Refutation of the disinformation about Monica Pignotti

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.

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