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Beach Boy Brian Wilson's Psychologist Loses License

April 01, 1989|TRACY WILKINSON | Times Staff Writer

Eugene Landy, the flamboyant psychotherapist who guided singer Brian Wilson's comeback but was criticized for allegedly exerting too much control over his patient, has lost his license to practice psychology in California for at least two years.

Landy, who faced accusations ranging from sexual misconduct with a female patient to gross negligence, admitted to a single charge of unlawful prescribing of drugs, according to a 15-page legal agreement obtained by The Times on Friday.

Wilson, a member of the Beach Boys, and Landy are vacationing in Hawaii and not available for comment, a publicist for Wilson said. Landy's attorney was in court Friday and could not be reached, his office said.

In the past, Landy has denied the charges, which were brought against him last year by the watchdog California Board of Medical Quality Assurance.

Landy, complying with an agreement made with the state, surrendered his license on Monday, Suzanne Taylor, the BMQA's management services technician, said in a telephone interview from Sacramento.

In a highly unusual move, the BMQA asked Landy to agree not to apply for reinstatement of his license for two years. Normally, any psychologist who loses his or her license is allowed to reapply in one year.

'Added Insurance'

Thomas O'Connor, executive officer of the BMQA's Psychology Examining Committee, indicated that the two-year penalty is "added insurance."

"The patient abuses (outlined in the complaint against Landy) were heinous," O'Connor said.

Landy, 54, who holds a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Oklahoma, pioneered a technique called "24-hour therapy," where the goal is for the therapist and his assistants to exert control over every aspect of the patient's life.

Landy has been credited by some people, including the former Beach Boy, with helping Wilson, the creative force behind the band, recover from years of drug abuse and self-neglect to record a highly acclaimed solo album, "Brian Wilson," last year.

Exploitation Alleged

But critics, including some of Wilson's relatives and former associates, claim that Landy isolated and exploited Wilson, dominating his professional life in a manner befitting Svengali.

The complaint against Landy filed by the BMQA contained seven charges. Landy admitted to only one, which accused him of prescribing drugs in violation of business and professional codes. Psychologists are not allowed to prescribe drugs.

According to the complaint, Landy's longtime colleague, psychiatrist Solon D. Samuels, who faces no charges, wrote prescriptions for the medicines. Landy controlled their administration to Wilson, a practice that amounted to prescribing, O'Connor said.

The complaint identifies the patient only as "B.W.," but it is known to be Wilson.

History of Drug Abuse

Witnesses for Landy who were cited in the agreement said his administering of the drugs was necessary because of the patient's history of drug abuse and to prevent him from engaging in destructive behavior.

Another of the charges against Landy accuses him of allowing a "dual relationship" to form with Wilson, also in violation of permitted psychological practices. The dual relationship occurred when Landy became Wilson's business manager, executive producer and co-songwriter, the complaint alleges.

Landy was also accused of sexual misconduct and unlawful prescribing to an unidentified female patient, as well as use of cocaine with her. Landy did not admit to these charges nor to the dual relationship charge. Negligence was alleged with both patients.

'Public Is Being Protected'

O'Connor said he was not disappointed that Landy admitted to only one charge.

"Our goal in any case is to ultimately obtain the license," he said. "The public is being protected from him."

Landy became known for treating celebrity clients and the drug-abusing children of wealthy Westsiders in the '70s, about the time he founded a Beverly Hills clinic, the Foundation for the Rechanneling of Emotions and Education (FREE).

He first became associated with Wilson in 1975. Wilson's wife, Marilyn, sought Landy's help in rehabilitating the singer-composer, whose life had become bogged down in drugs and emotional problems. The Beach Boys' manager fired Landy late in 1976, but he re-emerged at Wilson's side in 1983.

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