Tuesday, November 25, 2014
Statement Analysis Lesson: PTSD, Language, Donald McCarthy on D-Day Invasion
The interview is 70 years after the event, meaning that the subject has had a long period of time to:
a. process the information
b. have memory issues due to both time and age
Mr. McCarthy was 90 years old at the time of this statement. Given the length of time, would he still be impacted by what he experienced as a 20 year old?
Interviewed for a documentary, he held his helmut in his hands while speaking.
Statement Analysis Lesson: PTSD and Language
Note the strong past tense language indicating truth, yet look at the present tense language which is deemed in analysis as unreliable.
This is where the skill of the analyst must come in to make a judgement call. Yet in Mr. McCarthy's own statement, we find the answer:
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) symptoms entering his language.
"This is my helmut. It is something I have to have with me all the time. My chin strap was on when I went over the side of the boat. I went in headfirst. The air that accumulated in my helmut pulled me back to the surface. That's when I said, 'hey, I'm up.' I got my CO belt, I got rid of everything. All I have gone is my little 29th Division jacket. That's all I got on. That's it. The combat jacket is gone, my rifle is gone, my camera is gone. I'm thinking, 'Son of a gun, my dad will kill me because I lost the camera. '"
From both the video and the wording, it appears that his suffering was so acute that he may have taken his helmut with him everywhere he went, which would include his employment.
Next, he described the exiting of the landing craft into the water, where the weather had blown paratroopers up to 11 miles off the planned landing area, where many drowned. Although on the boat, the weather conditions were such as to impact the boat location and the ability of soldiers to swim to shore.
"Now there's a kid next to me and I thought he had just come up with me. I later found out that he had drowned, but I was talking to him, just as close as I am talking to you. I'm talking to him in the water, I am saying 'cmon, swim swim' and he's not saying anything to me. I grabbed him on the shoulder and I pulled him along with me. Initially, I was pulling him because I was using him as a safety net. I wasn't doing it as any favor to him. I was doing it as a favor to me. This bothered the hell out of me for a long years, 25 years it bothered me. That's been the main part of my whole life. That the dead kills because they were the heroes. We were survivors."
"I grabbed him on the shoulder and I pulled him along with me" is a strong sentence, indicating veracity. This is in the midst of sentences in which present tense verbs are used. He then gives us the explanation of how this "bothered the hell out of me", that is, similar to an unprocessed traumatic thought being replayed by the brain, without closure: suffering.
Although he puts the suffering at "25 years", his language suggests to us that his suffering continues to the date of this interview.
Note the progression regarding "a kid"
1. "I thought" is strong, past tense. This now becomes:
2. "I was talking" and not "I talked" or "I spoke", suggesting more information within this past tense event. Yet the language turns completely to present tense:
3. "I'm talking to him"
Is this deception?
The answer is found within understanding how the brain processes information, and how the high level of hormones to the brain, at the time of the incident, leaves an impression upon the brain. (see "Ghosts from the Nursery" on how domestic violence may cause intrusion into the brains of infants when their parents are involved in violence).
This is consistent with the interview in which he visibly breaks down in his description.
Like other PTSD sufferer's, he would like to believe it is "over", but his words and his body reaction show us that the suffering continues. We saw something similar in the victim's statement of the Bill Cosby sexual assault case.
The change from strong past tense to present tense in context is not deception. It is the impact of trauma that is unresolved in the brain, showing itself in the language.
The subject, Donald McCarthy, is truthful about the event. He continues, to this day, to suffer from what he experienced.