Psychologist accused of giving patients’ life stories to famous crime author
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    Psychologist accused of giving patients’ life stories to famous crime author

    "It is not about just some small anecdotes, my whole life story is being sold here," the woman said. Credit: WikiCommons

    Several patients of the same trauma psychologist claim that he gave their stories to a well-known Flemish crime writer, who used them in his latest book.

    Writer Toni Coppers’ latest book ‘Het vergeten meisje’ (The forgotten girl) contains pieces of the past of several patients of the psychologist, the patients said. They suspect the psychologist has leaked their files to the author, reports Het Laatste Nieuws.

    The book is about a neighbourhood police officer who goes into shock when she finds a bloodbath during what is supposed to be a routine check. Her psychologist suggests trying hypnosis as part of her treatment, but during the session, several unprocessed trauma’s come into light.

    One of the ex-patients said the similarities to her life story and the book are uncanny. “He did not even change the names of the people around me. Many people in my area recognised themselves, with their names, in the events of the book,” she said to VRT NWS. “The author must have seen my file. The last thing I wanted was for these difficult moments to be in the top 10 Flemish books,” she added.

    “It is not about just some small anecdotes, my whole life story is being sold here. People talk to me about it and think that I struck a deal with the author. But that is not true,” she said.

    “And I am not the only one. Several other patients are now seeing their story in several chapters of the book. I would expect that you can go see a psychologist in confidence? You do not expect your story to suddenly be sold to a crime author,” she added.

    With her diary and the crime novel, the woman went to the professional committee of psychologists to file a complaint. “We have opened an investigation, but the verdict will remain private,” the committee said to VRT NWS.

    The psychologist said that the author did contact him, but only for some information about hypnosis. “I did not give him names or specific cases. I only explained the general mechanism of hypnosis to him,” he said, reports Het Laatste Nieuws.

    “Patients files are only kept for five years, so I could not have given it to Coppers, because it has been destroyed,” the psychologist said. He also said the ex-patient never contacted him to ask about this.

    The author also denies the allegations. “The woman has contacted my publisher and said that she sees her own story in my book, but I find it to be rather far-fetched. I am very sorry about what happened to her, but I think it is a shame that my book gets attention in this way,” he said to VRT NWS.

    Maïthé Chini
    The Brussels Times