The Power of Suggestion

The Power of Suggestion

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Imagine yourself ripped from your home, workplace, or school and thrust into a cell like a dog at the pound, with no friends but the other puppies. You have just become a primary suspect the most expensive and long, as well, as horrid and elaborate cases the world has ever seen. You have been branded a child molester (falsely accused!). Picture the dread in the pit of your stomach when you don't make bail. Feel the horror in seeing children falsely accuse you, in court, of touching them in all the wrong places, of killing babies and animals in front of their eyes, of tying them up and taking pictures, of raping them, and of threatening their parents. Now, you are innocent yet you won't get to see the light of day or rest on your bed or bathe in your shower for years. Could you handle being given the label "child molester"? Would you be able to stand the fact that you've just lost everything you've worked so hard for: a business and a family? And if you could why should you, you didn't do anything? Suggestion. Because of the power of suggestion, that's why you're locked in a jail cell and slowly rotting away.

Suggestion. How many times does one use this word a day, a week? Unless you're a psychologist or a lawyer it's safe to assume not many. Yet, despite this word's apparent insignificance it was what put many teachers in prison (unjustly), for years! Preposterous? No, a reality. The movie Indictment illustrates this sad story vividly. In the early 80s the most expensive and lengthy court case took place and shocked families and parents all over the world. When a concerned mother accusing her Day-Care providers with sexually abusing her child the drunk, schizophrenic woman was quickly believed and followed; soon similar stories flooded police departments. When the children were interviewed very suggestive questioning methods were used and supposedly shouldn't need to be used if these kids are telling the truth they'd be overjoyed to tell of their ordeal. In one instance the unlicensed therapist asked the interviewed child if he recognized Ray Buckey from a photograph. The child answered "no" which was correct as Buckey didn't teach there at the time, resulting in the therapist urging that other children placed the boy and Buckey together, engaging in lewd acts. With some insistence the boy finally agrees and says that he not only recognized Buckey, a person he'd never seen in his life, but also accused Buckey of sexually molesting him.

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The therapist also asked misleading questions and her tone of voice implicated the answer she wanted from the children. Another instance was recorded of the therapist telling a child, who stated he wasn't molested or abused in any way, that he quote had " a bad memory not as good as the other kids." for not "remembering." The therapist insisted the child was abused and was just repressing the memory until the child said that yes Buckey had molested him as well as Ms. Peggy. Afterwards one can see the child's glee at finally being accepted! "Preschoolers memories are more vulnerable to suggestive questions than are those of school-age children and adults. Preschoolers are also more likely to have source amnesia, failing to remember whether they actually saw or experienced something themselves or heard about it from an adult. And the boundary between reality and fantasy may blur for very young children especially in emotionally charged situations, making it more likely that their accounts will include confabulation of imagined events." As stated above young minds are impressionable and suggestible especially during high-pressured occasions. A court case in which children are pressured to answer certain questions with the "right" answers is a perfect high-pressured setting for children's imaginations to run wild. The children sought to please the interviewer when they saw her frustrated or sad at answers she didn't want.

The fact that children are very suggestible became very clear to me on a personal level. My mother is a Day-Care provider and owns a Day-Care center. One time a child didn't want to stay, as you see kids do when they start school or must leave their parents for a long time, so the mother proceeded to ask her why she didn't want to stay. "Why don't you want to stay? Does she hit you or something?' The little girl seeing an opportunity to get things the way she wanted them quickly said yes and the mother never brought her again. Thankfully the other parents that it was ludicrous to accuse my mother of disciplining their children "by-hand." Although that passed and had no effect on my mom's business it showed the high suggestibility of children.

In this case things should have been handled differently. Apart from testimonial the courts should have sought physical medical evidence. These kids were never seen by a doctor, if these kids were abused signs would have been clearly evident. Also the "therapist" who worked with these kids was not qualified or professional nor an expert as she affirmed plus she was neither licensed. The testimonials were ridiculously far-fetched and should have been dismissed from use as evidence when they were unproven. It was fairly obvious, also, that many politicians let this case go on for publicity and to be reelected. The questions suggestibility should have been erased and the kids should have told stories from their memories, solely, and not asked if certain things happened. There was no evidence in this case and it shined light not only on the intricacies of the human brain, memory, and the power of suggestion but also on the corruption of the United States Judicial System.
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