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They were surprised at the number of participants in their samples who had engaged in sex with therapists.

The extensive data that Masters and Johnson collected on each participant allowed them to compare the consequences of sex with a therapist to the consequences of other events such as consensual sexual relationships with a spouse or life-partner, consensual sex occurring outside long-term relationships, and various forms of rape, incest, and abuse.

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The historical consensus among health care professionals that sex with patients is prohibited as destructive continued into the modern age.

In the landmark (i.e., one of the first women to successfully bring suit against her therapist on these grounds) 1976 case of , the court held: "Thus from [Freud] to the modern practitioner we have common agreement of the harmful effects of sensual intimacies between patient and therapist." What are the "harmful effects" the court referred to?

These reactions are: (a) ambivalence, (b) cognitive dysfunction, (c) emotional lability, (d) emptiness and isolation, (e) impaired ability to trust, (f) guilt, (g) increased suicidal risk, (h) role reversal and boundary confusion, (i) sexual confusion, and (j) suppressed anger.

While common, these reactions do not characterize all patients who have been sexually involved with a therapist.

So striking were the harmful consequences associated with therapist-patient sex that Masters and Johnson wrote: "We feel that when sexual seduction of patients can be firmly established by due legal process, regardless of whether the seduction was initiated by the patient or the therapist, the therapist should be sued for rape rather than malpractice, i.e., the legal process should be criminal rather than civil." Psychologist Phyllis Chesler, in her landmark 1972 study , included a section on therapist-patient sex.

She reported consequences among the sample of women whom she studied including severe depression and suicide.

When people are hurting, unhappy, frightened, or confused, they may seek help from a therapist.

They may be depressed, perhaps thinking of killing themselves.

Data have been collected using structured behavioral observation, standardized tests and other psychometric instruments, clinical interview, and other methods.

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