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Child Psychology Blogs

Concerned About Unconventional Mental Health Interventions?

Concerned About Unconventional Mental Health Interventions?
Alternative Psychotherapies: Evaluating Unconventional Mental Health Treatments

Saturday, January 8, 2011

To A message

Dear etfamilies administrators:

A number of readers have come to my blog from yours over the last several days, so I went to have a look at your blog, where I see I have been the subject of discussion. I would like to comment on an inaccurate statement having to do with my Psychology Today blog, but I find that I can't register. My user name doesn't meet standards, I'm told, but there is no description of the standards and no way to communicate with anyone without being registered. I am hoping that you or one of your readers will see this and let me know what to do to register.

As it is, a completely inaccurate statement about me can be read by all, and I have no way to correct it.

By the way, I am wondering whether you check on the identities of your contributors.I would hazard the guess that one of the contributors to that thread is in fact one of the people the thread discusses.

Best regards,
Jean Mercer


  1. Glad to see you are calling them out on this. The least these folks can do is offer you the opportunity to set the record straight and tell your side of this. Perhaps you could also post your response here, since fortunately it does appear that this blog is getting read in spite of all the attempts to silence you?

  2. That's a good idea, but I want to do it without repeating the original inaccuracy. Readers can go to if they they want to know the details of that.

    The basic problem here is that a contributor to etfamilies misstated the history of my Psychology Today blog, which I have described elsewhere. It is true that PT froze my account last summer, following a lawsuit by Ronald Federici against PT,me,and some other people. I had posted on the PT blog a piece called "The Hungry Boy" which appears as part of a post elsewhere on this blog, and this was presumably the reason for a defamation suit (although no specific complaint was made). The judge found for me in this suit, but unfortunately PT had chosen not to send a representative to court and were found in default, thus giving a decision in Federici's favor. PT warned me not to mention Federici's name again, and I did not; the editor added "even in an oblique way", and we obviously did not agree on what an oblique way was, because my account was frozen after I referred to having been in court, in a post that had nothing to do with Federici.

    I might point out that during the entire period of about a year that the PT blog existed, every post I did was the subject of multiple comments attacking my capacity to discuss any aspect of child development or of research design. These hundreds of comments were amazingly repetitive, and although they were signed with different names (including those of various friends and relations of mine), they came from a small number of IP sources. Curiously, many of them had characteristic misspellings of the kind to be seen on the etfamilies thread (e.g., "heresy" for "hearsay"), and similarly used many capital letters to stress that I am "not a doctor", implying that someone else in the discussion is "a doctor".

    At least at that time, PT did not require contributors to register or identify themselves. Looking at the etfamilies registration form, which I was unable to manage, I see that one does not have to provide an actual name in order to register. It seems to me that as long as blogs do not require contributors to identify themselves, a door will always be open for dishonesty, chicanery, and malicious personal attacks as a substitute for public discussion. My own theory is that if a statement cannot be made in your own name, you probably do better not to make it in public-- although there are obviously times when anonymity is justified.

  3. Just to add one more thing. As I see it and as always, these are my opinions, there seems to be a recurring theme here.l Rather than actually refuting what was being said:
    1. Make an argument from authority -- I'm right because I'm an expert or there are other experts who agree with me and
    2. Discredit and personally attack anyone who does not agree.
    This, to me, seems insulting to the consumer. Glad to see people are checking out the actual sources. Bottom line is that the truth will stand regardless of criticism and what is not true will be exposed, in spite of all the saber rattling, personal attacks and other forms of denigration of those who challenge.

  4. Well said. I have to wonder if "heresy" was actually a typo, since you (and I as well) seem to be considered a heretic in some circles. I'm not a fan of Freud, but nevertheless, the phrase Freudian slip comes to mind.

  5. Glad they let you post to set the record straight, but it looks like someone posting under the name "haveachild" has just posted more falsehoods about you and ACT, misrepresenting them as "facts". Haveachild maintains you are the "leader" of ACT, which you are not and that ACT had a "checkered past" because it was shut down for false and misleading information. Wrong again, it was shut down for DMCA complaints which turned out to not be valid because there were no copyright violations, only fair use. Some ISPs did not have the courage to stand up to this misuse, but they finally found an ISP who would. And then, haveachild refers to the infamous Psychology Wiki (not Wikipedia) which as I understand it, is controlled by people who got booted off of Wikipedia for constant infringements of their policy, not a reliable or an objective source at all for "facts" -- in my opinion. Newsflash for "haveachild": "checkered past" is yet another smear term, not a fact and it looks like haveachild has done exactly what the moderator asked people there not to do: Post things that had already been discussed elsewhere. Oh well, I'm not in the least surprised.

    The moderator, it appears has shut down the thread for the weekend.

  6. It's too bad haveachild doesn't have the courage to discuss this directly with me. I don't really want to trouble etfamilies with this foolishness.

  7. I was able to register over there, it rejected my email address the first time I entered it but accepted it when I reentered it.

    I for one, as a survivor thank you guys for speaking out about these questionable therapies. Please do not let this guy or anyone else stop you from advocating for this new generation of foster and adoptive children.

    No child will ever be healed from trauma my further traumatization in the guise of therapy – end of story.

  8. I am sorry Jean, they have apparent locked the comments over there this is what I was going to post:

    “I suppose we would all like to defend people we know, especially those who judgment we have trusted and advice we have followed. – I’m just saying…

    As an adult survivor of some of those “questionable” therapies, such as “holding therapy”, “blanked therapy”, “therapeutic restraint” that some of those linked websites discuss and the mother of 3 children, I believe that any responsible parent should educate themselves about any and all treatment options, before subjecting their children to any of them.

