Posts Tagged ‘Voice Technology’

Is this the title of a satirical article from The Onion? It sounds like it but no, this is real life. Someone just informed me that a TFT true believer asked Roger Callahan if he had an algorithm to treat skeptics. Now I realize the person probably was saying this tongue and cheek, but it really is quite telling about the mindset of certain true believers . Such people appear to think that critical thinking and skepticism about a treatment that has offered scant evidence is an attitude that needs “treatment”. Since what they have done so far has failed to convince skeptics, some true believers would love nothing more than to tap their critics away.

Is TFT a method that can be used to shut out critical thinking? Given that the evidence is scant that it even can treat emotional problems, not very likely. However, the intent behind people who seem to want to do this is not so funny. I actually had an experience back in 2001 where in a meeting with other VT people, I was voicing some objections to how the voice technology was being portrayed and Joanne offered to “treat” me for it. I declined, saying “You can’t tap away an ethical dilemma” and I didn’t and wouldn’t but I have to wonder if some people are labeling their doubts as negativity and trying to tap them away. Even if TFT is not an effective treatment for this, the power of suggestion can be very strong with believers and the implications are concerning to me.

One thing is for sure. TFT failed to cure me of my critical thinking. My involvement with TFT only gave me a stronger motivation to develop my critical thinking further.

TFT believers take note: The only way you are going to change a skeptic’s mind is to produce well-designed randomized controlled studies that follow all the latest reporting guidelines and publish them in reputable peer review journals — the ones that have the high impact factors, not the proprietary ones and publish studies that are not funded by associations that have a vested interest in the treatment. To begin with studies should be on the people TFT treats most — people here in the United States or in the UK, rather than going into a different culture and then attempting to generalize to the people who are the paying TFT clients in the US or the UK. They should have waited to do the “humanitarian” work until they see if they are able to get evidence that TFT works in the culture in which it was developed.

Note that when I use the word “skeptic” I mean an actual skeptic, not the kind that are portrayed in Activia commercials or the kind that new age types like to portray. Sometimes the people who are referred to as skeptics are actually just people having knee jerk negative emotional responses to things and those are people who are actually very easily swayed in the other direction.

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Those other bloggers who lack the courage to put their names to what they write, are at it again, once again misrepresenting my Journal of Clinical Psychology article that I formally retracted. They misrepresented the article by posting two of the tables we presented with pre and post changes, incorrectly stating that this means that we are claiming TFT “cures” those conditions. No, we were not. The blogger obviously needs to take a basic research course. Presenting pre and post changes is not the same thing as claiming a cure or even claiming “efficacy”. Update: After I called them out on doing this, they edited it and took out the part about curing. Apparently they know by now that WordPress will not let them get away with this kind of false statement. Ironically, they call the blog Complete Disclosure when what it actually is, is a highly selective presentation of facts out of context that give a highly misleading impression. What they are revealing about me is hardly a “disclosure” since this article has been public knowledge that I have openly been discussing for the past six years since I left TFT.

My response to their blog has also been mischaracterized. I am not “ashamed” of the article. I see it for what it is: an honest mistake on my part that I have since corrected. This brings to mind a discussion I had with psychologist and well known advocate for scientific mental health practice, James Herbert back in 2005. At that time I was feeling pretty down on myself for having practiced TFT and James helped me to realize that there was no reason for me to feel that way because I had made an honest error, the error that he pointed out has nothing whatsoever to do with lack of intelligence or lack of ethics. In other words, he helped me to realize that I had nothing to be ashamed of or to feel guilty about. In fact, TFT is not even in the same ballpark in terms of harm, that many of the therapies I now criticize are and yet it is those proponents who attempt to shame me. The real scientific mental health professionals have been very forgiving and have never shamed me.

In fact, I have consistently been very open and up front about the article and have many, many postings on the internet about it, giving the FULL STORY. What I object to is the fact that the article is being presented out of context and it was accompanied by lies that Dr. Steinberg and I claimed to cure those conditions in the article, which we did not. That was the basis for my complaint to WordPress. Now that the lies have been removed, I have no objection to their posting the two tables from the article, but they add absolutely nothing new to what I have already revealed about this article and its circumstances.

Also observe how my words constantly get twisted. I called them out on their shaming mentality (see paragraph below), the same kind of abusive mentality that gets conveyed in the therapies I have so strongly criticized. That does not, however, mean that I am “ashamed” of the article because their attempts to shame me fail, each and every time. You see, I am not the vulnerable child that gets hurt by this attitude. This is the same mentality that holds children down and screams in their faces for hours on end about their own projections about the child and this is the kind of brutal therapy I will continue to criticize and will not back down on, no matter how many times followers of these types of therapists attempt to trot out my past, a past I have never been anything less than open and up front about. The fact that cannot be changed is that I have the endorsement of respected scientific mental health professionals for having written this retraction. It is only the pseudoscientists and their followers who attempt unsuccessfully to shame me for it.

