Monday, February 16, 2015
The Psychology of a Reliable Denial
The initial incredulity gives way to those amazing "aha!" moments as famous case after famous case is put on a large overhead projector for attendees to see for themselves.
Police may struggle more than human resource professionals, but medical professionals, however, (along with social services) grasp it readily, perhaps due to exposure to addiction.
Addiction, in the business world, is characterized by aggression, hostility and paranoia. The money a CEO can pull in yields the power of purchase, and cocaine seems to be the landing point. When the addict goes to medical appointments, ripe in denial, the medical professional is on the front line of hearing all sorts of unreliable denials, as the brain does its best to protect itself from being exposed and the source interrupted. Employees suffer under the unholy trinity of behavior, particularly the paranoia. The confusion and irrational decision making process, or simply, the lies told, wreak havoc with not only the business, but the lives functioning within the business.
For these, the reliable denial's "aha" moment comes earlier than it does in law enforcement.
The reliability of such a denial is quite high, and if coupled with affirmation, comes as close to 100% as I can describe. The reason for the stumbling of words here is the "no man can lie twice" rule where:
1. The subject did it, but is able to give a reliable denial
2. The subject addresses his lie directly with, "I told the truth."
I have not encountered this in my lifetime.
I have not heard from any analyst who has encountered this in his or her lifetime.
I have not received word from anyone, including casual readers, of this phenomena being broken.
Thus, my struggle with percentages. For whatever reason:
1. The one who "did it" but is able to say "I didn't do it", being so very rare, is unable to
2. Look upon his lie, and lie about it.
Something within the psyche of the liar wishes to avoid lying about his lie.
I know, I know, but go with the statistics.
Back to the reliable denial.
It seems ridiculous to believe, at least at first, that a man who killed someone would be hesitant to stand before a television camera and say, "I didn't kill her", but it is true.
As overly simplistic as it may seem, it makes perfect sense psychologically for the guilty to avoid issuing a reliable denial.
"I didn't kill her" would be a very strong denial. We would need to ask, "Why should we believe you?" listening for the affirmation of the statement with, "Because I told the truth."
We cut off any 'retreat' possibilities, such as,
"If you didn't kill her, did the drugs kill her?" in overdose death cases.
We note that a Reliable Denial consists of:
1. The pronoun "I"
This must be present. "Didn't do it" or "didn't kill nobody" avoids using the pronoun "I", which is the one of the strongest and easiest words in the English language for a human to use. It is one that the human has been using his entire life and needs no pre-thought. It is instinctive.
Recently, a news story covered a murder case in which the police testified that a man had killed his girlfriend. The suspect responded, in court, to the police officer with the following statement:
"Everything he said, basically, is a lie."
Let's look at it again:
"Everything he said, basically, is a lie"
1. "Everything" is all inclusive. The officer would have to have testified to the subject's name, for example, and date, and address, etc, which means that some things must be truthful, negating "everything" being a lie. When something is all inclusive, it can be readily tested. This is why some will refer to a failed polygraph and say "I told the truth" as they consider the truthful answers to:
Is your name...?
but lied about "did you...?"
2. "Everything" is similar to the word "never" in denials.
"I never used PEDs" said Lance Armstrong, even as he was drugging. The word "never" is often substituted by deceptive people, replacing the past tense verb, "didn't" (or "did not").
IF the phrase "never" is used after a reliable denial is issued, it is appropriate, but if it is only used as a substitute, it is not reliable. In fact, it speaks to vagueness of time, rather than something specifically addressed. This is critical, psychological, as the spreading out of time, eases the guilt, similar to how guilty parties feel less alone and responsible when they use the word "we", to 'share' guilt.
Psychologically, it is easy to issue a reliable denial. It has emotional weight to it, due to the confidence behind it. It puts the 'burden of proof', emotionally, upon someone else because the subject knows that the more it is investigated, the more it will be seen that he did not do it.
We sometimes look for angry responses from the innocent, especially as time passes.
"What would you say if I told you it appears that you are lying?" is met by:
"I would say you're not very good at your job", in many different ways.
When I have a reliable denial, I often ask this question and write the response. It is helpful in future cases and training.
"It is not possible. I told you the truth" is also commonly heard.
What else have innocent people told me?
"Get a new job, You're an idiot. Impossible. I didn't lie, I told you the truth. Its your problem. Keep digging; you'll see."...and much more.
3. "basically" is a word used to differentiate among other thoughts. It is to avoid saying, "everything he said is a lie", using the additional word, "basically" (which takes more effort for the brain, going against the 'law of economy' that states the shortest sentence is best.
"This is a lie" is not as strong as "this is not true" , which is stronger. By saying "basically", he is acknowledging that there are "basic" things within the testimony against him that are not "lies."
"Everything he said is basically a lie", therefore, not only is unreliable in the form of a denial, but acknowledges that there is truth within the accusations against him.
It is likely that some detail, perhaps small or insignificant, is not true, but the murder accusation, itself, is true.
Next up, I will answer the question posed to me about volunteering my services for attorneys who seek to overturn wrongful convictions...