Refutation of the disinformation about Monica Pignotti

Posts tagged ‘cyber bullying’

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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Exposing the Plagiarized and Fabricated “Cheaters” Posting

The purpose of this posting is to state, for the record, what happened. People might wonder why I am bothering to repost this. The reason is that I want to expose the utter depravity of the abuse that has been occurring with regard to this smear campaign. Here is the timeline

On March 4, 2011, Federici v Pignotti et al. was dismissed by a Federal judge.

Within a few days of this dismissal, the anonymous and pseudonymous smear campaign against me, which, with the exception of a few mild postings had been fairly quiet for the duration of this case, resumed in full force. During March, some of the ugliest anonymous postings ever about me appeared on the internet. I am not saying that Federici himself was responsible because I have no direct evidence of any kind linking him to this “cheaters” posting. I am merely stating what occurred. Whether this is a coincidence or not is for the readers to judge. Federici has quite correctly stated that I have angered other people unrelated to him. Although this appears to be the case, such people would not have a reason to stop the blatantly false postings about me during the case and then immediately resume them after its dismissal. Additionally, some of the other internet postings that have smeared me, have at the same time mentioned being upset with my criticisms of Federici. For example, here is a posting that falsely states I was fired from FSU (As my references who have worked with me there will attest, I was not fired, have acceptable teaching evaluations and I left only because I graduated and they don’t hire their own PhD grads in tenure track positions). Note that posting also alleges “She makes irrational statements, including defamatory attacks on the likes of Ronald Federici.”  There are several others like this. Additionally, other people who are angered by my criticisms (e.g. John Knapp) would have no reason to go after people like Jean Mercer, Linda Rosa, Larry Sarner, Charly Miller, etc. who have also been targeted by this internet smear campaign nor praise Federici — Knapp recently stated he has no idea who Federici is.) To me, given the frequent mention of Federici in smear postings against me and others, this would indicate that  via good circumstantial evidence some of the posters are at least supporters of Federici who are angered by my criticisms. Whether Federici himself was involved or encouraged it is unknown, although we can see similarities between the smear campaign and postings in his own name from his own websites, here and here. My opinion.

Getting back to the “cheaters” posting, on March 8, 2011, the following completely fabricated posting about me appeared on a “liars and cheaters” website under the pseudonym, “Steff”.

I’ll try to make a long story about Monica Pignotti as short as possible.

I invited Monica Pignotti, a former friend/coworker to my son’s birthday party at my home. My husband realizes he was unhappy in his marriage to me as well, and they start talking. 3 days later, I find out, get upset, because he wants a divorce out of the blue. He leaves me and moves into a motel, all the while talking to her, Monica Pignotti. They have an affair and then she bails after a little while. He has a nervous breakdown and spills everything to me. I stand by him, I have forgiven him, but we are still getting a divorce. All of this thanks toMonica Pignotti! We are friends because of the kids, and we honestly like, even love each other but we know it won’t work out again.

I am a social worker and so is Monica Pignotti. She is well liked and associates with people outside of work. I mostly stick close to my family. Word has started getting around that Monica Pignotti is a home wrecker, and her friends started confronting me about it, telling me I need to shut my mouth, I’m just causing problems, no good comes out of it, etc. Now I am afraid that I will get into trouble because people will think that I am lying and spreading rumors about Monica Pignotti! Any advice? I dont feel like I should lie for her.

This post was submitted by Steff.

I immediately attempted to have this completely false posting removed, but at the time got no response. It was ludicrous. Not only have I never slept with anyone else’s husband, but the location was said to be New York and I hadn’t even lived in NY for 10+ years and even when I did, never even knew any other social workers with young children who invited me to any child’s birthday parties. The whole thing was a complete fabrication. The comments were the usual nasty ones, typical of the smear campaign and the link to this posting was used as a Google bomb, being posted on numerous postings to the point where it was coming up on the first page of Google searches on my name, for months. Multiple postings occurred falsely stating I was a “home wrecker” “social work sex toy” and all kinds of other completely fabricated nonsense. Some of the postings even stated I was involved in divorce and custody cases, when I have never in my life been involved in any such thing and they also mentioned the defamation case and all the legal bills they speculated I had from it, neglecting to mention it was dismissed. Again, I am merely stating what occurred and it is for the readers to draw their own conclusions about what it means.

