Refutation of the disinformation about Monica Pignotti

Posts tagged ‘Quackery’

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.

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?

Ronald Federici, PsyD: An Open Letter

This is an open letter to Ronald Federici, PsyD, a psychologist in Virginia who I believe is one of the ring leaders in the smear campaign against me. Before I begin, here is some background Although he denies being involved in the actual postings, just before the smear campaign began, according to Wayward Radish, a survivor of abusive therapy who runs a blog blowing the whistle on those who practice such methods she claims receiving the following e-mail from him:

While I am a patient man, my limits are about done as you have done some egregious things on this internet. I know all of your names, and could post what I know about your personal and family issues of atheism, scientology, handicaps, depression, mental health issues, sexuality, etc.

The alleged letter was written after people who said they knew him had come forward on the blog and said some things about him which, suffice it to say, were not favorable. Although I had nothing to do with the blog or the postings, my past history made me an easy scapegoat and target. It was shortly after this that the attacks on me and on my colleagues began to appear and in July, 2009, he sent a letter to my Dean that was filled with lies about me, including the assertion that I was “not of sound mind” even though Dr. Federici was in no position to make that assessment of me, given he has never met, much less examined me. He tries to distance himself from the ugly postings about me, but he advised my Dean to do a Google search on my name, pointing to the libelous and defamatory postings about me, as if this were evidence. My Dean took no action whatsoever on Federici and his colleagues’ letters about me because he considered them to be completely irrelevant to my work at FSU. Contrary to the lies that are being circulated by anonymous individuals, I graduated from FSU and left in good standing in every way.

Federici’s assertion that I have many enemies and attempts to imply that maybe they are responsible for the postings simply is not credible for a number of reasons:

  • While it is true that there are other proponents of treatments I have criticized (e.g. Hulda Clark followers, TFT proponents, Scientologists) who are quite upset with me, none of them have any reason to attack my colleagues Jean Mercer, Larry Sarner, Linda Rosa, Charly Miller (who have been attacked along with me) since they have not been involved of criticism of any of these things. What they have been involved in, is criticism of the methods of Ronald Federici and his colleagues.
  • Many of the attacks on me denigrate me for my past involvements in TFT and Scientology so they are slamming TFT and Scientology. Obviously, proponents of TFT and Scientology would not be slamming their own practices.
  • Word has gotten back to me that the Callahans and other leaders in the TFT association are strongly recommending to their members that they not attack me. Although I have been critical of their claims, at least this shows that they are wise enough to recognize that personal attacks would make them look very bad and thus they are choosing to refrain. They obviously do not want to be associated with the crackpot attacks on me.
  • Although there were a few isolated attacks on me, the widespread smear campaign did not begin until after I had published scholarly criticism of one of the attachment therapists and it became known I am on the professional advisory board of Advocates for Children in Therapy.

Here is my open letter.

Dear Dr. Federici,

As a human being, in all good conscience, after seeing the methods you are recommending for children, I have to say that in my opinion, I feel they are inhumane, atrocious, and just plain wrong . [Readers can view these methods in his self-published book and form their own conclusions.]

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

Fortunately, I live in a free country and I have the right to free speech, which includes expressing my opinions, whenever and wherever I deem appropriate. What free speech does not give people the right to do is libel and defame others, as you and/or your friends have done to me. At the very least I know that the attackers are your friends because the same ones who post blogs and ads attacking me, post ads and blogs praising you. I have not libeled or defamed you. I have documented every fact I have stated about you and have clearly labeled my feelings and opinions as just that. In contrast, outright fabrications are posted about me, such as saying I do sexual favors for people in exchange for endorsement, was fired from FSU for being a voyeur and other ridiculous, crazy lies.

The methods you are recommending for children are in and of themselves, problematic enough, especially given that there are no published studies to support their safety and efficacy (and I mean studies in peer reviewed journals that directly test your intervention with randomized controlled trials, not fifth author on a book chapter that did not test your intervention).

I asked you to name institutions that currently use the restraint procedures you recommended in your book and you named Cook County Hospital, an institution that as far as I have been able to determine, no longer has an inpatient psychiatric unit, which has been defunct for quite some time and you named another institution, Jasper Mountain, which it turns out is highly controversial and has been sued because children ended up with broken bones. You have not produced a rebuttal to the conclusions I have made from my own literature searches, showing that deaths have occurred from prone restraints, even when the procedures were done correctly under supervised conditions and that there is very little empirical evidence for the safety and efficacy of restraint procedures and hence, the recommendation is to do everything possible to avoid using them and when they are used, to use the least restrictive possible methods, not the face-down prone restraint methods your book recommends parents use, with no one in the immediate environment to supervise their use, as there would be in a residential facility.

Instead of addressing the issues at hand that I have raised, the anonymous outrageous, libelous and outright obscene attacks on me continue. Although you may not have noticed, with the advent of evidence-based practice in clinical psychology, the days of the therapy guru who can simply assert his authority and place himself above challenge are coming to an end. No one, is above challenge, even licensed PsyDs such as yourself .  You can puff up your chest and assert those credentials all you’d like, make all the legal threats you want and take people to small claims court, but it does not mean that you are above being challenged. It might seem that I am belaboring a point here, but the reason for that is that much is at stake. If people like you can succeed in intimidating critics from challenging you, then there is no hope for the mental health profession to become an evidence-based profession that produces interventions for people that help, rather than harm. Take away a person’s ability to criticize and what we will end up with a cult run by therapy gurus, not a profession. Obviously, I have paid the price for my criticism of having my reputation smeared with libel and defamation all over the internet, but if that’s what it takes to be an advocate for vulnerable children, so be it.

