Conspiracies and the Martha Mitchell Effect

John Mitchell was the Attorney-General during the Nixon administration.

His wife - Martha Mitchell - told her psychologist that top White House officials were engaged in illegal activities. Her psychologist labeled these claims as caused by mental illness.

Ultimately, however, the relevant facts of the Watergate scandal vindicated her.

In fact, psychologists have now given a label - the "Martha Mitchell Effect" - to "the process by which a psychiatrist, psychologist, or other mental health clinician mistakes the patient's perception of real events as delusional and misdiagnoses accordingly".

The authors of a paper on this phenomenon ( Bell, V., Halligan, P.W., Ellis, H.D. (2003) Beliefs About Delusions. The Psychologist, 6 (8), 418-422) conclude:

Sometimes, improbable reports are erroneously assumed to be symptoms of mental illness [due to a] failure or inability to verify whether the events have actually taken place, no matter how improbable intuitively they might appear to the busy clinician.

In other words, psychologists who haven't taken the time to examine for themselves the claims of their patients will tend to label as delusional anything which they "intuitively" feel is improbable.

Many psychologists - just as Martha Mitchell's - will tend to assume any claim of conspiracy is improbable. However, conspiracies are actually common occurences which are well-recognized by the law.

Psychologists are even more apt to label government conspiracies as improbable. However, as Martha Mitchell's psychologist learned, they do happen. Watergate, for example, was a conspiracy.

Psychologists who have attempted to label as delusional those who raise the possibility of government conspiracies do not have even a basic understanding of the Martha Mitchell Effect, or have not examined whether or not there is any factual basis for their patient's claims.

Obviously, some people are delusional, and see conspiracies where none exist. But it is equally true that when millions of scientists, military leaders, historians, legal scholars, intelligence officials and other rational people say the government is lying, psychologists who dismiss similar claims by their patients are falling prey to the Martha Mitchell Effect. They are too busy and/or arrogant to actually examine their assumptions as to whether or not the claims which feel improbable to them are true.

Nice find on the Mitchell

Nice find on the Mitchell Effect. I hadn't heard of that one before, although it sounds similar to the Cassandra effect.

Cassandra was the woman in Troy with the gift of foreknowledge, especially re the Trojan Horse dangers, yet she was also cursed in that she would not be able to convince others of her knowledge.

You've just got to go to the right shrink....


Regards John

9/11 24/7 UNTIL JUSTICE!!

God Bless you


This just made my day.

AND the coming weekend.

Some of us have had enough of the Psychobable of the OCT boot-lickers.

The CONSTITUTION is NOT going to "collapse" into pulverized dust no matter how much thermate/explosives or planes they throw at it

Just recently, Cheney was called...

... the Martha Mitchell of the Bush years! I forget where I read that, but it was about his media blitz, of late...found it...

Jonathan Turley said it 5/13/09...

Law professor Jonathan Turley told MSBNC’s Keith Olbermann on Monday that Cheney is “almost becoming the Martha Mitchell of this administration” — a reference to the wife of Watergate conspirator John Mitchell, who repeatedly called the press with revelations about the conspiracy in the Nixon White House.

“He’s making the legal case all the stronger for a criminal investigation and prosecution,” Turley explained. “He most certainly just supplied a critical block that would have been the subject of investigation. We now have almost the entire puzzle.”

Turley emphasized that anything Cheney says in television interviews can be used against him in court and that even though Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is still insisting there may not be enough facts for a criminal investigation, “You got Dick Cheney saying, ‘Yeah, here’s how it went. The president knew about it, authorized it. I was all in favor of it. We did it.’”