Anyone who knows me well knows that I would be the last person in the world to ever be involved with anyone else’s husband, I have only had relationships with single men and having been a victim of rape in the past (and no, contrary to the lies that are being posted about me, this is not a new claim on my part, I wrote about this in a 1989 affidavit which was written about a year after My Nine Lives in Scientology. I hadn’t mentioned it in the earlier report because during that year that elapsed between the two reports, I had been in therapy and was coming to terms with this trauma for the first time — before that I was too ashamed and not psychologically ready to write about it because I had blamed myself, but in therapy I learned not to blame myself, hence I mentioned it in the 1989 report and not the 1988 report). In any case, due to this experience, I am extremely selective about who I get involved with and for the past several years have chosen not to be involved with anyone. I am very happily single and not currently in any kind of sexual/romantic relationship, nor am I actively seeking one.

Contrary to the defamatory smear postings, I did not disclose having been the victim of a rape to “deflect” anything, since the lies about my sex life  are complete ludicrous fabrications. How low can they go? Stay tuned. Just as there is no evidence to support the safety and efficacy of the interventions that they are so upset that I have criticized that they have gone on an obsessive two plus year smear campaign against me, there has never been any evidence whatsoever to support the fabrications about my life and profession. In truth, my sex life has been, by my own choice, virtually nonexistent for the past decade and I have never worked in the adult entertainment industry, hence nothing to deflect. Newsflash to the cyber defamers: Repeating lies does not make them true. The lies about my so-called “promiscuity” can be repeated hundreds of times, but they are still lies.

A few days ago, it occurred to me to do a Google search on some of the key phrases of that offending posting from the “cheaters” website. What immediately came up was another posting, clearly not about me made to a site for moms, entitled “I have to work with a woman who slept with my husband“. Sentences that were quite unique were directly copied from that posting by the cyber smear campaigners and put into the fabricated posting that targeted me on the “cheaters” website.  In the original posting, the alleged other woman was not referred to by name and the people in question were nurses. In the copy posted to the “Cheaters” website, my name was added, the posting was shortened and the profession was changed from “nurse” to “social worker”. Just so people can see the similarities, here is the original posting:

I’ll try to make a long story as short as possible.

I invited a friend/coworker to my son’s birthday party at my home, lets calls her “s”.  S is talking about how she is getting divorced and so on.  My husband realizes he was unhappy in his marriage to me as well, and they start talking.  3 days later, I find out, get upset, because stbx wants a divorce out of the blue. He leaves me and moves into a motel, all the while talking to her.   They have an affair and then she bails after a little while.  (he left 12/13, she left shortly after new years)  He has a nervous breakdown and spills everything to me.  I stand by him, I have forvgiven him, but we are still getting a divorce.  We are friends because of the kids, and we honestly like, even love each other but we know it won’t work out again.

I am a nurse, so is S.  We work on the same floor of the same hospital.  She is well liked and accociates with people outside of work.   I mostly stick close to my family.  I’m friendly at work, but don’t belong in the clique, and that’s how I want to keep it.  I talk to people at work, and they know about my problems, because S ran her mouth about them at work.  People started asking me questions, and seemed generally concerned, so when I started telling them he cheated, they didn’t need me to tell them who with….but they did, and to some, I told.   Word started getting around that S is a home wrecking bitch, and her friends started confronting me about it, telling me I need to shut my mouth, I’m just causing problems, no good comes out of it, etc.    Mind you, I wasn’t holding up a sign or volunteering my story, and it was mostly answering questions when people asked.  I was confronted by her friend who said she doesn’t want to get involved with it.  Then, my good friend at work walked into her running her mouth about it to four other nurses about how I am so terrible for putting S down.  I’m sure S lied about the whole affair to her, and thinks I am just trying to make her look bad, but my stbx husband told me himself, and then I confronted her and she admitted it too!   Now I am afraid that I will get into trouble because people will think that I am lying and spreading rumors!

