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Monica Pignotti: Scholarly Publications and Why We All Need to Question Authority

April 15, 2010

Since the question has come up about my expertise in the areas I write about, here is a list of my relevant scholarly publications from my CV. Note that I will only answer this question once and will not respond to repetitions of the same question from spammers. The real issue, however, that supercedes issues of credentials is whether the position is correct or incorrect, true or false, right or wrong? The issue is what was said, not who said it. It is the substance of the issue that counts, not authority.

For example, even if the most despicable, depraved, drunken human being ever to walk the face of this planet, who had no education, stated that 2 + 2 = 4, it would still be true. 2 + 2 would still =4, regardless of who said it. George Orwell wrote that “freedom is the freedom to say that 2 + 2 = 4.”  and I take that freedom very seriously. Even if the greatest, most highly qualified, licensed human being on the planet said that 2 + 2 = 5, it would still be a false statement, regardless of who uttered it. Focusing on who rather than what, amounts to committing the fallacy known as argumentum ad verecundiam, or argument from authority. So, to tie this into the recent discussion, are prone face-down restraints dangerous, even with “properly trained” individuals? True or false? Do prone, face-down restraints restrict the body’s ability to breathe, thus creating danger of asphyxiation? True or false? If this is true, it matters not who says it and who denies it.

What is, is.

I, Monica Pignotti, do not create reality.

Ronald Federici does not create reality.

The government does not create reality.

The licensing bureaus and agencies do not create reality.

Reality is what it is and one of us is right and the other, wrong and we pay a price when we evade by blind trust in authority and not doing the work ourselves to check out the facts. We are free to choose to disregard and evade the facts of reality, but we are not free to escape the natural consequences of doing so, whatever they may be.

I am not saying believe because I say so or because Jean Mercer says so or because Larry Sarner says so or anyone else. I am saying, go with the actual substance of the evidence. You decide who is right and who is wrong, but decide by looking at the facts about human physiology and the evidence, not unsubstantiated assertions of authority who just say to trust them because they’ve done it for years. There have been deaths by prone restraint at the hands of experienced people who have done it for years, but their years of experience were not enough. If experience creates arrogance and refusal to look at facts of reality, it is worse than useless. Do you now want to say this is black and white thinking? You bet it is and I make no apologies for that. This is a black and white issue that involves life or death. Reality is not created by authorities. There are things human beings can change, but we do not create reality and cannot violate the laws of physical reality.

Authorities have often been known to be wrong. Sometimes fatally so. Moreover, the last people in the world I would trust to give an unbiased opinion are people who have been making their living for years, practicing questionable interventions that lack empirical support while responding to challenges by trashing their critics. I do not discount the value of experience, but people need to also recognize that years and years of experience without any checks and balances with evidence, can amount to years and years of confirmation bias where only success is focused on and failures excused and explained away. Sometimes it takes an outsider to provide a different and perhaps more objective perspective, to bring balance to the views of people who have too much to lose if proven wrong. The same goes for clients or other customers who have invested so much time, money and emotion in the choices they made. Being wrong can be painful and it is so much easier to attack people who point to evidence that reveals problems.

While it is true that we all sometimes have to rely on authorities, that does not mean that it is wise to blindly trust authorities and dismiss anyone who challenges them. Authorities are not relieved of the burden of proof of presenting evidence to support their claims.

That being said, here are my publications, which show I am very familiar with the evidence and the literature in the area of international adoptions and reactive attachment disorder, probably more so than many of the “licensed” individuals who persist in perpetuating myths about RAD.


Pignotti, M. (2011). Reactive attachment disorder and international adoption: A systematic research synthesis. The Scientific Review of Mental Health Practice, 8, 30-49.

Thyer, B. & Pignotti, M. (2010). Science and pseudoscience in developmental disabilities: Guidelines for social workers. Journal of Social Work in Disability and Rehabilitation, 9, 110-129.

Bhar, S. S., Thombs, B. D., Pignotti, M., Bassel, M., Jewett, L., Coyne, J. C., & Beck, A. T. (2010). Is longer term psychodynamic psychotherapy more effective than shorter term therapies? Review and critique of the evidence. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 79, 208-216.

Mercer, J., Pennington, R.S., Pignotti, M., & Rosa, L. (2010). Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy is not “evidence-based”: Comments in response to Becker-Weidman and Hughes. Child and Family Social Work, 15, 1-5.

Pignotti, M. & Thyer, B. A. (2009). The use of novel unsupported and empirically supported therapies by licensed clinical social workers. Social Work Research, 33, 5-17.

Pignotti, M. & Thyer, B. A. (2009). Some Comments on “Energy Psychology: A Review of the Evidence”: Premature Conclusions Based on Incomplete Evidence? Psychotherapy Theory, Research, Training, Practice,46, 257-261.

Pignotti, M. & Abell, N. (2009). The negative stereotyping of single persons scale: Initial psychometric development.  Research on Social Work Practice, 19, 639-652.

