Thursday, February 20, 2014

Passivity in Language


Passivity In Language
                                                                 by Peter Hyatt

Passivity in language can be used by someone who wishes to deceive, but resists the internal stress of a direct lie.

Herein are some examples that will help you flag passive portions of statements and raise the question, "Is the person unwilling or unable to bring himself to say he did it?"

The most common example is overly simplified but common:  "...the gun went off..." especially in domestic disputes where a gun has been fired.

A gun can go off while being cleaned, and inadvertently, one may be shot.

911:  "What is your emergency?"

Subject:  "I shot my wife while cleaning my gun.  She is bleeding, get here now! Oh my God!  You must help her.  What do I do? She is bleeding!"

In this call, what is the very first thing the caller wants the 911 operator to know?  The subject wants to know that his wife is shot.

911:  "What is your emergency?"

Subject:  "I was just cleaning my gun.  I am a hunter and a collector.  The weapon went off.  It was an accident.  Someone help me! She is bleeding."

In the second call, what is the caller's priority?

In the first call, the caller is most interested in getting help for his wife. In the second call, he is most concerned that this be seen as an accident, not only employing passive language, "the pistol went off" but the "gun" that was being cleaned, has now become a "weapon", (see Change of Language).  Notice also that the first caller uses the possessive pronoun "my" for his wife (good relationship) while the second caller deprives her of the title of "wife."

Even in more mundane circumstances we can find passivity in language used to conceal identity or to keep from taking responsibility.

In a nursing facility, a patient nearly choked to death.

An internal investigation was conducted as the doctor's orders have been made clear to all staff:  Every meal must be pureed for the patient.

On the day of the choking, the nurse was asked if she pureed the meal, as she was the only one attending to the patient at the time of the choking.

What did she say?

"The meal was pureed."

The staff serving the meal took a photo of it, on her phone camera, fearful of being blamed.  She had challenged the nurse saying, "This doesn't looked pureed" and later reported, "The nurse said that the sound of the blender sets the patient off" and she had gotten "special permission" from Dr. ********* to use a potato masher.

Dr. *******  said, "I did not give permission to anyone.  Without puree, she will choke to death."

The nurse was unable to bring herself to say "I pureed the meal" as a direct lie.  Instead, just like the weapon that appeared to fire itself, a meal will not put itself into a blender.

The photo confirmed that the meal had been mashed, but not pureed.

An internal investigation resulted in the termination of the liar.

Yet, for Statement Analysis:  She did not lie outright.  An outright lie is very rare.  She did not say "I pureed her meal" because she did not.  By saying "the meal was pureed" she employed passive language, which removes the pronoun "I" from the sentence, distancing herself from the actual responsibility of actually fulfilling the duty.

Meals do not puree themselves.
Guns do not kill people.
Cars do not hit other cars.

"A report was made" is to avoid the responsibility of saying, "I made the report."

Passivity is used to sometimes conceal identity.  It is appropriately used when identity is not known, therefore, expected.

Yet as parents of teenagers know, passivity is also used when one wishes to avoid a direct lie with the pronoun "I" within it.

19 comments:

john said...

I find quite difficult at times to pick up on some of the principles of SA on the fly, dropped pronouns etc. I do, however, find it easier to pick up on passivity in someones language.

I guess it is similar to dropping a pronoun?

Anonymous said...

Eye contact,,,

john said...

OT Update.

Myrtle Beach, Georgetown County police field reports from man identified in Heather Elvis report:

http://www.myhorrynews.com/news/crime/article_3c018162-98d4-11e3-b6e3-001a4bcf6878.html

Kellie Sue said...

OT

Thanks John for that link.

Snippets from recent post on FHE FB page

There will be justice, the guilty will suffer for the pain they have caused, if not by the legal system then surely by those who see the facts and are disgusted by the freedom of the guilty.

For those who brought this pain on our family there can be no escape, justice, vengeance, revenge, a reckoning, call it what you like, but know that it is coming for you in one form or another. It is coming sooner than later but it is coming, if not by my hand then by another, if not by law then by the lawless, if not by God then by man.

https://www.facebook.com/findheatherelvis/posts/246053095567420?stream_ref=10

john said...

Hi Kellie Sue,

Do you know the author of that posting.

I understand the family is hurting and they want to know what has happened to Heather. Yes, here is the but. That post is quite disturbing.

Kellie Sue said...

Yes John, I agree it's very disturbing. And there's been that sort of planting seeds of vengeance throughout this situation. I can only assume it was written by TE.

john said...

Full Text:

Another holiday has come and gone, uncelebrated, unnoticed and filled with confusion, worry, uncertainty and anger. someone out there has deprived Heather of valentines day, has robbed Heather's family of the joy associated with that holiday and has mocked justice, community and family again adding yet another day to our misery. No, we have not forgotten that our daughter, our first born girl is still missing, we have not allowed Heather's name or her situation to simply fade away. Those who are guilty still hide in the shadows in their minds but we all see thru their feeble attempts to cast doubt and blame while refusing to clear their names. Every day they draw breath while not behind bars or six feet under is a mockery of justice, it insults our family, our friends and every citizen of Horry County and beyond. Where is the grip of the legal system? Where is the conscience of our community? Where is our daughter Heather? How can anyone be so cruel as to drag this out more(er) and more(er) without any remorse? We endure the slander and cruel attacks while the guilty run free, vacationing here and there and thumbing their noses at everyone in Horry County.
There will be justice, the guilty will suffer for the pain they have caused, if not by the legal system then surely by those who see the facts and are disgusted by the freedom of the guilty. Yes, another holiday has passed our family by without celebration, yes the Christmas tree, presents and stockings still remain standing and hung, waiting for our missing daughter Heather to come home and start the celebration. For those who brought this pain on our family there can be no escape, justice, vengeance, revenge, a reckoning, call it what you like, but know that it is coming for you in one form or another. It is coming sooner than later but it is coming, if not by my hand then by another, if not by law then by the lawless, if not by God then by man. I can find no forgiveness in my heart for the evil you have wrought. Your actions have spoken for you even though your mouth would not, Heather's voice will not be extinguished and Heather's family will not rest until such time as the guilty are dragged from the shadows into the light for all to see and all to judge.
To those who have kept the faith and helped us endure, we are eternally thankful as a family, with the support of our community we will continue to fight for justice and strive to see a safer place to live, free from fear and free from those who would harm our loved ones.
God bless and keep each one of you as we seek the truth or go down trying.
Father in heaven, watch over our daughter Heather until you deliver her home safe to those who love and miss her and if you see fit Lord, curse those who seek to hide the truth and those who seek to distract from the truth with misery and dread in every second of every day until they beg for someone to hear their confession and relief from the pain as we do daily.
Amen.

