Refutation of the disinformation about Monica Pignotti

Posts tagged ‘Pseudoscience’

If you Google Monica Pignotti, Read This Statement of Support First

Update: On a more positive note, I have been able to move on from this smear campaign and have a happy, fulfilling life. I just returned from a wonderful trip to Italy. This photo was taken on October 17, 2012 in beautiful San Benedetto, Del Tronto, Italy as I walked along the beach. That is where my ancestors on my father’s side came from and Pignotti is a very well known and respected name in that town, as Pignottis own many businesses there, including the lovely hotel where we stayed. It has been a wonderful experience getting more in touch with my Italian roots!

Thankfully, even though it took me awhile to find a job in my field, I have been employed throughout this period and so was able to afford this trip. As of September 2012, I am employed in my field at my degree level as a lead Program Evaluator/Researcher to evaluate a home visiting infant mental health program, a Connecticut-based intervention model, that serves teen parents who have been involved with the juvenile justice system and their 0-5 year old children/infants.  Interventions such as the one I am evaluating which help to develop healthy, secure maternal child attachment supply positive alternatives to the harmful and/or ineffective approaches I have expressed my concerns about.

Finally, an employer is smart enough not to believe everything that comes up on a Google search and who sees the mentality of the cyber smear campaigners for what it is and realizes what an injustice it would be to penalize me for that and instead, evaluates me on my actual job performance, not out of context distortions of my distant past or outright lies that my background screen soundly refutes. Of course, I will continue to write and publish on exposing untested, ineffective and/or harmful therapy practices while actively working to develop positive, evidence tested alternatives. There are indeed positive, helpful ways to promote and develop genuine attachment and attunement between mother and child.

I have already received a hateful response from my pseud-anonymous cyber stalker about this, who has tried to post seven times to this and my other blogs. Although it is my policy to post comments from those who have disagreements with me and I welcome debate, I draw the line at hate, threats and libelous statements that this communication contained, repeating the usual lies. The person is obviously very upset that I am happy and doing well in my life and that any sane person who reads the content of the smear campaign can see what a disturbed individual this is. As more people are getting targeted for various reasons by internet smear campaigns, more understanding is developing of the mentality of cyber bullies and cyber stalkers and people are realizing they, rather than the targets, are the ones with the problem.

Although this adversity is not something I would have chosen for myself, much good has come out of it for me spiritually, as it has brought me closer to God and helped me to develop a faith I would not have likely otherwise known. This is something no one can take away and puts all else in its proper perspective. I can honestly say that although I had a rough few years, I am happier than I have been in a very long time.

That being said, internet smear campaigns appear to be an occupational hazard for mental health consumer advocates who choose to challenge certain mental health practices that are untested and yet have proponents who promote them and make unsupported claims.  If anyone has any questions about anything they read on the internet about me, please do not hesitate to contact me and ask and above all, please do not make any assumptions about what you read, since Google or other internet search engines cannot tell the difference between fact and fabrication.

If you Google Monica Pignotti (pronounced “Peen-yocht-tee”), you will notice many odd and false postings come up on Google searches of my name which are made by people who are upset about my expression of concerns about the practices of some mental health professionals.  In addition to the many false statements that have been posted about me (such as the lie repeatedly posted that I have been arrested/convicted of crimes and fired when I have never been arrested, much less convicted for anything in my life, nor have I ever been fired from any professional job I have ever held in my entire life), postings have been made in my name that I did not write and quotes have been placed around words I neither wrote nor uttered and bizarre pictures are posted of women with my name on them, who are not me. To put it briefly, don’t believe everything you read on Google searches or images. Please click here to read a statement of support signed by 48 of my colleagues who share my concerns.  People who are unfamiliar with this form of abuse may wonder why I even bother to respond to this, but you would be surprised how many otherwise intelligent people believe whatever they read online.

