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Can We Suppress All Our Stress Signs & Lie Cues?

Stan B. Walters, CSP
“The Lie Guy®”

I recently read an article from a law enforcement news service to which I subscribe about a new video training program being produced and distributed by a former highway drug interdiction officer.  The pitch for the video indicated that the viewer would be taught how to hide all their drugs in vehicles in such a way that they could not be found during a traffic stop.  In addition, the viewer will be taught how not to raise a traffic officer’s suspicions during any stop and the correct answers to all the questions the driver would be asked.  My area of expertise has nothing to do with the interdiction skills, training or experience needed to spot hidden drug compartments, etc. However, the assumption by the producers of this video that they can teach someone how to control their behaviors and not be noticed by an officer with at least average interdiction experience has some major flaws.


I can not imagine any drug courier does not think about being stopped every time he or she makes a run.  In their mind I know they have imagined the incident, attempted to rehearsed their “cool” behavior and walk away unnoticed.  They may even try to anticipate all the questions they may be asked or even knows what they may be asked by the officer by learning from the mistakes made by other drug operators during their ill-fated stops. The one thing none of us can do in advance is prepare or rehearse the intellectual or emotional stress we my experience when we face the reality for which we have diligently rehearsed.


We can not simply “beat” someone at spotting our deception by merely knowing what they are going to ask us in advance.  One example would be a polygraph exam.  The subject knows the questions the examiner is going to ask because the examiner has worked on the questions with the examinee’s assistance!  How well do these subjects perform on those exams?  Just the anticipation alone that “the question” is or may be asked is enough to trigger significant emotional and cognitive reactions.


Our video producers have also demonstrated by their statements an extreme ignorance of the human processes of deception.  We practice the deception of others by attempting to show knowledge about something we do not know or hide knowledge of information we do in fact possess.  We are faking an emotion we are not currently experiencing or hiding an emotion we don’t want read. The video producers have told us they can teach us how to control all the behaviors that no one has ever been able to do with 100% success in the past.  Certainly an officer may miss some of the stress signs and deception cues a subject may be generating but that doesn’t mean the cues aren’t there.


Finally, while all this well planned “successful” ruse is being perpetrated by the driver who is hiding the drugs and controlling all their stress reactions and lie cues there are some other issues that are also occupying their thoughts.  “Am I leaking any of the cues I supposed to hide?”  “Is my performance in answering “the questions” succeeding based on the reactions I see from the officer who stopped me?”  All I can say to the producers of this video is “thanks.”  You will so thoroughly screw up the people who are going to buy your video with some much misinformation you’re going to make it easier for observant officers to pick out their behaviors.  Now these people don’t have just one or two things to worry about during their stop, they now have about 10.  These drivers aren’t rocket scientists and definitely not astute enough actors to master such a skilled performance on the side of the road.

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?