Boston Psychiatrist Loses License for Religious Malpractice


A psychiatrist in Boston has lost his license to practice medicine for committing what is essentially religion-based medical malpractice in counseling a 16-year old girl who reported parental neglect and abuse to him. Rather than reporting that abuse, as required by law, Dr. Raymond Kam decided that she was demon-possessed and appointed himself as her “spiritual mentor.” The facts of the case are absolutely astonishing.

A Boston Children’s Hospital psychiatrist who became convinced his 16-year-old patient suffered from “evil spirits” and appointed himself as her spiritual mentor has been barred from practicing medicine, according to the state Board of Registration in Medicine.

Raymond W. Kam gave the girl a cross to wear in exchange for a different, undisclosed religious symbol she had on; he also took her to church with him and let her stay at his home, board investigators said in documents filed in the case. At one point, she told him that her mother pushed her down the stairs and tried to asphyxiate her, and he allegedly failed to report her charges to the Department of Children and Families as required by state law.

The board voted Wednesday to suspend Kam’s license indefinitely, saying his conduct called into question his “competence to practice medicine.”

Another psychiatrist, Enrico Mezzacappa, knew of Kam’s “spiritual diagnosis” and of the abuse allegations, according to board documents. He was also reprimanded by the board but not suspended from practice…

When Kam began seeing the girl in October of 2011, she was suffering from “several serious psychiatric symptoms and/or conditions,” the board said in its findings. A junior psychiatrist treating her at the hospital had trouble engaging her, but she opened up to Kam.

Kam began to think her problems were spiritual, the board found, and told members of his church he was concerned about a patient’s spiritual wellbeing. His attorney declined to say where Kam goes to church or what religion he practices.

At one point, the junior psychiatrist told Mezzacappa that Kam was “very involved” with the patient, and that he “may be losing objectivity,” but that the girl was improving, the board said.

The girl was hospitalized in February 2012, and Kam met with her alone Feb. 8. After the meeting, the board said, he came to believe that she was “being influenced by, speaking with, and being hurt by evil spiritual entities.”

He visited her about three times while she was in the hospital, and Feb. 14, he gave her a cross to wear, believing that the girl thought “the symbol was harmful” and that “the exchange would help” her.

The next day, Kam decided he could not be part of the girl’s treatment team anymore. He told Mezzacappa that he was taking himself off the case because he did not believe the girl’s problems were psychiatric, the board said.

Mezzacappa complimented Kam “for his courage in coming forward” and remarked that it was interesting and unusual that he, the junior psychiatrist, and Kam all agreed there could be “a spiritual component to [the girl’s] diagnosis.”

Mezzacappa “believed that not all of Children’s Hospital’s psychiatrists would entertain the belief that [the girl] could be suffering from a spiritual diagnosis.”

They discussed the idea that Kam should become the girl’s “spiritual mentor,” the board said, and Mezzacappa told Kam to seek a consultation for the girl from Kam’s church, and told him to speak with a hospital chaplain; Mezzacappa allegedly did not tell the girl’s inpatient treatment team or her mother about the spiritual diagnosis.

After the girl was discharged from the hospital, Kam got permission from her father to act as her spiritual mentor, and he began bringing her to his church and church-related meetings.

Messacappa should have been suspended too. If they want to be preachers, go be preachers. They have no business being licensed counselors.

Comments

  1. anubisprime says

    Daddy is not fit to either practice ‘being daddy’ or even as a human being!

  2. sqlrob says

    Called into question? What question? It stomped it down into the mud and jumped up and down on it. There’s no question.

  3. Alverant says

    How soon before the right-wingers claim Kam was persecuted for his christian beliefs?

  4. steve84 says

    Unfortunately religious “colleges” are churning out thousands of “therapists” like him.

  5. raven says

    Medicine left the Demon Theory of Disease behind a few centuries ago.

    Evidently, a few MD’s haven’t heard yet.

    Quite right that this is appalling. But at least one of them lost his license.

  6. trucreep says

    I’m blown away that anyone in the mental health field could find this acceptable in any way…I mean, you’re not even supposed to accept gifts from clients.

  7. frog says

    Preying on the vulnerable. It’s like a xian sport or something.

    A good friend of mine has a son who is both ASD and psychotic (clinically, complete with voices telling him some very scary stuff). At one point he was sent to a doctor specializing in adolescents–a realio-trulio psychiatrist, with a medical degree and everything–who then tried to explain that my friend’s son was possessed, and my friend should pray for Jesus to help drive out the demons.