Any advice?  I dont feel like I should lie for her when people ask me point blank, did S sleep with your hubby?  I guess maybe I’ll just say “Go ask S”, but that probably wouldn’t end well either.

After I presented this evidence to the  “Cheaters” website personnel and asked that the posting be removed since it was obviously copied and false, thankfully, they did remove the posting. I let them know that I realized that legally I could not hold them responsible for the posting, but asked them to remove it, in the name of human decency and I will acknowledge that they displayed such decency and removed the posting. Sometimes asking nicely for postings to be removed does work.

This is yet another demonstration of how far the smear campaigners will go to target me with completely fabricated stories.  I predict there will be much “shouting” about “censorship” now that the offending, highly defamatory posting has been removed. As I mentioned in the previous posting, in Florida, in addition to defamation, such postings may still be considered a crime. Free speech does have its legitimate limits and false postings of this sort definitely do not fall under the domain of free speech. In contrast, what is considered free speech is my right to criticize and express my concerns about certain therapies and therapists. Obviously some people are incapable of telling the difference.

Why I continue to Shine a Bright Light on Cyber Abuse by those who retaliate against my Whistleblowing

As is made evident today, the anonymous WordPress bloggers (the fact they are anonymous and the fact I post using my actual name speaks volumes in terms of who has something to hide) are continuing the smear campaign by attempting to reframe the fact that I update the main posting on this blog “for reasons that remain unclear”. Unclear? This particular time I updated it because someone who appeared barely able to type the words, posted the lie that I had been arrested in the Miami Airport for passing out flyers, when in fact I have never been arrested for anything in my life.  What is most ludicrous about this is that although it would be my Constitutional right to pass out flyers if I so chose and went through the proper channels, I would never choose to be an activist in this way, since that is not the best way to reach large numbers of people. Based on the statistics of this blog, I reach far more people expressing my opinions and well-documented facts that I have sincerely concluded as true, through the internet than I ever could passing out flyers. That being said, newsflash to the cyber smear campaigners: There is something here in the US called freedom of speech. “Hate” speech is a highly subjective term. To the cyber smearers anything that calls into question the practices of their therapy gurus is something they consider “hate speech” but nevertheless, such criticism is perfectly legal, whether done via passing out flyers (which I have no intention of doing), via the internet or through any other venue. Ronald Federici’s recent losses in court against his critics bear testimony to this and that is most likely why we see cyber tantrums being thrown by his supporters and by Federici himself against the former defendants. Again, that is his Constitutional right and people can read it and decide for themselves who makes the most sense.

This is just the latest of a long string of malicious lies posted about me. Come on, now, anonymous bloggers who appear to have several blogs devoted to me (who ironically assert that “no one cares” — you obviously do given the time and energy you have put into these blogs for the past 2+ years). You know good and well what I’m doing, but in any case, here is some clarification for you. I will spell it out. The reason I update this blog is and will continue to do so is for the purpose of shining a very bright light on the ongoing internet smear campaign that includes defamatory lies and malicious fabrications about me as well as my colleagues who have been blowing the whistle on questionable therapies, that have been going on for more than two years now. The smear campaign escalated after justice was served, when a lawsuit against several of us was dismissed by a Federal judge. Most of the postings have been anonymous, but here is one that Ronald Federici has authored. If you are wondering why I am linking to it, read it and you’ll understand, as it gives people an idea of the kind of smears his critics have been subjected to.

I will continue to call the anonymous posters out on the fact that instead responding to my criticisms and the concerns I have expressed about certain therapists (for example, the restraint procedures recommended by Dr. Ronald Federici), the anonymous posters, whoever they may be, who lack the courage to post using their own names, have chosen to take the low road and attack me with lies and outright fabrications. I now have 47 colleagues who are supporting me in standing up to these bullies. See the main posting on this blog for details.

