Refutation of the disinformation about Monica Pignotti

Posts tagged ‘Prone Restraints’

Therapy or Legally Sanctioned Abuse? You Decide

When Ronald Federici sued me in the now-dismissed Federici v Pignotti et al., one of the claims he attempted to make was that the defendants were in a conspiracy and that we were responsible for a blog entitled A Search For Survivors, a blog authored by someone who goes by the name of Wayward Radish (WR). I am not Wayward Radish and I swore in an affidavit that I was not responsible for any of the anonymous postings Federici had complained about, nor, to the best of my knowledge, were any of the other defendants. Fortunately, I  have never been a patient of any of the therapists mentioned on that blog.

A Search for Survivors is the blog of a person who has stated that she is a survivor of attachment and holding therapy, which, as a child, she was subjected to (with another therapist, not Federici)This blog was formerly on WordPress, but reportedly, it is my understanding that Ronald Federici and others filed a DMCA complaint (even though from what I can tell, copyrights were not violated. They did the same for the Advocates for Children in Therapy (ACT) website, which, contrary to misinformation,  is not associated with Wayward Radish or A Search for Survivors.  Due to the fact that their hosts at the time were not willing to stand up to those who tried to have the websites removed, both WR and ACT found a host that did have the courage to do so, Project DoD and as a result the websites remain up to this day. Details of what transpired with regard to the DMCA complaints can be found in a paper presented at a conference by Christopher Mooney and Tiffany Rad of Project DoD entitled:

The DMCA & ACTA vs. Academic & Professional Research: How Misuse of this
Intellectual Property Legislation Chills Research, Disclosure and Innovation

Here is a link to WR’s account of what happened with WordPress. However, I am not responsible for the content of A Search for Survivors nor the ACT website.

My position on A Search for Survivors has been that these are accounts of survivors, who were subjected to “attachment therapy” as children (not with Federici, with other therapists). The “therapy” was so traumatic for them that some have been under treatment for PTSD that arose from the trauma of having to undergo such “therapy” and I use that word with caution. Recent research reported by SAMHSA has shown that a high percentage of people who experienced being restrained, experienced the event as traumatic. People can view videos of holding therapy and decide for themselves whether this is therapy or legally sanctioned abuse in the name of therapy.

Based on what he attempted to claim in his lawsuit, Federici and his supporters appear to be associating the word “abuse” with illegality. Federici seems to think that because he does not have a criminal record, this makes the use of the word, “abuse” defamatory. However, calling something abusive does not necessarily mean it is illegal. Just to give an unrelated example to clarify this point, many people are opposed to all forms of spanking children and consider it abuse. Yet spanking that does not injure a child is completely legal. Does that mean that anti-spanking proponents are libeling parents who spank children? Of course not and it would be absurd to allege as much. Or consider the recent controversy over hot saucing children (I’m not saying any of the therapists are doing this, just giving this as an example to illustrate my point). Abusive? Many of us definitely think so, but illegal? Probably not, unfortunately.

The so-called “therapies” discussed in WR’s blog are not illegal, yet many are of the opinion that they are abusive. Although they are not currently illegal, some are of the opinion that they should not be legal. Note that the opinion that those therapies should be illegal is not a statement that can be proven true of false. It is a “should” statement which indicates a value judgment, and thus is not subject to legal action.

Some of the videos of holding therapists are available online, so people can watch them and decide whether this is therapy or legally-sanctioned abuse.

Videos of the holds Ronald Federici recommends in his book, Help for the Hopeless Child are not available online. At one time, a segment demonstrating the hold from a Dateline episode was on YouTube and elsewhere on the internet, but they were removed. People who would like to view the prone hold he recommends in his book and on Dateline can, however, purchase a copy of his book from Amazon. Yes, that’s right, I am actually recommending that interested people purchase his book (as I have) because it is important that people obtain accurate information about what his therapy consists of. The holding diagram can also be viewed on Amazon:

Search in the book for “SEQUENCE ONE HOLDING” and go to where this phrase appears on page 111.

Anyone can also purchase a DVD copy of the Dateline episode from NBC at 866-622-8273. Additionally, a transcript of a BBC program entitled Taming the Problem Child that featured his work is available online and presents Federici’s views as well as the views of critics such as Peter Fonagy.

I would urge anyone who cares about this issue to order the above materials and form their own opinion of whether they want to consider this therapy or something else and yes, people do have the Constitutional right to hold opinions on these matters and that include the right to criticize and advocate for changes in the existing law. In several states, prone holds or restraints are illegal in residential facilities and/or schools. However, to date, there is no existing law that forbids their use in private therapy practice or use in a client’s home. Does this makes sense, that procedures that are forbidden under highly supervised conditions such as state mental hospitals and schools in some states, ought to be legal for use in settings that are not as highly supervised, if at all? Again, this is something for each person to decide.

As for the accounts on WR’s website, although I cannot necessarily vouch for every statement made on that website, nor do I necessarily agree with every statement that was made, the reported experiences are highly consistent with what has been shown on a number of videos that are available of such interventions, where the therapists in question have demonstrated what they do for all to see. Thus, it is not surprising to me that at least some of the survivors of these treatments, now adults, would come forward and blow the whistle on their therapists and I find many of the accounts to be credible but again, I am not making any claims other than to suggest that readers watch the videotapes themselves and read the testimonials and decide for themselves, whether they find them credible.

