Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The Subject is Dead; The Statement Is Alive



         "The subject is dead; the statement is alive."

This is a mantra in the SCAN system developed by Avnioam Sapir, which has been the bedrock for all Statement Analysis taught everywhere.  Mr. Sapir's work is at SCAN

"The subject is dead; the statement is alive" means:  we analyze a statement; not a person.

Here is an example of such.

If a statement is given where the subject says,

"I got up at 6.   Beth got up.  We had coffee and I got dressed for work."

What has he told us?

The analysis would conclude that he is not married.  A detective runs to the case file and says, "no, right here, he is married to Elizabeth, for 7 years."

The analyst says, "No, he is not married.  The subject is dead to us; the statement is alive.  It is the statement that is speaking to us, guiding us, giving us critical information that we need. "

The conclusion is:  he is not married.  Period.  The subject, that is, the man himself, the author of the statement is but 'dead' to us and it is his statement which is alive and speaking to us.  The case file is not speaking to us right now.  It will matter later, but as far as the analysis is concerned:  he is not married.

You may argue and say, "He lives in my town.  My wife shops with is wife.  I know him."

You may argue but you won't win.  He is not married.

There is no compromise on this principle:  "The subject is dead; the statement is alive."  We are analyzing the statement and in the statement, "Beth" is not given a complete social introduction and she is deprived of the status of his wife.  This is not indicative of a good relationship and in some cases, may even prove to speak to motive for the crime.  For the purpose of analysis, the subject is not married. We now will explore the quality of the relationship within the analytical interview.  In the above statement, we are going to explore why it is that he did not introduce her as "my wife, Beth" in his statement.  Often times the investigation will end up showing, just why, he deprived her of the status.

When we receive a statement for analysis, we want only one thing:  the accusation.  We do not want a case file, nor anything else about the case, so it will not impact our analysis.  We need only to know why the subject is writing (what he has been accused of) and work it cold.

Instructors gives another excellent example:

A high school girl said she had been raped at school, but her statement had something to say.  She was asked to write out her entire day at school.

"I went to bio at 8AM.  I went to math at 9AM and we had study hall after.  I went to history at 11 and then lunch was at noon.  Spanish is at 1PM and language arts is at 2PM.  3PM is dismissal..."

The analyst told the detective:  "you must have total faith in the statement."  In other words, the subject's words will guide you.  She left school at lunch time.  If you look at her statement, she did not say she went to Spanish at 1PM and language arts at 2PM:  she dropped her pronouns.  Unless she can bring herself to say it, she is not committing to it.

The detective said, "I will check into this" and returned and said, "No, you were wrong.  I checked the log in and she signed in to class at 1PM."

The analyst said, "No pronoun means no commitment.  Check it again.  Maybe someone signed in for her.  She was not in school after lunch time."

The detective said, "This can't be.  She would not leave school; she is an A student!"

The analyst said, "There is no such thing as an A student.  The subject is dead; the statement is alive."

The detective went back to the school and checked the sign in sheet and noticed that there was a change in handwriting; she had someone sign in for her.

The girl was confronted with this and admitted that she was not raped, but had left school grounds with a boy her father had forbidden her to see.

The "subject is dead"; that is, we are only analyzing the words, as "the statement is alive."

"If he does not say he is married; he is not married.  I don't care what the file says or even a marriage certificate says.  He is not married."

  "There is no such thing as an A student. I don't care if you have seen her report card and know her family.  The statement is guiding you.  No pronoun means no commitment and you must trust the statement."

It works, but only in context.



40 comments:

Randie said...

Each time frame has "pm" added except 11 and noon.....

does that refelct a chanage Peter?

elf said...

So, the subject and Beth had coffee. Something happened. The subject got dressed. The subject did something that made him not married anymore?
I think I should start taking notes....

Lemon said...

elf-
You can use the Search Statement Analysis box on the right to look up "Incomplete Social Introduction" for further explanation.

Anonymous said...

"There is no such thing as an A student."

I don't understand this. Please, can someone explain?

Lis said...

Anonymous said...

"There is no such thing as an A student."

I don't understand this. Please, can someone explain?

