Loren Pankratz

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Loren Pankratz
Loren Pankratz 2011.jpg
Born (1940-02-27) February 27, 1940 (age 75)
Portland, Oregon
Citizenship American
Fields Psychology
Institutions Portland VA Medical Center
Oregon Health & Science University
Alma mater Oregon State University BA 1962
University of Oregon PhD 1968
Known for Posttraumatic stress disorder
Münchausen syndrome by proxy

Loren Pankratz (born February 27, 1940[citation needed]) is a consultation psychologist at the Portland VA Medical Center and professor in the department of psychiatry at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU).[1]

Following his retirement in 1995, he maintained a forensic practice until 2012.[citation needed] He testified nationally on cases of Münchausen syndrome by proxy (MBP), often defending mothers accused of harming their children.[2][3]

He has written and lectured on a wide variety of unusual topics such as dancing manias, spiritualism, Greek oracles, ghosts, plagues, historical enigmas, mesmerism, moral panics, con-games, self-deception, faith healing, self-surgery, miracles, ethical blunders, quackery, and renaissance science.[citation needed] He has also published magic history, magic tricks, and mentalism effects in magazines.[1] Pankratz, along with Ray Hyman and Jerry Andrus, was a founding faculty member of the Skeptic's Toolbox in Eugene, Oregon. Pankratz is also a Fellow for the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry.[4]


Pankratz received his B.A. from Oregon State University in 1962 and his Ph.D. from the University of Oregon in 1968.[citation needed] He is a lifelong resident of Oregon, and his mother and grandparents were pioneers near Mount Hood.[citation needed]

In 2012, Pankratz constructed a display of historically significant books about quackery at the Oregon Health & Science University Library.[5]


Loren Pankratz lectures at the Skeptic's Toolbox -2012 "Three Renaissance Philosophers: Evaluating Evidence Before Science

Pankratz was a psychologist at the Portland VA Medical Center for 24 years.[1] He was also responsible for psychiatry admissions, which gave him experience with emergency room physicians and procedures[citation needed] where he became aware of what he described in Summering in Oregon as false information that patients presented to clinicians.[6][7]

In 1975, Pankratz became consultation psychologist for medical and surgical services where he remained until his early retirement in 1995.[citation needed] "The purpose of checking a veteran's story, of course, is not directed at catching lies but at identifying and treating the proper problem."[8]

Pankratz was appointed professor in the psychiatry department at Oregon Health Sciences University (now Oregon Health & Science University) in 1989.[citation needed] After retirement, he became a clinical professor in the department of psychiatry.[8]

As a reviewer for the American Journal of Psychiatry, Pankratz vetted potential publications on posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in which he says some authors "merely gathered evidence for what they believed was true about symptoms and the underlying trauma".[8] He said that many aspiring authors did not check outside facts, and patients told therapists what they wanted to hear.[8]

In 1993, Pankratz was appointed to the scientific and professional advisory board of the False Memory Syndrome Foundation.[9] He has written about the lack of documented evidence for repressed memory and the resistance in acknowledging this professional blunder.[8]

In 1984, Pankratz and two colleagues founded the Drug-Seeking Behavior Committee which turned the focus of drug abuse from addiction to the earlier problem of risk.[unreliable source?][10]

Münchausen syndrome by proxy[edit]

At Skeptic's Toolbox - 2012

Pankratz's articles on Münchausen syndrome by proxy discussed what he says is a problem of false accusations associated with the diagnosis. Pankratz concluded that "mothers who present the problems of their children in ways perceived as unusual or problematic have become entangled in legal battles that should have been resolved clinically". In the majority of cases he reviewed, the mothers "were well meaning but inappropriately concerned about the health of their children, or their behavior was problematic in other ways".[11][12][13] In an interview with Psychology Today Pankratz stated "I have seen mothers accused of MBP simply because physicians disagreed about the medical management of their child..." it is "vastly overdiagnosed."[3]

After a contentious case in Pennsylvania, Pankratz told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette that the accused mother was not creating medical symptoms in her children. Often called in as expert testimony, Pankratz stated, "for 30 years... (I have) been hired by prosecutors, defense attorneys, insurance companies and the Roman Catholic Church as an expert in medical deception." In his opinion, the mother had not created medical symptoms in her children. Instead, the symptoms were caused by a mitochondrial disorder, an uncommon condition that is difficult to diagnose. The children were returned to the care of the mother.[2]


Each of the faculty of 2012's Skeptic's Toolbox are presented by Carl and Ben Baumgartner, with an honorary In The Trenches award. Ray Hyman, Lindsay Beyerstein, James Alcock, Harriet Hall and Loren Pankratz[14]

Pankratz published Patients Who Deceive in 1998 which is part of the Charles Thomas Behavioral Science and Law series. Reviewer Phillip Resnick wrote that Pankratz clearly explains the difference between a malingerer (someone who wants to appear sick) and a person with factitious disorder who wants to be sick (even when no one is watching). Resnick says the book showcases "many dramatic examples of creating illusions of illness."[15] Pankratz and psychiatrist Landy Sparr described factitious posttraumatic stress disorder in 1983, saying the stories of trauma always require external verification.[16]

