Friday, October 12, 2018

Did Christine Blasey Ford Prevaricate?

No one really questioned whether Christine Blasey Ford was telling the truth about what she said happened on that day thirty-six years. I have said that I and many others found her testimony credible. Thus, that she was suffering from false memory and had mistaken the identity of her rapist. It was far easier to grant her some credence, as a rhetorical strategy, than to accuse her of lying. If anyone had brought forth such accusations, the hue and cry would have drowned out all rational deliberation. Women around the nation would have risen up to claim that they were being accused of lying about their own assaults.

So far, so good.

Now, Dawn Perlmutter argues in Front Page magazine, that Ford was an hysteric and a liar. My research tells me that Perlmutter is not a mental health professional, and, for my part I find her diagnosis of hysteria to be off the mark. After all, the illness, such as it was, seems to have been a psychological contagion during the Victorian era. By all accounts it disappeared, even from France, in the 1920s. American psychiatrists discarded it in the 1950s… and more recently replaced it with histrionic disorders.

As it happened, Ford might have been lying. She was not acting like a classical hysteric. The first is far more consequential than the last. Hysterics are histrionic, but they are not liars. And they are not acting.

Nevertheless, Perlmutter raises an important point, briefly alluded to on this blog: Ford did not recount her experience as something she had lived, but as a physician observing from the outside… which is not the same thing:

During her testimony, Ford frequently responded not as a victim but as a physician. When asked by Senator Feinstein about the impact the events had on her, Ford responded:

Well, I think that the sequelae of sexual assault varies by person, so for me personally, anxiety, phobia and PTSD-like symptoms are the types of things that I’ve been coping with. So, more specifically, claustrophobia, panic and that type of thing.
We recall, again, that Ford is not a licensed psychologist. Her doctoral degree is in Educational Psychology. It was granted by a School of Education, not by a Psychology program.
Perlmutter continues:
When Senator Feinstein asked her how she was sure it was Judge Kavanaugh that assaulted her, Ford responded:

It’s — just basic memory functions. And also just the level of norepinephrine and epinephrine in the brain that, sort of, as you know, encodes — that neurotransmitter encodes memories into the hippocampus. And so, the trauma-related experience, then, is kind of locked there, whereas other details kind of drift.

The press praised her unusual responses by characterizing her as a research psychologist who appeared as her own expert witness. The reason expert witnesses do not testify on their own behalf is that a court and jury rely on expert witnesses to be disinterested parties, who are not biased and have no motive to fabricate an issue. It never occurred to the media to question Ford's self-diagnosis as the result of a trained political operative or the manifestation of a mental disorder. In fact, people who suffer from factitious disorders often research and study symptoms and diseases, so they can better fake them. Ford has made a career out of studying mental illness, writing prolifically about the long-term impacts of trauma, including trauma related to sexual abuse. She would know exactly how to lie about the symptoms and trauma associated with sexual assault.

What if Ford had been coached on how to present her testimony? She would, by virtue of her professional experience, to know how to lie about sexual assault and its symptoms. For the record, nothing about such a performance suggests hysteria.

Perlmutter suggests:

There is a significant difference between studying trauma and authentically experiencing it. The genuineness of Christine Ford’s choice of language, affectation and disclosures were questionable. Throughout her entire testimony there was no other person, event, detail, or evidence that corroborated her testimony. Her demeanor and body language appeared rehearsed and coached. The most obvious pretense was her speech pattern. During most of her testimony she used a deliberate and calculated childish voice to project vulnerability and helplessness. When responding to specific questions about her trauma, she spoke in the third person in the guise of an esteemed physician. Survivors of sexual assault do not describe their trauma in the third person nor do they have to read from a written script to remember the details.

Notably, Ford was not speaking as someone who had undergone a trauma. She was speaking as a clinician reporting on someone else’s case. I am not going to suggests that survivors “never” speak of their trauma in the third person, but Perlmutter’s argument is persuasive. It is worth noting because no one else had the temerity to do so.


Anonymous said...

Well Hello!

I was not the only one who, on reappraisal, looked at Ford's demeanor and her actions? It is there for everyone to see if they are not too partisan to notice. There are too many clues. In discussion with my wife I mentioned that I pay attention to people's eyes to make a decision about them when she was trying to convince me that Ford may have suffered sexual harassment, but not by Kavanaugh. So I agreed to take that into consideration. Still quite possible and for the demeanor to be true as well.
An aside. I believe that paying attention to people's actions have probably saved my life on a couple of occasions.


Shaun F said...