-I am going to guess that Peter means, we don't bring in facts about the student's life and impute meanings to their words based upon those facts- the statement stands alone. Other facts about the person will influence us to interpret what they are saying one way or another, i.e., she must be telling the truth, she is an A student. So we consider there is no such thing as an A student for our purposes, there are only the words the person has spoken/written, and those words reveal the truth, independent of the other facts about the person.

How am I doing, Peter, am I getting anywhere?

Lis said...

If he had been married, would he have said, "my wife, Beth, and I got up at 6" ?

john said...

I went to history at 11 and then LUNCH was at noon.

LUNCH:When food,drinks etc are mentioned,we also ask who was she with at lunch.Often times people share eat and drink with each other.Did she have lunch with her boyfriend.

christine said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
asimplequilter said...

In the second sentence she changed her pronoun from I to we. She's brought someone else into her telling of events. Did she have study hall with the boy she left school with?


Mouse74 said...

I love these lessons!!

Dee said...

I love these lessons too. It is so hard for me to forget what I know or think I know about a case and look at the statement alone, without prejudice. Especially in cases that are well publicized and covered a lot here like Hailey Dunn or Ayla Reynolds. I have opinions on what I think happened and it's hard not to let that interfere and color what I'm reading.

The Bleat said...

So, is the point that, it doesn't matter whether someone say, "I was with them to pay for the marriage certificate?"

If the inference from statement analysis show no "marriage," then that's the beginning point to analyze the relationship? Is there a difference in statement-analysis?

I think what's confusing me is the difference between saying "He was not married," and "He did not have a normal marital relationship."

On a side note, should we assume that the first example include other examples of the subjects speaking patterns? I ask, because I never really refer to my husband as "my husband," wait a minute....unless people don't know he's my husband. So, I'm thinking if someone's saying, "I woke up, then Beth woke up..." then the assumption is that the audience, for lack of better words, knows who Beth is.

Anonymous said...

If they don't say it, we can't say it for them. The statement must stand alone.

Sus said...

I love these lessons three. :) Thank you, Peter.

Dee said...

So, I'm thinking if someone's saying, "I woke up, then Beth woke up..." then the assumption is that the audience, for lack of better words, knows who Beth is.
*************************************
The Bleat...I think that's what Peter's saying, we can't assume. He didn't introduce Beth as his wife, so we can't assume that's who she is. Even if we are personally aware that Beth is his wife, we have to disregard it and look at the statement alone.

ME said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sarah said...

This was really educational, I liked it.

Anonymous said...

I did not assume that Beth was his wife in the first place because he did not identify who she is. Without introduction, she could have been his housekeeper, roomie/companion/partner, his sister, daughter, a friend visiting, his brothers' wife or any number of people joining him for coffee.

However, one cannot rule out the possibility that she was his wife either just because he didn't say so at that particular moment. Who can say that he hadn't already identified who Beth is by proper introduction in a prior comment?

IMO, NOR can one say empathically that he is not married unless they already know FOR A FACT that he is not married, or that his wife is deceased or they are divorced. Otherwise, IMO; from the few words spoken, one is merely guessing what his relationship to Beth is, or is not, and it is merely the luck of the draw if the 'guessor' turns out to be right, having no prior personal knowledge. Anon 1

Peter Hyatt said...

Lis said...
Anonymous said...

"There is no such thing as an A student."

I don't understand this. Please, can someone explain?

-I am going to guess that Peter means, we don't bring in facts about the student's life and impute meanings to their words based upon those facts- the statement stands alone. Other facts about the person will influence us to interpret what they are saying one way or another, i.e., she must be telling the truth, she is an A student. So we consider there is no such thing as an A student for our purposes, there are only the words the person has spoken/written, and those words reveal the truth, independent of the other facts about the person.

How am I doing, Peter, am I getting anywhere?

Excellent.

when the analysis of the statement is over, other information outside the statement is brought in. While doing analysis of the statement we must attempt to ignore everything else.

This can be challenging in the case of Hailey Dunn: i know too much about the case!

good explanation.

There is no such thing as an A student IN THIS statement.

he is not married IN THIS statement, which is VERY significant.

Red Ryder said...