Nowhere in the paper did we claim to “cure” any of those physical conditions. To say we were is libel and defamation of both me and of Dr. Mark Steinberg. Yes, I did make claims about TFT and helping with psychological conditions I should not have made and I have fully owned up to that, but I never, ever have claimed that TFT cures diseases and there is no way anything in this paper says that. Presenting pre treatment and post treatment changes is not the same as claiming a cure. The changes I reported were what they were and were truthfully reported but that doesn’t mean I am claiming a cure. Anyone who has even taken so much as an introductory research course should know that. Even when I was involved with TFT I was outspokenly against any claims to cure diseases and I made that known.

They also state that I “renounced” the article. I did not just “renounce” it. I published a full formal retraction of the article that can be read by clicking here.

Additionally, this is a rather ridiculous way to try to smear me, since this paper is very old news and I have never been anything less than up front, open and honest about it.  I still get expressions of admiration from scientifically minded professionals for having written the retraction, who have repeatedly told me that they found it courageous of me to write such a retraction. How many other mental health professionals are willing to admit they were wrong? Perhaps this is what really stings and really hits a raw nerve with the people who have launched this all out smear campaign against me. My openness and honesty about my own mistakes is a constant reminder of the mistakes certain mental health professionals they follow have failed to own up to. One of my main criticisms of their interventions with children is that the cruelty and shame that is involved. We can observe this same attempt to shame me. The thing is, I’m not a helpless child and have the support of the scientific mental health community who, on the contrary, has commended me for being open and honest about my past mistakes.

Apparently, what they are attempting to imply is that because I made mistakes regarding my long past endorsement of TFT which I fully owned up to and repudiated, that I cannot have any further credibility, ever again.  Well, a number of prominent mental health professionals in the scientific community strongly disagree and have given me highly favorable endorsements and trust me enough to co-author papers with me. Of course, part of the smear campaign against me are anonymous posters telling ridiculous and absurd lies about how I got those endorsements. They would not dare put that on a WordPress blog, though because that would be a clear TOS violation so they only post that kind of smut anonymously on unmoderated internet newsgroups.

It seems that the only people who are trying to smear me for my past mistakes are people who are, themselves, practicing or otherwise supporting questionable interventions that have no more peer reviewed randomized controlled trials to support their efficacy than TFT does. It’s a bit like a drunk staggering over to his computer and claiming that someone who has been clean and sober for 6+ years is an alcoholic.

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Monica Pignotti TFT Article Journal of Clinical Psychology 2001 Retracted

My cyber-smearers are once again misrepresenting my work. They posted the half truth that I had a “scholarly article” on TFT in 2001 and have lifted the first two pages of the article from Mark Steinberg’s website, yet failed to mention that in 2005, I published a full retraction of that article. The article in no way supports the efficacy of TFT for the reasons the critics of the article stated.

Click here to read the full text of my retraction article.

Click here to read the full text of my response to Dr. Roger Callahan

Click here to read the abstract at the journal website.

This article is a retraction of the conclusions drawn in a previous article, published as part of a special October 2001 issue of the Journal of Clinical Psychology on Thought Field Therapy (TFT). I decided to write this retraction after reconsidering a number of issues raised in the critiques of the articles. Additionally, subsequent misinterpretations of the literature on heart rate variability (HRV) by Roger Callahan, which led to further questioning of his premises and claims regarding TFT and HRV as represented in the articles, are discussed. I conclude that the burden of proof is on TFT proponents to demonstrate its efficacy and that well-designed controlled studies using standardized assessment measures and long-term follow-up must be performed to allow the scientific community to take claims made for TFT seriously.

Unfortunately, my co-author, Dr. Mark Steinberg, continues to post this on his website, neglecting to mention the fact that it was retracted by the first author and failing to honor the agreement that we made with the journal, to put the disclaimer that the article had not been peer reviewed. He also recently mentioned this article in an appearance on a local television station, again, neglecting to mention the retraction and the fact that it was published under special circumstances and not peer reviewed. When he first posted this article on his website, I reminded him of the agreement we had that we were to post a disclaimer that it had not been peer reviewed, but he would not agree to do this. Essentially, he refused to post any disclaimer because he felt he was entitled to claim publication of this article without it, in spite of the fact we had made an agreement that the disclaimer would be published. Since I have no control over the contents of his website, there was nothing I could do to force him. Hence, my need to correct this now. What follows is the whole truth about this article, which I have always been completely honest about and written about in numerous places. In no way is this news, but here we go again.