https://www.facebook.com/findheatherelvis/posts/246053095567420?stream_ref=10

Kellie Sue said...

More OT for John :)

Interesting twist of adding the (er) to the word more. He is convinced that MoorER is guilty and he's calling out to those who have no respect for our legal system to exact revenge. This is what has made me uneasy about TE.

Anonymous said...

Peter, can I get you to look at this? I know people process things differently, but this just seems odd to me. It's a lengthy (11ish minutes) interview with the Mom of Hailey Owens. http://www.ky3.com/news/local/exclusive-interview-ky3s-steve-grant-talks-to-hailey-owens-mother/21048998_24583508

Apple said...

John,
I have difficulty with SA if the statements are not in writing.
Regarding the OT, he is showing more restraint than I would.

Lemon said...

Word.

floridamomma said...

Peter... I've heard a "drunken mouth speaks truth".... would it hold the same for a drugged mind,, I do believe I'd be medicated if my child we're kidnapped, raped and murdered.

Kellie Sue said...

Apple said...
Regarding the OT, he is showing more restraint than I would.

*******************************
I don't what I would do in TE's shoes. BUT I've always heard, 2 wrongs don't equal a right. What if, in spite of all the seeming evidence, Moorer isn't guilty? What if Moorer is killed and because everyone is convinced he's the guilty party the real guilty party is left to roam free and do more damage?

Anonymous said...

floridamomma, I have no doubt that she's telling the truth. I would also be medicated. I'm sorry if it came across that way. My issue is that it kind of makes what I thought I understood about body language and statement analysis come into question. Although, I did note that she slipped back and forth from present to past tense when speaking of Hailey which is understandable for a mother struggling to comprehend it.

What caused my questioning was, she doesn't refer to Hailey by name, although she does call her "my daughter," I have always seen lack of a name as a negative in cases like Ayla, but we know this grieving mother is not guilty but she doesn't mention her name.

She starts out saying that she never let her walk alone and then says that she and her friend did this every day and met each other halfway.

Also, she doesn't make good eye contact, shows "inappropriate" emotion, etc... I guess what I'm saying is, if we didn't know for a fact that this poor woman was innocent, would I watch the same video and think she was possibly involved?

Anonymous said...

Tammy Caison Moorer
2 hours ago

Enough is enough and today this family will start filing charges against everyone we possibly can. I will no longer feel sorry for you or let ignorance be your excuse.

With that being said, we do NOT owe this to any of you, but here are the FACTS!

Sidney cooperated with HCPD from the second he was contacted. He spoke with them on the phone, and voluntarily went over to the offices in Conway to speak with detectives in person.

That same day I allowed HCPD to come inside our home to take a look around. They also asked to look through our Mickey camper and I granted them permission.

In addition, three search warrants were also served. One for telephones, one for surveillance, and one for our vehicle. Both the Moorer house and Caison house were looked at during this time.

https://www.facebook.com/tcaisonmoorer?fref=ts

http://www.myhorrynews.com/news/crime/article_3c018162-98d4-11e3-b6e3-001a4bcf6878.html

Apple said...

Kellie Sue said:

I don't what I would do in TE's shoes. BUT I've always heard, 2 wrongs don't equal a right. What if, in spite of all the seeming evidence, Moorer isn't guilty? What if Moorer is killed and because everyone is convinced he's the guilty party the real guilty party is left to roam free and do more damage?
---------

Kellie Sue,
You are right. It is not the right way to go about things.
But I stand by my words: he is showing more restraint than I would.

Good to *see* you, Lemon. My gangsta friend :)

Lemon said...

~ waves @ Apple ~

Jen Ow said...

Hi Kellie Sue,

I agree two wrongs don't make a right, but I doubt that anyone in TE's position is prone to rational thinking.

God have mercy on anyone who I believed held the answers about what happened to my missing child. I shudder to think what I might be capable of doing.

Maggie said...

I believe it is likely the Moorer's were involved in Heather's disappearance. I don't fault Terry Elvis for not showing more restraint. What I do think is this: True anger or desire for vengeance is raw. Certainly, bringing God into it, is understandable or calling on some Biblical passages. However, these fire and brimstone sermons Terry has been writing on FB (and I do not say that sarcastically, that is what they are), something about them does not evoke true emotion. A preacher speaks this way to convince his congregation that "God is an angry God", "an injustice has been done", etc. To me, this is not the expected from a crime victim. What I would expect would be personally addressing the person (people) Terry Elvis suspects. I would expect a direct assertion of "I know you are responsible", etc etc. For example, think of Desiree Young who personally and very directly will call out and name Terri Horman and specifically state what is she is angry about. Just my opinion, something seems strange.