Sunday, November 22, 2015
Mental Disturbance and Language
In studying the language of Davey Blackburn, husband of murder victim Amanda Blackburn, I have come to a conclusion about his use of pronouns and it is consistent with the principles of Statement Analysis.
The change from "I" to "we" is a signal of guilt.
That he makes this unusual change consistently affirms the principle.
This leads to an unanswered question:
What is the source of the guilt?
Topic: Hospital Violence.
Purpose: A view into the rarity of mental disturbance impacting pronouns.
A mentally disabled patient went out of control with violence. Lengthy history of assaulting hospital workers including serious injuries. This time, he came out of the confrontation with hospital professionals with injuries, claiming assault.
The subject's mental disability was such that it was visible to the public before he spoke. When he spoke, he spoke slowly, halting on some words, with "fantastical" language from the fantasy books, including religious writings, and was something he perseverated on all during the day, so much so that hospital employees knew which words to never use in his presence, lest he explode in anger.
I: Are you going to attack me?
This was my first question. I was told to not ask questions while looking him right in the eye, but I have to also consider my own safety and looked slightly away while asking, but quickly right to his eyes for his answer.
Although we must avoid introducing new language that can contaminate the interview, I have been assaulted and know that assailants will often reveal their intentions if asked. In prison interviews with very violent, explosive impulse control type inmates, I have asked many times,
"Are you going to kill me?" which often produced a comedic break in tension and allowed me to conduct the interview. The times I have been assaulted have all come with some form of verbal warning that I knew to 'take a break' but ignored the warning.
The principles of Analytical Interviewing are like the principles of Statement Analysis: they guide us, but we are not slaves to them. There comes a time where the exception may arise, and we consider the building blocks of Statement Analysis to be like firm clay: strong, but still pliable. The skill and experience of an investigator, including his training, but more importantly, his "on the fly" interviewing, thrives on training. I liken it to a swords fight.
The warrior is skillful in both offense and defense with the sword. The training hones his sword with sharpness he never dreamed possible.
In reviewing the subject's history, the word "attack" was in his personal dictionary quite often. It was "his" word and the familiarity might assist me in lessening his defensiveness and overall discomfort.
Subject: "No. You pose no evil threat to us. The doctor has informed us that you are here only to help us and to combat the forces of evil that are arrayed against us. She says you are good, a good man, Peter Hyatt, you are good, and not going to side against Gabriel and the forces of evil. You would not be the type to think that you would stand against the mighty Gabriel who delivers the message of force that we must hear. You are a good man, aren't you, Peter Hyatt and not among the forces of evil?"
I nodded my head in agreement but knew to avoid the very many 'normal' questions I would ask, specifically, exploring the relationship he has with the psychiatrist. The unpredictability of his mental state precluded me following my normal protocol. We must remain flexible.
I: "Tell me what happened?"
This and "what happened, next?" are my "magic questions", which often leads to expressions of strong disappointment of the audience of investigators. I ask them to "hang in there" and eventually reveal the keys to obtaining confessions, but they must learn to crawl before they sprint. Those with Reid training do exceptionally well as these things come together and fall into place nicely for them.
I noted the use of my name, in full, and this did not follow the 'law of economy' to "Peter" but remained the same throughout the interview. When he was leaving to go back to his room (under the watchful eyes of two large attendants, he said, "thank you, Peter" with no affect. The psychiatrist said she was shocked and that for whatever reason, he trusted me. She said that in all the years of treatment, she, herself, was the only other person he had spoken to this way.
The interview was surprisingly lengthy and I had a large table that provided me with a small sense of security as a barrier. The psychiatrist also stated that she was surprised how long he stayed with me, as mostly, after 15 or 20 minutes, he simply stands up and walks back to his room to read. She also commented about how little I spoke. In Analytical Interviewing, we say only 20% or less of the words spoken: the subject has information that I seek and the more I talk the less I receive.