One of the things that has helped me the most with SA and "The statement is alive, the subject is dead." is a technique that Karen H. shared wherein you close your eyes and visualize the statement exactly as the speaker/writer said it. Inconsistencies, impossibilities and incongruencies becomes quickly apparent. It's hard though to stick only to the statement, my mind, my eye always wants to "fill in" details to make the image of the staement "work": When I am able to do this it is very cool!

C5H11ONO said...

Sorry about being O/T, but below is a link to Patty Hearst audio tape transcripts. I noticed that she did not use "we" throughout her statements, but in the last audio taped conversation, she utilized "we" in conjunction with one of her captors. Is this a sign of Stockholm Syndrom or when she utilized "we", she was in cahoots with the captor?

http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/hearst/hearstaudiotranscripts.html

Red Ryder said...

Also OT if anyone followed the murder of Jane Bashera in Detroit about a year and a half ago, her *husband* Robert has finally been charged with her 1st degree murder. There are many interesting statements he made early in the investigation that are easy SA mostly because he is such a bad liar! If it were not for the death of Jane, who seemed a warm, generous and genuine lady...he would be laughable, but it's not funny.

Anonymous said...


"There is no such thing as an A student."

Thank you both. I get it now.

Lemon said...

It is exciting and gratifying to see many here seeking to understand and learn. Kudos to the "newbies" who are getting it. :)

Jen said...

This is a great post Peter, and an important principle that I often find hard to follow.

When I read a statement from BJD, Jodi Arias, Casey Anthony, the Ramsey's, etc...I find myself playing detective, and trying to figure out what their words might reveal about the crime, based on what I know about them, and their previous lies or the crime in general. It's hard to explain, but I think by taking what I know about the subject/ the crime, and viewing their words thru that lens, (rather than disregarding all of my collateral knowledge and concentrating on the words only)...I am limiting the amount of info I can gain from SA.

As always, thank you Peter, for reminding us of the simple, (yet complicated) concept of 'the subject is dead, the statement is alive'. This was a 'lightbulb' moment for me, and I appreciate the time and effort you put into your blog, and into teaching all of us!

Dee said...

OT...
Red Ryder said...
Also OT if anyone followed the murder of Jane Bashera in Detroit about a year and a half ago, her *husband* Robert has finally been charged with her 1st degree murder. There are many interesting statements he made early in the investigation that are easy SA mostly because he is such a bad liar! If it were not for the death of Jane, who seemed a warm, generous and genuine lady...he would be laughable, but it's not funny.

*************************************
Yes!!! Finally! Thank you for the update Red Ryder. I followed this case closely on the Hinky Meter until Val closed up shop. I hadn't heard anything lately. I agree - from all accounts Jane was a warm, friendly, wonderful lady who put up with way too much from "Big Bob".

~ABC said...

A marriage certificate does not a marriage make! :)

Point being, he is expressing his internal subjective point of view/dictionary complete with definitions that may or may not have a resemblance to what Webster might say. Material facts are irrelevant. We are getting into the man's mind, his belief system, which is completely different than material facts.

Peter Hyatt said...

ABC well said.

We are viewing his "lens" of his reality.

We are not dealing with reality, but verbalized reality.

Peter

~ABC said...

Yay! Thanks Peter :) It's always nice to get feedback from you.

"I went to bio at 8AM. I went to math at 9AM and we had study hall after. I went to history at 11 and then lunch was at noon. Spanish is at 1PM and language arts is at 2PM. 3PM is dismissal..."

I would venture to say that the "we" who went to study hall was the boy she left school with.

Sus said...

http://hotair.com/greenroom/archives/2013/04/17/mark-sanford-on-trespassing-at-his-ex-wifes-house-i-just-wanted-to-watch-the-super-bowl-with-my-son/

I've been practicing this a bit. Here is Mark Sanford's quote on why he trespassed at his ex wife's home. In the first paragraph, I have no idea who he is speaking of...it's all her and she. But in the second paragraph, when he speaks of "this election" his family becomes "Jenny and the boys." Wow! The need to change language for a cover up as the politician is noticeable.

The Bleat said...

When I said, So, I'm thinking if someone's saying, "I woke up, then Beth woke up..." then the assumption is that the audience, for lack of better words, knows who Beth is,"

The "assumption" I speak of is not OF the person making the statement analysis, it's of us...do WE assume that the person making the analysis has reviewed what the interviewer has already asked?