    The only personal experience I have with Dr. Ronald Federici is that I had commented on a Grown In My Heart blog post on September 28th 2010, where Dr. Federici (logged in under his own name) wrongly accused my fellow blogger Linda (a stand up comedian) of being another Linda… (I believe Linda Russo who ever that is.) and claimed that she (the wrong Linda) and her friends (of the wrong Linda) were leading a conspiracy to discredit him and asked the moderator to remove any comments that were not supportive of him. I only remember the whole thing because I thought it was very egomaniacal and unprofessional to request that anyone who doses not support you be deleted and go unheard.

    This one encounter I had with the “good” Dr. Ronald Federici spoke volumes about the content of his character.”

  9. Thanks, Sunday, that was very nice of you to try. I think the etfamilies moderator did get tired of it all and take a break, and I don't blame her. I wouldn't have butted in to their discussion if what was said about me had been accurate.

    I don't know whether you noticed, but that whole set of comments on Grown in my Heart has been taken down, including the request to take it down.

  10. Yes, in fact I did notice because I was going to post a link to it. I find him, his therapy and the way he chooses to defend it very out of the ordinary…

  11. FYI, this discussion has raised some larger issues that I have written about on my on blog, as to who is qualified to evaluate therapeutic interventions. As always, these are my opinions on some very heated, controversial issues:

  12. The comment purporting to be from Federici comment was on the 'Announcing Adoptcon' blog (no longer extant) on Grown in my Heart. Here it is:
    Dr. Federici says:
    September 28, 2010 at 11:33 am
    The negative comments are by a Linda Rosa and Larry Sarner–all part of a fringe advocacy group out to attack about anyone outside of their circle who helps adopted kids. They pride themselves on libelous and ridiculous statements just to put people down in the professional world. Please do not let them post anymore, and ruin such a great family experience. AND PLEASE remove their postings up now, which are just to cause a problem with this cruise and support
    Our project ranges from birth searches, to making sure newly adopted children get a full medical and psychological evaluation before coming to their new family. AND, we have been asked by both Russian Governments and hundreds of families here in the US to help complete their adoptions as things have shut down and most files are on hold. We fix the problems that agencies have left
    behind. It has been a wonderful thing to help these families in need.

    I commented as Kippa on the "So obviously you don't agree' blog (also miraculously disappeared):
    Kippa says:
    September 29, 2010 at 6:12 pm
    Just the fact that Dr. Federici claims that the negative comments on the previous blog post came from Linda Rosa and Larry Sarner should be enough to discredit him.
    Turning things around in this way seems to be part of Dr. Federici’s general strategy.
    I know for a fact that “Linda” is NOT Linda Rosa, and Daniel Ibn Zayd is NOT Larry Sarner.
    I am sure that Dr. Federici knows this too, and he is being dishonest to even suggest it – and he went a whole lot further than to suggest. In fact, both are adult adoptees, and, I am quite certain, totally unconnected to either Rosa or Sarner.
    Dr. Federici is a veteran of the internet. There is *no way* he wouldn’t know these people aren’t who he claims they are (unless he is paranoid, of course, which, if the case, doesn’t recommend him as someone in whom to trust a troubled child).
    To ascertain the truth of this, all he needed to do was link to Linda’s website via her name.
    He is trying to defame by making an association where in reality there is none.

  13. A very interesting analysis, Monica. There is obviously no reason why a person trained in therapy could not also be trained in research design and analysis, but the fact is that many are not trained in that way. However,people with a research background can effectively critique research on psychotherapies or other topics, whether or not they are trained to do the treatments.

    I'd like to bring up another important point. Guidelines for studying the effectiveness of therapies require some of the work to be done by independent researchers-- not all of it by individuals who carry out a type of therapy and "believe in it". The reasons for this are pretty obvious,in that even the best-intentioned of us may have a tendency to nudge evidence in the desired direction without even realizing we're doing it.

    I'd add the following to your advice about questioning the evidence for a therapy: if all the research on a treatment has been done by one or two people who are strong proponents and practitioners of the treatment, prospective clients should be cautious. I don't mean to suggest that such a treatment is bound to be ineffective or harmful-- it may be excellent-- but any claim about evidence for its effectiveness should be taken as incompletely supported at best.

  14. Thank you, Haigha,for bringing this exchange back into public access.

  15. One more comment about the etfamilies discussion. The moderators have shut this down, not surprisingly, but the result has been that the last post has a misstatement about the organization ACT (Advocates for Children in Therapy). It says that ACT's website was taken down on several occasions because of copyright violations. This is not correct. There were accusations of copyright violations, but no violations had occurred. Short quotations-- even a large number of short quotations-- used for critical or educational purposes, and supplied to the public without charge, are considered to be "fair use" of copyrighted material. ACT has used such quotations as a means of showing the public the thinking of various child psychotherapists whose work is outside conventional psychology,psychiatry, and clinical social work.

    As the filers of those complaints well knew, Internet service providers, like most businesses, are reluctant to expose themselves to litigation, and will usually cooperate with demands as soon as they are threatened. They did comply, even though it was clear that "fair use" guidelines had been followed.

    Incidentally, that last post also says that I have published "editorials". I don't think I've ever written an editorial in my life. The contributor who made that statement does not seem to recognize the existence and importance of articles that critique existing research reports. For example, the recent British Medical Journal commentary on Andrew Wakefield's study of vaccine effects and autism is a critique, not an editorial or a polemic, and many of my publications about attachment therapy are also critiques.