Subject: "We were gathered together against him with all our might and we knew his evil intentions and sorcery before it began. Demonic forces, such as Michelangelo painted were in full battle array"
I: "What began?"
"it began" is passive and did not match the marred face before me, even though he had more than 24 hours for the swelling to begin to recede. Sometimes with close up assaults, the victim is so acutely impacted by the assault that it 'continues' to impact him psychologically. This is often the case of sexual assault. It 'began' but it is not 'over.'
In Analytical Interviewing we generally jump on each new word introduced for clarity, but in the case of mental illness, this would have been only a tangent, and may have actually provoked him. If I were to ask about Allah, Buddha and Gabriel he could have even have seen this as challenging. He read all day and all night.
Subject: "He punched me in the left leg. He kicked me in the right upper leg. We knew that evil was prevailing and that demons were laughing and Allah and Gabriel were not there to help us in this time, as a message did not get through to them by Lucifer's own hand. . He punched me in the right cheek. He held my hair back. He punched me in the face. He is a demon under Beelzebub and many demons have authority unknown to most but we know what authority comes from the holy books we read. He sat on my chest punching my face. I could not breath. "
The subject was a mentally disabled male describing an assault that that taken place against him, while alone, as he was acutely beaten.
Each short sentence about the assault matched the physical evidence. The interview of the assailant, although it produced no admission, overwhelmed with detail, and justice obtained for the mentally ill victim. This is a major element of Analytical Interviewing: even without an admission, the truth comes out and persuades judges, juries, district attorneys, police, human resources, and those in some form of legal judgment. The "Analytical Report" is written using Statement Analysis to reduce the document as truth is persuades the reader far more than persuasive language, which often weakens the assertion. This is essential for investigators who want the assistant district attorneys to agree. It is powerful protection for companies under fraudulent suits.
As to differing between mental illness and psychological, and everything in between, I must leave to others, but state something important:
Upon meeting the victim, mental disturbance is immediately discerned by all, as the handicap is obvious.
The defense used the bizarre language to discredit the victim who had been severely beaten by those who were charged with caring for him. The testimony of the short sentences, all without fantastical language was strong, and it allowed for the forensics of the case not only to be entered, but compared to the defendant's own statements.
Because the defendant could not lie outright, he simply 'edited out' the critical information. What remained was most always truthful and it was stitched together:
Side by Side with the victim's fantastical statement for a perfect fit.
Then, the two statements were compared to the photographic evidence of the injuries. Perfect.
The Defendant's statement was placed next to the Victim's, which was next to the photographs which was then placed next to the medical professional's testimony of the injuries suffered.
Language is the verbalized perception of reality; not reality, itself.
If you are able to picture this in your mind:
A B C D
Defendant Victim Photo Medical
(affirmations of activity
to assist patient out of control) (description of assault) (actual injuries) (impact)
The defendant told the truth, line by line, in his written statement and was "deception indicated" in the suppressing of information. This was not a difficult analytical conclusion and is typical: the remaining information is valuable for content.
Next, I separated, in the transcript of the audio, the fantastical sentences that were very lengthy (emotion) from the short (logic, or intellect) statements.
The defendant's description of the "intervention" matched the victim's description of the "assault." Remember, language is the subject's own verbalized perception of reality but it is not reality, itself.
The photographic evidence matched both the defendant and the victim's assertion. This is why a deceptive indicated written statement is so valuable and must be studied for content. Statement Analysis 101 is "truth or deception" only and does not move to:
Anonymous Author Identification.
Lastly, the medical doctor's findings, which included minute detail on force, location, impact, etc, tied up the entire case and justice, to some degree, was obtained for the victim.
My superiors said that had it not been for the formal training I had received years earlier, even with the photographic evidence, the defense might have prevailed because:
a. the victim was incapable of taking the stand A single 'trigger' sentence would have caused him to literally attack the judge;
b. the defense would have been able to discredit the entire testimony of the victim by keeping it as one. As I separated it plainly, I spoke of percentages of likely being reliable and what research has shown with pronouns.