And no, these are not “updates about my career” as has been misportrayed. Contrary to the most recent false statements, I have been quite productive lately in my career, including having another study I first-authored accepted for publication in a peer reviewed journal. The updates in this blog, however, are mainly updates on the ongoing cyber smear campaign and defamatory lies that continue to be posted about me. Rest assured, these updates will continue as long as the smear campaign continues, as may be any additional discoveries I make of documents that are public record, which are quite interesting involving other cases that I am contemplating posting or linking to.

By the way, speaking of updates, Advocates for Children in Therapy has also updated their website and has commented on the recent but now-dismissed Ronald Federici lawsuits (they were sued three times) and the ongoing internet smear campaign they have been subjected to, as well as unsuccessful attempts by therapists they criticized to have their website taken down, although the efforts of those therapists at censorship ultimately did not succeed. Go here and here to view the updates. Also see Jean Mercer’s most recent comments on Ronald S. Federici vs. a crowd of critics. Details on my criticisms and concerns are on my other blog, Potentially Harmful Therapies.

PS: The “who cares?” cliche is one of the silliest on the internet. When people truly don’t care, they don’t bother to respond to postings, saying “who cares?” They simply ignore the postings. The “who cares” cliche really means that the person really cares very deeply about what has been posted, enough to denigrate the person by trying to make it seem as if no one cares about them. Very adolescent, although some of the people who post in this manner are well into middle age.  Who cares, the anonymous posters carrying out this smear campaign ask? They obviously care very deeply, enough to sustain a smear campaign that has lasted for more than two years now.

Cyberstalking Victims: Take Back The Internet

Rape victims, as consciousness was being raised have frequently staged what are know as Take Back The Night marches where they engage in a public demonstration to show their perpetrators that they will no longer allow themselves to be intimidated by them.

This blog is the cyber equivalent of Take Back The Night Marches. Victims of Cyber Abuse need to do, in essence, the same thing. The appropriate forum for this activism is where the abuse has occurred: On the internet. Posting is a valid form of activism.  Take Back The Internet and not allow ourselves to be intimidated or silenced from posting by disturbed, obsessed individuals who are intent on ruining their reputations and lives.

I hereby invite anyone else who has been a victim of cyber abuse, cyberstalking, cyber bullying or whatever you want to call it, to join me in taking back the internet. Start a blog. Start a Google Group. Put up a website. Raise people’s consciousness so they can learn about this phenomenon and stop blaming the victims and put the focus squarely where it belongs: on the perpetrators.

Cyberstalkers and bullies would like nothing better than to see the victim crawl away and silently endure the abuse. As the Take Back The Night organizers say, let’s shatter the silence.

Anonymous Internet Smear Campaign against Monica Pignotti Escalates after Court Case Dismissal

Update April 3: Those other WordPress anonymous smear bloggers are at it again, misrepresenting my internet postings, which were made in defense, not initiated by me because I feel “compelled” to post every spring or any such nonsense. This particular spring, what has happened is that following the dismissal of Ronald Federici v Monica Pignotti et al, the smear campaign against me has escalated.

Although I need to begin by stating that these postings are anonymous and I am not accusing anyone in particular of being the anonymous poster(s), it is interesting to note that in the month following the dismissal of Federici v Pignotti, the smear campaign against me, which was relatively quiet with only a few mild postings about me for the 3-month duration of this case, has now resumed in full force. There seems to be a frantic quality to these postings by people who are obviously desperate to discredit me and have let loose with the most obscene imaginable false statements about me. In many states, these kinds of statements, especially the obscene ones, would qualify as libel per se, meaning that the statements are so obviously defamatory that the plaintiff would not even have to prove damages to win a case, should these anonymous cowards ever be identified and happen to live in such states. For example, one of the defamatory postings falsely stated that I had committed a serious crime. That type of statement may be considered libel per se if the anonymous coward who posted this were to be identified.

