Death plunge: Rebekah put 'through a psychological wringer'
Sydney Morning Herald
December 8, 2009
A woman who plunged to her death from the window of a city office block was in a state of psychosis that originated at a self-help course, a NSW coroner found today.
Rebekah Lawrence, 34, stepped off a window ledge at her Macquarie Street office on December 20, 2005.
Two days earlier she had completed the Turning Point program, a self-development course run by People Knowhow and described as a "journey to the core of the human spirit".
An inquest in August heard that Ms Lawrence was usually shy and polite, but was acting completely out of character before her death, hurling abuse at her work colleagues and stripping naked before jumping from the second-storey window.
Counsel assisting the coroner, Robert Bromwich, told the Coroner's Court in Glebe that the course put participants "through a psychological wringer". It propelled Ms Lawrence into psychosis, he submitted.
Her husband, David Booth, had told the inquest he did not believe she was responsible for her own death, saying: "I am certain that she would not have committed this act prior to the Turning Point course."
During the course, participants were "involved in self-searching of their state of mind" and underwent a session called "The Inner Child".
With eyes closed, the participants were progressively taken back to the time of their childhood and encouraged to develop a dialogue between their child and adult selves.
Ms Lawrence's behaviour just before her death - being petulant in a child-like way, singing and ranting - closely paralleled what was taught in the Inner Child session, the court heard.
Delivering his findings today, Deputy State Coroner Malcolm MacPherson said Ms Lawrence died after stepping out the window while in a psychotic state.
"The evidence is overwhelming that the act ... was the tragic culmination of a developing psychosis that had its origins in a self-development course known as 'The Turning Point', he said.
He recommended that the NSW Health Minister consider regulations to restrict the provision of counselling and psychotherapy services to those with recognised, relevant tertiary qualifications.
He also recommended a system to register and accredit counselling and psychotherapy services.
Outside court Mr Booth said the findings showed that in his wife's case, there were "unqualified people doing damaging things to people's minds". He called on the Government to adopt the coroner's recommendations.
Disclaimer:This news page is about groups, organizations or movements, which may have been called "cults" and/or "cult-like" in some way, shape or form. But not all groups called either "cults" or "cult-like" are harmful. Instead, they may be benign and generally defined as simply people intensely devoted to a person, place or thing. Therefore, the discussion or mention of a group, organization or person on this page, is not necessarily meant pejoratively. Readers are encouraged to read widely on a topic before forming an opinion. Never accept information from a single source at face value. This website only holds a small amount of information and should not be relied on as a complete source. For example, if you find older information, this should be weighed up against newer information as circumstances can change.