Refutation of the disinformation about Monica Pignotti

Posts tagged ‘criminal libel’

If you Google Monica Pignotti, Read This Statement of Support First

Update: On a more positive note, I have been able to move on from this smear campaign and have a happy, fulfilling life. I just returned from a wonderful trip to Italy. This photo was taken on October 17, 2012 in beautiful San Benedetto, Del Tronto, Italy as I walked along the beach. That is where my ancestors on my father’s side came from and Pignotti is a very well known and respected name in that town, as Pignottis own many businesses there, including the lovely hotel where we stayed. It has been a wonderful experience getting more in touch with my Italian roots!

Thankfully, even though it took me awhile to find a job in my field, I have been employed throughout this period and so was able to afford this trip. As of September 2012, I am employed in my field at my degree level as a lead Program Evaluator/Researcher to evaluate a home visiting infant mental health program, a Connecticut-based intervention model, that serves teen parents who have been involved with the juvenile justice system and their 0-5 year old children/infants.  Interventions such as the one I am evaluating which help to develop healthy, secure maternal child attachment supply positive alternatives to the harmful and/or ineffective approaches I have expressed my concerns about.

Finally, an employer is smart enough not to believe everything that comes up on a Google search and who sees the mentality of the cyber smear campaigners for what it is and realizes what an injustice it would be to penalize me for that and instead, evaluates me on my actual job performance, not out of context distortions of my distant past or outright lies that my background screen soundly refutes. Of course, I will continue to write and publish on exposing untested, ineffective and/or harmful therapy practices while actively working to develop positive, evidence tested alternatives. There are indeed positive, helpful ways to promote and develop genuine attachment and attunement between mother and child.

I have already received a hateful response from my pseud-anonymous cyber stalker about this, who has tried to post seven times to this and my other blogs. Although it is my policy to post comments from those who have disagreements with me and I welcome debate, I draw the line at hate, threats and libelous statements that this communication contained, repeating the usual lies. The person is obviously very upset that I am happy and doing well in my life and that any sane person who reads the content of the smear campaign can see what a disturbed individual this is. As more people are getting targeted for various reasons by internet smear campaigns, more understanding is developing of the mentality of cyber bullies and cyber stalkers and people are realizing they, rather than the targets, are the ones with the problem.

Although this adversity is not something I would have chosen for myself, much good has come out of it for me spiritually, as it has brought me closer to God and helped me to develop a faith I would not have likely otherwise known. This is something no one can take away and puts all else in its proper perspective. I can honestly say that although I had a rough few years, I am happier than I have been in a very long time.

That being said, internet smear campaigns appear to be an occupational hazard for mental health consumer advocates who choose to challenge certain mental health practices that are untested and yet have proponents who promote them and make unsupported claims.  If anyone has any questions about anything they read on the internet about me, please do not hesitate to contact me and ask and above all, please do not make any assumptions about what you read, since Google or other internet search engines cannot tell the difference between fact and fabrication.

If you Google Monica Pignotti (pronounced “Peen-yocht-tee”), you will notice many odd and false postings come up on Google searches of my name which are made by people who are upset about my expression of concerns about the practices of some mental health professionals.  In addition to the many false statements that have been posted about me (such as the lie repeatedly posted that I have been arrested/convicted of crimes and fired when I have never been arrested, much less convicted for anything in my life, nor have I ever been fired from any professional job I have ever held in my entire life), postings have been made in my name that I did not write and quotes have been placed around words I neither wrote nor uttered and bizarre pictures are posted of women with my name on them, who are not me. To put it briefly, don’t believe everything you read on Google searches or images. Please click here to read a statement of support signed by 48 of my colleagues who share my concerns.  People who are unfamiliar with this form of abuse may wonder why I even bother to respond to this, but you would be surprised how many otherwise intelligent people believe whatever they read online.

