Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Statement Analysis Lesson: PTSD, Language, Donald McCarthy on D-Day Invasion

            Donald McCarthy statement regarding D-Day Invasion of which he participated.

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.  

25 comments:

Marigoldsandviolets said...

I wish you had a suggestion box like Eyes does, Peter! I'd like to see what you make of Officer Wilson's grand jury testimony: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2848666/In-unedited-officer-Darren-Wilson-s-account-happened-day-shot-dead-Michael-Brown.html

john said...

Peter,

Does this mean that we should tread carefully when someone issues a statement and switches from past to present tense, if the event, was a traumatic event, for the person whom is talking ? And the longer the passage of time, is it more likely or not, to be considered a form of (PTSD). And, what about (PTSD) when an event doesn't directly involve the person giving the statement. Is it, that they, although are not directly involved will play it out in their own minds ?

I hope i explained that properly, i was getting confused myself.

Not including statements from parents of missing children, who slip into past tense very early on when their son/daughter goes missing.

Maybe said...

Off topic
http://www.people.com/article/bill-cosby-jena-t-accuser-says-pressured-for-sex-act

Sus said...

Peter,
Have you read Darrin Wilson's testimony to the Grand Jury? He uses present and past tense in his account. I wondered if it is PTSD.

Skeptical said...

Donald McCarthy's clinging to his helmet reminds me of an account I read about the prisoners liberated from the death camps. They were unable to sleep until someone had the idea to give them a crust of bread to take to bed with them. They were then able to sleep through the night.

GetThem said...

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. ______

He speaks in the present tense when he thinks the "kid" is alive. This would be where PTSD comes in to play.________

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._______
Here the PTSD kicks into past tense because this is where the brain is realizing the "kid" is dead.

"We were survivors." What pain in his memories.

GeekRad said...

So how does one distinguish between changing tenses due to trauma or due to deception? In particular, someone who may be traumatized about a murdered loved one vs. having murdered them. I guess other factors such as pronouns and reliable denials?

Anonymous said...

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. * Yes, his suffering is his owned. PTSD or not, this is what he cannot rectify is what haunts him.

His statements are his guilt of not what he did not do, it's of what he did do. He bailed on his brothers.

"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.

This is my helmet, yes, it is what did save his life from drowning. It did not save him from being shot at, in open enemy fire.

"Now there's a kid next to me and I thought he had just come up with me" No, see because this Kid remained in the boat and was of active, he a gunner. He without his chin strap on, he was shot and killed before he hit the water. He, this kid, he calls him, was dead. He to use his dead body as a human shield, over himself. They both in the water.

My chin strap was on when I went over the side of the boat. I went in headfirst. The air that accumulated in my helmet pulled me back to the surface. That's when I said, 'hey, I'm up.'

He then states all that is left of what he had on. He: I got rid of everything. He to remain in his little 29th division jacket, that's all I've got on. How much does anyone want to bet, he was peeling off his weight as they rode the boat towards the zone of what was to become: Hell

He 20, his thinking, my dad's going to kill me, I've lost my camera. He wasn't at Disney, he was enlisted in the Army, during war.

He continues, Now there's a kid next to me, not my brother. I am saying to him 'cmon, swim swim' this fallen brother of his troop, he at 90 still contains him, as a kid. As if they are on the playground at school. This is him distancing himself from guilt.

Upon they being sent out into the water, he McCarthy tapped out. His recall that this guy was to him a superman of sorts, when he wasn't. He was active in duty, killed in duty, when McCarthy was thinking of himself. How to save himself, it was his priority. As he first states what he was left wearing before he entered head first into the water. He dove into the water, head first.

His helmet, the chin strap on, this created his floatation device, as he was taught the endless purposes for a helmet in combat. He peeled off his exterior weight, snapped the strap closed, to dive into the water.

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."

He with forethought, he not wounded, he used the kids (not his brother) dead body to shield himself. He not once says he tried to save his brother, his brothers fighting. He wasn't one of them. 20, scared shxtless, he bailed.

You never leave a brother behind, was not of McCarthy's equation mindset. He was out of the boat, before enemy fire, not after.

His helmet he carries is his symbol of his cowardice, not his service. He to survive. The dead kills, because they dead were, past tense, the Heroes. WE, third person, were survivors.

Anonymous said...

