Psychiatrist's License Suspended For Spanking Patients With Whips


A Tennessee psychiatrist’s license was suspended for 60 days after authorities found that she has hit several patients with whips, and has even referred to them as “mules.” There is no psychiatric basis for this unorthodox method, so what are the common treatment methods most psychiatrists use to treat their patients?

License Suspended For Hitting Patients

Tennessee psychiatrist Dr. Valerie Louise Augustus had her medical license suspended by the state’s Board of Medical Examiners and she may even lose it permanently. The suspension was made after investigations revealed that in 2015, Dr. Augustus spanked a patient on the buttocks with a riding crop, a thin whip that’s normally used to whip horses.

Documents revealed that the patient who was whipped in 2015 was a depressive patient with a history of physical abuse who was struggling with suicidal thoughts, and that the doctor had spanked at least 10 patients with the riding crop or a whip. Further, authorities learned that Dr. Augustus kept the riding crop and whip displayed in her office, and that she had called and compared her patients to mules.

As a result of the investigations, Dr. Augustus was suspended for at least 60 days starting in June, and she was also fined $1,000 for every patient she struck. To regain her license, she has to take a two-day seminar and be cleared by the Vanderbilt Comprehensive Assessment Program, which assesses professionals with behavioral or emotional issues in the workplace. She can apply to regain her medical license if she gets cleared by the program, and if her license is restored, she could begin a probationary term which lasts for three years.

Common Psychiatric Treatments

The Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners determined that there is no psychiatric basis or evidence in any literature that finds using whips or riding crops as an effective treatment method. Similarly, the usage of whips or similar items is not included as one of the American Psychiatric Association’s (APA) common psychiatric treatments for patients.

According to the APA, psychiatrists use various treatment methods depending on the needs of a patient. Often, these treatments include talk psychotherapy, medications, or psychosocial interventions. In some cases, treatments may last for just a few weeks or months, but in others, treatment may be required for several years. Often, medications are prescribed along with psychotherapy.

Other treatments may include Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) for severe cases of depression in which no other treatments worked, and Light therapy for seasonal depression. Deep brain stimulation, vagus nerve stimulation, and transcranial simulation are just some of the newer psychiatric treatments.

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