Refutation of the disinformation about Monica Pignotti

Posts tagged ‘cyber defamation’

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

To Date More than 1000 Postings by the Perpetrators of the Smear Campaign Against Monica Pignotti

Predictably, those other WordPress bloggers are at it again, in an  all too obvious attempt to reverse things, are attempting to reframe the smear campaign against me as some kind of internet obsession on my part. That is akin to calling the victim of rape, a sex addict. Here is an example of their propaganda tactics. Let’s see if we can identify what they leave out. They write:

She seems to post more less the same thing, a rather obsessive account of a lawsuit, to a fantastically diverse of discussion groups. Her topic is largely irrelevant to most of them, for example, she posts to groups about Scientology (she is a former Scientologist, but this court case has nothing to do with Scientology), children, cooking, skepticism, astronomy, revisionism, shortwave radio, law (here her posting may be relevant), the United States, and Pakistan.

This is not an attempt to justify what I do. I have no need to do so. Rather, my intent here is to set the record straight. What they neglect to mention is that these are all groups on which the internet smear campaigners have originated postings about me.  Someone recently did an informal analysis of these postings and found more than 1000 smear postings about me. The smear bloggers attempted to misportray this as a citation that requires some sort of statistical expertise. No, it does not require a PhD, a peer reviewed submission or any kind of complicated statistical knowledge. It is simply a Google Groups search that anyone can verify this by performing the same searches in Google Groups on the pseudonyms listed below. That’s what is really going on that the anonymous WordPress smear bloggers failed to mention. Those postings attacking me were, indeed on the “upswing”. Here is what was found. Remember, these are postings made by the perpetrators of the smear campaign:

The extent of the Usenet/google groups campaign against Monica Pignotti, is clearly extensive.

I have identified 1002 posts which may be attributed to the following posters/e-mail addresses.  There are undoubtedly more addresses from which postings take place, additional user names employed and further

postings by the user names identified in the following data which I have not detected.

The postings are predominantly, single thread headers, with no replies. My very rough calculations put this at above 90% of the posts I have encountered. The majority of posts which are replied to, are those made to the alt.religion.scientology group. Any person wishing to subject the following information to statistical analysis is free to do so.

Although there are a large number of groups to which postings are made, and some variations between different posters, there is a clear pattern of groups to which these posts are made. Those variations that  do exist, give the impression of the ‘elaborations of a bad liar’ to quote Clarice Starling.

The close co-relation between the groups, different user names have targeted, suggests strongly that there is a single agenda in the postings made.

The significance of this is that either the postings are made by one individual, or a relatively static group working within a single policy agenda.

Monica can not be said to be being targeted as a result of a widespread popular agenda. But ONLY, (I’d like to emphasise only more) as a part of a single focused attack.

Candidates include a ‘nut Job’ and, given her critical opinion of certain child treatment, and education styles favoured by the church of scientology, that church sits very definitely in the frame as a potential culprit.

Please note that in the following data each individual post will frequently have been posted in multiple groups.