I mean, if someone asked me, "tell me about your morning routine with your husband, Ben."

I might say, "Well, Ben usually gets up first to take his shower. Then I go to the kitchen to make coffee."

If the interviewer just asks me about the morning, like, "Tell me about your morning routine," then I'd say, "Well, my husband Ben...."

It makes a difference, I think, and that's what I'm asking about. In the context of statement analysis, does the preceding language (leading language) play into how those types of statements are analyzed? When someone doesn't introduce his or her spouse as a spouse, does that define the subject's status generally?



? said...

If I'm understanding this correctly, in the statement we have, with nothing preceding it, we can only interpret it as he isn't married. That means that if it was put into context such as the Bleat suggests, it would then be re-evaluated on the whole and possibly produce different results. This is an "as the statement stands" only evaluation?

Dee said...

The Bleat...
"I mean, if someone asked me, "tell me about your morning routine with your husband, Ben."

I might say, "Well, Ben usually gets up first to take his shower. Then I go to the kitchen to make coffee."

If the interviewer just asks me about the morning, like, "Tell me about your morning routine," then I'd say, "Well, my husband Ben...."

*******************************************
In your first example another person has already introduced Ben into the conversation. They already know Ben is your husband therefore saying "Well, Ben usually gets up first to take his shower. Then I go to the kitchen to make coffee." is appropriate IMO.
In your second example "Tell me about your morning routine," the person has not included reference to anyone but you. Therefore saying "Well, my husband Ben...." is appropriate otherwise how would they know who Ben is? It could be your child, it could be a roommate, it could be the dog (well, not taking a shower but you get what I mean). If I were speaking to someone who doesn't know my family I'd say "My daughter Mary" or "My husband John" did this or that. If speaking to someone who knows me and my family, it would be different. There's no reason to "introduce" them.
What the interviewer asks is important as the answer can reflect the interviewers language.
I don't know if that helps clear it up at all or if I made it more confusing, lol.

Lis said...

Thank you, Peter!

? said...

If the only statement you are given, with no other information, is,

"I am a man"

it would be reliable, yes? The subject is dead. Based on the statement and the statement alone it is reliable.

But in fact, I am a woman, so the more information we get via evidence, background, leakage etc. the more confident we can be that the conclusions we draw are accurate. Something like that?

Anonymous said...

Instead of saying, he is not married, would you say, he has not given any indication that he is married?

OR is it because the relationship is so poor between him and his wife that the analyst has picked up on the fact that the man, according to his statement, does not consider himself married?

I am confused. I would love more examples like this. This was an interesting post.

Anonymous said...

oh maybe elf just explained it.

elf said...
So, the subject and Beth had coffee. Something happened. The subject got dressed. The subject did something that made him not married anymore?
I think I should start taking notes....

I get the incomplete social introduction, but do you mean, Peter, that he killed his wife after coffee?

? said...

Peter said,

"For the purpose of analysis, the subject is not married. We now will explore the quality of the relationship within the analytical interview. In the above statement, we are going to explore why it is that he did not introduce her as "my wife, Beth" in his statement. Often times the investigation will end up showing, just why, he deprived her of the status."

Ok, I think it's starting to sink in. It's the starting place, not the conclusion. I'm no quick study LOL

Peter Hyatt said...

"it's the starting place; not the conclusion" is a really good way to word it.

We are looking at this man's 'camera' and his view of verbalized reality, not reality.

Reality: he is married

Verbalized reality: he deprived her of her status as his wife, especially with the missing possessive pronoun, "my wife, Susie..."

What, in his reality, at the time of the statement, caused him to do so?

It could be a bad marriage, or it could be that he was angry with her in the morning. It could be so many things, but something is negative in his reality.

It is where we start our analysis.

It is similar to when a statement shows:

"This person is single" when, in fact, the person is married.

The person's statement showed that he was single, for example, which likely is a red flag for divorce.

When a couple begins to speak of divorce, even if only privately, it most often slips out in their language. It is very sad.

I often hear couples tease each other in a passive/aggressive way and carefully listen to little things, like articles, only to learn that the language shows divorce is in the air.

Peter

elf said...

So, the interviewers next question would be 'who is Beth?' Right? If he (the subject) doesn't say it, we can't say it for him.