answered my questions in two parts.
- I didn’t have memory of the abuse because it was so traumatic my brain was protecting me from itself. Luckily for me, God had brought me to a “safe place” in Mercy Ministries (where the devil couldn’t enter), and therefore the Holy Spirit was able to speak truth to me. The Holy Spirit, the counselor said, reveals things to us that we don’t remember – and that is the power of God.
- I wasn’t angry because I had prayed to forgive my abuser. When I chose to forgive my abuser through prayer, God honored me in taking away my anger.
Unfortunately for me, and for multiple other young women whom I have spoken with, I went on after graduating Mercy Ministries to confront my alleged abuser. This caused years of dissention with my family, severe heartache, and suicidal tendencies on my end from the mental torment of thinking the abuse happened but not having memory of it. The fortunate part is that after almost three years of no contact with my family (the alleged abuser I had accused was my father), I started doubting myself and desired to sincerely find truth. I got back on medication for my mental disorder, saw a qualified therapist, and distanced myself from the religious Pentecostal teachings I had clung to since my time at Mercy Ministries. My family, especially my father, welcomed me back with open arms.
My friend Vicki (name changed to protect her privacy), who also was in the Mercy Ministries program the same time that I was – wasn’t as fortunate as I. Vikki also came out of Mercy Ministries falsely accusing her father of sexual abuse. Many years later when she came back brokenhearted letting him know she finally realized the abuse never occurred – he wasn’t as gracious as my father. While my family has slowly been able to reconcile and heal over the years, her father refuses any contact with her at all. To this day, ten years after graduating Mercy Ministries – she does not have a relationship with her father due to the false sexual abuse claims put into her mind through Mercy Ministries’ counseling.
Intentionally or Unintentionally – Mercy Ministries “Counseling” is Implanting False Memories.
The painful part for Mercy Ministries graduates is that once the memory is recognized as false…Mercy Ministries, and in particular Nancy Alcorn (President and Founder) – seemingly DROP any and all contact.
When I told Nancy Alcorn (who treated me like a daughter and called me her “favorite Mercy girl” for years) that I realized the abuse claim against my father was false…she stop returning my emails. She stopped returning my calls – she stopped acknowledging I existed. Not only did I not hear from Nancy, but my emails, phone calls, and mail correspondence with all Mercy Ministries staff went unanswered for a solid year. I went from being a “Mercy Ministries Hero”, being featured in their magazines and speaking at Girls of Grace Conferences, to being a nobody.
Eventually, Nancy did return a few emails, though it was a year or more later, very generic and void of warmth. She still has never acknowledged the pain and agony I went through from the false abuse claims. I begged her in writing to reconsider the counseling tools used by Mercy Ministries staff, and there was no response. I also, in desperation to find out what happened in the 8+ months I was inpatient at Mercy Ministries, requested my medical and counseling records.
To my dismay, after 5+ years of fax requests, email requests, USPS requests, and phone call requests for my personal records (I started requesting my records in 2008) – I finally received one sheet of paper stating the dates I was at Mercy Ministries, and that I graduated. (You can read more on my journey for Mercy Ministries records here).
I don’t think I am ever going to get answers from Mercy Ministries. Nancy Alcorn and her staff seem hell-bent on protecting their multi-million dollar Kingdom and completely uninterested in taking responsibility – or even looking into – their unqualified staff and dangerous counseling methods.
Intentionally or Unintentionally – Mercy Ministries “Counseling” is Implanting False Memories. It happened to me and it has happened to multiple other graduates and residents who spent time within the four walls of Mercy Ministries.
When will it stop?