The other person defamed in that particular post (I am not linking to it because I do not want to promote this obscenity but it does come up on Google searches in my name), by the way, is someone who was critical of her child’s former social worker therapist in the media. Although I have never met this courageous mother, since she blew the whistle on him to the press, the internet has been flooded with highly defamatory postings about her and for some reason my name was brought into it as well. Why my name was linked to this is baffling since I cannot in any way claim credit for having exposed this particular social worker and have never publicly criticized his practices other than this mention and as far as I know this particular individual had nothing to do with Federici v Pignotti et al. The social worker in question moved his practice to Virginia, after being ordered by his licensing board in Oklahoma to stop misrepresenting his credentials. This is yet another illustration of the price people pay who choose to blow the whistle on certain therapists although in this instance, his licensing board actually did take action. Kudos to the Oklahoma Board for setting such a good example.

All kinds of absurd lies are being posted about me, including a completely fabricated report that I had an affair with someone’s husband and broke up her marriage and then that link has been Google bombed, by repeatedly posting it all over the internet making the completely false statement that I am a party in multiple divorce cases. People who know me know that the last thing in the world I would ever be interested in, is someone else’s husband. The lies that are being posted are so far afield of who I am as a person, it is obvious to anyone who actually knows me how off base they are.

These kinds of “cheaters” sites are highly controversial because they allow anonymous people to post anything they please and there is absolutely no fact checking. Any anonymous person can go onto such a site and make any kind of unsubstantiated allegations they please and there does not seem to be any accountability. Naturally, this makes these kinds of websites fertile ground for anyone with an agenda to smear another person with lies.

The latest postings about me have been highly obscene, sexist as well as homophobic towards my legal counsel and the legal counsel of some of the other defendants (actually I have no idea what their sexual orientation is, nor does it matter to me, but the postings about them show that whoever is doing them is highly homophobic). Some of the postings have also been denigrating people who have supported me. However, these postings say far more about the people who are doing them than they do about me, which is why they are anonymous.

If you Google my name, Monica Pignotti, please keep the timing of these postings in mind. Although I am not accusing anyone in particular of posting these, the timing is noteworthy and some of the postings which directly mention parties in the lawsuit are obviously upset about its outcome, which is that the case has been dismissed by a Virginia Federal judge who has ruled that Virginia has no jurisdiction over any of the defendants.

The plaintiff of the now-dismissed Federici v Pignotti et al, Ronald Federici has posted in his own name, a highly derogatory piece (in my opinion) on me and all the other defendants that is linked to his own website which I have responded to. People can read his posting and my response and decide for themselves how to evaluate it.

To the people who are trying to “help” me out by advising me to just ignore these postings and they will go away, that is not the case. Believe it or not, I have actually heard and carefully considered all the arguments in favor of making that choice. I urge people to walk a mile in my shoes before they presume to judge me for the choices I have made, which includes going against this conventional wisdom that is often presented as if it were some kind of unquestionable truth. In actuality, cyber abuse is a very new phenomenon that has yet to be studied so we really cannot claim that ignoring these people is a successful strategy. In this case, making the less conventional choice is not necessarily making the choice with the least evidence to back it up, because neither the conventional nor the unconventional choices have good evidence to back them up. Therefore, other factors such as personal style (does the person tend to face or avoid conflict, e.g.) or values can come into play.

Remember that around 20 years ago, rape victims were told to be silent and just submit because fighting back would only make things worse. We have since learned that this is a myth and rape victims are now advised to loudly fight back in any way they can.  There seems to be a similar myth attached to cyber abuse, that the victims should just slink off somewhere and remain silent and that will get it to stop when again, we don’t know that is the case. In my case, this is particularly not likely to happen because based on the content of many of the posts, the anonymous posters are upset about my criticism of certain therapists. It is not that they want me to stop fighting back — what they want is for me to stop my criticism and since I will not be silenced, this will continue, regardless of if and how I respond to it.

