A couple years ago, I came across a YouTube video entitled “Shut the Fuck Up Friday!” by the Pot Brothers at Law. Advising people to “shut the fuck up” (STFU) when interacting with law enforcement, the Brothers’ material intermittently pops into my head on Fridays.
Though some may consider the title and content of the video to be boorish, I think it is clever marketing. As well, having served as a law enforcement officer (LEO) when in the United States Marine Corps, as military police (MP), I appreciate the Brothers’ advisement.
Noteworthy, due to ethical and legal considerations, I do not officially endorse content of the video. As well, nothing in the current post is intended to serve as legal advice.
Interviews and Interrogations
When serving as an MP, I conducted a number of successful investigations. Along with a select few other MPs, I was chosen to attend interviews and interrogations training offered by the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) of the Corps.
For the sake of clarity, an interview is an informal information-gathering process and an interrogation is a formal procedure during which a person is questioned about a suspected crime. Essentially, every person I spoke with in the course of my duties was subject to an interview.
It was in the CID course that I learned LEOs were well within our legal rights to lie during the course of investigation. Though a suspect who lied to us could be charged with obstruction of justice, LEOs could use dishonesty about the fundamental aspects of a case in order to elicit a confession.
As well, I learned about spontaneous admissions or utterances—impromptu statements relating to any relevant information of a crime. For instance, consider the following vignette:
In my capacity as an MP, and when investigating a larceny, I make contact with person X who is suspected of the crime. The interview begins immediately upon making contact. I initially ask for identifying information and depending on received responses, I subtly escalate the fact-finding mission with probing questions.
I ask, “Where were you on Tuesday evening at around 1800 [6 P.M.]?” Person X replies, “I was with my girl, Bathsheba.” I then ask, “Will she be able to corroborate that you didn’t steal the property that went missing?” Here, I’ve set a trap. I let person X know what I’m investigating. I’ll pay close attention to his body language, vocal tone and pace, eye movement, and responses to ascertain whether or not he’s attempting to conceal any information.
Person X replies, “Man, I don’t know anything about any missing property. You can ask her though, because she’ll tell you that we weren’t anywhere near the barracks. We were at her place all night long!” I never said anything about the barracks, which is where the property went missing, and person X has just tipped me off to the idea that he likely knows something in regards to the whereabouts of the missing items.
Moreover, person X offered what he thinks is a solid alibi, because he was apparently far away from the crime scene at the time, though I didn’t ask for the added information. Presuming person X retains information pertinent to my investigation, I could then apprehend him on suspicion of a crime, as I transport him to the Provost Marshal’s Office (police station) for interrogation. Once there, I enter into a somewhat lengthy exploration for the truth.
The key point to understand here is that the interview is simply an opportunity to gather information. The interrogation is where various techniques are used to methodically extract a confession or other information that may ultimately lead to the conviction of a crime.
One presumes the Pot Brothers at Law are well aware of how a person ignorant of LEO operation may inadvertently wind up in an interrogation setting. Once in the formal investigative process, the suspect may unwittingly confess guilt—even if not actually guilty.
This is perceivably why the Brothers advocate a STFU strategy, so that qualified attorneys can intervene on behalf of their clients. Though I gladly left behind the field of law enforcement, and though I’ve never functioned as a lawyer in any official capacity, I now advocate on behalf of clients in the field of mental health.
Irrational beliefs, it’s Friday!
Practicing Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy (REBT), I help clients learn to interview and interrogate irrational belief systems. Personally, this is a much more rewarding career than was my role as an LEO.
Rather than allowing unhelpful or unhealthy beliefs to ramble on and create unpleasant consequences (e.g., anger, tightness in the chest, and physically assaultive behavior), my clients and I explore a method to make these demanding beliefs STFU—replacing them with more helpful content.
Understand that what I’m advocating herein isn’t thought-stopping—the arguably ineffective and outdated strategy that involves blocking unwanted and distressing thoughts. Have you ever tried to prevent intrusive thoughts?
If so, for how long were you successful at doing so? Is thinking about not thinking even worth your time?
Paradoxically, the act of thinking about not thinking about something about which you’re thinking, and which seems to lend more focus towards thinking about the thinking, you inevitably think you ought not to think about what you’re thinking about.