This statement shows that professionals in the relevant scientific community support my work and contrary to what anonymous smear campaigners and practitioners of questionable practices would want to lead the readers to believe, my work is accepted and supported by the scientific community and not controversial. The only controversy about my writings is within the fringe cliques of those whose work I have criticized who try to turn the tables and call me fringe and controversial when the support I have received as well as my track record of peer reviewed publications in reputable journals, shows otherwise. One of my main detractors is the author of a self-published book who practices a form of therapy which, by his own admission is controversial. This individual also attempted to sue me and several others and a year ago, the case was dismissed by a Federal judge who opined that my writings did not constitute defamation, but rather, were opinion and all charges against us were dismissed, affirming our right to free speech as well as academic freedom.

Posting under multiple anonymous identities make it appear that there are more such detractors than there actually are. In internet jargon, this practice of one person using multiple pseudonyms to make it appear there is a mob at work when it is really only a few people with an ax to grind, is known as sock puppetry.

I have references from professionals who know me and have worked with me on a day-to-day basis, which I will provide to anyone with a legitimate inquiry about my standing with FSU, who will refute the lie I was “fired” and give you a more realistic assessment of what it is like to work with me. Click here for further details about the lies that have been posted about me and FSU. A background check will prove I do not have a criminal record of any kind, not even minor traffic violations, nor have I ever been arrested or charged with anything, nor do I or have I ever worked in an adult bookstore, nor have I had sexual relationships with my co-authors or any other inappropriate relationships with anyone else. These are just a few of the many lies that have been posted about me mostly by posters using pseudonyms or anonymous posters.

Bottom line: For the past three years someone appears to be investing a great deal of time and effort running a smear campaign against me that amounts to classic propaganda tactics. My friends tell me that this means I must be doing something right and be effective in my exposure of dangerous therapeutic practices. Otherwise why spend so much time and effort to attempt to discredit me? The smear campaigners have fabricated and posted the worst, most obscene possible things that can be attributed to a human being that they can and invent and then lie that I did them.  Some of the postings are postings with my name on them that I did not post (forgeries) and in others, quotations are put around sometimes obscene words I never wrote and there are completely fabricated stories about me. In addition to the fabrications, events from my very distant past that occurred before I ever obtained any advanced degrees and I have long since repudiated, are being taken out of context and misportrayed by the anonymous posters. A key difference here is that I have learned from my past mistakes whereas the proponents of the therapies I have expressed concerns about apparently have not, hence their need to attack anyone who challenges them.

It is a common misconception to blame the victim of cyber smear campaigns of the sort I have been enduring. This is not unlike the attitude towards rape victims that existed before society’s consciousness was raised — the victim must have done something  to “ask’ for it, must be somehow deeply flawed, so the mythology goes.

The simple fact of the matter is that I challenge people who most people are too afraid to challenge for fear of being maligned in the way I have been. There is something in me that cannot in all good conscience remain silent when I see abuse occurring that many others seem to have no problem turning a blind eye to, although many privately agree with me.  For this, I have suffered consequences, but nevertheless, I continue because if I can make a difference in the lives of individuals, it is worth it to me.  The posters seem to feel that they are retaliating against my critical blogs, which they have characterized as “hate” websites. It appears that somewhere in their education, they missed learning to distinguish between expressing concerns about mental health practices that lack evidence to support claims being made on on hand and personal attacks and malicious lies, on the other hand.

Recently, the Russian Commissioner of Children’s Rights is raising similar issues my much-maligned colleagues and I have been raising, with regard to the unsupported beliefs of certain mental health professionals about internationally adopted children, especially children adopted from Russia who have been victims of serious abuse and in some cases, have died at the hands of their abusive parents while these adoption “experts” have testified in a way that blames the victims and gets the abusive parents off the hook or at least lessens their conviction. 

It should go without saying that decent, ethical professionals who are offering valid therapies are able to provide sound support for what they are doing and hence, have no need to attack their critics in this manner.

