Refutation of the disinformation about Monica Pignotti

Posts tagged ‘internet reputation management’

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?

Hate Speech: A Subjective Term

Since Ronald Federici’s supporters are now accusing me of “hate speech” or a “hate campaign” on that other anonymous WordPress blog, I need to point out that “hate speech” is a highly subjective term. So-called “hate speech” or “campaign” is not against the law unless it contains libel/defamation or specific threats of/or incites violence or if it discriminates against someone because of their race, religion, or sexual orientation, but  my “speech” or writings have contained none of this, since Dr. Federici’s interventions are presumably not a religion and therapy interventions are not considered a “protected group” as race, religion, ethnicity are. In other words it is not against the law to “hate” or criticize TFT, EMDR, CISD, or any other alphabet therapy or Federici’s intervention although I do not equate criticism with hatred as the true believers in these approaches might.

The very idea of “hate speech” is highly controversial. One person’s “hate speech” could be another person’s sincerely held opinions and thus, the US Constitution protects hate speech that does not fall into the categories I described, even the type of hate speech most people would find repugnant (although again, no reasonable person would consider what I have written to fall into that category).

For example, Scientologists consider any criticism of Scientology to be “hate speech” especially former member/whistleblowers. Can they sue for that? Of course not. They have sued for many other things, but not hate speech. Scientologists have every right to believe that it is hate speech, but no right to enforce that belief on critics by silencing them.

During the civil rights movement, early activists were portrayed as angry haters, simply because they were fighting for their civil rights. The best definition for “hate speech” or a “hate campaign” seems to be anything someone says that one strongly does not like. But guess what? You don’t have to like it, but it is protected by our Constitution. People who want to silence the speech of others they do not like would be better off moving somewhere there is a totalitarian dictatorship and making sure they are the ones in power so they can oppress and silence anyone with whom they disagree, but here in the US, we have a Constitution.

Calling something “hate speech” appears to be yet another propaganda tactic to attempt to smear critics. No reasonable person would consider my sincere expression of concerns about interventions that lack evidence for safety and efficacy that may do harm to children to be “hate speech” or a “hate campaign”. Again, this looks to me to be yet another attempt to manipulate others with propaganda.

Ludicrous comparisons of ACT have been made to Fred Phelps and the blatantly false statement was made that ACT was “Scientology-backed” (the website in question, a reputation management company, which denies Federici had anything to do with it but yet vigorously defends him and states that he has retained their services, has now removed the false statement about Scientology but persists with their ludicrous analogy to Phelps — fine by me, as it exposes what in my opinion is quite obviously faulty thinking and blatant propaganda tactics — kind of like calling someone a Nazi).

In any case, to set the record straight, ACT is not Scientology backed in any way, shape or form. And no, the fact that I left Scientology 34 years ago and have been a strong critic of Scientology ever since, is in no way an indication that ACT is “Scientology-backed” and if this does get to court, this blatantly false statement will be exposed (this lie has been repeated more than once and not just by that rep management company who edited their website to remove the statement). I am adamantly opposed to Scientology and any Google search on my name will reveal very high profile, public criticism that I have been engaged in on the internet since I first got online in 1996. I have no desire whatsoever to ever be a member of Scientology and never have in the 34 years since I left, but there is no way Scientology would even allow a person who has criticized them to the extent that I have, to be a member, much less work for them. Public criticism of Scientology is considered by Scientology’s own policies to be a suppressive act of the highest order and that makes me a Suppressive Person, in the eyes of Scientology.

As for Phelps, their “opinions” and rationalization of it is in my opinion, some of the most convoluted and ludicrous propaganda I have ever witnessed. They argue that we are taking a ridiculous position and that no reasonable person wants to see a child subjected to terror. That has never been my argument or that of anyone connected to ACT. No one is saying what these therapists “want”. We are not mindreaders and would not presume to know what they want. What we have done is pointed to specific examples of therapy that employ prone restraint positions that much literature has shown to be dangerous, even when used in institutions by professionals under highly supervised conditions.