I have written about the special circumstances under which this article and the special issue was published elsewhere, but I will once again explain it here. Back in 2000, Roger Callahan was invited to come onto the list serv of the Society of a Science for a Clinical Psychology (a subdivision of APA Division 12) to discuss Thought Field Therapy. When he was asked for peer reviewed publications to support the efficacy of TFT, he had to admit that there were none. He claimed that this was the case because editors and journal reviewers were biased against TFT. The Editor of the Journal of Clinical Psychology at the time, Larry Beutler, made an offer to Dr. Callahan. He offered to allow Dr. Callahan to publish five articles of his choosing that he believed supported TFT and Beutler agreed to publish them without peer review. The conditions for the publication would be two-fold: 1) The authors would have to agree to put a disclaimer on the articles that they were not peer reviewed and were not to misrepresent them and 2) Critiques would be published alongside each article. The special issue of the Journal of Clinical Psychology appeared in October 2001 with five articles (I was first author of one of them) and indeed, critiques were published along each article, which were highly negative and essentially stated that had they been peer reviewed, they would not have been acceptable for publication. Click here to read the abstracts.

In 2004, when I came to realize that TFT was not what it was claimed to be, I wrote a retraction of my 2001 article and the retraction was published in 2005 (see link to abstract above).

I also would like to point out that there are tenure-track faculty in major universities who are involved in research on Thought Field Therapy that is funded by believers in TFT and the university appears to have no problem with this at all, so if my detractors think they are going to spoil my academic reputation by posting these things about me, think again. A notable recent example is Dr. Dominique Roe Sepowitz, of Arizona State University who is not only involved in research, but according to her CV, has accepted $13,000 in funding in 2008-2009 from the Association of TFT (ATFT) to be involved in such research. Note that she is being funded by TFT believers since Roger and Joanne Callahan are Board members of ATFT and have been since its inception and the Board of ATFT has only believers in TFT, not critics. In spite of the fact she has been funded by an organization of TFT believers, she is a faculty member in good standing at Arizona State University, who apparently has no problem whatsoever with her involvement and the fact she is funded by the ATFT. Another notable example are two tenured faculty members at FSU (Joyce Carbonell in Psychology and Charles Figley who was at the time in Social Work at FSU) who have conducted research on TFT.  Isn’t it strange that people want to feature me on an “Axis of Quackery” blog for research on something that two major universities (FSU and ASU) had no problem with?

So once again, my cyber-smearers believe they are coming forward with some kind of startling revelation about me when I have been completely open and transparent about this whole matter and I have completely repudiated that article. Go figure. Perhaps this is their way of diverting attention away from questions I have been asking in another blog about the recommendation of restraints, which have nothing to do with TFT. Yes, I believe that TFT is a pseudoscience which makes unsupported claims, but at least no one has been killed by TFT. The same cannot be said for prone restraint procedures which have resulted in numerous deaths and this has been the case, even when the procedures were said to have been carried out correctly. My long-ago mistake with TFT pales in comparison to that.

This constant hammering away at ancient history also is a lame attempt to ignore my recent publications, including this one published in the journal, Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics:

Is Longer-Term Psychodynamic Psychotherapy More Effective than Shorter-Term Therapies? Review and Critique of the Evidence
Sunil S. Bhara, Brett D. Thombsb, Monica Pignottic, Marielle Basselb, Lisa Jewettb, James C. Coyned, Aaron T. Beckd

aSwinburne University of Technology, Hawthorn, Vic., Australia;
bMcGill University and Jewish General Hospital, Montréal, Qué., Canada;
cFlorida State University, Tallahassee, Fla., and
dUniversity of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pa., USA

Psychother Psychosom 2010;79:208-216 (DOI: 10.1159/000313689)

That can hardly be called fringe, but apparently, they think if they keep calling me a fringe “quack” all the evidence I am producing will just go away. Newsflash: It won’t. The truth always comes out eventually and more and more people are seeing it.

In conclusion, the concerns expressed on the Axis of Quackery blog that appear to be focusing on me, appear to be disingenuous. If the anonymous bloggers were genuinely concerned about quackery, it seems to me that they would focus on people who are currently practicing quackery, not someone such as myself who completely repudiated the practice of quackery over six years ago and is a well known, and highly published critic of pseudoscience and quackery. Genuine critics of pseudoscience such as Dr. Scott Lilienfeld, Dr. Steven Jay Lynn and Dr. Brandon Gaudiano, endorse my work. In stark contrast, people who support an intervention for children that has no controlled studies to support its efficacy attack me, while ignoring current TFT proponents other than the one I used to practice with. That speaks volumes for what they truly stand for and what their real agenda is.