Here is a quote that seems appropriate to this situation: 

To date, 48 of my professional colleagues, whose names appear below the statement,  have signed the following statement of support. I thank and extend my deepest appreciation to each of them for their support and having the courage to take a stand with me on the important issues involving our professions that are at stake. If any prospective employers are reading this, I am more than willing to answer any questions you might have and address any and all concerns and provide you with the names and contact information for references who I have actually worked with who will put the lies about me to rest, once and for all. Here is the statement of support my colleagues have signed.

Statement of Support for Dr. Monica Pignotti [May 2011]

For the past two years, Dr. Monica Pignotti has been subjected to an ongoing and concerted internet smear campaign in response to her peer-reviewed and internet writings on potentially harmful therapy practices, particularly attachment and other similar therapies involving coercive restraint of children. The postings have mostly been made by anonymous and presumably pseudonymous posters on blogs, public newsgroups, and other internet websites. These statements have often been malicious, false, and even profane, and have included not only Dr. Pignotti but also some of her colleagues and supporters (see http://phtherapies.wordpress.com and https://monicapignotti.wordpress.com).

Although the posters are, to date, unidentified and unidentifiable, it is clear from their content that they are one or more individuals who are upset by Dr. Pignotti’s criticisms of certain interventions directed at vulnerable children, such as internationally adopted children with serious developmental disabilities and/or behavior problems. Rather than take the high road and address the substantive criticisms raised by Dr. Pignotti and her co-authors, the anonymous posters have elected to take the low road and personally attack and malign the critics.

We, the undersigned, unequivocally oppose the cowardly and unethical behaviors of the internet posters, and strongly affirm Dr. Pignotti’s right to raise legitimate criticisms of their therapeutic practices without fear of false and defamatory attacks. Criticism of therapeutic practices that lack empirical support and may be harmful is vital for the profession and we are deeply concerned that smear campaigns could discourage others from engaging in public scrutiny of these and other practices. We call on the internet posters to stop such practices immediately. We further call on the posters to publicly identify themselves and to voice their criticisms in the form of clear descriptions of their concerns, using recognized venues such as peer-reviewed articles rather than in the form of baseless personal attacks.  Additionally, we ask that any prospective employers of Dr. Pignotti not allow the actions of these posters and the fact she has chosen not to remain silent, to impact their hiring decisions.

Signed:

Scott O. Lilienfeld, PhD, Professor of Psychology (Clinical), Emory University

Eileen Gambrill, PhD, Professor, School of Social Welfare, University of California, Berkeley

Bruce Thyer, LCSW, BCBA, PhD, Professor of Social Work, Florida State University

J. Michael Bailey, Professor Northwestern University

Aaron T. Beck, M.D., University Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

Evelyn Behar, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Psychology, University of Illinois at Chicago

Carolyn Black Becker, PhD, Professor of Psychology, Trinity University, San Antonio

Stephen T. Black, Ph.D., Ph.D, Social & Clinical Psychologist

Richard R. Bootzin, Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Arizona

Lynn Brandsma, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, Chestnut Hill College

Roxane Cohen Silver, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology & Social Behavior, University of California, Irvine

James C. Coyne, PhD., Professor of Psychology in Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and Professor of Health Psychology, University of Groningen

Bella DePaulo, PhD

Benjamin Emmert-Aronson, M.A., Doctoral student in Clinical Psychology, Boston University

Wayne C. Evens, MSW, Ph.D., Associate Professor/Program Director, 1501 West Bradley Ave., Peoria, IL 61625

Trudy Festinger, DSW, Professor of Social Work, New York University

Howard N. Garb, YC 03, USAF, Ph.D., Chief, Psychology Research Service

Associate Editor, Military Psychology , 559 AMDS/SGPL, Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, TX  [Please Note: Does not represent an endorsement by or the views of the United States Air Force, the Department of Defense, or the United States Government.]