Audio, Video, Donald McCarthy, Vets share, the experience D-day

http://www.wwiifoundation.org/2014/09/27/don-mccarthy-and-morley-piper-29th-infantry-division-d-day/

Sus said...

I looked at his testimony again to see exactly when he uses present tense. Consistently it's the parts where he wasn't in control of the situation, when he couldn't get out of the car, while being hit. When he's "fighting back" or doing something, he tells it in past. Interesting.

Anonymous said...

http://www.vox.com/2014/11/25/7281165/darren-wilsons-story-side

Could you please analysise Darren Wilsons statement to police following shooting of Mike Brown?

the original police statement has just been released - to much criticism.

Anonymous said...

I was doing the, just scrambling, trying to get his arms out of my face and him from grabbing me and everything else. He turned to his...if he's at my vehicle, he turned to his left and handed the first subject. He said, "here, take these." He was holding a pack of — several packs of cigarillos which was just, what was stolen from the Market Store was several packs of cigarillos. He said, "here, hold these" and when he did that I grabbed his right arm trying just to control something at that point. Um, as I was holding it, and he came around, he came around with his arm extended, fist made, and went like that straight at my face with his...a full swing from his left hand.


- Darren Wilson

Anonymous said...

"if he's at my vehicle"

doesn't the "if" indicate lack of commitmetn to his own account

Anonymous said...

Anonymous November 25, 2014 at 3:17 PM,

Enlightening. What you wrote was hard to read. They are accusations against him. This must be like the accusations he makes against himself and lives with and even tries to hide from. All these years, quietly suffering, self-accusing, self-excusing. So, then, is it GUILT? He has PTSD, but is he also GUILTY in his mind? Is his language that of a guilty person? Some PTSD may have no guilt, and some may not? Is the language different at all?

Anonymous said...

I meant to say, Some PTSD sufferers may have guilt, and some may not. And I meant military PTSD, whether their guilt is warranted or not, some may feel a sense of guilt and others may not, and would their language reflect that?

Sus said...

Darren Wilson actually said, "if this is my car door..." He must have been gesturing to show positions. Also most of that part is said in present tense, not past.

I tried to paste the actual documents to here, but I can't get them. They are on the CNN interactive site, on their cloud. His testimony is volume 5, page 195.

Sus said...

I apologize Anon. I thought you were speaking about Darren Wilson's grand Jury testimony. Instead it's his initial interview. The quote is as you wrote it.

Anonymous said...

Apology accepted :) in his original statement to police (exerpt above) he stops mid sentense a lot. and changes language in each case not finishing what he was about to say. Is this not an indication of deception?

Anonymous said...

Darren wilsons police statement sounds like a guy trying to re shape events to decieve and avoid culpability. so much language to
essentially say - he hit me first. If the shortest answer is the best/most. honest - why does he ramble.

Anonymous said...

The thing I find most interesting in the Darren Wilson statements is that initially Wilson said he was unaware of the robbery at the convenience store where Brown had stolen a box of cigars at the time he saw Browne walking down the middle of the street with his friend and warned them to get to the sidewalk.

If I am to understand his detailed subsequent statement of events, Wilson says he was aware that Browne had committed the convenience store robbery at the time of the altercation that led to the shooting of Browne?

If this is true, then Wilson is lying.

Anonymous said...

I think it is neat how he says, MY camera, until he realizes how his dad will kill him for losing it..then it is THE camera.

Peter Hyatt said...

Geekrad,

yes, the entire analysis is taken into consideration after looking at the context of the change of verb tense.

It is something that should be used cautiously.


Marigold: I hope to do analysis of Darren Wilson's interview soon. Likely I will do just the critical portions.

Peter

Peter Hyatt said...

John,

you are correct: "tread carefully..."

We see it in the language of vets and sexual abuse victims.

I am not comfortable stretching it out to other areas, even though the areas may be traumatic.

Here is why:

with PTSD we are looking at a hormonal rise that should be very short, but remains elevated for several seconds and in some cases, even minutes. With sex abuse victims, the brain can "disassociate" with causes life long problems later.

It is very complex therefore...

and the conclusions...

and the studies....

limit it to these two traumatic events.

Peter

GeekRad said...

Thank you Peter. Happy Thanksgiving

Anonymous said...

Could his language/trauma be due to what is called "Survivor's Guilt" which could be confused in his mind with cowardice, but is not the same thing?