Monday, September 1, 2014
Advanced Statement Analysis: Emotions in a Statement
by Peter Hyatt
Emotions within a statement are always important. We note the words chosen, and compare the emotions with the event, seeking to measure if the emotional reaction equates the event. In those who suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), a seemingly 'over reaction' can be the expected.
We carefully note the placement of the emotions.
PTSD, in a basic snap shot, means that a person experienced a traumatic event where hormone levels sky-rocketed, but did not recede immediately, leaving behind an imprint on the brain that is like an almost non-processed thought, that is, one that lingers and causes a reaction.
Sexual abuse victims who were sexually abused very early in life suffer from a myriad of issues in life, PTSD being, perhaps, the least of them. Those who were sexually abused in the developing years of their lives, even when no physical pain was experienced, are, statistically, many times more likely to:
a. become promiscuous or frigid (extremes), either following an early brain pattern which did not develop boundaries, or that which utterly shuts down from contact.
b. depression and non-situational anxiety
c. commit suicide
d. abuse alcohol or drugs (in short, engage in dangerous behaviors which not only fulfill a desire to punish oneself, but also sparks the rapid increase in adrenaline)
e. become hyper-vigilant
f. experience body perception issues
and even to have diminished immune systems, which leads to higher rates of all types of illnesses, including cancers. There are more serious issues than I can list here.
All of which is to say:
These things can emerge in language. The analyst must be open-minded, and remember the principle taught by Avinoam Sapir:
we do not conclude deception on a single indicator.
When I speak of "unprocessed thought", I do not know if this is literal, because it may be better to say "successfully processed" thought, one in which the brain has brought to resolution. For some, it is unprocessed (especially victims who were sexually molested before speech development) as without language, the brain "remembers" but resolution remains at bay, since there are no words to formulate.
I spoke to a man who described his children.
The first born graduated from seminary and became a brilliant Presbyterian minister.
The second became an educator, also with an advanced degree.
The third became a 'never-do'will', often addicted to various drugs, chronically unemployed, and sometimes even homeless.
The children were all raised in the same manner, in the same environment and with the same level of devotion.
The third was adopted as a baby, having experienced sexual abuse as an infant.
...as an infant.
Disciplined children are less likely to end up in prison and as our nation reacted to physical child abuse, a la Dr. Spock, spanking became anathema, as 'reasoning' with a 2 year old, and a myriad of disciplinary techniques were embraced (and often enforced by the State via CPS), one of our nation's most lucrative growth industry was incarceration.
Being struck in anger, rather than loving correction, is child abuse, and one extreme is often replaced by another.
For years, the sound of a belt being unbuckled would cause me to pause with momentary fright. I spoke of it, several times, to Heather, and eventually noticed, years ago, that the brain connection of that sound, with fright, disappeared.
It appears to have been 'processed' through my brain.
Therefore, if I were to write out a statement about a belt, what might you think when you read words that are emotionally descriptive?
Another example of minor PTSD (for the purpose of understanding, and not a diagnosis) to help you understand is this:
Picture yourself driving your car when suddenly someone cuts you off.
You squeeze the steering wheel and slam on the brakes. You feel a flush of emotions, recognizing that it is a hormonal rush.
You then 'reason with yourself', that is, the brain 'sees' and recognizes that you are safe, and immediately you exhale and can often literally feel the quick recession of the hormones. If the hormones did not recede (the same healthy 'fight or flight' hormones that can save your life, prepare you for physical trauma, increase your vision, increase your sense of smell, increase your hearing, cause better nighttime vision, control the flow of blood to protect the body from excessive bleeding, and so on!), the healthy hormones would now begin to damage your brain, and even your organs. (for another article).
The hormones went down quickly because your brain signaled that you were safe.
Hormones that stay elevated, perhaps for just a second or two longer, will leave an impact on the brain. (This is why I beg parents to keep pornography away from their children)
The longer the hormones stay elevated, the greater the impact, and the greater potential for trauma related issues.
This research has shown ("Ghosts in the Nursery") that when an infant sees, hears (senses) domestic violence between parents, the infant does not posses the faculties to process the fear and the hormones do not recede quickly, hence...
damage that we do not know how to measure.
All this is coming back to Statement Analysis, so please hang in there.
Emotions in Statement Analysis can give us much information. There is one particular focus that we note in open statements that can help discern between truth and deception:
The location of the emotion in a statement.