POSTER SANDAU CHIROPRACTIC SERVICES

e-mail smilax_san@yahoo.com

Known Posts re Monica Pignotti          3

Known Groups posted in re Monica Pignotti

alt.religion.scientology

re.radio.shortwave

alt.revisionism

POSTER DIDACTICDERIVAT@YAHOO.COM

e-mail didacticderivat@yahoo.com

Known Posts re Monica Pignotti          46

Known Groups posted in Monica Pignotti

alt.religion.scientology

alt.slack

misc.health.diabetes

rec.puzzles

sci.lang

sci.med

sci.med.diseases.hepatitis

sci.skeptic

soc.culture.indian

soc.culture.singapore

soc.culture.singapore

soc.culture.usa

soc.culture.usa

soc.men

talk.politics.misc

POSTER NOAUTH

e-mail a@remailer.gabrix.ath.cx

Known Posts re Monica Pignotti          39

Known Groups posted in Monica Pignotti

alt.religion.scientology

soc.culture.usa

POSTER ANNE ONNIME

e-mail   anonym@rip.ax.lt

Known Posts re Monica Pignotti          271

Known Groups posted in re Monica Pignotti

alt.adoption.issues

alt.conspiracy

alt.fraud

alt.politics

alt.politics.republicans

alt.religion.islam

alt.religion.scientology

alt.revisionism

alt.slack

comp.lang.java.security

misc.invest.futures

misc.invest.stocks

misc.legal

rec.crafts.marketplace

rec.food.cooking

rec.music.misc

rec.radio.shortwave

sci.astro

sci.electronics.components

sci.electronics.repair

sci.lang

sci.math

sci.psychology.misc

sci.skeptic

soc.culture.british

soc.culture.china

soc.culture.europe

soc.culture.french

soc.culture.german

soc.culture.greek

soc.culture.italian

soc.culture.japan

soc.culture.jewish

soc.culture.lebanon

soc.culture.nordic

soc.culture.pakistan

soc.culture.russian

soc.culture.taiwan

soc.culture.thai

sci.med

soc.culture.usa

POSTER  GEORGE ORWELL

e-mail nob@mixmaster.it

Known Posts re Monica Pignotti          189

Known Groups posted in re Monica Pignotti

alt.conspiracy

alt.education

alt.magick

alt.recovery

alt.religion.mormon

alt.religion.scientology

alt.slack

misc.invest.futures

misc.legal

rec.arts.sf.written

rec.crafts.marketplace

rec.food.cooking

sci.electronics.repair

sci.skeptic

soc.culture.german

soc.culture.japan

soc.culture.pakistan

POSTER    ANONYMOUS

e-mail  cri@ecn.org

Known Posts re Monica Pignotti          124

Known Groups posted in Monica Pignotti

alt.clearing.avatar

alt.religion.scientology

alt.slack

misc.invest.futures

misc.invest.options

misc.legal

rec.bicycles.misc

rec.crafts.marketplace

rec.food.cooking

sci.electronics.repair

sci.math

sci.skeptic

soc.culture.greek

soc.culture.pakistan

soc.culture.palestine

soc.culture.usa

POSTER  NOMEN NESCIO

e-mail  nob@dizum.com

Known Posts re Monica Pignotti          261

Known Groups posted in re Monica Pignotti

Nomen Nescio

nob@dizum.com

alt.baldspot

alt.clearing.avatar

alt.conspiracy

alt.fraud

alt.religion.islam

alt.religion.scientology

alt.revisionism

alt.slack

alt.support.depression.manic

alt.true-crime

ec.radio.shortwave

misc.invest.futures

misc.invest.stocks

rec.crafts.marketplace

rec.food.cooking

rec.music.misc

rec.radio.shortwave

sci.electronics.repair

sci.lang.japan

sci.math

sci.med

sci.skeptic

soc.culture.china

soc.culture.europe

soc.culture.french

soc.culture.german

soc.culture.greek

soc.culture.iranian

soc.culture.italian

soc.culture.japan

soc.culture.lebanon

soc.culture.pakistan

soc.culture.polish

soc.culture.turkish

uk.misc

POSTER  KULIN REMAILER

e-mail  remai@reece.net.au

Known Posts re Monica Pignotti          69

Known Groups posted in Monica Pignotti

alt.conspiracy

alt.religion.scientology

alt.revisionism

alt.slack

comp.lang.java.security

misc.invest.stocks

misc.kids

misc.legal

rec.food.cooking

rec.music.misc

rec.radio.shortwave

sci.astro

sci.electronics.components

sci.skeptic

soc.culture.british

soc.culture.french

soc.culture.german

soc.culture.greek

soc.culture.indonesia

soc.culture.israel

soc.culture.lebanon

soc.culture.malaysia

soc.culture.pakistan

soc.culture.usa

Now come again, who is obsessed?

I had the choice of sitting passively by and allowing this to happen or fighting back. Just as rape victims of the past were told to be passive and submit or that the rape is their fault (still true in some countries even today), victims of cyber smear campaigns are also told this even sometimes by people who should know better. I tried silence and not responding for several months and it did not work. The smear campaign continued, so I decided to fight back. The smear campaign has been constant against others such as Larry Sarner and he has remained silent, showing that his silence failed to stop the abuse of his name. My responses were my way to point people to information that refutes this disinformation campaign, so when some unsuspecting person comes upon them on an internet search, they can at least be referred to information on why this smear campaign is occurring. It is the smear campaigners that “seem to post on the same thing” about me so of course, my responses are repetitive. There is nothing wrong with repetition to refute a smear campaign.

