Keith Ablow was a practicing psychiatrist specializing in forensic psychiatry. He wrote best-selling fiction and non-fiction books with provocative titles like Psychopath, Projection. Inside the Mind of Casey Anthony, and Murder-Suicide. Ablow’s was consumed with a desire to help us understand killers’ thoughts. And motives, following clues about how and why they carried out their specific gruesome acts.
The 58-year-old was a cheerful opportunist who made his way around. The TV circuit appeared in Oprah, Good Morning America, Tyra, Fox News, Fox & Friends, Fox Business, CourtTV. The Today Show, showing off his supposed psychological insights while enthusiastically picking up a decent paycheck. His therapy practice was buzzing; he lived a high-end lifestyle, he traveled the world. And he made a name for himself as a celebrity who wasn’t hesitant to offer bold, attention-grabbing assessments of people—on Fox Business. He said former First Lady Hillary Clinton needed a psychologist and called former First Lady Michelle Obama fat.
For those who enjoyed armchair psychology, Ablow provided a sense of camaraderie. His shallow explanations and definitions of psychological issues were easy to understand. And people related to him and how he talked so easily about acts of violence. His credentials meant that people could believe he was a real authority, not someone just spouting “pop psychology.”
In 2005, he wrote a new book: Inside the Mind of Scott Peterson. In his book, Ablow promised that he would dissect Peterson’s mind through. The eyes of a psychiatrist at the top of his game. In contrast, other books on the topic explored the topic from a much less engaging chronological or legal perspective. This book would take its readers all the way inside the mind of a depraved killer.
Scott Peterson Killed His Wife
On December 24, 2002, Scott Peterson killed his wife, Laci, and their unborn son. It was a crime so terrible and hard to understand that the entire nation was hungry for an explanation. Ablow’s book promised to explain everything. This was especially interesting given that 15 years later, Ablow was revealed to be a sick individual who had lived a double life: one as a well-respected psychiatrist, the other as an abuser.
Peterson took the lives of his wife and his unborn son in a premeditated act of violence. Several of Ablow’s female clients alleged (in lawsuits settled out of court) that he had destroyed their lives psychologically, saying that. Ablow traumatized them and forced them to engage in sexual acts while destroying their trust in him.
In his book about Scott Peterson, Ablow wrote, “[My] professional life has been spent in search of the answer to one question: ‘Why?’” A three-letter word he failed to ask in his personal life, instead choosing to live in a world of hypocrisy, eventually leading to his much-deserved downfall.
“Scott Peterson had already been spiritually dead for a very long time,” Ablow wrote. “He walked among us as an emotional vampire feasting day-to-day on the life force of others, particularly women.” The four women who accused Ablow of unethical behavior saw him. The same way, painting him as a generally amoral man. Apparently, one who never stopped to ask himself why he was doing any of the things he was doing.
Most Clients Enter Ento Therapy
Most clients enter into therapy after suffering some form of trauma. The therapist’s job is to avoid exacerbating a client’s mental illness and assist clients in utilizing coping skills. At the same time, the therapist helps them gain a sense of purpose. The ability to rebuild broken connections, and a feeling of self-acceptance. This is typically done through expressing and exploring their thoughts in a trusting environment, such as a therapist’s office.
Ablow was mulch for his female clients, the fertilizer they relied on to help them fill in the patchy areas of their lives. But he acted more like a parasitic weed. In hindsight, Ablow’s supercilious comments about Peterson’s sex life showed a combination of a juvenile delinquent mentality and speculative voyeurism, particularly since Peterson wasn’t charged with raping and killing women afterward. Ablow’s discussions of Peterson’s sex life were well outside the bounds of the case he was supposedly discussing.
“…In bed, like everywhere else, Scott Peterson was absent, buried inside himself, very unsure of everything about himself, including his manhood,” wrote Ablow. “He was undoubtedly handsome and very patient, studying. What made her close her eyes, begin to arch her back, cry out with pleasure.” Let me remind you here that Scott Peterson decapitated his pregnant wife and killed their unborn son. Yet here, Ablow busied himself indulging his perverted made-up analysis of Peterson’s sex life.