Quite frankly, I am appalled by your book and what you are recommending be done to already vulnerable children who have serious histories of neglect and in some cases, severe trauma and sexual abuse and rest assured, I will not be silenced. Additionally, the fact that you work with children does not make you immune to criticism from people who are not currently actively doing so. One does not have to be working with children to be appalled by your book and in fact, I know plenty of professionals who work with children with severe behavior problems who use evidence-based treatments to deescalate situations who have not had to resort to the methods you recommend.

If you would like to discuss the actual issues with me, feel free to respond, but what I will not tolerate are any further personal attacks. I would still like to know, for starters, on what basis you are claiming the restraint procedure you recommend in your book is safe. And no, the fact that it was used by hospitals in the past who for the most part are no longer using them, is not evidence, since more recent reviews of the evidence have shown that there is no empirical evidence for these methods safety or efficacy and that these are authority-based, not evidence-based methods. And no, co-authoring a study reported in a book chapter, especially one that was not a controlled efficacy study of your intervention, does not count. What is needed to provide evidence and meet the APA’s standards for the efficacy of interventions are replicated randomized, controlled studies published in peer reviewed journals, not book chapters.

Emotional appeals that Dr. Mercer or I would not know what to do if we were confronted with an out of control child, just do not cut it. If I were to work with this population, I would make sure I was properly trained in evidence-based deescalation methods and safe, JCAHO-approved restraint methods. The last thing I would want to use is what you are recommending and I say this is just for starters, because the emotionally harsh, boot-camp nature of your proposed intervention is also highly problematic, especially when used on a population of already vulnerable children.

You constantly try to misportray me as “fringe” due to my past long-ago repudiated associations, but your methods, as stated in the BBC production of your work, are highly controversial and strongly criticized by mainstream experts on attachment, such as Peter Fonagy, who had this to say about your methods on a BBC program featuring your work from a transcript:

PROF PETER FONAGY: I’ve major worries about this notion of knocking things down in order to build them up. The normal approach to cheating behavioural disorder of this kind is to help the parents understand the child better. What is so vulnerable in these children is their sense of themselves, their sense of who they are. Now if you are systematically undermining that very fragile, that very vulnerable sense of who that child is you could end up in the situation where the child becomes really very much more depressed and hopeless and helpless.

and this:

PETER FONAGY: I think there’s a real danger in assuming that we know what’s going on in the child’s mind. How do we know that that child is going to interpret two parents trying to restrain him physically as an act of affection?

RON FEDERICI: You understand that this is practice, but you know it’s for real under…

PETER FONAGY: It’s presumptuous of us to assume that just because it involves that close physical contact it will undoubtedly be interpreted as something that’s positive.

On the contrary, my position and the position taken by Advocates for Children in Therapy is quite mainstream and not “fringe” at all and since the APA has no certification or approval process for advocacy groups, it is meaningless to say ACT is “fringe” because it is not listed by APA. Neither are a number of other reputable organizations. You are the one who is outside of the mainstream. When I did a search on your name as author on the PsycInfo and Medline databases, I did not get any peer reviewed journal articles and no, the mere mention of your name in a journal article does not make you a mainstream expert, nor do your media appearances. The media loves controversy and you definitely fit the bill.

So how about some responses to the issues at hand, rather than calling me fringe?


Monica Pignotti, PhD

[update: My own further investigation of Federici’s claimed reference to coauthoring research is that the book chapter is actually the (6th) conference proceedings from the International Association for Human Auxology which met in Tokyo in 2007. The proper reference for the book of conference proceedings is:

Ashizawa K, Cameron N. 2009. Human Growth in a Changing Lifestyle. St. Ives, Cambridge: Smith-Gordon. ISBN 978-1-85463-233-3

so these are conference proceedings, certainly not a peer reviewed journal publication, hardly seminal research and not research that directly tested the efficacy of his intervention proposed in the self-published book]

Monica Pignotti: Bogus Lawsuit Thrown Out in 2002

To set the record straight about outright libelous postings that misrepresent this case, which are springing up on blog after blog here on WordPress, I, Monica Pignotti, was not sued for defamation. There was a bogus lawsuit that was completely dismissed in 2002 where I was named as a cross-complainant. I did not even have to hire a lawyer or appear in court — that’s how obviously frivolous and bogus it was. However, defamation was not on the list of their charges. I was never even served with any papers and no one attempted to do so. Therefore, legally, although I was named in a document that was filed in a court of law in the State of California, I was not sued. Thankfully, California has very strong anti-SLAPP legislation, on of the few US states that does. The ludicrous charges were:

Unlawful, Unfair, and Fraudulent Business Practices,
Violation of Civil Rights,
Intentional Interference With Prospective Advantage,
Negligent Interference With Prospective Advantage,
Civil Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt Organizations (RICO),
Abuse of Process,
Civil Conspiracy,
Injunctive Relief

The word defamation appearing in the text of the complaint does not mean that I was sued for defamation, as is being misrepresented in a highly misleading way on these other WordPress blogs. Words appearing in the text of a complaint are not the charges. The charges are listed in the complaint on p. 3.

The suit was filed by the company of Hulda Clark, who was well known for her books that claimed in the title to have the “Cure for All Diseases”.

More about Hulda Clark can be found by clicking here.

As one of the other cross-defendants, Peter Bowditch, puts it, the quacks “caved in” very quickly because it was obvious the kooks charging conspiracy of 30 people, most of whom had never even met one another, had no real case. Here is the document that dismissed the cross-complaint. I did not even have to hire a lawyer or appear in court, nor was I (or any of the other cross-defendants, some of whom were completely outside US jurisdiction) served with any papers.

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