Perhaps the most ludicrous statement is the claim I am “obsessed” with lawsuits and “legal trivia”. I am not the one who has sued multiple parties repeatedly. I have never sued anyone in my life. Just check into Ronald Federici’s history of suing people and decide for yourselves who is obsessed. Interesting that they would characterize this lawsuit as “legal trivia” when before it was dismissed, for months before the lawsuit was ever filed, the Anonymous WordPress bloggers were calling it a History Making Lawsuit, had a WordPress blog by that title and have failed to update that blog to show that it was dismissed and upon what grounds (jurisdiction and failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted for Pignotti & Mercer). Instead, interrogatories and subpoenas that were never served for depositions that never occurred because the case was dismissed prior to that phase, remain posted last I checked, which was today. How dishonest is that? Obviously the bloggers did not consider it a trivial matter — until the case was dismissed, it would seem. Then, all of a sudden “history” was rewritten and it became a trivial matter. Talk about revisionism. I can assure you that it is not considered “trivial” for those who see it as an injustice that people have to pay thousands to defend themselves from such lawsuits and in states without anti-SLAPP legislation, have very little, if any, chance of being reimbursed for thousands in legal expenses just to get it dismissed at an early stage.

While I am not a fan of adding yet more categories of pathology to the DSM and I am not intending this as a diagnosis for anyone in particular (they have more than enough already) if I were, I might suggest as new category, Litigation Addiction, for people who seem to be compelled to repeatedly sue others. Now that would make an interesting reality show Dr. Drew Pinsky might want to consider doing: Celebrity Rehab: Litigation Addiction. Just as the drug-addicted celebrities were ordered to delete all drug contacts from their cell phones and stay away from bars, litigation-addicted participants could be ordered to delete the names of all lawyers from their cell phones and stay away from courtrooms. How about it, Dr. Drew? [I’m being facetious, of course, but some people do seem to be using the legal system as a hoped-for solution to many of their interpersonal conflicts or a way to shut up anyone who criticizes them.]


Altered Posting from a Private Yahoo Group Adoption List Serv

How many times have I written that the anonymous posters have sunk to a new low, or words to that effect? Now I am saying it again.

Observe how once again, my cyberstalker tries to flip things and make me out to be someone with “bizarre” delusions. What I am giving here is a factual, provable account of the bizarre actions of my cyberstalker. Big difference. Since already, misportrayals of this are being posted, I want to make it crystal clear that I am not making any claims that I know how the following incident happened. I only know that it did happen because I saw both the original and the altered posting and have retained copies of both as evidence.

A few days ago, one of the usual defamatory smear postings about me appeared on alt.religion.scientology. This one named a man I had never even heard of, claiming that he and I were lovers and the usual obscene lies that are posted about me that are characteristic of the anonymous posters conducting this smear campaign. I don’t usually post these links, but in this case I choose to, so it can go on the record how ugly this smear campaign has become:

http://groups.google.com/group/alt.religion.scientology/browse_thread/thread/85d\
a4ef078ed3d04

http://groups.google.com/group/alt.religion.scientology/browse_thread/thread/f01\
67b21ea6c0fa9

http://groups.google.com/group/alt.religion.scientology/browse_thread/thread/e68\
677a532aa4f05

The claim was made that this person had made a posting to a Yahoo “chat room” (late I found out it was a Yahoo group list serv on Russian Adoption) and the posting said that I was being funded by a foundation for my critical work and for the (now-dismissed) lawsuit against me. This, of course is absolutely false. The posting also claimed that I had called an adoptive mother a “crack whore” which of course is another absurd lie. I challenged the anonymous poster to show me proof of what had been posted.

Shortly thereafter, another anonymous posting was made to alt.religion.scientology with a posting said to be from the Russian Adoption Yahoo list serv and also gave the name and e-mail address of the individual who they claimed posted it. I contacted that individual. He responded that he had no idea who I was (not surprising as I had no idea who he was either). I saw his actual posting and found that the anonymous posters had substantially altered it with their own bizarre fabrications including the “crack whore” statement which the individual in question did not make, nor did he make any statement about me, since he doesn’t even know me and has never heard of me.

Another interesting difference is that the actual, original postings were highly critical of Heather Forbes and also indirectly mentioned Ronald Federici (reference to Angelina Jolie adoption), but in the altered version, Forbes name was removed and the name of another therapist, Bryan Post, was substituted. It looks to me as if whoever the anonymous poster is,  wanted to make sure to leave Federici and Forbes’ names out of it and wanted me to believe that Bryan Post was responsible. Sorry, I’m not buying that. Although I am obviously no fan of Brian Post’s work, I do not believe Bryan Post is responsible because he was barely even mentioned in the actual posting, which focused on Heather Forbes. It looks to me like a posting from a private Yahoo Group list serv somehow got into the hands of the people conducting the smear campaign against me and the list serv has some passionate supporters of none other than Ronald Federici and Heather Forbes. Since the list serv is not public and cannot be viewed by non-members online, someone from the list serv obviously had to have forwarded the posting to someone else and at some point, it must have fallen into the hands of the anonymous cyber stalker who has been posting malicious lies about me. People can draw their own conclusions as to who the top suspects are. I’m not accusing any of the adoptive parents of this. Quite possibly they innocently forwarded this to someone who then got it into the hands of the anonymous posters, but there parents might want to take note of what is being done with those postings.

