Posted in Guest Post on November 3, 2013

Today I’d like to welcome author Anne McCarthy Strauss to StoreyBook Reviews.  Anne has written a book called A Medical Affair which is very realistic because it probably happens more often than we like to admit.  I have read this book and my review will be posted shortly and I have to admit you love and hate the characters!  But I won’t go into that here because this is all about why Anne wrote the book.  Fascinating!

A Writer’s Passion for a Topic Drives the Best Books


Why I wrote A Medical Affair


Anne McCarthy Strauss

Every once in a while, you hear about something that just gets under your skin.  Maybe it’s child abuse, unemployment among a certain group, or a professional’s abuse of his or her power.  The story stays with you to the point that you cannot sit by passively – you have to do something.

For me, that moment came a few years ago when an acquaintance was sexually abused by her psychologist. In New York State, where I live, there were punitive laws in place to protect women and men from predatory medical doctors – primarily gynecologists and general practitioners – who initiated affairs with their patients.  Such abuses were dealt with and disciplined by the Office of Professional Medical Conduct, the OPMC.  However, there were no such disciplinary systems in place for psychologists, who were overseen by the Office of Professional Discipline.

A psychogists’ patient, Denise Weisbrod of Long Island, and her attorney Audrey Bedolis brought Denise’s story to NBC News and to the Office of Professional Discipline (OPD).  Denise reported that as part of her therapy, her therapist Dr.Scott Burzon suggested the two have sex in his office as a way to help her trust men again.  While it all seemed consensual, Denise’s lawyer, Audrey Bedolis explain that, “The patient is unable to consent and that’s what the criminal statute here in New York recognizes.  Consent isn’t there because emotions have been manipulated by the therapist.”

The law was different for medical doctors whose license to practice is overseen by the state Office of Professional Medical Conduct (OPMC), a division of the Health Department.  Denise’s counselor was not a doctor, but a state-licensed clinical social worker or psychotherapist whose license was overseen by the state Office of Professional Discipline (OPD), a division of the Education Department.

According to state law, OPMC is required to report to law enforcement any cases where a psychiatrist is in a sexual relationship with a patient undergoing therapy. OPD has no such requirement for psychotherapists or licensed clinical social workers.

Because of the efforts of this brave woman and her attorney, New York State law was changed   It became third-degree, or statutory rape for a mental health provider to engage in a sexual relationship with a patient undergoing therapy, regardless of their age.

Why, I wondered, had the laws not previously been the same for medical doctors and for psychologists.  Even more troubling to me was the fact that it seemed apparently consensual sexual activity was extremely common between medical professionals and their patients.  As I researched for A Media Affair for over a year, I learned that such a relationship is never seen as consensual under the law because of its fiduciary nature.  The doctor knows better, and the patient is not in a position to give consent because of the nature of the relationship.

I became passionate about the topic as I learned how common it is – and how difficult to pursue.  And  I believe an author’s having a passion is an element that makes a good book a great book.  Readers say I have accomplished this with A Medial Affair.

I believe the best books are written by authors who are impassioned about a cause.  Victor Hugo’s Les Miserable’s.  Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.  Kathryn Stockett’s The Help.

The author’s passion for the subject comes through in the pages of his or her book.  I hope my passion again injustices in the medical professional calls from every page of A Medical Affair.

a medical affair