This statement shows that professionals in the relevant scientific community support my work and contrary to what anonymous smear campaigners and practitioners of questionable practices would want to lead the readers to believe, my work is accepted and supported by the scientific community and not controversial. The only controversy about my writings is within the fringe cliques of those whose work I have criticized who try to turn the tables and call me fringe and controversial when the support I have received as well as my track record of peer reviewed publications in reputable journals, shows otherwise. One of my main detractors is the author of a self-published book who practices a form of therapy which, by his own admission is controversial. This individual also attempted to sue me and several others and a year ago, the case was dismissed by a Federal judge who opined that my writings did not constitute defamation, but rather, were opinion and all charges against us were dismissed, affirming our right to free speech as well as academic freedom.

Posting under multiple anonymous identities make it appear that there are more such detractors than there actually are. In internet jargon, this practice of one person using multiple pseudonyms to make it appear there is a mob at work when it is really only a few people with an ax to grind, is known as sock puppetry.

I have references from professionals who know me and have worked with me on a day-to-day basis, which I will provide to anyone with a legitimate inquiry about my standing with FSU, who will refute the lie I was “fired” and give you a more realistic assessment of what it is like to work with me. Click here for further details about the lies that have been posted about me and FSU. A background check will prove I do not have a criminal record of any kind, not even minor traffic violations, nor have I ever been arrested or charged with anything, nor do I or have I ever worked in an adult bookstore, nor have I had sexual relationships with my co-authors or any other inappropriate relationships with anyone else. These are just a few of the many lies that have been posted about me mostly by posters using pseudonyms or anonymous posters.

Bottom line: For the past three years someone appears to be investing a great deal of time and effort running a smear campaign against me that amounts to classic propaganda tactics. My friends tell me that this means I must be doing something right and be effective in my exposure of dangerous therapeutic practices. Otherwise why spend so much time and effort to attempt to discredit me? The smear campaigners have fabricated and posted the worst, most obscene possible things that can be attributed to a human being that they can and invent and then lie that I did them.  Some of the postings are postings with my name on them that I did not post (forgeries) and in others, quotations are put around sometimes obscene words I never wrote and there are completely fabricated stories about me. In addition to the fabrications, events from my very distant past that occurred before I ever obtained any advanced degrees and I have long since repudiated, are being taken out of context and misportrayed by the anonymous posters. A key difference here is that I have learned from my past mistakes whereas the proponents of the therapies I have expressed concerns about apparently have not, hence their need to attack anyone who challenges them.

It is a common misconception to blame the victim of cyber smear campaigns of the sort I have been enduring. This is not unlike the attitude towards rape victims that existed before society’s consciousness was raised — the victim must have done something  to “ask’ for it, must be somehow deeply flawed, so the mythology goes.

The simple fact of the matter is that I challenge people who most people are too afraid to challenge for fear of being maligned in the way I have been. There is something in me that cannot in all good conscience remain silent when I see abuse occurring that many others seem to have no problem turning a blind eye to, although many privately agree with me.  For this, I have suffered consequences, but nevertheless, I continue because if I can make a difference in the lives of individuals, it is worth it to me.  The posters seem to feel that they are retaliating against my critical blogs, which they have characterized as “hate” websites. It appears that somewhere in their education, they missed learning to distinguish between expressing concerns about mental health practices that lack evidence to support claims being made on on hand and personal attacks and malicious lies, on the other hand.

Recently, the Russian Commissioner of Children’s Rights is raising similar issues my much-maligned colleagues and I have been raising, with regard to the unsupported beliefs of certain mental health professionals about internationally adopted children, especially children adopted from Russia who have been victims of serious abuse and in some cases, have died at the hands of their abusive parents while these adoption “experts” have testified in a way that blames the victims and gets the abusive parents off the hook or at least lessens their conviction. 

It should go without saying that decent, ethical professionals who are offering valid therapies are able to provide sound support for what they are doing and hence, have no need to attack their critics in this manner.