But then again, maybe Ablow’s twisted, disheveled mind couldn’t help itself. In a fascinating article, author Gina Bellafante profiled one of Ablow’s former patients. The woman recalled the nightmare of having to deal with Ablow. Who patronized the woman Bellafante interviewed and the other women who brought lawsuits against him as well.
Dr. Ablow Presented Himself
“From the beginning, Dr. Ablow presented himself as an idealized caretaker more than a guide,” the woman told Bellafante. “As if he said, ‘Let down your guard, let go of everything and completely fall on me because I will give you everything you ever needed. And it would help if you had nothing but to trust me,’” Bellafante wrote. “Their sessions had an improvisational, transgressive tone. According to her official complaint, Dr. Ablow twice wondered, for no apparent therapeutic purpose, whether Monique had genital piercings. At one point, when she was describing a conflict with her father, Dr. Ablow responded: ‘Why don’t you tell your father to come to stick a gun in my face and see what happens.’” These words from a man who would later speculate about whether anyone could have foreseen Scott Peterson’s horrifying acts.
“The boundary between patient and doctor was permeable from the start. Dr. Ablow took [the client] to a taping at Fox; he connected her with a literary agent when she wanted to write,” wrote Bellafante. “On one occasion, she mentioned she was near his office with her dog. This was in Newburyport, where she still went for treatment on occasion, running up bills in local inns, in addition to seeing him in New York. She knew Dr. Ablow had expressed an interest in meeting her dog, and he briefly left a session with another patient to come outside and play with him, she said.”
A Boston news outlet reported that another of Ablow’s alleged victims in the lawsuit said. “He would have me on my knees and begin to beat me with his hands on my breasts, occasionally saying, ‘I own you,’ or ‘You are my slave.’”
In the Peterson book, Ablow wrote, “If I practice until my hundredth year, I will never lose my sense of wonder and amazement at the potential we have as human beings to heal one another–or hurt one another.”
Many psychiatrists use The Mental Status Examination (MSE) to assist. when diagnosing a client; the assessment tool offers several categories that clinicians either ask directly or answer after tenaciously observing the client for possible signs of incongruence. Some of the MSE categories explore Thought Process, Thought Content, Perception, Impulse Control, and Judgment and Insight. Ablow surely knew about the MSE instrument’s content, yet he wasn’t educated enough to figure out where his own blind spots were. Or maybe he didn’t care.
If I can find any sympathy for Ablow, it does not come from any acceptance of the harm he did to his female clients. But I do see that mental health providers, social workers, therapists, psychiatrists, ministers, activists, etc., find themselves in the position of always having to appear unflawed. It is taxing and, in some ways, unfair. And it is especially challenging when clients treat the professionals as paragons. But this is where my compassion for Ablow ends. As I said, he had access to tools for self-awareness and self-improvement. If he felt the pressure was too great, he should have known exactly how to treat it.
Ablow’s Newburyport Office
Ablow’s Newburyport office in Boston and his home were both raided by the DEA. The Massachusetts Board of Medicine suspended his medical license. The board issued a statement that read: “The Board alleges that Dr. Ablow engaged in sexual activity and boundary violations with multiple patients. Diverted controlled substances from patients, engaged in disruptive behavior, including displaying and pointing a firearm on multiple occasions in a manner that scared an employee, and procured his license renewal fraudulently.”
What did Ablow tell a Boston TV reporter about the allegations? “[I am] a male, public person, and a Trump supporter. Am I surprised at the allegations against me? Yes. I am shocked? No.” Incredibly, he went on to say, “If you add psychiatric practice. And the #METOO movement together, someone might argue that it makes it tough to practice.” Yet again, the interview showed how convoluted. Ablow’s relationship to reality demonstrating that a person can be highly educated and still shockingly dumb.
In his book about Peterson, Ablow wrote, “You can’t outdistance the past. In the end, the truth–especially any truth we turn our backs on–always wins.”
The truth about Keith Ablow is winning now, as the women he tortured are speaking out against him. His disgraceful actions are coming to light, and hopefully, he pays a heavy price for years to come.