    It’s one thing for theology schools to put out bullshit counselors, but how the hell does someone get through a high-quality medical school and spout this crap? (I won’t identify the school, but it was a good one, well respected.) I have to assume he caught the jebus bug some years after he graduated.

    My friend of course reported the doctor to the appropriate authorities, but I wonder how many other kids he’s caused to delay proper treatment for very serious disorders.

  8. says

    The story doesn’t say what happened to the girl. I take it since this came out, her case has been referred to the appropriate people now.

  9. grumpyoldfart says

    So when is his court case? Or is the Board of Registration in Medicine the only authority he has to face?

  10. says

    Another psychiatrist, Enrico Mezzacappa, knew of Kam’s “spiritual diagnosis” and of the abuse allegations, according to board documents. He was also reprimanded by the board but not suspended from practice…

    When Kam began seeing the girl in October of 2011, she was suffering from “several serious psychiatric symptoms and/or conditions,” the board said in its findings.

    The problem for psychiatry is that their diagnoses, as NIMH and the APA have now publicly acknowledged, have the same scientific validity as Kam’s: none.

  11. says

    Gregory in Seattle @6: A grown man in a position of authority finds a “special interest” in a vulnerable 16 year old girl.

    Yeah, nothing at all creepy about that.

    Agreed. I read that entire bit tensed up and ready for the other shoe to drop. I was surprised when it didn’t.

  12. says

    I wouldn’t be surprised if that other shoe does eventually. The description of this creep’s actions have all the earmarks of grooming behvavior.

  13. says

    A grown man in a position of authority finds a “special interest” in a vulnerable 16 year old girl.

    Yeah, nothing at all creepy about that.

    Agreed. I read that entire bit tensed up and ready for the other shoe to drop. I was surprised when it didn’t.

    I think we just need to wait a little while for the drop.

  14. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    Boston Psychiatrist Loses License for Religious Malpractice

    Wait, there are licenses *for* religious malpractice?! ;-)

  15. says

    Maybe there’s something more going on re grooming behavior, but it’s possible there isn’t. Psychiatrists are human and succumb psychological problems like anyone else. I’m sure there is much more of a back story, but it doesn’t necessarily involve sexual abuse.

    It’s strange way to spend your life immersed in a world of madness, always running up against your limitations and then living a life where the normal and sometimes not-so-normal shit happens and it becomes too much for some people.

    Probably needless to say, but I’d love to talk with this guy and really learn how all of this unfolded, not just the evil spirits thing, but what his history with religion has been, any personal experience in therapy and his own life history–how he got into psychiatry and what had been going wrong in his life before this–it doesn’t come from nowhere. There’s a story: how a very bright, top student goes to Yale med school, fellowship at Mclean ends up at 43 in a mess like this.

  16. Ichthyic says

    The problem for psychiatry is that their diagnoses

    your link is a rant, not an analysis of the literature.

    Again, the criticisms are of overreaching diagnoses, not the fact that there ARE biological underpinning to mental health.

    the literature is voluminous, not imaginary.

    whether psychiatry as a whole is too focused on quick cures instead of underlying causes is certainly a cause for concern, but the idea that there simply aren’t biological factors involved in mental health is just ludicrous.

  17. raven says

    but the idea that there simply aren’t biological factors involved in mental health is just ludicrous.

    I didn’t read her link but that is exactly right.

    The most common psychosis with 1% of the population, 3 million people, is schizophrenia. SZ has a pretty high hereditability, and a well documented genetic basis.

    Same for autism.

  18. thumper1990 says

    Mezzacappa complimented Kam “for his courage in coming forward” and remarked that it was interesting and unusual that he, the junior psychiatrist, and Kam all agreed there could be “a spiritual component to [the girl’s] diagnosis.”

    Then all three of them want firing, don’t they? Is it possible to fire people for gross stupidity?

  19. kermit. says

    SC: The problem for psychiatry is that their diagnoses, as NIMH and the APA have now publicly acknowledged, have the same scientific validity as Kam’s: none.
    .
    My wife will be glad to hear that her Parkinson’s is not based in actual genetically-linked brain chemistry, but presumably some sort of humanistic-existential crisis induced by the demands of a dysfunctional society.
    .
    Or something. And the different brain scans of autistic patients are doubtless just imaginary projections of the pharmaceutically obsessed medical researchers.
    .
    My sweetie is updating her psychobiology degree training with online courses to better understand her Parkinson’s, and I’ve been watching over her shoulder during some of the lectures. What I want to know is, how did they get all those radioactive markers to bind with imaginary neurotransmitters (or biomarkers, as you call them)? Is this some sort of placebo effect?

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