Mercer, J. & Pignotti, M. (2007). Shortcuts cause errors in systematic research synthesis: Rethinking evaluation of mental health interventions. The Scientific Review of Mental Health Practice, 5, 59-77.

Pignotti, M. (2007). Questionable interventions taught at top-ranked school of social work. The Scientific Review of Mental Health Practice, 5, 78-82.

Pignotti, M. & Mercer, J. (2007). Holding therapy and Dyadic Developmental Psychotherapy are not supported and acceptable practices: A systematic research synthesis revisited, Research on Social Work Practice, 17, 513-519.

Pignotti, M. (2007). Thought Field Therapy: A former insider’s experience. Research on Social Work Practice, 17, 392-407.

Mercer, J. & Pignotti, M. (2007). Letter to the editor (neurofeedback research critique). International Journal of Behavioral and Consultation Therapy, 3, 324-325.

Pignotti, M. (2005). Thought Field Therapy Voice Technology vs. random meridian point sequences: a single-blind controlled experiment. The Scientific Review of Mental Health Practice, 4(1), 72-81.

Pignotti, M. (2005). Regarding the October 2001 JCLP Special Issue on Thought Field Therapy: Retraction of conclusions in the article “Heart Rate Variability as an outcome measure for Thought Field Therapy in clinical practice.” Journal of Clinical Psychology, 61(3), 361-365.

Pignotti, M. (2005). Callahan fails to meet the burden of proof for Thought Field Therapy claims: Rejoinder to Callahan. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 61(3), 251-255.

Pignotti, M. (2005, Fall/Winter). Thought Field Therapy in the media: a critical analysis of one exemplar.  The Scientific Review of Mental Health Practice, 3(2) p. 60-66.

Ury, W.A., Berkman, C., Weber, C., Pignotti, M., Leipzig, R. (2003). Assessing medical students’ training in end-of-life communication: a survey of interns at one urban teaching hospital. Academic Medicine, 78(5), 530-7.

Ury, W., Rahn, M., Tolentino, V., Pignotti, M., Yoon, J.; McKegney, P., Sulmasy, D. (2002). Can a pain management and palliative care curriculum improve the opioid prescribing practices of medical residents? Journal of General Internal Medicine, 17(8), 625-31.

Leipzig, R., Berkman, C., Ramirez-Coronado, S,. Pignotti, M., (2001). Integrating housestaff into a geriatric inpatient interdisciplinary team. Gerontology and Geriatrics Education, 21(3), 63-72.

Berkman, C, Pignotti, M, Cavallo, P, Holland, N, (1999)  Use of alternative treatments by people with multiple sclerosis., Neurorehabilitation and Neural Repair, 13,. 243-54.

Book Chapters

Pignotti, M. & Thyer, B. A. (2009). Why randomized clinical trials are important and necessary to social work practice. In H. W. Otto, A. Polutta, & H. Ziegler. Evidence-based practice: Modernizing the knowledge base of social work (pp. 99-109). Farmington Hills, MI and Opaladen, Germany: Barbara Budrich Publishers.

Thyer, B. A. & Pignotti, M. (in press).  Science and pseudoscience in clinical assessment. In C. Jordan & C. Franklin (Eds.).  Clinical assessment for social workers:  Quantitative and qualitative approaches (third edition).  Chicago, IL:  Lyceum Press.

Thyer, B. A. & Pignotti, M. (2008).  Treatment plans for clients with social phobia.  In A. R. Roberts (Ed.).  Social Worker’s Desk Reference (2nd edition) (pp. 545-551). New York:  Oxford University Press.

Additionally, here is a link to credible scientific mental health professionals who endorse my work. Again, none of this is meant as an argument from authority. It is simply a statement to refute people who are trying to misportray me as a fringe kook. I post my mainstream publications and endorsements as a rebuttal to that, not to say that people should just blindly trust everything I say. On the contrary, I urge people to examine the evidence and decide for themselves.

  1. Two points about the Argument from Authority:

    (1) The original/literal words from the Latin are “argument towards modesty”.

    That is, we know that we do not know.

    (It was first codified in this way by John Locke, author of An Essay of Human Understanding).

    “Nevertheless, experts can still be mistaken, wilfully deceptive, subject to pressure from peers or employers, have a vested financial interest in the false statements, or have unusual views (or views that are widely criticized by other experts) within their field (this makes the majority of experts right, and thus the renegade expert is wrong), and hence their expertise does not always guarantee that their arguments are valid.”
    [Wikipedia contributors {2010} Argument from authority fallacy]

    (2) An appeal to authority confuses cause and effect.

    Cause and effect are essential parts of reality. And physics.

  2. Would it be more sensible, then, to check papers in which you were not the first author or exclusive author than to look only at those papers in which you were?

  3. I would recommend evaluating each paper on its own merit, rather than who was first author. All authors are equally responsible for the content of the papers. Usually the person who is the first author is the one who took the leadership of the project, but anyone who signs off on the paper is responsible.

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  1. Propaganda Against Monica Pignotti: The Big Picture « Monica Pignotti: The Truth
  2. Monica Pignotti: My Updated CV « Monica Pignotti: The Truth

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