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We apologize in advance for flogging a dead horse

Given current levels of inspiration following last night’s election results, In Other Media sees fit to return, one last time, to the well-worn comfort of the James Frey fiasco. Remember when Frey appeared on Larry King Live, testifying to the essential truth of his so-called memoir, A Million Little Pieces? Remember one of Frey’s chief defences – that investigative website The Smoking Gun disputed only a small portion of the book? Remember how he claimed that the rest of the book, set in a Minnesota drug rehabilitation centre, was essentially true?

Well, apparently, there are things rehab counsellors can say about the stays of alleged patients in their centres that could make things worse for people like Frey. And apparently, most of those things were said by many counsellors to Edward Wyatt in an article appearing today in The New York Times.

Wyatt reports that more than three months before The Smoking Gun’s report, and even before Oprah Winfrey had Frey on her show, Debra Jay, a frequent guest on Oprah and a counsellor formerly affiliated with the Hazelden rehabilitation centre in Center City, Minnesota, where Frey was allegedly committed, told producers of the show that “his portrayal of his experience there grossly distorted reality.”

“His description of treatment at Hazelden is almost entirely false,” said Jay. “I’m coming forward because his descriptions of treatment are so damaging…. These are things that could not happen to anybody at Hazelden or at any reputable licensed treatment center.”

Jay and other former Hazelden counsellors claim that Frey’s book may have done more harm than good, insofar as addictions treatment is concerned. “I have had young people say to me that if they had a child who was having problems, they would never send them to treatment after reading that book,” says former Hazelden counsellor Carol Colleran, adding that according to her experiences at the Hazelden, “98 percent of that book is false.”

In response to these claims, Frey resorted to tried and true Defence No. 2: “I told James that I’ve been there, that I worked there and I’ve never seen any of those things happen at Hazelden,” said John H. Curtiss, who worked at Hazelden for more than 19 years. “In a million years those things would not happen at Hazelden. He said that was his recollection, but that he changed the names.”

Winfrey and her associates were, as usual, unavailable for comment.

Related links:
Click here for the full story from The New York Times