This is a new low and it once again, makes me ask how it is that such malicious lies are rationalized by these people. If the therapists they are defending are so wonderful, why the need to stoop so low and attack critics in this way? People who have valid arguments have no need to lie about people with whom they disagree.

It is also interesting that the posting once again implies that I am in a conspiracy with any critic of Federici or Forbes when in fact, as happened previously with Daniel Ibn Zayd (who I also had never heard of before we were accused of working together). What is really happening is that people who have never even met or heard of one another are coming to their own independent conclusions about the work of Ronald Federici, Heather Forbes, Bryan Post and certain other therapists. There is no conspiracy.

Ronald Federici attempted to sue five individuals and an organization for conspiracy, but the case was dismissed by a Virginia Federal judge on March 4, 2011 and the time to appeal has now passed, so the case is now closed.  The case was dismissed, for me, for jurisdiction and also, more importantly, failure to state a claim upon which relief can be granted. One of the Exhibits was a blog by Daniel Ibn Zayd, someone who none of the defendants had any ties to. Thankfully, the right to free speech has prevailed. It is also interesting to note that the smear campaign quieted down considerably for the duration of the lawsuit and within days of its dismissal, the smear campaign on the internet resumed in full force and even escalated during the month of March. There were postings on an almost daily basis with all kinds of defamatory lies about me including a complete fabrication about me on a “cheaters” website claiming I broke up a marriage in New York and then the link was posted repeatedly, so this complete fabrication was Google bombed to come up on the first page of a Google search in my name.

So to state the obvious, for the record, I have never called anyone a “crack whore” and I certainly do not receive any funding for my critical work exposing what I consider to be potentially harmful and bogus therapies and no foundation funded my defense in Federici v Pignotti.

Targets of Cyber Abuse Who Fight Back

Like a typical abuser, cyber abusers expect the victim to remain a victim, quietly slink away and not assert themselves. What happens when the victim defies convention and chooses to assert herself, as I have? The result is similar to the way a typical real life abuser responds. He/she attempts to reframe things with the following types of responses, characterizing the victim’s fighting back as:

  • Shrill (commonly used by sexists against females who dare to assert themselves — rarely are males ever described as “shrill”)
  • Mentally unbalanced
  • Making unreasonable “demands”
  • Being a “conspiracy” theorist
  • Being narcissistic
  • Being a drama queen
  • Being selfish
  • Being an attention whore (internet jargon for someone who needs attention, which is the equivalent of saying a rape victim was asking for it]
  • Use sock puppets to make it appear that the victim is being ganged up on when really it is only a few people who are running the smear campaign.
  • Attempt to portray the victim as an “internet addict,” say that the person has a lot of time on her hands (ironic, given the amount of time and effort the cyber abuser is going to, to smear the person) or showing how many postings the person made, neglecting to mention they were responses to the equally many posts the cyber abuser has made.
  • Attempt to reframe any support the person gets as being done in exchange for sexual favors (in my case this has gotten to be absurd, as a statement of support from many prominent mental health professionals I will soon be posting, which includes heterosexual females, will indicate).
  • If all else fails, sue the victim with a SLAPP lawsuit
  • Or if there was a sexual relationship between the abuser and victim and worse, if they had a child together, suing the woman for custody and use the child as a weapon (although this obviously does not apply in my case I have counseled women in the past who have been through that kind of situation).

These are just a few ways cyber abusers and cyber stalkers attempt to rip away from the victim the right to defend him or herself. All of these things could discourage the victim from taking a proactive stand against the abuser and defend herself. See it and call it what it is. Don’t fall for it.

Monica Pignotti and NYU: What Really Happened

For more than a year now, the malicious lie has been posted that I was “fired” from Florida State University and declared “unfit to teach”, along with all kinds of other nonsense. As stated previously, this is entirely false and I have references and positive teaching evaluations that prove otherwise. It has become very obvious that someone is very hard at and spending an inordinate amount of time posting falsehoods about me on a regular basis, to try and make sure I do not get a faculty position by posting such lies and hoping the people doing the hiring believe them or perhaps wrongfully blame me as the victim that I must have done something to deserve this. What I did was expose what I consider to be abuse in the name of “therapy” (for example, using outdated prone restraint methods on children with behavior problems rather than empirically supported methods). This is why I am being targeted although 47 of my colleagues have been courageous enough to take a stand with me.