Here is a quote that seems appropriate to this situation: 

To date, 48 of my professional colleagues, whose names appear below the statement,  have signed the following statement of support. I thank and extend my deepest appreciation to each of them for their support and having the courage to take a stand with me on the important issues involving our professions that are at stake. If any prospective employers are reading this, I am more than willing to answer any questions you might have and address any and all concerns and provide you with the names and contact information for references who I have actually worked with who will put the lies about me to rest, once and for all. Here is the statement of support my colleagues have signed.

Statement of Support for Dr. Monica Pignotti [May 2011]

For the past two years, Dr. Monica Pignotti has been subjected to an ongoing and concerted internet smear campaign in response to her peer-reviewed and internet writings on potentially harmful therapy practices, particularly attachment and other similar therapies involving coercive restraint of children. The postings have mostly been made by anonymous and presumably pseudonymous posters on blogs, public newsgroups, and other internet websites. These statements have often been malicious, false, and even profane, and have included not only Dr. Pignotti but also some of her colleagues and supporters (see http://phtherapies.wordpress.com and https://monicapignotti.wordpress.com).

Although the posters are, to date, unidentified and unidentifiable, it is clear from their content that they are one or more individuals who are upset by Dr. Pignotti’s criticisms of certain interventions directed at vulnerable children, such as internationally adopted children with serious developmental disabilities and/or behavior problems. Rather than take the high road and address the substantive criticisms raised by Dr. Pignotti and her co-authors, the anonymous posters have elected to take the low road and personally attack and malign the critics.

We, the undersigned, unequivocally oppose the cowardly and unethical behaviors of the internet posters, and strongly affirm Dr. Pignotti’s right to raise legitimate criticisms of their therapeutic practices without fear of false and defamatory attacks. Criticism of therapeutic practices that lack empirical support and may be harmful is vital for the profession and we are deeply concerned that smear campaigns could discourage others from engaging in public scrutiny of these and other practices. We call on the internet posters to stop such practices immediately. We further call on the posters to publicly identify themselves and to voice their criticisms in the form of clear descriptions of their concerns, using recognized venues such as peer-reviewed articles rather than in the form of baseless personal attacks.  Additionally, we ask that any prospective employers of Dr. Pignotti not allow the actions of these posters and the fact she has chosen not to remain silent, to impact their hiring decisions.

Signed:

Scott O. Lilienfeld, PhD, Professor of Psychology (Clinical), Emory University

Eileen Gambrill, PhD, Professor, School of Social Welfare, University of California, Berkeley

Bruce Thyer, LCSW, BCBA, PhD, Professor of Social Work, Florida State University

J. Michael Bailey, Professor Northwestern University

Aaron T. Beck, M.D., University Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine

Evelyn Behar, Ph.D. Assistant Professor of Psychology, University of Illinois at Chicago

Carolyn Black Becker, PhD, Professor of Psychology, Trinity University, San Antonio

Stephen T. Black, Ph.D., Ph.D, Social & Clinical Psychologist

Richard R. Bootzin, Professor, Department of Psychology, University of Arizona

Lynn Brandsma, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, Chestnut Hill College

Roxane Cohen Silver, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology & Social Behavior, University of California, Irvine

James C. Coyne, PhD., Professor of Psychology in Psychiatry, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and Professor of Health Psychology, University of Groningen

Bella DePaulo, PhD

Benjamin Emmert-Aronson, M.A., Doctoral student in Clinical Psychology, Boston University

Wayne C. Evens, MSW, Ph.D., Associate Professor/Program Director, 1501 West Bradley Ave., Peoria, IL 61625

Trudy Festinger, DSW, Professor of Social Work, New York University

Howard N. Garb, YC 03, USAF, Ph.D., Chief, Psychology Research Service

Associate Editor, Military Psychology , 559 AMDS/SGPL, Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, TX  [Please Note: Does not represent an endorsement by or the views of the United States Air Force, the Department of Defense, or the United States Government.]