For further proof of this, observe that Larry Sarner and Linda Rosa have not responded at all to this smear campaign and yet Larry Sarner is getting pummeled at least as badly as I am, maybe even worse since the dot com domain in his name has been bought by someone else and a smear website has been put up. He remains silent and has not fought back and yet the attacks and smears against him continue, unabated. I’m not criticizing him for this. I am only pointing out that he made a different choice than I did on how to respond and it does not seem to have stopped the attacks any more than my responding has.

The fact is that those of us who have found ourselves to be targets of cyber smear campaigns are damned if we do and damned if we don’t respond. That is the position we are in and so I ask people to please not rub salt in our wounds by blaming the victims for how they choose to respond. It would be more helpful to focus on the perpetrators and attempt to gain a better understanding of what motivates someone to do what these anonymous posters have done to me. It has been very difficult for me to imagine what kind of mindset someone must be in to sit on their computer and post these kinds of obscenities and lies, all under the protection of pseudonyms and anonymity that the internet offers. As the renowned social psychologist Philip Zimbardo has pointed out in his book The Lucifer Effect, there is a large body of research that shows that people will say and do things when anonymous that they would not otherwise do or say when their identity is known.

Although I do acknowledge that anonymity can have legitimate purposes such as survivors of abuse coming forward and telling their stories, in some cases, deciding where to draw the line can be a difficult issue with no clear cut answers. For example, the loosely-associated group of people called Anonymous has been exposing Scientology abuses for the past few years and they have chosen to remain anonymous due to the serious consequences some people have experienced who have spoken out against Scientology using their real names. Although I have been critical of them in the past, having observed their present activities, my views on them have somewhat mellowed in light of this new information. I do also acknowledge that they have done some good in exposing abuses and giving a forum to ex-Scientologists who have come to some of the well-attended protests and spoken out, using their own names. Their existence happened to coincide with the defection of several people who were in the top echelon of Scientology management, so these two factors working together, even though not all of those defectors support Anonymous, have produced some very hard hitting and highly public exposures. They fall into a gray area, however because some of their behavior, such as the infamous Operation Slick Pubes [I will spare people here the details of that caper, but those who are curious can Google it] is not behavior I condone, nor do all members of Anonymous even condone it. Anonymous is a very loosely knit group that has a diversity of different sorts of individuals. Some are decent, idealistic people who take a stand against abuses and for free speech whereas others clearly are not, so it’s a mixed bag.

My point here is that anonymity can have both positive and negative consequences. However, the anonymous posters in my case, have clearly crossed the line since they have posted malicious lies about me with no even remote basis in fact. The US Constitution protects the right to anonymous free speech but it does not protect the right to maliciously lie about someone.

Although a few internet trolls might also be jumping in on the action (I’m not stupid, I know this) it is not the internet trolls that are driving this operation. They are just jumping on an already strongly existing bandwagon. In some cases, information has been posted that had not been known on the internet that no troll would have had access to. What I am experiencing here is a reaction from certain people who are very upset about my criticism and if I allow these kinds of attacks to silence me, this sends the message that anonymous followers of therapy gurus who who are upset that their guru has been questioned and criticized can successfully intimidate people into silence by their online cyber-stonings. I refuse to accept that. If that means the end of my professional career (note that I wrote if, not saying that it necessarily is), then the shame is on the profession that would shun someone for taking the stances that I have. Time will tell if this is the case.

Defamatory Internet Postings about Monica Pignotti: A Typical Day

Here is a typical day of defamatory internet postings about me just to give people an idea of how outrageous this smear campaign has become.

Today, March 27, 2011, following the appearance of Daniel Ibn Zayd’s commentary on the dismissal of Federici v Pignotti et al and Federici’s “response” to critics and my subsequent commentary on this blog about it, anonymous postings were made about me to the following newsgroups by someone who was obviously very upset about this:

http://groups.google.com/group/soc.culture.lebanon/topics

Monica Pignotti and the Black Hand of Jhadist Terror:

Makes completely false and obviously malicious defamatory statements about me with regard to terrorist activities that are not even remotely true.