Now, in five separate postings, this lie is being extended to New York University (NYU) [Update May 20: there have now been a number of additional postings falsely asserting that NYU has made a statement that they have not and other false statements about this matter). For example, one posting claims that I was denied a position at NYU because of information that came up on an FOIA request on me for FSU. This is utterly absurd, since the only teaching I did at FSU was as a doctoral student and I only left because I graduated and left in good standing in every way. I was never faculty at FSU in the first place. My teaching was done as a PhD candidate under a stipend that all PHD students/candidates get and do teaching or research in exchange. I graduated and left in good standing and have the references to prove it. Another posting lied that NYU discovered I had a criminal record when the truth, which can be easily verified by a background check is that I have no criminal record whatsoever for anyone to discover, not even so much as a traffic ticket.

Before I go any further, let there be no misunderstanding. Please note that I am in no way intending to blame NYU for what I am about to describe happened nor am I accusing any of their faculty or personnel of anything. The person posting these malicious lies, whoever it is, appears to not have a conscience when it comes to lying and may well be a sociopath. Sociopaths can be very clever and even though I am sure the people at NYU did everything possible to protect the information I sent them, such people can find ways to get around these kinds of setups through no fault of the people concerned. It could have happened to virtually anyone.

Already my cyber stalker is frantically trying to misportray me as spinning conspiracy theories. No, I am not. The fact is that when a person applies for a job, their application is supposed to be kept confidential and in my case, the confidentiality of my application was breached. Postings were made that I had applied for this job when I had not publicly revealed that anywhere. Postings were made saying that I did not get the position before I was notified. How this happened is unknown and that is what I am requesting be investigated. This is a reasonable request because if there is a leak somewhere — whether that leak be due to computer hacking, someone snooping or someone violating the confidentiality of job applications, someone gossiping to friends about who applied or something else — it needs to be fixed so future applicants won’t have this happen to them. I am not blaming anyone, but I do have the right to know what happened. The fact is that the confidentiality of my application was violated, someone, somehow through some unknown means gained access to information they should not have had and a matter I chose to keep private was posted on the internet. That is an issue that needs to be taken very seriously.

Here is what actually happened with NYU. It is interesting and telling to note that until today (April 18, 2011) I have not discussed nor even mentioned anything about this matter. I have not discussed it on the Internet or even on Facebook. I make it a point never to discuss by name any faculty positions I apply for before a final decision has been made, for obvious reasons. Yet although it is a bald-faced lie that I was declared “unfit” for the position (in fact, I was declared by the search committee head “a qualified applicant”), someone seems to have gained inside information that I had applied for a faculty position at NYU’s school of social work and that I did not get it. How this information was obtained remains a mystery, since I am sure that the people on the search committee are completely ethical and would never have leaked it. It appears that someone snooped or someone snooped and then told someone else who posted this.

The anonymous poster, whoever it was, was apparently aware that I had not gotten the position before I received my rejection letter and announced the fact that I did not get the job in a very nasty way, accompanied by lies about the reasons why. The posting was made shortly before I got my formal rejection letter (via e-mail).

I notified the search committee chair about this to apprise him of the situation and he expressed serious concern and expressed his sincere compassion about what I was having to endure with regard to the internet smear campaign (I sent the head of the search committee links to all the postings so he could see the outrageous lies in them). While it is true I did not get the position, it is completely false that I didn’t get it because they considered me unfit to teach or that it had anything to do with any of the lies that were posted about me such as the lie that I have a criminal record, which of course I do not. The head of the search committee has now given me permission to make it publicly known that he and the other search committee members considered me one of a number of strong, qualified applicants who applied for the position and their decision was in no way meant to reflect poorly on me.

The NYU faculty position I applied for was an administrative program coordinator position for an MSW program at a campus outside of New York City. When I applied, I fully realized that this was a long shot for me and my chances of getting this were slim, simply because I have no administrative program coordinator experience in a university setting. I have such experience in a hospital setting, but I am well aware they must have had plenty of applicants who did have such experience in a university setting and understandably they would be a better fit for the position than I was. My main strengths and the bulk of my experiences are in research, clinical and teaching, not administration but I was willing to accept such a position, given the desirable location, high quality of the university and the fact that I did at least have some experience in a hospital, although not a university setting.