Brandon Gaudiano, Ph.D., Assistant Professor (Research), Alpert Medical School of Brown University

James Herbert, PhD, Professor Clinical Psychology and Associate Dean, College of Arts and Sciences, Drexel University

D. Lynn Jackson, Ph.D., LCSW (FL), ACSW, Assistant Professor/ Field Coordinator, Department of Rehabilitation, Social Work and Addictions, 1155 Union Circle #311456, University of North Texas, Denton, TX  76203-1456

Robert K. Klepac, Ph.D., Psychology Training Director Emeritus, Wilford Hall Medical Center, Research Associate Professor, University of Texas Health Science Center – San Antonio

Steven R. Lawyer, PhD, Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, Idaho State University

Julia H. Littell, Ph.D., Professor, Graduate School of Social Work and Social Welfare, Bryn Mawr College, 300 Airdale Rd., Bryn Mawr, PA 19010, USA

Elizabeth Loftus, PhD, Distinguished Professor, Psychology & Social Behavior Criminology, Law & Society Cognitive Sciences School of Law, University of California, Irvine, 2393 Social Ecology II, Irvine, Calif. 92697-7080  USA

Jeffrey M. Lohr, PhD, Professor, Dept. of Psychological Science, University of Arkansas

Steven Jay Lynn, PhD, Professor of Psychology, SUNY Binghamton

Robin MacFarlane, PhD

Richard J. McNally, Ph.D., Professor and Director of Clinical Training, Department of Psychology, Harvard University

Cathleen Mann, PhD, Independent Practice

Jean Mercer, PhD, Professor Emerita, Richard Stockton College

Michael B. Miller, Ph.D., M.S., M.P.E., Department of Psychology, University of Minnesota, email: mbmiller@umn.edu, phone: 612-564-5364

Randal S. Pennington, PsyD, Training Director, Wasatch Mental Health, Provo, Utah

Brady J. Phelps, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology, Dept. of Psychology, South Dakota State University

Ken Ruggiero, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, Medical University of South Carolina

Susan Kiss Sarnoff, DSW, Associate Professor, Ohio State University Department of Social Work

Sally Satel, MD, American Enterprise Institute

Lee Sechrest, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, University of Arizona

Ian R. Sharp, Ph.D., Clinical Scientist and Senior Trainer, Pharmaceutical/Biotechnology Industry

Bradley H. Smith, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Psychology, Director, Community/Clinical Graduate Training Program,  University of South Carolina

Carol Tavris, Ph.D., Social Psychologist, Author, Lecturer

George Tremblay, Ph.D., Department of Clinical Psychology, Antioch University New England

Timothy R. Tumlin, Ph.D., Independent Practice, Darien, Illinois

Kristin von Ranson, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychology (Clinical), University of Calgary

Hollida Wakefield, M.A. Licensed Psychologist, Private Practice, Northfield, MN 55057

Robert L. Weiss, Ph.D., Professor emeritus of Psychology, University of Oregon

Robert W. Wildblood, Phd, Retired Associate Professor of Psychology, Licensed Applied Psychologist in Virginia, Licensed HSPP in Indiana

Alexander Williams, M.A., Clinical Psychology Graduate Student, University of Kansas

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Pseudoscience in Social Work: Book Update

Since there seems to be some interest in when the book, Science and Pseudoscience in Social Work, that I am co-authoring with Bruce Thyer is going to be published, here is an update. My coauthor has a very demanding schedule, so we have had to move up our due dates.  However, we are now in the process of working on our final edits and revisions and hope to have this completed and to the publisher by sometime this summer. At that time, it is up to the publisher when the book goes to press, but we are hoping for the end of 2012 or early 2013.

Unlike self-published books which can be dashed off quickly without any kind of review and can go to press in a matter of months, it is not at all unusual for an academic, peer reviewed book, as ours is, to take a number of years to go through the process of reviews, revision and finally, publication.