Daniel Ibn Zayd and Monica Pignotti:

Falsely states that I am appearing in court on charges of association with a terrorist and that I worked for a flight school in Florida prior to 9/11. Again, both malicious lies that can be completely refuted with a search on PACER that shows the only court case I have been involved in is Federici v Pignotti et al which is now dismissed and has nothing to do with terrorism. The only other lawsuit I was even named in was a very short-lived counter suit by Hulda Clark’s organization 10 years ago, but I was never served with papers for that one so I was never actually sued and the suit was withdrawn. This one is especially ugly since in fact, I was living in New York City at the time of the 9/11 terrorist attacks and watched the towers collapse which I could see from the hospital where I was working at the time. I had lived there for 21 years prior to that and did not move to Florida until the summer of 2006.

Monica Pignotti and Ibn Zayd: Mass Murder Plot:

Again, obviously false and defamatory. Qualifies as libel per se if the anonymous coward who posted this can be identified.

alt.religion.scientology:

Monica Pignotti: Personality Disorder?

Falsely states that I have a personality disorder and “abandoned” Advocates for Children in Therapy when I have done nothing of the kind and obviously online diagnosis by an anonymous coward is not valid. Newsflash: In non-cultic organizations, people are free to come and go as they so choose for reasons that have nothing to do with abandonment.

Additionally, whoever wrote this (I hope not a licensed mental health professional!) appears to have a misunderstanding of how abandonment relates to borderline personality disorder. The issue with people with BPD is that they feel they have been abandoned and fear being abandoned, not that they abandoned others although they do tend to have ambivalent relationships with others. This does not mean, however that anyone who leaves an organization or severs ties with people has BPD. That’s the kind of assumption an amateur would make.

http://groups.google.com/group/misc.legal/topics

Inside the Monica Pignotti — ACT Split

More lies by an anonymous coward who knows nothing about this matter, which had nothing to do with legal fees or voting machine cases that have no relevance whatsoever to my life. The public records show that I had a completely different law firm represent me from AC T so that completely refutes the lie that there was a dispute over legal fees.  I recommend that the anonymous coward, if he has any ability to read, look at the legal documents and which law firms were representing each of us. Obviously someone is fishing for info that they are not going to get.

http://groups.google.com/group/rec.radio.shortwave/topics

Yet another posting lying that I was fired from FSU when I was not (a lie about me that has been repeated endlessly for over a year, although the postings abated during the 3-month period of Federici v Pignotti et al.) I graduated from FSU and left in good standing in every way and have references to prove it that I supply to legitimate people requesting them.

That posting linked to another posting two days earlier on the same newsgroup that made defamatory statements about me with regard to FSU and divorce cases when I have never been involved in any divorce cases, ever in my life.

http://groups.google.com/group/rec.food.cooking/

Monica Pignotti is a TRAITOR

More lies about my relationship with ACT saying I abandon things and “write sensational articles”. I have written no such articles about ACT nor do I have any intention of doing so and the statement I am “known” as a “social work sex toy” is patently absurd.  Actually the only ones to use this term to describe me as this are the anonymous cowards who have been endlessly repeating that phrase. Anyone who knows me would be rolling on the floor laughing, as anyone who knows me knows how not like me that description is.

Monica Pignotti: Domestic Violence

Also from rec.food.cooking, lies that I was fired from FSU and have convictions for witness tampering and fraud. In fact, I have never been fired from any professional job I have ever held and a search of any criminal database or court database such as PACER will show that they will come up squeaky clean — no criminal convictions or charges of any kind, ever.

http://groups.google.com/group/sci.skeptic/browse_thread/thread/a3e0f8707aeb769c#

Monica Pignotti: Be Afraid, Very Afraid

In addition to the usual defamation and misleading portrayals (e.g. Bruce Thyer although like many people has in the past been divorced, he has not divorced recently and has been happily married for 20 years). The subject header of this posting is bordering on crossing the line into a threat.

Also from Sci.Skptic:

Monica Pignotti: Hot for Teacher

More of the usual obscene defamatation.

