Refutation of the disinformation about Monica Pignotti

Archive for May, 2010

Monica Pignotti: Endorsements by Academic Scientific Mental Health Professionals

The smear campaign on the internet continues, with lie after bizarre lie by posters and crackpot anonymous bloggers who lack the courage to put their real names to what they write about me. The lie is constantly repeated that I am a “kook” and a “quack” by my cyber abusers, when, in fact, precisely the opposite is the case: I have numerous publications debunking quackery, which are the reason for this unrelenting internet smear campaign against me.

To refute this, here are endorsements I have received from people who are highly respected in the scientific community who are considered top experts on debunking pseudoscience and quackery in the mental health profession who obviously would not be supporting me if I were actually a kook or a quack, since these are individuals who cannot, by any stretch of the imagination, ever be considered kooks or quacks. Note that this is not an argument from authority because I am not arguing that I am correct because they say so. The purpose of providing these endorsements is to show that I am respected by leaders in the academic community and not regarded in the way I am being misportrayed by my cyber abusers.

Here is a letter written by Scott Lilienfeld to my dean, in response to a bogus “complaint” that was full of lies about me, which was sent to the person who was, at the time the Dean of the College of Social Work at the university where I was then a PhD candidate [note that the Dean took no action with regard to the “complaint” because he told me he considered it completely irrelevant to my work at the university, so the complainer failed and I continued to teach there the following term. I left in 2009 in good standing in every way and have the references to prove it]. Here is a letter that was written on my behalf.

I understand from Monica that Dr. [name deleted] has written a lengthy letter of complaint [to her Dean] in response to her criticisms of his therapeutic practices.   I wish to offer my own perspective on these matters.  By way of background, I am a Professor in the Department of Psychology at Emory University in Atlanta where I have taught since 1994 (I received my Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Minnesota in 1990, and was a faculty member at SUNY Albany from 1990 to 1994).   I am past president of the Society for a Science of Clinical Psychology (Section 3 of the Clinical Psychology Division of the American Psychological Association), recipient of the David Shakow Award for Early Career Contributions to Clinical Psychology from Division 12 of the American Psychological Association, editor-in-chief of a peer reviewed journal (Scientific Review of Mental Health Practice).

I have been fortunate to get to know Ms. Pignotti through both formal and informal interactions, primarily via e-mail and phone correspondence and secondarily via academic conferences.  In my experience, she is a highly intelligent and intellectually curious person with great academic integrity.  She is also gutsy, and willing to speak out when she observes therapeutic practices that are potentially ineffective or harmful.   But she bases her claims solidly on the best available research evidence.   Monica is well respected among scientifically-oriented clinical psychologists, including some of the field’s leaders. I wanted to offer my strong support of Monica Pignotti, whom I view as a courageous scholar of considerable academic integrity.

Scott O. Lilienfeld, Ph.D., Professor

Department of Psychology, Emory University

Some additional endorsements of Monica Pignotti:

Monica Pignotti is a courageous champion of science in clinical practice. Her efforts to combat pseudoscience with critical thinking, scrupulous attention to “what the data say,” and  rigorous research are impressive and laudable.

Steven Jay Lynn, Ph.D., ABPP (Clinical, Forensic)
Professor of Psychology
Director, Psychological Clinic
Binghamton University
Binghamton, NY 13902

I have witnessed firsthand Dr. Pignotti’s deep and abiding commitment to science and her tireless efforts to improve the health and well-being of individuals suffering from mental illness. Her promotion of evidence-based practices and her courage to speak out against controversial and potentially dangerous therapies is truly commendable and is a testament to her selfless dedication to the field.