For sexual assault survivors coaching is "mandatory" as the interest groups get their hands in the pie. And there is a narrative to maintain - so we need consistency in our talking points, and must be convincing with the optics. Apparently her parents were CIA.

Malcolm said...

You might find this article interesting too.

"What differentiates Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) from all other mental disorders? The difference is in its origin or what’s known as the trigger. Other such disorders, in general, are dateless, they may erupt because of genetics or a dysfunctional upbringing, or response to substance abuse, but little is known about when they actually began. With PTSD, however, there must be an event, a specific event that can be identified as related to the ensuing psychological and emotional state of an individual. With PTSD, the accompanying symptoms are easily identifiable and are related to the event or trigger."

The writer, a 25-year veteran of the I.D.F., served as a field mental health officer and Commander of the Central Psychiatric Military Clinic for Reserve Soldiers at Tel-Hashomer.

Ares Olympus said...
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Ares Olympus said...
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Anonymous said...

I never thought she was credible. Her baby voice was the worst! The hair in her face...really? And her fake ignorance about the Go Fund Me was ridiculous. That should have been the kiss of death to anyone thinking she was credible. Basically an obvious liar.

Ares Olympus said...
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Ares Olympus said...
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Ares Olympus said...

It's hard to say much with less than 100 words!

I conclude most people seek to try to understand those who have the power to hurt them. If you can understand them, they don't have to be monsters, but drunken teens who need to be managed and kept from power. Still now 36 years later she may be overreacting from her 15yo self - She doesn't know Brett now as a husband and father. She still sees him in her mind as a laughing thrusting drunk teen.

Anonymous said...

Are there any other recordings of her? Does her voice always sound like that?

Ignatius Acton Chesterton OCD said...

One of my favorite comments these days....

Comment deleted
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

The reasons, so far as I can tell, are the following:
1. Anti-Semitism
2. Loony Freudian Psychoanalysis Quacks
3. Ares Olympus

In sheer volume, Ares Olympus wins the day, both for his perfidiousness (1),and his profound silliness (3).

Either way, it’s wonderful. Thank you.

Coe E. Tuss said...

It was a big whopper of a lie. Furnishing any details would have put her at risk of having those details revealed as lies also, which would put her in legal jeopardy. I think her motive was to block the appointment of a Constitutionalist to the court, which she tried in 2012, but maybe much more of a motive now is the money. All she had to do is tell a whopper to Congress, not remember any details, and get hundreds of thousands of dollars in return.

Uncle Max said...

Good analysis. Q: Where was her husband for testimony? Her brothers are both reportedly attorneys in DC... and yet, they weren't identified as being there, .. and she went to " beach buddies" for legal advice and DiFi's staff helped her find attorneys in DC... but she had two DC attorney brothers... huh.

I think she's pathological. A ardent and committed ideologue. By any means necessary. The simplest explanation is:... they never thought she'd end up testifying.. The gambit was to so shame Kavanaugh that'd he'd either withdraw or Trump would withdraw him under pressure.

Dr. Irredeemable Dreg said...

All one needs to know is that the screeching shifted from sexual assault to "tone" and temperament. So of course she is lying.

It's all about Roe v Wade and untrammeled abortion. The ridiculous aspect is, assuming a strict constructionist 5-4 majority decided to - horrors! - follow the Constitution, untrammeled access to abortion on demand is easily addressed with legislation. And such legislation would be, if the Democrats are not lying about the near-universality of pro-abortion sentiment, a slam dunk. Abortionists don't need SCOTUS.

Since Ford is obviously nothing more than a cat's paw for the abortion lobby, I find the hagiographic soft focus on her supposedly sterling professional credentials to be far more interesting. And, frankly, amusing. I've made comments here before on that topic, but a recent video by Janice Fiamingo, PhD and Professor of English, University of Toronto, are enlightening...

Dr. Irredeemable Dreg said...

It just now occurs to me that Blasey graduated from a girl's secondary school, got an undergrad degree in a female-dominated major, got a doctorate in a female-dominated profession with a teddy bear dissertation, and went on to a position with a fem-therapy "university" .

A true Bubble Babe. :-D

Ares Olympus said...

Stuart: It was far easier to grant her some credence, as a rhetorical strategy, than to accuse her of lying.

It is refreshing to see commenters here accusing her of lying. You know where you stand when you hear someone else feels certain someone is lying.

I've actually thought about giving my next toastmaster speech on the subject of lies, all the categories. Conspiracy theories are the most interesting, and the small number of times you find you can look past the veils what you most often find isn't evil people trying to harm others, but instead embarrassed people trying to cover their asses.

Dr. Irredeemable Dreg said...

Ares, was there ever any doubt in your mind where you stand with me? :-D