John O’Neil, MD

License Number: #79514

 

Education

  • Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Canada | McGill University | 1978 - 1982
  • M.D | McGill University | 1974 - 1978
  • B.A | Concordia University | 1966 - 1971

 

Job Titles + Accolades

  • Psychiatrist | Private practise | 2018 - Present
  • Psychoanalyst | Canadian Psychoanalytic Society | 1986 - Present
  • Fellow | International Society for the Study of Trauma & Dissociation | 1992 - Present
  • Approved Consultant | American Society of Clinical Hypnosis | 2006 - Present
  • Professional Training Program |  International Society for the Study of Trauma & Dissociation | 2002 - Present
  • Staff Psychiatrist | St. Mary’s Hospital | 1998 - 2018
  • Assistant Professor of Psychiatry | McGill University | 1982 - 2018
  • Staff Psychiatrist | Douglas Hospital | 1982 - 1998
  • Professional Training Program Faculty | Unknown

 

Awards

  • Pierre Janet Writing Award  |  International Society for the Study of Trauma & Dissociation (ISSTD) | 2009
  • Lifetime Achievement Award |  International Society for the Study of Trauma & Dissociation (ISSTD) | 2021

 

Publications

  • Gérer les états dissociatifs liés au TSPT | 2019
  • Hypnosis and Psychoanalysis: Toward Undoing Freud’s Primal Category Mistake | 2018
  • Symptom Patterns: The Subjective Experience S Axis | 2017
  • Le trouble dissociatif de l’identité : plonger dans la multiplicité pour mieux comprendre l’unicité de son patient | 2011
  • Dissociation and the Dissociative Disorders - DSM-V and Beyond | 2009
  • Dissociative Multiplicity and Psychoanalysis | 2009
  • Épistémologie | 2001
  • Expanding the psychoanalytic view of the intrapsychic: Psychic conflict in the inscape | 1997
  • Popper, Grunbaum and induction | 1993

 

Conferences

  • Town Hall |  International Society for the Study of Trauma & Dissociation (ISSTD) | 2002-2007

 

Podcast, Audio, & Written Interviews

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Overview

John O’Neil is a psychiatrist who practices in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. John O’Neil has a long history of advocating for the pseudoscientific notion of repressed memories and is quoted and referenced extensively by other conspiracy therapists.

O’Neil’s writings are extensive and lengthy, but in summary his arguments focus on his philosophical interpretations of the controversial idea of multiplicity (one who experiences multiple personalities) and his contempt for Freud’s abandonment of his repression theory and use of hypnosis.

O’Neil collaborates extensively within the study group he co-founded, The Montreal Study Group of Trauma and Dissociation (MSGTD). He receives referrals to his private psychiatry practise from a network of Montreal-based therapists, including his wife Su Baker, all of whom are also members of the International Society for the Study of Trauma and Dissociation (ISSTD). By his own admission -- “for the past 10 years all of my psychotherapeutic patients have been hypnopathic (dissociative or complex post-traumatic)” -- he has focused solely on the diagnosis of Dissociative Identity Disorder and other dissociative disorders for the last decade, leading one to wonder how perhaps this insular and controversial caseload may have warped his duty to objectivity and rationality in the following points.

In a court case, O’Neil testified or agreed with the following:

  • That his patient had recovered memories of abuse dating back to the age of 2 years old (a scientific impossibility, due to infantile amnesia).
  • That his patient had recovered these memories by way of “automatic writing,” an alleged psychic ability which allows the person to write without conscious effort (which is presumed by scientists to be the result of the ideomotor effect, which Ouija boards also rely on).
  • That “automatic writing” is a valid way of recovering repressed infantile memories and that his patient had indeed recovered memories in this way.
  • That his patient’s therapy and treatment would take approximately 12 years.

Instead, court analysis revealed that:

  • O’Neil had collaborated with other therapists (Jocelyn Filion and Annabelle Gagné) in his study group (Montreal Study Group of Trauma and Dissociation) to “gather evidence” for repressed memories in his client when no such memories existed previously.
  • Jocelyn Filion played a role in developing the patient’s memories after O'Neil specifically ordered her to "collect evidence” for him.
  • O’Neil had made several assumptions about the etiology of his patient presenting symptoms that “rest on very controversial premises whose scientific value has not been demonstrated.” O’Neil testified that because of his diagnosis of DID, the repressed memories must be valid because DID only appears due to repressed memories of abuse (“direct cause”).
  • O'Neil describes the repressed recovered memories with corresponding symptoms. He makes large leaps in logic, tying the patient’s presenting symptoms to alleged recovered abuse memories (for example, tightness in the throat was presented as a symptom of repressed forced oral sex).
  • The court decided that O’Neil’s testimony was neither credible nor reliable.

 

In His Own Words

“The amnesia in question is autobiographical amnesia—amnesia for prior events, for given intervals of time. Is such amnesia due to repression or dissociation? Some prefer one of the two terms, and call both by that preferred name. In my view, they remain clearly distinct. If a host has amnesia for an event, because the event is “located” in an alter, then the reason for the amnesia is dissociation. But the alter who “owns” the event may likewise be amnestic for the event, and may instead have somatic symptoms arising from the event, exactly in line with Freud’s model of repression and conversion. In that case, I would call the reason for the amnesia “repression.” Hosts are often amnestic for a given traumatic event for both reasons: the memory of the event is dissociated—located in an alter—and simultaneously repressed within that alter.

 

"Repression and conversion remain serviceable concepts when applied to an individual host or alter. Even if a trauma is dissociated from the host into an alter, it may still be repressed in that alter, in whom a partial somatic flashback may function as a token, index or reminder of what was repressed."

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