More searches in the wee hours of the morning

Again, this morning there were more searches on my name connected with obscenities that I won’t mention, but are similar in nature to what I mentioned in my previous posting. Someone appears to be spending an inordinate amount of time doing these searches from either the other side of the world or is staying up very late at night/in the morning to do them.

Why the need to spend so much time doing senseless searches and putting up blogs that appear to be solely devoted to lame attacks on me? It goes with the territory. Apparently there are mental health professionals and their followers who are not willing to tolerate any challenges or expressions of concern about their work and will stop at nothing, including postings that would constitute defamation per se, not understanding that this only makes their therapy gurus look all the worse.

Denigrating internet critics as having an “internet obsession” is quite ironic, when the people in question stay up all night doing the kind of searches that have been done on me. Now come again, who is obsessed? Heal thyself, indeed. Apparently they think they will be able to manipulate critics into saying — oh no! I don’t want people to think I have an internet obsession, so I’d better stop posting. Not a chance. Just look at the voluminous postings of David Gorski on his blogs who posts much more on his blogs than I do, and he does this while holding down a full time tenure track faculty position and hospital job as a surgeon, in spite of efforts of anti vax quacks to get him removed, which failed miserably and a Google search on his name reveals a smear campaign at least as ugly as the one against me.

It is beginning to become a compliment in skeptical and scientific circles to become the target of an internet smear campaign. If the targets weren’t being effective, why would so much effort be put into smear campaigns?

More Disinformation from Anonymous WordPress Bloggers: This time regarding medical marijuana

Once again, I need to correct the disinformation from the anonymous WordPress bloggers. Ironically, although they have accused me of being a prolific poster and blogger, they are the ones who have erected numerous blogs that appear to have the sole intent of doing whatever they can to smear me as well as any of my colleagues who have been critical of various “attachment” and coercive restraint therapies. The latest is a blog devoted to the topic of marijuana although its very first and thus far, only posting appears to be one that is continuing to spread misinformation about me.

In the blog posting, they jumped to the false conclusion that because I expressed a simple statement of my opinion and position on the issue of the legalization of medical marijuana, that I am an active crusader for this cause, which I am not (perhaps this is wishful thinking on their part that I would switch causes?). While I am in favor of the legalization of medical marijuana (I do not use marijuana myself), that was a simple statement of my position. I am not, nor have I ever been, nor do I plan to engage in any kind of activism regarding that issue. I would suspect that a number of others in the social worker profession are also in favor of the legalization of medical marijuana so the bad news for the anonymous blogger is that I doubt taking such a stance will harm my reputation.

Medical marijuana has been shown to have some positive effects for people who are suffering from nausea and vomiting from chemotherapy, so if that helps someone to get through a difficult but lifesaving treatment, namely chemotherapy for cancer, that the person might have otherwise dropped out of, it makes sense to make it legally available. If it can alleviate a person’s suffering who is going through chemotherapy, why not? Legalizing it takes it off the black market and its associated crime and would help ensure that what patients obtained was not adulterated with dangerous additives that some of the illegal street versions have. That’s my opinion, for what it’s worth, but it is not a “cause” I am actively involved in. I already have my hands quite full with the current cause I am involved in, which is exposing potentially harmful and other questionable mental health practices.

Additionally, they repeated the lie that Thought Field Therapy and Voice Technology diagnoses diseases over the telephone. This is false. They have never claimed to diagnose disease. I fully repudiated TFT and VT over 7 years ago, but when I did practice, I bent over backwards to inform my clients, both in writing and verbally that I was NOT diagnosing or treating any diseases.

In TFT and VT, the word “diagnosis” was never intended to mean the diagnosis of disease, not even mental illness. The word “diagnosis” simply means a procedure that is claimed to identify which acupressure points on the body to stimulate. It is most unfortunate that Roger Callahan chose to call it “diagnosis” as it has led to much misunderstanding, but it is very clear what he means by that to anyone who actually reads about TFT. Again, this is also a procedure that I consider bogus pseudoscience, but let’s be accurate. It does not involve the diagnosis of any disease. It is claimed to “diagnose” which acupressure meridians are out of balance or perturbed and since that is what Roger Callahan believes is the root cause of all disturbances. He called it causal diagnosis, meaning diagnosis of perturbations in what Callahan called thought fields, related to meridian points. Yes, I know it is rather confusing and meaningless jargon, but it is not diagnosis of disease.

