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Mental Health Professionals’ Statement of Support for Monica Pignotti

May 15, 2011

To date, 47 mental health professionals have signed a Statement of Support for me regarding the internet smear campaign I have been enduring for the past two years, arising from the stand I have taken in my peer reviewed journal publications and on the internet, exposing potentially harmful therapies, especially “attachment” or other similar interventions, including coercive restraint that is aimed primarily at children who were internationally adopted. The statement says:

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 and

These statements may have been extremely damaging to Dr. Pignotti’s career.  As a recently graduated PhD who has been on the academic job market, she has been especially vulnerable to these attacks. In spite of receiving consistent feedback that her scholarly credentials are impressive and that she is fully qualified for entry-level tenure-track faculty positions in graduate social work programs, for a year and a half following her graduation she has been unable to secure such a position. Some of the universities at which she has applied have told her that the material on the internet raised serious concerns for them.

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.

Those who signed are psychologists, social workers, academics, and clinicians who come from diverse backgrounds and hold diverse political views. What they have in common is the courage to stand up to cyber bullies, who rather than address the substance of my criticisms and concerns, instead choose to personally attack me with malicious lies, fabrications and out of context distortions about my background. Their names appear below the statement.

A response from the anonymous posters has already been posted, stating: “There will be NO compliance with the ‘demands’ in this statement’. In other words, they have no intention of doing what this statement requests, which is simply that they identify themselves and respond in an appropriate, civil manner and behave as decent human beings. The anonymous posters have made it very clear where they stand. I can only ask people who are opposed to these tactics, have you made your position known? The only way that the anonymous cyber bullies can win is if good people who know right from wrong, stand by and say nothing. Now 46 people have had the courage to take a stand. Whether others choose to do the same or remain silent, remains to be seen.

  1. Fred Pauser permalink

    Hi Monica,

    That’s an impressive list of signees — mostly PhDs, and some very prominent individuals.That should help.

    Wishing you the best (you deserve it).

  2. I am very pleased to learn this!

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