Refutation of the disinformation about Monica Pignotti

Posts tagged ‘Internet Abuse’

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

Forgery Alert: Forged posting to alt.religion.scientology that I did not post

Since I stopped responding to postings on newsgroups such as alt.religion.scientology, postings are now being forged with my name on them by the internet smear campaigners in an all too obvious effort to get me to respond. This one, signed Monica Pignotti, Doctor of Philosophy, has lies about me in relation to Larry Sarner. Please be advised that if anyone sees postings with my name on them, it is very easy to forge postings to Google groups and that is what is occurring now. Unlike most postings to such newsgroups that stay up forever, this posting is set to expire in three days, an option that is available to those who post to such newsgroups.

Earlier, during the time that Ronald Federici’s case was being prepared against me (which was ultimately fully dismissed) postings were forged in my name that I was offering adoption services when I have never offered any such services, although these postings were not mentioned in his complaint. These too were anonymous and I cannot prove who was behind them, but it appears that someone was making an attempt to make it appear that I was a competitor when in fact I am not and have never had any financial profit from my criticisms of Federici or any of the others. When we pointed out that none of the defendants made any money from our criticism of him, Federici, in his memorandum of opposition to my motion to dismiss also tried to name a psychologist with whom I have no connections whatsoever as a direct competitor of his, even though she lives and works in a different state from Federici and from me and was not named as a defendant in the lawsuit. He tried to claim that we had a connection, simply because I mentioned her more than once on my blog. No, praising someone’s work on a blog and linking to a podcast does not constitute conspiracy, but at that point he appeared to have been grasping at straws. Ultimately all this failed and the case was fully dismissed.

One way to tell a posting is forged is if you click on my name, you will see that instead of my e-mail address coming up, the e-mail address of an anonymous remailer comes up instead. Regular e-mail addresses can be identified through their IP addresses. Anonymous remailers are e-mail addresses people can be used that cannot be traced via IP addresses and thus the poster cannot be identified. I never use anonymous remailers so if a posting comes up with my name on it that has such a remailer, you can be certain it did not come from me. Some common names for anonymous remailers are Nomen Nescio, George Orwell, Kulin remailer and the one that the posting in question was posted under, reece.net.au which indicates an Australian remailer, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the poster is in the country listed.

Once again, this shows how low the smear campaigners are willing to go.

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.

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.

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