Martha Mitchell effect

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The Martha Mitchell effect is when a psychiatrist, psychologist or mental health clinician diagnoses a person with a mental illness involving false beliefs, such as delusions or paranoia, despite the fact that the person is simply describing things that are factually true, but the clinician believes otherwise.[1]

Theory[edit | edit source]

Martha Beall Mitchell was the wife of then-President Nixon's Attorney General, John Mitchell. Martha Mitchell became aware of the Watergate scandal and had been urging reporters she knew to investigate "dirty tricks" against the Democrats.[2] When James McCord, who had ties to Nixon, was among those arrested at Watergate, Mitchell called a reporter friend, Helen Thomas, to report the connection. Seemingly as a direct result, Stephen King, a prominent Republican who had been assigned to keep an eye on Mitchell, assaulted her in her hotel room, pulling the phone out of her hands and shoving her against a wall. When Thomas called back, she was told that Mitchell was "indisposed".[3]

Conspiracy theories involve a “vast, insidious, preternaturally effective international conspiratorial network designed to perpetrate acts of most fiendish character”.[4] Conspiracy theories often involve deception in matters of international importance.[5] 

Mitchell's claim that high-level White House officials had conspired to commit crimes and keep them from the American people had many elements of existing conspiracy theories. This led high-level officials to speculate that she suffered from mental illness.

Ultimately, however, when the facts of Watergate came to light, it was clear that Mitchell was correct: she was threatened, physically abused, and possibly kidnapped in an attempt to keep her from spreading information about Watergate with others.

The Martha Mitchell effect is used to describe any instance in which a person accurately describing their reality is diagnosed with a mental health condition.[6]https://www.theguardian.com/science/2013/aug/04/truly-madly-deeply-delusional

It may be that the person who falls victim to the Martha Mitchell effect does, in fact, have a mental health problem but is still accurately describing reality, or it may be that the person has no mental health condition, and is merely describing something that is hard to believe.

ME/CFS[edit | edit source]

Evidence[edit | edit source]

Criticism[edit | edit source]

Notable studies[edit | edit source]

Articles, talks and videos[edit | edit source]

See also[edit | edit source]

Learn more[edit | edit source]

  • Wikipedia

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.01.1 Bell, Vaughan (Aug 3, 2013). "You needn't be wrong to be called delusional: Just because they're out to get you doesn't prove you're not paranoid, says the latest edition of the psychiatrists' bible". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved Mar 6, 2019. 
  2. EST, Jeff Stein On 12/11/17 at 4:41 PM (Dec 11, 2017). "One of Trump's ambassadors beat and "kidnapped" a woman as part of the Watergate cover-up: reports". Newsweek. Retrieved Dec 27, 2019. 
  3. EST, Jeff Stein On 12/11/17 at 4:41 PM (Dec 11, 2017). "One of Trump's ambassadors beat and "kidnapped" a woman as part of the Watergate cover-up: reports". Newsweek. Retrieved Dec 27, 2019. 
  4. Hofstadter, Richard (Nov 1964). "The Paranoid Style in American Politics". Harper's Magazine. ISSN 0017-789X. Retrieved Dec 27, 2019. 
  5. Goreis, Andreas; Voracek, Martin (2019). "A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of Psychological Research on Conspiracy Beliefs: Field Characteristics, Measurement Instruments, and Associations With Personality Traits". Frontiers in Psychology. 10. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00205. ISSN 1664-1078. 
  6. Bell, Vaughan (Aug 3, 2013). "You needn't be wrong to be called delusional". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved Jan 23, 2020. 
  7. Spandler, Helen; Allen, Meg (Aug 16, 2017). "Contesting the psychiatric framing of ME/CFS" (PDF). Social Theory & Health. 16 (2): 127–141. doi:10.1057/s41285-017-0047-0. ISSN 1477-8211. 

ME/CFS - An acronym that combines myalgic encephalomyelitis with chronic fatigue syndrome. Sometimes they are combined because people have trouble distinguishing one from the other. Sometimes they are combined because people see them as synonyms of each other.

The information provided at this site is not intended to diagnose or treat any illness.
From MEpedia, a crowd-sourced encyclopedia of ME and CFS science and history.