Screenshot: Leana Stratton

Because current scientific literature does not recognize “go get my belt” as a viable psychological treatment, a black Memphis, Tenn., psychiatrist has been forced to temporarily close her office after an investigation determined that she used whips on multiple patients.

According to The Tennessean, the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners suspended the license (pdf) of Dr. Valerie Louise Augustus, a psychiatrist who has led Christian Psychiatric Services for 17 years, after medical documents revealed that Augustus used a riding crop on the buttocks of a patient who suffered from abuse, depression and suicidal thoughts.

Despite the fact that Augustus’ practice was selected by an area newspaper as Memphis’ top mental health practice, the investigation found at least 10 instances in which Augustus “made contact with other mental health patients with a riding crop, whip or other objects.” According to the order, medical students witnessed Augustus using the technique, noting that she proudly displayed a whip and a riding crop in her office and referred to patients as “mules.”

“There is no evidence in the psychiatric literature to support touching a patient with an implement as part of treatment,” the report notes, adding: “This is supported by the A.P.A.’s [American Psychologica Association] commentary on ethics and practice.”


Screenshot: Tennessee Board of Health

The board suspended Augustus’ medical license for 60 days and ordered her to pay $10,000—$1,000 for each time she was found to have used her plantation technique. She was also ordered to take a two-day medical-ethics course that will probably inform her that the scene in Roots where Kunta Kinte finally agreed to change his name to Toby was not a medical-training video.


In other science-related news, the board that governs the space-time continuum recently informed me that they could find no scientific evidence to support my mother’s claim that she could “knock me into next week.”

While biologists have long disputed her assertion that she could “knock the black off me,” in a 3-2 decision, a study by the American Medical Association confirmed that she brought me into this world and could, indeed, take me out.