Brandon Gaudiano, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor (Research)
Department of Psychiatry & Human Behavior
Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University

Now the crackpot anonymous bloggers are attempting to smear Brandon Gaudiano, by citing a scholarly exchange that occurred in a journal, where another scholar disagreed with him and asserted he had refuted him (assertions between scholars that they refute one another happen all the time and usually there are mixed opinions on whether that was actually the case). This only shows the crackpot therapy guru follower blogger’s  ignorance on the topic of scholarly debate. Scholars disagree with and debate one another all the time. To be disagreed with and debated is not to be discredited and while Dr. Ost opined that he had refuted Dr. Gaudiano, not everyone agreed that he did. In legitimate scholarly discourse such as this, the goal is not to discredit anyone, but rather, to have collegial, respectful disagreements where both parties are respected scholars. Legitimate scholars, as opposed to crackpot blogger followers of therapy gurus, recognized that this was a debate between two respected scholars. Click here for an intelligent summary of the issues at hand. The debate had nothing to do with me and it had nothing to do with Dr. Gaudiano’s debunking of Thought Field Therapy.

This is yet another lame attempt to discredit someone who has managed to obtain a tenure track position in a highly reputable institution (Brown University) in a highly competitive and difficult job market. The fact that someone disagreed with him in a journal means nothing other than that fact that he is worthy of having such a dialogue. In the world of scientific psychology, this happens all the time, as opposed to the world of therapy gurus in which the crackpot blogger frequents.

Who will the crackpot blogger attempt to smear next? Scott Lilienfeld? Unlikely that he has the guts to do that.

It is a sad commentary on the mental health profession, that people criticizing certain practices are subjected to the kind of smear campaigns my colleagues and I have been subjected to. We are not the first to be smeared in this manner, nor, do I suspect, will we be the last, until such time as the psychotherapy profession rids itself of gurus who are deemed beyond criticism and questioning and supplants them with genuine scientific inquiry. Until such a time, at least we do have individuals such as the ones quoted above, who are willing to take a stand for an evidence-based, rather than an authority-based profession.

Monica Pignotti: Bogus Lawsuit Thrown Out in 2002

To set the record straight about outright libelous postings that misrepresent this case, which are springing up on blog after blog here on WordPress, I, Monica Pignotti, was not sued for defamation. There was a bogus lawsuit that was completely dismissed in 2002 where I was named as a cross-complainant. I did not even have to hire a lawyer or appear in court — that’s how obviously frivolous and bogus it was. However, defamation was not on the list of their charges. I was never even served with any papers and no one attempted to do so. Therefore, legally, although I was named in a document that was filed in a court of law in the State of California, I was not sued. Thankfully, California has very strong anti-SLAPP legislation, on of the few US states that does. The ludicrous charges were:

Unlawful, Unfair, and Fraudulent Business Practices,
Violation of Civil Rights,
Intentional Interference With Prospective Advantage,
Negligent Interference With Prospective Advantage,
Civil Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO),
Abuse of Process,
Civil Conspiracy,
Injunctive Relief

The word defamation appearing in the text of the complaint does not mean that I was sued for defamation, as is being misrepresented in a highly misleading way on these other WordPress blogs. Words appearing in the text of a complaint are not the charges. The charges are listed in the complaint on p. 3.

The suit was filed by the company of Hulda Clark, who was well known for her books that claimed in the title to have the “Cure for All Diseases”.

More about Hulda Clark can be found by clicking here.

As one of the other cross-defendants, Peter Bowditch, puts it, the quacks “caved in” very quickly because it was obvious the kooks charging conspiracy of 30 people, most of whom had never even met one another, had no real case. Here is the document that dismissed the cross-complaint. I did not even have to hire a lawyer or appear in court, nor was I (or any of the other cross-defendants, some of whom were completely outside US jurisdiction) served with any papers.

Monica Pignotti: Running Pictures from the 1980s

Here are some running pictures of me that were taken during the 80s.

I’m in the middle standing next to my then-boyfriend. My hair is a hot mess, because I had just completed the Jamaica Marathon, 1986

Here I am, front row seated, second from the left, with my running club, prior to running the NYC Marathon 1986.

Another picture of me, front row (W136), fourth from the left (1985).

Here are two more pictures from the 1980s, just before I started running (around 1983) with my cats Dagny (1983-1998) and Bianco (1975-1990) — those who know Italian will guess which one is Bianco:

Propaganda Against Monica Pignotti: The Big Picture

In a previous posting (which I have since removed from this blog because it may have been unnecessarily defensive) I made a lengthy point-by-point rebuttal to several aspects of the extensive propaganda campaign against my colleagues and me because we dared to criticize and challenge certain therapists who are delivering what in our opinion is dangerous therapy. The result has been an all-out smear campaign that has consisted of distortions and outright lies by proponents of such therapies.