The job market this year is especially competitive, tough and challenging and for a school as popular as NYU is, I am sure they are being completely truthful that they did have many qualified applicants and I am honored that they considered me among their pool of qualified applicants even though I ultimately was not selected for the position. I completely accept that that’s the way things are on the job market. Hundreds can apply for a given position, but only one person can get the job. It doesn’t mean that the applicants not selected were “unfit” or even that they were in any way inferior to the one chosen. It only means that the person selected was considered a better fit for that particular job.

Just to give people an idea of how tough this job market is, someone I know who teaches at Rutgers mentioned to me that about 120 people applied for one social work faculty position on their Newark campus. I would imagine that a comparable number would apply for an NYU position, as jobs in the NYC area are very popular and desirable.

What is disturbing is that the information that I applied and did not get the position was somehow discovered by someone who was apparently snooping where he/she did not belong. The matter was investigated but unfortunately it looks like at least for now, whoever did these postings has gotten away with it. Maybe next time whoever this is, won’t be so lucky. At some point the person will go too far and get caught, just as most overconfident sociopaths do.

Also note that this does not have to do with a breach in internet security on my end, because whoever did the postings knew that I did not get the position before I was notified, hence that information was not on my computer. Moreover, if someone had actually gained access to my private e-mails, there is much more information about my job search for jobs I actually had a much better chance of getting where I was on short lists that they could have sabotaged that could have been far more damaging to my job search, but were not discovered. The only place that was found out about was NYU and since I haven’t posted publicly about this until now, this leads me to believe that the breach occurred somewhere at NYU where someone gained illegal access to my application material, either by hacking into their computers or somehow gained access to my materials by snooping where they were physically located or some other way that I can’t even conceive of because I have to confess I have no experience or expertise in criminal activity such as that.

I predict that now postings will appear saying I “admitted” that NYU declared me unfit to teach or some other malicious lie. If this happens, fair warning to my cyber stalker, I will post a link to this blog article exposing the lies and distortions about what really happened.

This is yet another example of how malicious this smear campaign has gotten and how it appears to have extended beyond the internet. However, sometimes people get overconfident and do eventually get caught. At this time, I do not know the identity of the individual(s) doing this. However, it is interesting to note that at least some of the therapists whom I have criticized, by their own admission, had serious behavior problems themselves as youths and so with such a history, I have to wonder if perhaps such problems carried over into adulthood, but at this point I do not know if that is the case.

Part of the reason that I am posting this is that some people have laughed this whole smear campaign against me off as a trivial prank by some internet troll. The fact that inside information about my job search that was not available anywhere on the internet was obtained is one more piece of evidence that it is far more serious than that and that someone is also doing snooping off the internet.  This is very serious business and in some states, such cyber stalking especially when it involves illegally gaining access to information, may be considered a crime. It is certainly nothing to laugh off and blame the victim for. For people who are tempted to laugh this off and think it is nothing, first walk a mile in my shoes.

Update: A recent posting hinted that a “vigilant” group of unidentified individuals wrote a letter to NYU. This appears to be similar to what happened at FSU when a number of faculty members received a rather rambling, disjointed e-mail that smeared me and made accusations that I made postings on a blog that was not my blog that I had no responsibility for. Fortunately, they were not taken seriously and several of the faculty members forwarded the e-mails to me in order to make me aware of what was going on. All were sympathetic to me and opined that these anonymous e-mails had no credibility and appeared to be coming from an unstable individual and they expressed their condolences to me for having to deal with this. Apparently these individual who is writing these anonymous letters has no self-awareness as to how he/she comes across to others.

A few months before that Ronald Federici wrote a letter of “complaint” to the Dean of the College of Social work at FSU. I do not know if he was involved in the contacts that were allegedly made with NYU. Fortunately, the Dean at FSU chose not to take an action with regard to that letter and let me know that he considered it irrelevant to my work at FSU. To add insult to injury Federici also attempted to sue me for the commentary I wrote about his complain to my dean (Exhibit H). However, in the dismissal hearing, the Federal judge ruled that my comments did not constitute defamation and were opinion. Yes, I do indeed have the right to defend myself.

Monica Pignotti: Another Typical Sunday of Internet Smear Campaign

I am continuing to expose the anonymous smear campaign against me. As noted previously, this smear campaign has escalated considerably following the dismissal of Federici v Pignotti. Coincidence? You be the judge. Note that I am not accusing anyone in particular of being the anonymous poster. Given the vast differences in writing styles, it is likely there are more than one. Some are fairly literate whereas others seem to have difficulty even putting simple sentences together. I’m just pointing a few things out and people can make their own guesses, which are as good as mine.

