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interrogation methods

Try a Little P.A.S. in Your Interview

by Stan B. Walters, CSP
“The Lie Guy®”

We’ve discussed in class and in a past issue the four step process of Practical Kinesic Interview & Interrogation® – orientation, narration, cross examination and resolution. After the subject has presented their statement or alibi during the “narration” phase, the interviewer then takes the opportunity to address any incomplete answers or contradictions in the subject’s statement as well as obvious conflict between the statement and forensic details.  The “cross-examination” technique chosen is the one that most closely matches the subject’s personality type – emotion, sensory, logic or ego dominant.   One way to organize you thoughts for this cross-examination phase is to use a very common and very effective sales formula called P.A.S. or Problem – Agitate – Solve.  Dan Kennedy who is one of the country’s top sales professionals says that this technique “may the most reliable sales formula ever invented.”  Isn’t the interviewer doing a little selling?

The first step is to illustrate in some detail to the subject the “problem” with the facts of the case and his or her statement on the contradictions found in their statement.  For example, that despite their protestations that they were not at the scene that there are witnesses, computer logs, video tapes, credit card transactions, etc. that suggest the contrary.  Highlighting these problems can focus on the victim’s statement,  implausibility of their statements, memory lapse, etc.  Articulate in detail the “problem” as you see it and why the proof supports your position.

After you have established that there is a problem in a clear and forceful manner it’s time to get the subject “agitated” about the problem.  We do this by tapping into either their emotions about the evidence, the significance of each of the pieces of detail, the logical weight of the argument that is against their position and supports yours or the what will be the most likely public perception of the arguments that support your proof.   The idea is to force the subject to realize the futility of sustaining their argument or agree with the proof that is mounting against them.

Now that you have stated the “problem”, “agitated” the subject to the point that they are mentally wringing their hands you are going to unveil the answers to his problems. This is when the subject is desparately going to be looking for a way out of this delimma that have gotten themselves into and you are the only person who has got the “solution.” At this point you can now lay out the options the subject has available and the possible consequences and alternatives to each.  Isolate the “good” and “bad” choices that he or she has available to them and the possible outcomes for each. Be prepared to listen and to and watch your subject for verbal and nonverbal cues that indicate that an admission or confession will be imminent.

More often than not our perceptions of the difficulties and complexities of the interrogation process are often larger in our minds than they are in reality.  Sometimes a simple approach is all you need and the proven technique of “Problem – Agitate -Solve” or P.A.S. is all your need to create the foundation of a successful interrogation.

The Psychopath as an Interrogation Subject

by Stan B. Walters, CSP
“The Lie Guy®”

One of if not the most challenging interviews or interrogations to conduct is that of the psychopath. Estimated by some experts to comprise about 7% of the world’s population, psychopaths make up approximately 55% of the U.S. prison population and are credited with committing roughly 80% of the violent crimes.  The interview or interrogation of the psychopaths confirms that a standard or routine approach that is used with all other subjects will be not successful.  As a personality disorder, psychopathy is marked by characteristics that include a lack of empathy for their victims, a total lack of personal insight, are chronic liars, have no remorse and demonstrate a total lack of impulse control.

 

The traditional efforts of an interrogator is to attempt to highlight or emphasize within the subject a certain level of awareness and acceptance of responsibility for their behaviors.  The psychopath has never and will never attain such level of awareness.  These subjects’ behaviors are dictated solely in response a narcissistic need for ego satisfaction.  Psychopaths are totally incapable of identifying with or appreciating the level of physical, emotional or mental pain that they cause their victims, the victim’s families as well as their own families. To attempt to get the psychopath to recognize the feelings, fear, trauma or pain they have brought upon their multiple victims is literally a waste of both the interviewer’s and subject’s time.

 

Once a psychopath is stimulated by the awareness of his or her selfish wants and needs, there is very little that will stop them from driving toward their own elf-serving goals. For anyone to believe that psychopaths will follow or adhere to any standards of appropriate social behavior or conduct is naive at best.  These subject’s perceive the world and itís occupants as existing only for the purpose of serving their own needs that are not to be denied.  It is for this very reason that psychopaths will rarely if ever respond to any punishment or threat of punishment, treatment or therapy for their inappropriate behavior.  This is also evident in the broad range of and often-large number of anti-social behaviors in which the psychopath will engage.

 

Psychopaths possess a very high threshold of cognitive and emotional stimulation that requires extremes in behaviors to maintain any form of satisfactory or stimulating life style. Coupled with a total lack of regard for socially acceptable conduct, psychopaths are well known for engaging high risk, self-destructive behaviors that are also very devastating to those around them.  Blatant sexually deviant behaviors and promiscuity, major acts of sado-masochistic behavior, abandonment of family, schoolwork and jobs are not uncommon as are multiple acts of fraud, deceit, and blatant abuse and manipulation of others.

 

The interview of the psychopath are best accomplished when the interviewer bares in mind that the subject will not be swayed by pleas or appeals based on sympathy, remorse, regret or social obligation as the psychopath is incapable of comprehending these concepts.  The interview should be based on the non-emotional format with the interviewer presenting the appearance that he or she already possesses all the known facts of the case.  The dialogue with the psychopath should center around facts and specific examples of evidence and information and that there are those who may in fact be impressed with the subject’s genuine individuality and independence and that others around them are in fact weak, lack the fortitude experience the fulfillment of life.  Threats of punishment are of no use. One interesting point however is that it would appear that the more these subjects are allowed to talk and even pontificate or sound off, the stronger and more resistant they become.  It will be imperative that the interviewer maintain focus and keep the subject on topic during the interview.  Admission or confessions occur because the subject delights in his or her behavior, the evidence of how everyone is shocked but yet awed by their audacity and ultimately that the feel in some way the admission or confession serves some other form of the ego fulfilling needs.

 

With even this admittedly very brief and limited description of psychopathy can anyone not recognize the behaviors of Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and his long history of abuse of his enemies as well as his own countrymen as being those of a psychopath?  What are the odds that he has ever, will ever, or has even ever intended to comply with the demands of the reticent United Nations or any other civilized country?