Think of a traumatic event that has happened to you. If this event just took place, the truthful recollection will follow the brain pattern:
II. Main Event
III. Post Event
"I was walking to the store to buy cigarettes when a man approached me and asked me if I knew what time it was. I thought this odd because he had a cell phone and everyone has some form of time on them, even if they don't wear watches. I told him it was 3 o'clock and he said to me to give him all of the money. I was so scared so I gave the cash in my wallet to him. He left and I called 911."
Experienced readers will recognize that there are some real problems with the above statement, but let's first break it down to the three components:
I. Introduction. The introduction is the portion before the main event. The main event is robbery.
"I was walking to the store to buy cigarettes" is the section that comes before the main event.
II. The robbery is the main event, "he said to me to give him all of the money"
III. The post event is "He left and I called 911"
Lets concentrate on the location of emotions.
Principle: When emotions are placed in the 'perfect' or logical part of the story, it may be an indication that they have been placed there artificially.
Why is this?
Think of this story:
"It was a dark and rainy night, and as I walked down the alley way, the hair on the back of my neck stood up..."
The piloerection, a hormonal reaction, reads like a great story. It is used by gifted story tellers. It is not, however, something that we will hear from a subject shortly after the event took place.
Because it takes time for the brain to process.
"I was walking to the store when a man told me to give him my money. I gave it to him and called 911. I was scared."
On its structure, there are no indicators of deception in the above. The emotions came afterwards, as it takes time for humans to process.
There are some great examples of artificial placement of emotions in the statements that were made by Tiffany Hartley, who reported that her husband, David Hartley, was shot dead by Mexican pirates while jet skiing on Falcon Lake in Texas.
Her husband, David, was indeed shot dead. Her deception may be related to what she and her husband were doing there, perhaps on a drug purchase. Or, perhaps, she was more directly involved, but in any case, she was deceptive and refused to take a polygraph. Beginning with her 911 call, and each appearance on television, she was deceptive, and could not keep her story straight.
She placed her emotions in the part of the story where the fight or flight hormone takes over, and the subject is just reacting.
Tiffany Hartley's public appearances are now used to teach law enforcement on deception.
Her pretty face and soft appearance duped (at least, at first) Nancy Grace.
See Tiffany and Nancy Grace as well as the following Statement Analysis exercise here. (The search feature will give you many studies on the case).
Principle: Emotions within a statement placed in the "perfect" or the "logical" part of the story, that is, in the main event, are often placed there artificially for the purpose of story telling, or persuasion and the analyst should be aware of deception present, using other indicators with this principle, in the conclusion.
Here comes the twist:
Statement Analysis is not made up of cement blocks, placing one upon the other. Human language and communication is complex. Picture the blocks made of strong clay, that is strong enough for a foundation, yet pliable enough to make adjustments.
Always note how close, in time, the statement is to the event.
This is critical.
As time passes, you may find, even as PTSD is dealt with, that the statement, if rehearsed over and over, and significant time has passed, that there may be an 'emotional disconnect' in play. If the brain no longer has the emotional connection, the emotions, like one detached, now are placed in the logical part of the account.
It is as if it no longer bothers the subject.
The subject has repeated the story for years now, and the principle of Artificial Placement of Emotions may not be used, any longer, for analysis. It is, almost as if the subject has 'forgotten' the event and is no longer working from memory but is working from memory of the words of the story.
This is a self-reference type, such as, "Like I said..."
"Like I said..." indicates that the subject is working from memory of what he said, and not memory of the event.
This can be the case when even a true story has been repeated over and over, for months or years, and the subject is disconnected from the account, just as I am, decades later, disconnected from the sound of a loosening belt. Talking about it 'removed the sting', and when I speak of it, I find myself remembering the words of the account (it is true) rather than the event itself.
This is something that takes a long time to happen, and the closer the subject is, in time, to the event, the more reliable the the statement is.
Listening to a criminal recall his crime, 30 years later, is not something that is anywhere near as reliable as listening to him recall his crime, while still sweating from having committed it.
In Advanced Statement Analysis, we must be open to varying factors, including PTSD in language (see other articles on sexual abuse) .
The event has been synthesized, over years, because they have processed the account many times, and it is now a 'complete' picture. The recall is without emotional commitment or connection, due to the passage of time.
This is why I urge law enforcement to say as little as possible to a subject, but hand him a pen and paper and say, "Write what happened" and not influence the language.
Next: Actual analysis of the robbery statement.