I’ll provide you with an example that is hopefully less mind-numbing than the previous sentence. Consider the following exercise:
Whatever you do during this exercise, don’t think of a zebra. I’m serious. Don’t think of a horse-like animal with black and white stripes. Don’t do it. I’m not kidding. Stop thinking of whether or not a zebra is a black creature with white stripes or a white animal with black stripes. Whichever is the case, don’t think of a zebra. While you’re not thinking of these single-hooved animals that are native to Africa, try not to think of whether or not zebras have manes which are also black and white striped. Don’t think of a zebra. So, what are you thinking of right now?
One of the problems with thought-stopping is, as previously indicated; one first needs to think about not thinking about something. This inevitably causes a person to think of that very something.
Therefore, if I’m thinking about how I want to stop thinking about the belief that I’m not good enough, I first need to think about being not good enough—then try not to think about it. This is an exhausting endeavor!
Per one source, “[I]t depends on individuals’ ability to suppress unwanted thoughts to what extent individuals are activated by challenging demands to engage in thought control to stop distractive thoughts.” That sentence alone is challenging for me to read, let alone lending credence to one’s ability to thought-stop.
Accordingly, the practice of REBT doesn’t actually use a STFU strategy when it comes to thoughts, beliefs, or attitudes which cause self-disturbing consequences. I don’t pointlessly tell myself, “Shut up, shut up, shut up, shut up, thoughts!”
Rather, I can interview my beliefs about events and determine what attitude I’m using that leads me in the direction of undesirable emotions, bodily sensations, behaviors, and even additional thoughts or beliefs.
Once I’ve gathered information from an interview, I can apply it to the ABC Model. This formulaic construct is represented thusly:
Action + Belief = Consequence ÷ Disputation = Effective new belief
The Action is what occurred. The Belief is what you tell yourself about what occurred. The Consequence is the byproduct of what you believe. You then Dispute the unhelpful or unhealthy belief to bring about an Effective new belief.
If the interview process is used to form the proper sequence of events with which we disturb ourselves, disputation serves as the interrogation portion of the process by which we engage in a fact-finding mission to essentially solve the mystery of irrationality.
I search for elements such as:
· Who taught me my belief?
· What makes my belief true?
· When else did this belief not serve me well?
· Where might my belief lead if left un-interrogated?
· Why maintain the belief if it doesn’t serve me well?
· How might my belief be wrong?
· To what extent am I willing to continue using this belief?
Keep in mind that the Action and the Consequence aren’t being interrogated, as only the Belief is subject to Disputation. With a successful ABC process, the Effective new belief then replaces the irrational belief so that a preferred outcome may be achieved.
In this way, and regarding any self-disturbing beliefs I experience on this Friday, I don’t STFU. Instead, I roll up my sleeves and get to work with interviews and interrogations of irrational beliefs.
It isn’t me who can then STFU though my burdensome beliefs do, as they’re replaced with more manageable interpretations of events.
Per one source, dialetheism “is the view that there are statements that are both true and false. More precisely, it is the belief that there can be a true statement whose negation is also true.”
Using this thesis, I can appreciate shutting the fuck up while also preferring the process of interviews and interrogations. It all depends on context as to which tactic I’ll use.
When pulled over by LEO and when remaining subject to detainment, one may choose to STFU—Friday or not. Seeking legal counsel may be a helpful option during such a situation.
When experiencing irrational beliefs which create displeasing consequences, one may choose to interview and interrogate self-disturbing attitudes. This may be a healthy alternative to self-induced suffering.
Though nothing in this post is intended to serve as legal advice, I know what I’ll do in either scenario. Do you? It’s Friday…you experience irrational beliefs…what are you going to do?
If you’re looking for a provider who works to help you understand how thinking impacts physical, mental, emotional, and behavioral elements of your life, I invite you to reach out today by using the contact widget on my website.
As a psychotherapist, I’m pleased to help people with an assortment of issues ranging from anger (hostility, rage, and aggression) to relational issues, adjustment matters, trauma experience, justice involvement, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety and depression, and other mood or personality-related matters.
At Hollings Therapy, LLC, serving all of Texas, I aim to treat clients with dignity and respect while offering a multi-lensed approach to the practice of psychotherapy and life coaching. My mission includes: Prioritizing the cognitive and emotive needs of clients, an overall reduction in client suffering, and supporting sustainable growth for the clients I serve. Rather than simply helping you to feel better, I want to help you get better!
Deric Hollings, LPC, LCSW
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