Perhaps what really hits a nerve for the “Axis of Quackery” folks is that I am someone who actually admitted to my mistakes and retracted them, something I am highly respected by genuine critics of quackery for doing. In contrast, my critics continue to promote and defend face-down prone restraint methods which, according to my opinion based on my extensive review of the current literature, have been shown to be dangerous and interventions that have no evidence for their efficacy and will not admit, even when confronted with evidence in the literature, that they are wrong and are making serious mistakes. I must be a constant reminder to them of mistakes they are making that they refuse to admit to. No wonder they’re so upset with me that they have go spend so much time creating blogs smearing me.

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To begin with, I want to put some myths and lies to rest about my involvement with TFT that have been recently being circulated around the internet, including on certain WordPress blogs.  I completely left and repudiated TFT and Voice Technology (VT) 6 years ago in March, 2004 and since that time have published numerous critical analyses of TFT and also an account of my experience with TFT and Voice Technology.

As I make clear in my published account of my experience with TFT, I never bought into everything Callahan said, hook, line and sinker. There were aspects of TFT and VT I was skeptical about all along and one was the idea that physical problems could be treated with TFT and TFT VT. I am being misportrayed as an unquestioning follower when that was far from the case, as other proponents of TFT know all too well. I was always adamantly opposed to TFT proponents claiming that they could treat physical problems and never believed in this. I continuously warned other TFT proponents to be very careful about this and when people called and asked me if I could treat any particular diseases or physical conditions, my answer was always and adamant NO. I took great care to inform my clients of this up front, that my application of TFT was designed to treat stress and negative emotions, not disease. In fact, Callahan and some of the other TFT proponents’ growing insistence that they could do this was one of the things that caused me to distance myself from TFT because I was never convinced of that.

I certainly never, ever, at any time, in any way, shape or form, used TFT or VT to diagnose disease over the phone. That goes against everything I stand for or stood for, even back when I was practicing it. I made it crystal clear to all concerned that I would not do that. For example, one time I received a phone call from someone asking if I could treat cardiac arrhythmia ad my answer was a definitive, resounding NO. The caller referred to a TFT website article saying that TFT could do that, but I remained adamant that I would not do that and did not believe TFT VT could do that.

Even though I was one of the top practitioners, I was known by other TFT practitioners as a skeptic and I did not just blindly follow everything the Callahans said. People present at the 2001 VT meeting where I created a stir by standing up and challenging Roger Callahan on many points, including the way VT was being portrayed, can attest to that.

I also want to correct some highly misleading information that has been posted about me. While it is true that I did work for Dr. Mark Steinberg from 2001-2006, I completely stopped practicing TFT in 2004 and I make this very clear on my CV, although of course the cyber-smearers who are attacking me left this out.

So please note: I DID NOT PRACTICE TFT OR VT AFTER MARCH, 2004 IN ANY WAY, SHAPE OR FORM. NOT WITH DR. STEINBERG OR ANYWHERE ELSE. After March 2004, although I was still an employee of Dr. Steinberg’s, I did not practice TFT or VT with him.

That being said, in spite of our disagreements over TFT and VT (which is only a very small percentage of what he does or at least that was the case when I worked for him), I still highly respect Dr. Mark Steinberg, who is an eclectic psychologist who uses a number of different approaches including behavioral approaches that have strong research support. He is highly respected in his field and is considered one of the top, go-to people in his area for working with children who have serious behavior problems and has never needed to resort to coercive restraint practices or other invasive interventions. He also has a marvelous ability to communicate and relate to children and continuously gets referrals from schools and the court system and has a large, very successful practice.

I am sorry to see that Dr. Steinberg is getting pulled into the cyber-smear campaign against me when he has nothing whatsoever to do with my current critical activities. Although the two of us obviously disagree about TFT and VT and I take strong issue with his misrepresentation of it as “scientific” when it is not, I left his practice on good terms with him and there is much he does in his practice (for example, administering standardized psychological and neuropsychological tests and empirically supported behavior management techniques) that I do agree with. He got many children referred to him who had failed in so-called “attachment therapy” who he was able to help.

I’m not sure what the purpose is of my cyber-smearers dwelling on work I did 6+ years ago that I have always been completely transparent and up front about. They must be pretty hard up to find things to trash me over and unable to respond to the numerous substantive issues I have raised.

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