We have criticized certain holding therapy methods, that do exist and in my opinion and in the opinion of many who have observed them are cruel and abusive, regardless of whether the people who employ them are in favor of terrorizing children. It is what they actually do, not what they want or intend, that is important. For example, view the video of Neil Feinberg, who finally, after more than a decade of subjecting children to these tactics as a licensed mental health professional, just this year finally had his license permanently revoked by the State of Colorado. This is not some made up problem. This was a licensed mental health professional that hundreds of parents trusted and turned over their children to for “therapy” for decades and he is not the only one.

Do I hate the way Feinberg is dealing with the child on that video? You bet I do. I hate, what in my opinion are verbally and physically abusive acts and the fact that they were done in the name of “therapy” makes them even worse. I have been accused of having “no respect” for such “professionals.” Darn right I don’t. Imagine how quickly a child would be removed from a parent’s custody if a parent were ever seen treating a child in that manner, yet therapists get away with it for years on end — this is a disgrace to the profession and to any licensing boards that allow these kinds of practices to continue. How many children suffered before that happened? Yet I do not know Neil Feinberg and have no idea what he really wanted and what his intentions were and I don’t give a flip what his intentions were or what he wanted. For all I know, he may have been merely misguided and sincerely believed he was helping children and had nothing but the best intentions. The bottom line is, however, that these so-called “therapies”, in our opinion, do terrorize children and in some cases have done much worse.

Their attempts to relate our protest of prone restraint procedures, coercive holding therapies and interventions that lack scientific research to support their efficacy is a completely reasonable position and has absolutely nothing to do with Phelps. Obviously a number of professional peer reviewers have disagreed with this reputation management company and consider our position and criticisms reasonable ones, because we have had a number of our articles published in peer reviewed journals. Trust me, I have absolutely no desire to know what is going on inside the minds of those who carry out these therapies and I don’t care if they have the best intentions in the world. I am not claiming to know what they want and what their intentions are. All I care about is the fact that they are using treatments that have no scientific evidence for their safety and efficacy and in my opinion, based on my observation of videotapes of these treatments, are cruel and abusive, regardless of what the therapists intended. Connell Watkins did not intend to kill Candace Newmaker. She thought she was doing “therapy” and helping her but that makes no difference because the bottom line is that a 10 year old child died.

The people using these propaganda tactics need to realize, however, that they may have grossly underestimated the intelligence of the average American who I believe is unlikely to fall for such an obvious smear tactic, attempting to make loose and convoluted associations to people and organizations that have nothing to do with ACT.

If people are interested in a more appropriate analogy, here’s one for you. Extensive interviews with the followers of Jim Jones who were fortunate enough to survive the Jonestown mass suicide/murder revealed that most of these followers were extremely well intentioned individuals who were attracted to following Jim Jones and his People’s Temple because they sincerely believed he was doing good in the world, fighting poverty and racism. Who would be opposed to that? We cannot fault them on their intentions, but nevertheless, instead, what ended up happening was that they were led by Jones to brutally murder their own children, but forcing them to drink a cyanide-laced punch. The act was brutal, but the vast of these people, if asked, would never have said they were in favor of murdering children and they would have been completely sincere. Yet that’s what they did. Prior to this mass atrocity, people who expressed their concerns about what was going on were seen as anticult cranks and fanatics by some. This is an example of what what people want and what they actually do can be quite different. Too often, people confuse motives with actions. And to anticipate a way this might be twisted, I am not saying that these cult members or Jim Jones was like attachment therapists. My point is that people who commit atrocities whether it be abusive “therapies” or cult members who abuse/kill their children, very often do not see themselves as bad people who want bad things to happen and this even often holds true for the leaders. Good actors who play villains in a convincing manner, know this.

Instead of flinging around terms that in no way would be anything anyone could be charged with, my offer to Dr. Federici remains open to have a professional, sensible discussion that names specific statements I have made that he considers to be legally actionable — meaning factually false. There is nothing I have written that I consider, based on my own careful review of the literature,  to be factually false but again, I am not infallible so my offer remains open.

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