Conclusions: It is very rare that the intuitive nature of pronouns is disrupted in analysis.
As readers consider this, they may listen to themselves and realize how powerful and reliable pronouns are.
An Anonymous reader wrote:
"Sometimes I use "we" in a cowardly way when it would be more honest to say "I". Here's when: Sometimes I call restaurants and say "We were wondering if you have vegetarian options on your lunch buffet today?" but there is no "we" b/c it's just me! I do it because I feel like I'm bothering them with my call, and saying "we" makes the call seem more worthwhile / less of an imposition.
November 22, 2015 at 8:56 AM "
This is an astute and strongly self-aware comment. Frequently, commentators do not realize how much of themselves they reveal in their comments, including a form of 'deception' using passive-aggressive language.
Understanding oneself in language is an exciting journey. Recall the "pronoun test" where you are incapable of remembering what you had for lunch two weeks ago, but can recall, without pre thought, whether to begin a 20+ year old story with "I" or "we", intuitively.
In a study on leadership, an author concluded that "leaders do not use the pronoun "I."
He studied hundreds of emails of CEO's and found that they most often did not use "I" in them. One does not need imagination to consider how many 'future leaders' are now avoiding using the pronoun "I" in emails to others.
The study failed to consider context and human nature.
They use "I" only when things are going well.
When correcting, or delivering negative news, they use "we" most always, except when they drop the pronouns entirely. When it comes time to announce an increase in sales, or in something positive, the pronoun "I" appears. It is human nature. It is similar to 'hiding' in the pronoun 'we' from embarrassment, guilt, and can give the feeling of protection by being part of a crowd. This is why guilt is often found in pronouns.
In the Amanda Blackburn murder, the issue is this:
The principle of Statement Analysis remains.
Guilt has caused a change in pronouns, but what is the source of guilt?
It will either be:
Guilt from an association with the killer; or
Guilt because he is glad to be freed from a marriage which did not bring him the anticipated "success" from his business.
The "guilt of pronoun" tells us that it is one or the other.
Each video performance has affirmed this principle, including:
a. degradation of the victim, complaints, over talking, corrections and humiliation via embarrassing sexual detail;
b. violence in language
c. visual demonstration of violence in performance with gun
d. Strong verbal warning that wives may hinder ministry
e. Amanda's own testimony of unhappy marriage due to Davey's career obsession
f. Davey's obsession with success, evidenced by negatively comparing 'salvation' to numbers in attendance;
Davey's quote of the numbers who attended memorial service via online access
g. Davey's specific complaint, within marriage about pregnancy as trigger, while Amanda was pregnant while murdered.
h. Davey's refusal to say "I love Amanda" or "I loved Amanda" as well as his refusal to connect, linguistically, love to or from her to their child.
i. Davey's statement that Amanda died to advertise his work
j. Davey's use of her death to repeatedly advertise his company or 'church'
k. Davey's repeated pragmatism regarding his success: he will do what it takes
l. Davey's priority revealed in language of his personal success, even using advertising slogans in his 'memorials' of his murdered ex wife.
m. Davey's distancing language from the highly intrusive and personal murder of his wife.
This list could continue but the linguistic evidence is conclusive:
Davey Blackburn's language indicates powerful guilt in the murder of his wife. It is the specific source of guilt that must be known.
We all use the pronoun "we" when we feel the need to share, or the need to be part of a crowd, including embarrassment and guilt.
I hope the 911 call is released.
I have never come across a stranger use of the pronoun "we" by someone with Blackburn's intelligence.
Principle is established upon norm, not exception.
The principle of "guilt" within the pronoun remains.
We must learn the source of guilt. The Fox Interview allowed for Blackburn to deny association with the killer, but he did not avail himself. The 911 call may help us answer the question:
"What is the source of guilt?"
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