As for “zeal”, that is a term that would be best used to describe the perpetrators of the ongoing smear campaign against me that has been going on for the past two years, not my own involvement in anything. Even when I was involved in Scientology, I was a rebel, not a zealot. I continually questioned and protested abuse where I saw it and as a result was always getting into trouble. I also continually questioned things I saw with TFT that I did not agree with, much to the annoyance of some of the true believers on their list serv. So much so, that the Callahans eventually kicked me off the list serv. So no, zealot is not accurate. Once again, terms are being applied to me that would best be applied to the internet smear campaigners.

My Prediction Comes True: The propaganda continues and I continue to challenge it

As predicted, a number of the prominent mental health professionals who have signed my statement of support are now being brought into the smear campaign, the latest being the well-known social psychologist, Carol Tavris. I am honored to be in such company. Fortunately,  most of these people are established enough that the anonymous cyber smear campaigners have no power to harm them.

I continue to be very grateful to the 47 people who signed this statement of support in helping the days of the therapy guru who is immune to questioning and criticism, come to an end by adding their voices to this ongoing conversation (this is not to say that they are all criticizing and exposing the same individuals — what they have in common is that they are exposing various forms of pseudoscience and other forms of questionable practice, as well as advocating research and evidence-based practice).

[In a later posting, I elaborated on who I do and do not consider a “therapy guru”. Since those anonymous WordPress bloggers have been attempting to twist these words and interpret them in a ludicrous way that no reasonable person would, to set the record straight, I was not talking about “terminating” or doing violence to anyone  (I haven’t a violent bone in my body!)  I was talking the continuing nonviolent cause I have been involved with for the past seven years of educating and advocating for therapy consumers. I was not  “alluding” to the most recent set of questions I asked Ronald Federici and Heather Forbes. What I am talking about is bringing those days where therapy gurus are immune to questions and criticism and dissenters are silenced to an end by speaking out and being a strong advocate for evidence-based practice and critical thinking. I don’t just mean one particular therapy guru (I was using the term generically here). I mean the many therapy gurus that are still out there who cannot deal with having their claims challenged and instead launch smear campaigns against anyone who questions or criticizes or as one “cult expert” did, bring in a third person to attack me on a list serv where I had expressed a disagreement with a statement the person had made to CNN.] The message from these 47 people is that this kind of behavior is unacceptable. They way the anonymous smear campaign bloggers attempted to twist this message is only further evidence of the propaganda campaign.

That doesn’t mean that we are “demanding answers”. What it means is that therapy gurus who feel they are above answering questions will be seen for what they are by educated consumers. As Margaret Singer pointed out, one of the most telling signs of whether a mental health professional is trustworthy is the manner in which they respond to questions.

All 47 of those people have in some way made substantial contributions to ending the days when questioning a therapy guru is not allowed. And yes, anyone has the right to ask those questions, not just people within the profession. Licensed mental health professionals are here to serve the public and that means that anyone in the public, regardless of their position does have the right to question them.

Lately I am being attacked for posting to the internet of all things.  Much ado is being made over the fact that sometimes on a busy month I might average around 4 postings per day to Google Groups. These are mostly postings that take me, on average, all of 5 minutes to do, so that’s about 20 minutes per day, far less time than most people would spend on some hobby and hardly the “astonishing number” that are being portrayed.