That being said, Ronald Federici has responded to his critics, in a posting that he has linked to his own website. In case anyone is wondering why I am linking to it and thus aiding in its promotion, read it and you’ll understand.

Now, back to the posters who appear to have less courage and choose to post anonymous lies about me.

Please note that I have chosen an unorthodox way to deal with this by responding to these postings. I am well aware that conventional wisdom is against this. However, I have tried not responding at all for months at a time and the postings did not stop. Also notice that Larry Sarner has chosen not to respond to any of the smear postings about him and yet the unrelenting smear campaign against him has also continued. I need to remind people who believe they know all about this, that this is a very new area and just as conventional wisdom about the need of rape victims to remain silent and just submit proved to be wrong, conventional wisdom about victims of cyber abuse remaining silent may also prove to be wrong.

Last Sunday I exposed the postings that were made against me on that day. Today I am doing the same. It isn’t even 3PM yet and here are the ones that have appeared so far.

On alt.religion.scientology

Monica Pignotti: Professional Cultist

Yet another repetition of malicious lies and outright fabrications including:

  • The lie that I was “expelled” from Advocates for Children in Therapy for failing to pay “my share” of the legal bills

This one is false on a number of counts. First of all, I was not “expelled”. I have not been involved with ACT since December 2010 before any legal bills ever even existed. There was never any issue over legal bills with ACT because I had a different lawyer from an entirely different law firm from ACT/Sarner/Rosa. Again, this is all a verifiable matter of public record from the now-dismissed case of Ronald Federici v Monica Pignotti et al. Although I am no longer part of ACT, my departure was my own choice. I have nothing critical to say about them and still support their mission. You see, in the non-cultic world, people come and go from organizations all the time for benign reasons that have nothing to do with being “expelled’ or with abandonment.

  • The lie that the “remainder” of my work is in “cultic studies”

In fact, very little of my professional work has anything whatsoever to do with “cultic studies” as my CV demonstrates. However, the fact that I do have some knowledge of cults and their dynamics appear to be a big threat to some people who are exhibiting very cultic behaviors of launching smear campaigns against their critics. In Scientology this is called fair game.

  • The lie that I am hoping to make money doing adoption therapy with a certain licensed psychologist.

This is completely false. I have never made any money doing adoption therapy, nor do I ever intend to. This made the now-dismissed charges of “tortious interference” very difficult to make stick, given that I have never made any money from my advocacy work. I have never met the psychologist in question, nor have I ever had any kind of business relationship with her, nor do I plan to.

  • The lie that I was fired from FSU due to “immorality”

I was not fired from FSU at all. In fact, I only left because I graduated with my PhD and I have the references to prove it that I can and have supplied to any legitimate organization requesting them. The nonsense about sexual misconduct and “immorality” is a complete fabrication.

  • The lie that I have a criminal conviction for “witness tampering” that has ended my ability to land a tenure-track position.

I have no criminal record whatsoever. I invite anyone with any doubts to run a background check on me, which will come up squeaky clean, not even traffic violations. Whether the internet smear campaign has ended my ability to land a tenure track position remains to be seen. If it has (and note I say if), that is more of an indictment of the profession then it is of me, that I would be penalized for my advocacy work by a profession that professes to value advocacy.  I truly hope this is not the case.

  • The fabrication that my “sexual openness” has landed me in court for divorce, custody and alimony cases.

This is a complete fabrication. I have never had anything whatsoever to do with any such cases and I am about as far as one could get from the description “sexually promiscuous”.

  • The fabrication that my behavior at “academic events” has given me the title “social work sex toy”

Another complete fabrication. The only one who has used that “title” to describe me have been these anonymous cyber stalkers.

Just how desperate can these people be to grasp at these kind of straws to attack me?

But wait, there’s more:

Also from alt.religion.scientology:

Monica Pignotti: The Academic Failure

This is basically a repetition of the same lies that were in the posting described above. It looks like here, my cyberstalker got lazy and just cut and pasted the same malicious, defamatory material.

Monica Pignotti and Pavlov’s Dog

This one is an attempt to blame me, the victim of cyber abuse.

First, it castigates me for having a “Google Alert” on myself. Setting up a “Google Alert” is pretty standard advice to someone in my position who is being cyber stalked and there is nothing wrong with doing so.