Brandon Gaudiano, Ph.D., Assistant Professor (Research), Alpert Medical School of Brown University

James Herbert, PhD, Professor Clinical Psychology and Associate Dean, College of Arts and Sciences, Drexel University

D. Lynn Jackson, Ph.D., LCSW (FL), ACSW, Assistant Professor/ Field Coordinator, Department of Rehabilitation, Social Work and Addictions, 1155 Union Circle #311456, University of North Texas, Denton, TX  76203-1456

Robert K. Klepac, Ph.D., Psychology Training Director Emeritus, Wilford Hall Medical Center, Research Associate Professor, University of Texas Health Science Center – San Antonio

Steven R. Lawyer, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, Idaho State University

Julia H. Littell, Ph.D., Professor, Graduate School of Social Work and Social Welfare, Bryn Mawr College, 300 Airdale Rd., Bryn Mawr, PA 19010, USA

Elizabeth Loftus, PhD, Distinguished Professor, Psychology & Social Behavior Criminology, Law & Society Cognitive Sciences School of Law, University of California, Irvine, 2393 Social Ecology II, Irvine, Calif. 92697-7080  USA

Jeffrey M. Lohr, PhD, Professor, Dept. of Psychological Science, University of Arkansas

Steven Jay Lynn, PhD, Professor of Psychology, SUNY Binghamton

Robin MacFarlane, PhD

Richard J. McNally, Ph.D., Professor and Director of Clinical Training, Department of Psychology, Harvard University

Cathleen Mann, PhD, Independent Practice

Jean Mercer, PhD, Professor Emerita, Richard Stockton College

Michael B. Miller, Ph.D., M.S., M.P.E., Department of Psychology, University of Minnesota, email: mbmiller@umn.edu, phone: 612-564-5364

Randal S. Pennington, PsyD, Training Director, Wasatch Mental Health, Provo, Utah

Brady J. Phelps, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, Dept. of Psychology, South Dakota State University

Ken Ruggiero, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina

Susan Kiss Sarnoff, DSW, Associate Professor, Ohio State University Department of Social Work

Sally Satel, MD, American Enterprise Institute

Lee Sechrest, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, University of Arizona

Ian R. Sharp, Ph.D., Clinical Scientist and Senior Trainer, Pharmaceutical/Biotechnology Industry

Bradley H. Smith, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, Director, Community/Clinical Graduate Training Program,  University of South Carolina

Carol Tavris, Ph.D., Social Psychologist, Author, Lecturer

George Tremblay, Ph.D., Department of Clinical Psychology, Antioch University New England

Timothy R. Tumlin, Ph.D., Independent Practice, Darien, Illinois

Kristin von Ranson, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychology (Clinical), University of Calgary

Hollida Wakefield, M.A. Licensed Psychologist, Private Practice, Northfield, MN 55057

Robert L. Weiss, Ph.D., Professor emeritus of Psychology, University of Oregon

Robert W. Wildblood, Phd, Retired Associate Professor of Psychology, Licensed Applied Psychologist in Virginia, Licensed HSPP in Indiana

Alexander Williams, M.A., Clinical Psychology Graduate Student, University of Kansas

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Florida Criminal Libel Statutes

In most states, libel is a civil, not a criminal offense. However, I have just learned that in the State of Florida some forms of libel are considered a criminal offense. Giving all the lies that have been posted online about me, I found this one particularly interesting.

836.04  Defamation.–Whoever speaks of and concerning any woman, married or unmarried, falsely and maliciously imputing to her a want of chastity, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.

I don’t know if this has recently been enforced, but nevertheless, it is still on the books in Florida.

Note that I am not saying that I believe defamation should be criminalized, I am only noting that this is a law that is still on the books, which could leave the door open to criminal prosecution of the smear campaigners who are posting malicious lies about me. I had thought that any person with at least a minimal amount of intelligence could figure that out and it goes without saying, but apparently not, given a recent posting by those other WordPress bloggers on their smear blogs that appear to be devoted to distorting my views. Apparently they are either incapable of telling the difference between is and should or they are deliberately attempting to mislead others.

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