On November 9, 2009, the Medical Board of California revoked the license of psychiatrist Norman J. Lachman. Revocation was stayed and he was placed on five years probation with terms and conditions. This action was the result of the Board’s 2007 charges against Lachman for gross negligence, repeated negligent acts, incompetence and failure to maintain adequate and accurate records. These charges involve two patients: then-25-year-old “M.B.” and his sister, “I.B.”
Lachman did not maintain any records of therapy sessions with M.B., whom he treated from late 2000 to April 2004 or for I.B., whom he treated from 2000 to April 2003. Both M.B. and I.B. had been in family therapy with Lachman when they were teenagers.
Most of the therapy sessions were conducted by telephone or e-mail. Lachman insisted on daily sessions, which lasted three to four hours each. M.B. also met with Lachman on both Saturday and Sunday, for sessions that lasted at least three hours each. Though M.B. worked full time and was at that time studying for the GMAT (Graduate Management Admission Test), Lachman would usually call after 9 pm and expected M.B. to prepare written analyses of their phone sessions before he went to sleep. Lachman would then critique the analyses. Lachman also ordered M.B. to prepare written assignments based on his notes. M.B. asked Lachman to reduce all this homework due to his work schedule but Lachman refused.
Face to face sessions were conducted in Lachman’s home where, on occasion, he struck M.B. in the stomach, chest and legs with a cane. On at least one occasion, Lachman struck M.B. in the testicles with his hand. Over the course of the sessions, Lachman called M.B. stupid and crazy. M.B.’s psychologist, “Dr. J.M.,” who attended conjoint sessions with Lachman and M.B. corroborated that Lachman called M.B. stupid and was emotionally abusive towards M.B. Examples: Lachman made M.B. buy dog food and threatened to make him eat it; ordered him not to contact his sister I.B. without his permission; referred to M.B. by a girl’s name and told him to imagine a male orally copulating him; asked M.B. to set him up with his female friends and also to send naked photos of M.B.’s girlfriends which Lachman would keep in his possession; asked M.B. to record pornographic videos for him and made sexual innuendos regarding I.B.
According to M.B., Lachman never furnished a bill for services because he was receiving disability based on a 1994 car accident. Lachman directed M.B. to make his checks payable to Lachman’s accountant. Lachman directed him to not deduct his services on his tax forms as medical expenses. During one session, M.B. mentioned he had an extra computer. Lachman asked M.B. to give it to him and he complied. Two years later, Lachman told M.B. it was “a piece of crap” and insisted that M.B. get him a new one, which he did, at a cost of $3,400.
At one point in M.B.’s therapy, Lachman instituted a system where fines were imposed for various “infractions” such as allowing Lachman to do most of the talking or M.B. making inappropriate comments. Over the course of six months, M.B. incurred “fines” totaling $80,000, which M.B. was directed by Lachman to pay by obtaining a loan from a bank. Lachman “forgave” the “debt” when M.B. failed to qualify for the loan.
The Board’s document contains more allegations of bizarre conduct.
Terms of Lachman’s probation include, at his own expenses and within 60 days, a clinical assessment and training program consisting of a two-day assessment of his mental and physical health, medical knowledge, skill and judgment relative to his clinical specialty (psychiatry) and a 40-hour program clinical education program; a Board-approved ethics course and a professional boundaries program.
Decision, In the Matter of the Accusation Against Norman J. Lachman, Physician’s and Surgeon’s Certificate No. G 15903, Case No. 17-2004-161777, Medical Board of California, October 8, 2009.