The Benevolent Tutelage of Monica Pignotti: Free Critical Thinking and Geography Lesson

The anonymous bloggers on that other WordPress blog are at it again, putting words in my mouth. They claimed that I said one could prove a negative. No, I did not say or write that. However, since this is a commonly misunderstood point, I consider it worthy to elaborate on. While true that one cannot prove a universal negative, it is possible to falsify a positive. In essence this means that in some cases, a person can prove their innocence indirectly by showing proof positive of a contradictory fact. Perhaps they need to add Karl Popper and Aristotle to their reading list.

Here is an example. I can absolutely and very easily falsify the lie that was posted that my PhD was revoked. All I have to do is have FSU send a sealed copy of my official transcript to the appropriate parties. A classic example is that of the alibi for a crime. A person can prove they are innocent by providing proof they were somewhere other than the scene of the crime at the time it was committed. A person obviously cannot be in two places at once. Game over.

However, in the US justice system, as anyone who has ever been a juror as I have learns, the State in criminal cases and the Plaintiffs in civil cases have the burden of proof. In a criminal case, that means the person is innocent until proven guilty. The defendant does not have to prove he/she did not commit the crime. Of course, it helps if he has an alibi or can provide DNA evidence, but that is not what is required.

I will preface my remarks by saying that I have the utmost respect for actual clerks in the legal system who do their jobs and don’t misrepresent the legal systems in postings. The problem I have with this particular person who claims to be a hacker clerk is specifically with the way he misrepresents the legal system and seems to imply that the courts “like” Federici (is he claiming that they are biased in favor of him?). I can’t imagine his employer would approve of this. Recently a poster who appears to be a Federici supporter (although he denies knowing him) claiming to be a clerk at the courthouse posted to Fairfax Underground displayed egregious ignorance of US libel law, stating that the defendants he is suing have the burden of proof to show that the statements they made were wrong. That is the case in the UK, which is what made Simon Singh’s legal case so difficult, but it is not the case in the US. In the US, the plaintiff has the burden of proof to demonstrate that the alleged libelous statements made were factually false. This makes libel cases very difficult to prove, because the plaintiff has to come up with a way to falsify the statements made. Virginia is in the United States, not the UK.

In my case, if I could identify who is lying about me, it would be easy as I can easily falsify the lies that I was fired from FSU or had my PhD revoked by providing the relevant documents. However, the ACT website used fair use quotes directly from Federici’s self-published book, Help for the Hopeless Child. If Federici could produce a copy of his book showing that the quotes were nowhere to be found, he could win, but of course he cannot do that because these quotes are, in fact in the book. and anyone can look at the page numbers cited and see that.

The little anonymous “clerk” (I don’t know if he actually is a clerk — in my opinion he is someone who is lamely trying to scare me — but for convenience’s sake I will refer to him as that) also displayed incredible ignorance of what is required as evidence. He seems to think that unless people observed first hand, they cannot make any claims. Somehow in his little mind, he seems to be confusing the concepts of courts requiring direct evidence vs. heresay with what is permissible to say that would not be considered libel. If someone really could be sued for writing about anything other than direct observation, the courtrooms would be filled with journalists and anyone who has ever written a negative book review. That is just more nonsense that shows the little clerk, or whoever he actually is, didn’t learn much from his job. If he is really a clerk, I wonder what his boss would think about his mouthing off his ignorance, misrepresenting and making a mockery of the legal system and the fact he called himself a hacker clerk. The little clerk also seems to think that what he considers ranting about a person is actionable. No, it is not, unless the rants contain lies about facts. Fortunately, the little clerk does not get to make up the rules. The law is the law and the justice system is obligated to follow the law.

So yes, it is perfectly legitimate to critique someone else’s writings and recommendations that are being made in those writings and if the writings are recommending prone restraint procedures, it is perfectly fine to offer up an opinion on the danger of prone restraints, especially since several states agree and have banned them entirely and there is a large body of literature showing their dangers.

Being licensed and proclaiming oneself an “expert” does not mean that people cannot write about that person. Any person in the US is free to criticize anyone at any time for anything as long as they do not make a statement that is factually incorrect that damages the person’s reputation.  If Federici follows through with his threats to appeal the case which he must do within 10 days of his previous legal loss in small claims, as plaintiff, he will have the burden of proof to show that a factually false statement was made maliciously that damaged his reputation.

Here’s a geography lesson. Virginia is in the United States, not the UK. In the UK, defendants have the burden of proof in libel cases. However, in the US, the plaintiff has the burden of proof, so unless Virginia has seceded from the US and become part of the UK, Federici will have the burden of proof, plain and simple.

Again, if Federici follows through with this lawsuit what is at stake here is academic freedom and freedom of speech on the internet. Rest assured that those who care about either of these issues will not be happy. If people can be hauled into court from out of state without sound basis, this would have a chilling effect on both because even if he loses, the defendants would be put through the time and expense of having to hire a lawyer, show up in court and present a defense.  As I understand it, an appeal case is considered essentially hitting the reset button, meaning that certain things from the small claims case cannot be carried over, including possibly the jurisdiction issue which can once again be argued. Cases involving the internet are such a new area, they are difficult to predict, so let’s wait and see and hope that precedents get established that do not have chilling effects on a person’s right to free speech and academic freedom.

Late Breaking Update: Stephen Barrett of Quackwatch has just been sued by Doctor’s Data Laboratories. For details and to contribute to his legal defense fund, click here and  here.

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