Pankratz described forced-choice testing[vague] as a strategy for the assessment of malingering related to any sensory deficit.[17][18] He later expanded forced-choice testing to assess malingering on neuropsychological assessment.[19]

In the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), Pankratz published an article on the assessment and treatment of "geezers".[20] The Los Angeles Times review said geezers, "are never more misunderstood than when, laid low by medical problems they can't shake themselves, they are forced to swallow their pride and go to the doctor." The Times quoted Pankratz's article, "So all the medical profession can do is wait for the geezer to appear, on his own time and his own terms. If eccentric older men can be approached with interest, understanding and respect, half the battle is won—and the war may be avoided."[21]


  1. ^ a b c Pankratz, Loren. What Gives a Liar Away? - Oregonians for Rationality
  2. ^ a b Kane, Karen (26 March 2012). "Expert declares accused parents 'normal'". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 2015-02-27. 
  3. ^ a b Weintraub, Pamela. "Munchausen: Unusual Suspects". Psychology Today. Retrieved 2012-05-22. 
  4. ^ "CSI Fellows and Staff". CFI. Retrieved 2012-08-14. 
  5. ^ "The Literature of Quackery: Amusement and Understanding". Oregon Health & Science University. Retrieved 2012-05-22. 
  6. ^ Pankratz, Loren; Lipkin (1978). "The Transient Patient in a Psychiatric Ward: Summering in Oregon". Journal of Operational Psychiatry 9: 42–47. 
  7. ^ Pankratz, Loren; James Jackson (29 December 1994). "Habitually Wandering Patients". The New England Journal of Medicine. doi:10.1056/NEJM199412293312606. Retrieved 2012-05-22. 
  8. ^ a b c d e Pankratz, Loren (May–June 2003). "More hazards: Hypnosis, airplanes, and strongly held beliefs". Skeptical Inquirer. Retrieved 2012-05-22. 
  9. ^ [dead link] "The FMSF Scientific and Professional Advisory Board - Profiles". False Memory Syndrome Foundation. Retrieved 2012-05-22. 
  10. ^ [non-primary source needed] Pankratz, Loren; David Hickman; Shirley Toth (October 1989). "The Identification and Management of Drug-Seeking Behavior in a Medical Center". Elsevier]. pp. 115–118. Retrieved 2012-05-22. 
  11. ^ Pankratz, Loren (January 2006). "Persistent Problems With the Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy Label" (PDF). Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law: 90–95. Retrieved 2012-05-22. 
  12. ^ Pankratz, Loren (2006). "Persistent Problems With the Munchausen Syndrome by Proxy Label" (PDF). The Journal of Psychiatry & Law 34 (1). Retrieved 2012-05-23. 
  13. ^ Pankratz, Loren (Fall 2010). "Persistent problems with the "separation test" in Munchausen syndrome by proxy" (PDF). The Journal of Psychiatry & Law. Retrieved 2012-05-22. 
  14. ^ "Skeptic's Toolbox Awards - 2". youtube. Retrieved 2012-08-12. 
  15. ^ [dead link] Resnick, Phillip (February 1999). "Patients Who Deceive: Assessment and Management of Risk in Providing Health Care and Financial Benefits" (PDF). Psychiatric Services. Retrieved 2012-05-22. 
  16. ^ [dead link] Sparr, L.; Loren Pankratz (1983). Factitious Posttraumatic Stress Disorder. American Journal of Psychiatry. pp. 1016–1019. Retrieved 2012-05-22. 
  17. ^ Pankratz, Loren; Stephen A. Fausti; Steve Peed (1975). "Case Study: A Forced-Choice Technique to Evaluate Deafness in the Hysterical or Malingering Patient" (PDF). Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 43 (3): 421–422. doi:10.1037/h0076722. Retrieved 2012-05-22. 
  18. ^ Pankratz, Loren (1979). "Procedures for the Assessment and Treatment of Functional Sensory Deficits". Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 47 (2): 409–410. doi:10.1037/0022-006x.47.1.225. Retrieved 2012-05-22. 
  19. ^ Pankratz, Loren (1983). "'A New Technique for the Assessment and Modification of Feigned Memory Deficit. Perceptual and Motor Skills". Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology 57: 367–372. doi:10.2466/pms.1983.57.2.367. Retrieved 2012-05-22. 
  20. ^ Pankratz, Loren; Lial Kofoed (1988-02-26). "The Assessment and Treatment of Geezers". Journal of the American Medical Association 259 (8): 1228–1229. doi:10.1001/jama.259.8.1228. Retrieved 2012-05-22. 
  21. ^ Parachin, Allan (1988-02-26). "Old Men Need Respect, Too--Giving the Geezer His Due : 'The geezer emerged from adverse circumstances with a fierce independence blazed from solving problems.". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2012-05-22. 

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