Attachment Therapy on Trial

The Torture and Death of Candace Newmaker

by Jean Mercer, Larry Sarner, Linda Rosa


The tragic and shocking story of a 10-year-old girl who was suffocated during a fringe therapy illuminates legal issues that make it difficult to ban such practices.

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Cover image for Attachment Therapy on Trial

May 2003


Pages 272
Volumes 1
Size 6 1/8x9 1/4
Topics Psychology/Child and Teen
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    Hardcover: £47.00/51,00€/A$79.00

Candace Newmaker was an adopted girl whose mother felt the child suffered from an emotional disorder that prevented loving attachment. The mother sought attachment therapy—a fringe form of psychotherapy—for the child and was present at her death by suffocation during that therapy. This text examines the beliefs of the girl's mother and the unlicensed therapists, showing that the death, though unintentional, was a logical outcome of this form of treatment.

The authors explain legal factors that make it difficult to ban attachment therapy, despite its significant dangers. Much of the text's material is drawn from court testimony from the therapists' trial, and from 11 hours of videotape made while Candace was forcibly held beneath a blanket by several adults during the therapy. This book also presents history connecting attachment therapy to century-old fringe treatments, explaining why they may appeal to an unsophisticated public. This book will appeal to general readers, such as parents and adoption educators, as well as to scholars and students in clinical psychology, child psychiatry, and social work.



Highly recommended. All collections.—Choice


Masterfully chronicles the chilling story of how a 10-year old girl, Candace, endured painful physical stimulation, was dangerously restrained, and eventually suffocated to death. In the name of 'curing her' with Attachment Therapy, Candace's therapists ignored her begging, screaming, and gasping; eventually they were convicted in criminal court. The extent to which some therapists embrace such unvalidated fringe treatments is one of the greatest scandals in today's mental health system. This damning indictment should stir a badly needed national debate about these practices, and aid in the fight against them.—Elizabeth Loftus, Ph.D.^LDistinguished Professor, University of California, Irvine

Here is a profoundly good book--humane, constructive, and scrupulously objective--about a case that could have been treated with sensationalism and melodrama. Attachment Therapy, the authors show, is only the most dangerous embodiment of a more general aberration: the founding of treatments on premises that have already been confuted by sound research. Every therapist and every legislator ought to take this important work to heart.—Frederick Crews^LPrincipal author, ^IThe Memory Wars^R

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