What is happening is that some of the followers of other therapy gurus and self-proclaimed top “experts” who I have questioned and expressed disagreements with (e.g. Steven Hassan who has proclaimed himself to be America’s Leading Exit Counselor), are popping out of the woodwork, glad to see this smear campaign against me and essentially informally aligning themselves with Ronald Federici and his supporters, not necessarily with Dr. Federici’s consent and approval and not in any kind of conspiracy, but essentially they are taking his side when they pile on in this smear campaign. I have questioned Mr. Hassan’s claims that the therapy he offers to ex-cult members is superior to that of other mental health professionals, since no direct comparison studies (or even uncontrolled studies, for that matter) have ever been conducted on Mr. Hassan’s approach and yet he charges fees that are quite high for a masters-level licensed mental health counselor ($2500 per day plus $100 per hour just for travel time and $200 per hour on weekends for travel time and even higher rates for holidays). What this means is he is charging $100 per hour on weekdays and $200 per hour on weekends just to sit in what he requires to be a business class section on a plane or in an airport while traveling. Some of us are lucky if we make that amount for an entire day’s actual work and don’t get paid for any travel time, yet he makes it just for one hour of sitting on a plane in the comfort of business class. On a weekend on a coast-to-coast flight, that could amount to $1000.  How can he charge this? He has convinced enough people that what he does is very special and unique, yet where is the evidence? His infomercial-style website, lacking transparency, does not list these fees and says instead to call for fees and repeats his phone number multiple times, but the word has gotten out anyway.

I have also expressed my disagreement with Mr. Hassan for claiming that most ex-cult members need therapy to recover. Again, this seems to be a prime example of the kind of propaganda tactic described by Eileen Gambrill in a recent publication of a propaganda index. Among other issues, the article discusses as one propaganda tactic, problem framing in such a way that it medicalizes and pathologizes life problems that may be more successfully worked out by means other than psychotherapy and not labeling the person with a mental health diagnosis, as Mr. Hassan is prone to do (e.g. he labels cult members has having “dissociative disorders”). A classic propaganda tactic is to 1) claim that a particular problem is highly prevalent, without empirical support for its prevalence and 2) claim that the problem is under-treated and I would add, 3) if left untreated by so-called experts in the area (who often charge very high fees for their services) that the problem will not get better or will even get worse.

This may be good for business, but not so good for the consumers who may spend time and money in therapy that not only wastes their money that could have been put to better use and may not help, but may even do more harm than good. If a therapy is not well tested, we do not know whether it helps, does nothing, or harms. We are basically taking a gamble based on misplaced trust in authorities who market their treatments ahead of testing them to see if it works. Again, it’s the old “trust me, I’m an expert” line.

This is a prime example of what I would encourage prospective therapy clients to question when interviewing therapists or people to conduct cult interventions who, in the absence of good research, claim that their approach is superior to others. It is the clients who are hiring the therapist and have every right to demand that a therapist who is making such claims provide good, sound evidence, rather than the kinds of testimonials from “grateful” mothers and the like, that we see on Steve Hassan’s website, to support those claims. Testimonials are simply not enough.

The issue and conflict here is between therapy gurus who are offering treatments based on testimonials and self-published books who are not used to being challenged vs. the critical thinkers and mental health consumer advocates who are concerned about the welfare of mental health consumers and in essence, putting these therapy gurus and their followers on notice that their days of being immune to criticism and questioning are over. We are getting, predictably, a great deal of push back on this from people who have a vested interest in this not changing and their followers who go ballistic at the thought of any criticism of their therapy guru.

PS: For the record, it is already well known that I left and completely repudiated Scientology 35 years ago. As my account of my experience makes clear, even during the time I was involved in Scientology I was never involved in any kind of violence (as the anonymous WordPress bloggers have been implying as they once again demonstrate their inability to comprehend figures of speech). While in Scientology, I never had that kind of power and was always on the receiving end of the abuse, not a perpetrator although I never experienced any physical violence the entire time I was in. During the time I was involved that was many years before the current leader who is the one who has been alleged to be violent, came into power and I was long gone before any of that happened.

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?


The Blind Stupidity of Google Search Engines and The National Enquirer

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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