The latest antics of the propagandists are to dwell and blow out of proportion aspects of my past that I have always been very honest and transparent about, namely my involvement with Thought Field Therapy (TFT). Humorously, this is presented as some kind of major revelation, when it is common knowledge that I completely repudiated six years ago in 2004 and am now known as one of the foremost critics who has more critical publications than any other TFT/VT critic. Nevertheless, that doesn’t stop the propagandists from blogging about my past experience with TFT/VT as if it were some startling new revelation when really it is something that I have always been up front and honest about.

If nothing else, this makes a good teaching example of propaganda in action. One of the tactics of propagandists is to take the most negative material they can find and then blow it all out of proportion and present it in a very misleading way. For instance, they take that fact that I worked for a psychologist who practices TFT/VT along with many other approaches between 2001 and 2006, neglecting to mention that I completely stopped doing TFT/VT in 2004 and my work for him between March 2004 and 2006 did not involve the practice of TFT/VT in any way, shape, or form. Even prior to 2004, TFT was only a very small part of the work I did for this psychologist — around 10%. Yet this is completely blown out of proportion and presented as if it were some sort of stunning revelation about me. I would add that although I know nothing at all about his practice since I left in 2006, at the time I was working for him (2001-2006) TFT/VT practice comprised only a very small percentage of his practice. Most of the work he did was administering neuro-psychological testing to children, training parents in behavior modification techniques which have a strong degree of empirical support, and delivering biofeedback sessions. He offered TFT/VT to people but most people did not go for it, at least not during the period I was working for him — again, I don’t know what has happened since then.

Newsflash to my cyber-smearers: People are getting tired of you and many people on the usenet say that they have blocked any postings with my name in the subject header because your smears against me have become tedious and boring to them. This is really getting old. No one cares about my past involvement with TFT except, perhaps current TFT proponents who wish I would go away. I have to add, though, that with a few minor exceptions from true believers, TFT proponents are not responsible for the current large-scale smear campaign against me, which I believe is being conducted by supporters of Ronald Federici and Arthur Becker-Weidman (I concluded this because in some of their postings, they praise these two therapists while slamming me and attack others who have criticized them but have not criticized TFT). Once in awhile a TFT or EFT supporter will jump on their bandwagon, but based on what I’ve had passed along to me, TFT proponents are smart enough to understand that if they engage in nasty attacks on me, it will only make them look bad and they know they have no rebuttal to my criticisms. It is not Roger Callahan’s style to engage in confrontations with people who criticize him — I knew him well and his personality was one that would go to great lengths to avoid interpersonal conflict. Although Callahan’s blog has blocked me from access, the Callahans have made no aggressive moves against me.

In any case, professionals who I deal with on a day-to-day basis are well aware that I have moved on and have a CV full of publications to prove it. What’s likely perceived a threat is that my most recent publications review therapies and theories involving children and have nothing to do with TFT. One department head told me that if I were to take a position on her faculty, that I would be eligible for tenure in three years rather than the usual five years because I have so many publications and this is very unusual. I say this not to brag, but rather to put things into perspective to correct the distortions of the propagandists. That is what objective people see when they look at my CV. The propagandists, however, with an agenda and an axe to grind can see only that which they think will discredit me, but they’re wrong because I have freely admitted to my past mistakes and they have only made me stronger and more aware of such issues. My mistakes have made me a better person with something to teach people because I admitted to and corrected them. But of course propagandists believe that if they repeat something enough, it will be believed — well, at least by the gullible unable to spot propaganda and think critically, it will.

For what these propaganda tactics are designed to distract people from, click here. Instead of addressing the substantive issues I raise, they dwell on past events that have no relevance at all to the issues at hand. Newsflash to the propagandists: You are fooling no one but yourselves. So, shall we have a discussion about whether face-down prone restraints ought to be recommended for parents to use at home on their child or anywhere else, for that matter? That is a current issue because that is what a certain therapist I have criticized is recommending.

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