It also excoriates me for responding to posting and says I am “talking to myself”. No, responding to postings is not talking to ones self. It is responding to a posting. Responding more than once to a posting is also not talking to oneself. Sometimes a thoughtful person will post something and after sending it have some more thoughts to add to it, hence a second posting. This has nothing to do with mental illness. In fact, this kind of behavior pattern was illustrated by the fictional character, Colombo who was known for coming back and saying “one more thing”. For those of you old enough to remember:

Was Colombo’s character supposed to be mentally ill? I don’t think so. He was an eccentric but brilliant detective whose mind was always running full speed ahead to solve the mystery at hand. I consider myself to be a philosophical and psychological detective. It is a hallmark indicator of a mental health quack to pathologize (label as mentally ill) behavior that is merely different.

I wasn’t talking to myself but I might as well also point out that the notion that talking to oneself is a sign of mental illness is a common myth believed by amateurs and some ignorant therapists who endorse quack DID therapies. No, it is not. Here is a website that cites research to debunk that myth (and it’s also fine for children):

For adults who do so, don’t worry. Scientists advocate talking to yourself, believing it to be perfectly normal as well as having phenomenal emotional benefits. According to a recent poll conducted by Nottingham Trent University, passengers on a bus or train are able to release their inner stress by quietly humming a tune or simply whispering to themselves.  However, they try to do this as inaudibly as possible, feeling “it’s legitimate to communicate to others, but not with themselves” as cited from leading researcher Dr. Glenn Williams.

Furthermore, children also stand to gain by speaking to themselves. A study conducted by Dr. Adam Winsler of George Mason University deduced that kindergarten kids who talk to themselves are more confident, participating actively during class compared to their more introverted peers. By chatting with themselves, they are able to put their problems into perspective and reflect upon their past actions. Dr. Adam says “private speech” was essential in childhood development and should not be censured, but rather heartily embraced and encouraged.

So much for that myth.

Moving on to the Cooking Junkies Newsgroup (who knows why they selected cooking):

Monica Pignotti: Immoral and Detested

Well okay, there is a grain of truth to this one. I am indeed “detested” by people who are followers of certain therapy gurus I have criticized.  My rebuttal to that one is:

Monica Pignotti: Moral and Detested by Quacks

The rest is just a cut and paste of the postings I described above. Guess my anonymous stalker is having a lazy Sunday afternoon.

Will update this as more will inevitably come in.

Oh, and one more thing I would like to ask the people who are participating in this smear campaign:

What, exactly do you say to yourself to make what you are doing, in your own mind, okay?

How are you rationalizing posting these malicious lies about me?

Or am I giving you too much credit in asking this question? After all, sociopaths have no need to rationalize anything to themselves.

Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last?


Proof that Monica Pignotti Graduated from Florida State University with a PhD

To refute the latest lie that is part of an ongoing, anonymous and highly defamatory smear campaign which appears to have greatly escalated since Federici v Pignotti was dismissed even though note that I am not accusing Federici himself of personally posting this, lies are being posted by an unidentified anonymous person about me that I “flunked” out of FSU and got my diploma from a website. Click here for proof that I did, in fact graduate with my PhD:

Graduates of the FSU College of Social Work Doctoral Program

On that page, it shows that I did indeed, successfully defend my dissertation and graduated from Florida State University.  Graduates are listed in chronological order from earliest to latest, so scroll down to near the bottom of this page where the most recent graduates are listed and my name will be found as follows:

Monica Pignotti

The Use of Novel Unsupported and Empirically Supported Therapies by Licensed Clinical Social Workers.

I was not “fired” from FSU. I left in good standing in every way and only because I graduated and have the references to prove it and my dissertation committee chair, Professor Bruce Thyer (a family man who is very much in love with his wife, contrary to the defamatory filth has been posted about us) and others will vouch for me.

Although Ronald Federici and some of his colleagues, none of whom have ever met or worked with me, attempted to complain to my Dean in July of 2009, his attempts to complain about me were to no avail and my Dean chose not to take any action on this “complaint” because he considered the allegations to be completely irrelevant to my work at FSU, where in addition to successfully passing every step of the process and being the first one in my cohort to graduate, I earned a 3.9 GPA. Note that even Dr. Federici admits that I do have this PhD in an otherwise highly derogatory piece he wrote about me that is linked to his website so I am not accusing him of posting the anonymous posting, but the anonymous poster, whoever that may be is posting lies about me saying I “flunked” out when FSU’s own website shows that I did, in fact graduate.

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