I post these just to reveal to readers what a typical day defamatory internet postings about me has been like, ever since the dismissal of Federici v Pignotti et al and I’m not even sure that I have listed all the postings that have appeared about me today. Coincidence? You be the judge.

And again, for people who think I should just ignore these and they will go away, they won’t. I have tried that and it didn’t work. The only thing that made the postings mostly go away was the existence of legal action — they greatly decreased with no overtly libelous postings during the period Federici v Pignotti was active. Following its dismissal, the smear campaign resumed in full force. Coincidence? You be the judge.

Please keep in mind that cyber abuse is a relatively new phenomenon and so don’t be so certain that the prevailing wisdom to ignore cyber abusers is correct. Remember when the common wisdom for rape victims was not to fight back and just go along with it so they wouldn’t get killed? Well, that one turned out to be very wrong and the current advice is for rape victims to scream as loudly as they can and fight back. In my opinion, the same goes for victims of cyber abuse and I refuse to stand silently by while my reputation is being trashed by malicious liars.

I just noticed in my site stats for this blog (which gives terms people searched on to get here) that someone searched on the question “what kind of information do i need on a poster for a smear campaign?”

To respond to that question, if the smear campaign against me is any indication, my answer would be no information whatsoever. Entire smear campaigns can be based upon nothing more than fabrications, especially if the people posting are able to remain anonymous and not accountable for their actions.

The Blind Stupidity of Google Search Engines and The National Enquirer

Come on people, it’s just a computer program and in my opinion, not such a good one at that because Google searches all too often, produce unreliable information. No offense intended personally to any of the individuals who are programmers for Google  — I have known a few and they are very bright individuals — but something really needs to be done because all too often, a Google search on a person’s name is not an accurate representation of who they are (which also points to the flaws in critical thinking of people who make such an assumption that it is). More and more people who have even minimal critical thinking skills are coming to understand that Google is not a reliable source for information and to really find out information about someone, sources of whatever comes up, need to be carefully and critically examined. Anyone can post anything on the internet about anyone and if they have a bit of technical knowledge and know how to Google bomb or if someone is a critic of certain pseudoscientific practices, the blind stupidity of the Google search engine will make these ads for practices come up with the person’s name. Anti-cult activists have been aware of this for quite awhile now. The reason these ads come up and not ads for more credible sources is that often, these pseudoscientific practices aggressively advertise on the internet whereas the more credible sources most often do not buy so many Google ads, if any. Academics and  clinicians who already have busy, successful practices often see no need for aggressive ad campaigns because they have busy practices with long waiting lists simply through word of mouth and do minimal to no advertising.

Perhaps this is why attorney John Dozier, co-author (with Sue Scheff) of the book, The Google Bomb has compared Google to The National Enquirer. Virtually anyone can post anything about someone and Google does not discriminate as to whether it is backed up by any evidence. Dozier stated:

I can see the day when Google will be the National Enquirer of the online world. And ironically, it will be by the vote of each of you. The online society will have voted to leave for greener pastures, tired of the trash Google presents as authoritative (p. 221).

Dozier went on to explain that better search programs will be developed. I highly recommend this book to anyone who has been victimized by an online smear campaign.

Ironically, what’s happening lately is that people, to defend themselves from the libel and defamation that comes up on Google searches that Google will not remove without a court order and since most people cannot afford to hire teams of lawyers to deal with this, is that people are getting Google alerts on their names and doing their own searches in order to defend themselves and this gives even more hits and business to Google. I would bet this is temporary, though, until a competitor steps in and creates a better, more reliable search engine.

So Google, get with it and fix your search program so it does not misrepresent people, or your competitors will do it for you and Dozier’s prediction will come true. In my opinion and experience, for critical thinkers, it already has. In the meantime, smart people or perhaps I should say people that have at least minimum levels of intelligence and critical thinking skills, do not jump to unwarranted conclusions about a person based upon Google ads or what comes up on Google searches.

Until this search engine reliability problem gets corrected, which could be years, I highly recommend people read books like The Google Bomb for things they can do to minimize the damage.

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