Abuse of power occurs shockingly often--among doctors, lawyers, and professors, as well as psychotherapists.
But there is no indication of any sudden increase; as far back as the 1960s, rates were comparable, and some studies suggest that the number of incidents may have actually declined in recent years.The majority of therapists are still ethical practitioners who respect and protect their clients.And despite their disproportionate share of publicity, therapists are hardly unique in their libidinous misdeeds.A 1992 survey of family doctors, internists, gynecologists, and surgeons found as many guilty parties--9 percent--as among therapists.Similar rates of sexual misconduct are estimated in the clergy.
And recognition of the problem among lawyers and teachers is growing.What has changed is awareness--a testament, in large part, to the cultural impact of feminist consciousness-raising, so that women are no longer disbelieved when they allege abuse by those entrusted with their care."The parallels with incest are striking," says Glen O. D., director of the famed Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kansas."The abuse went on for years, but it didn't come out into the open until the last decade or so.It used to be, when a patient said her therapist had sex with her, we assumed it was a fantasy.The rise of feminism made us all more aware of what is really going on." Many incidents that swell today's chorus of turpitude actually took place years ago.