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Forensics Psychology Report on Brian David Mitchell
 
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In the course of researching my book, I've been in contact with Dr. Michael Welner, who ran the forensics psychology analysis of Brian David Mitchell to prove he was mentally fit to stand trial for the kidnap of Elizabeth Smart. He was kind enough to provide me the link to the full report, which is publically accessible, but hasn't been widely publicized.

 

It's a lengthy report (206 pages) but I read the entire thing and found it utterly fascinating.

 

http://www.forensicpanel.com/data/Unsorted/BDM_CST_Report.pdf 

 

Trigger warning, of course. It recaps the kidnapping and subsequent events. It has some quotes from Elizabeth I've never seen elsewhere. It covers Mitchell's life details and his time under observation after his arrest. It talks about the works of scripture Mitchell wrote and also has a section on Fundamentalist LDS leaders. It goes into detail about how he brainwashed Wanda Barzee and Elizabeth Smart.

 

A couple of things stood out to me.

 

It really angered me to learn that the Church knew about abuse Mitchell had committed against his stepdaughters in the 80s, when he was an upstanding member with callings. And of course, as we've seen in other publicized (and not-so-publicized) stories, the Church covered it up and let him go on with his callings. It infuriates me that the Church could have prevented continued abuse of his stepdaughters, and his subsequent abuse of other children as well as Elizabeth Smart and his attempted kidnapping of two other girls after her.

 

The section on how religious figures and clergy use religiously-based cognitive distortions to justify their behavior was also interesting, especially how they turn those distortions into manipulative levers to use against victims.

 

In conclusion, the panel found that Mitchell was not psychotic or delusional, though unsurprisingly, he was found to be narcissistic and antisocial, among other things. As such, he was fit to stand trial, and the rest is history.

 

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Thanks, Lunaverse.  I've saved this one.  I don't know when I'll need it, but this is worth holding onto.
 
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Thanks for sharing that. I'll digest it with interest.

Just this week I've become aware of a father in Melbourne 30 or so years back, who raped his own daughter from 12 to 16 years of age, and then sent her away to Church College, New Zealand to cover it up, with the assistance of a local senior Church authority.

 

This religion's ineptitude in handling sexual abuse is monumental.

I want to see more of the Church  being held accountable for that ineptitude and cover-ups.

I am sure the Church won't be too keen to have their role in effectively enabling this man, becoming public. And I'd guess that got scant media coverage in Utard.

 

Daryl 

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and I am responsible for the metaphors that populate my mind.’ Daryl

 
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I found this a telling insight into the religious delusional mind:

"Agent Dougherty related that Brian told him that he knew that were he and Wanda to be caught, they would be sent to jail and Elizabeth returned to her family.
 
The defendant added that each of the four times they were approached by law enforcement, and when they were “delivered,” their faith became stronger because they felt the hand of God had been responsible. "
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and I am responsible for the metaphors that populate my mind.’ Daryl

 
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I know of Petersen, but not any detail.

A question for those more familair with the man and his expertise than me, what are his qualifications to draw the conclusions present in this summary from that report:

"Daniel Peterson, Ph.D., a BYU professor with an expertise in scriptures, has studied the 
BIDI at the request of prosecutors. Dr. Peterson discerned that the BIDI was compiled 
and assembled carefully, and over an extended period from a number of sources.
 
Doctrines and Covenants is influential, according to Dr. Peterson, as are other works – attributed and not. Its production reflects cool assembly rather than the pouring forth of the ecstatic and mystical mind. 
 
The writing, per Dr. Peterson, captures the voice of Mormon scripture with rational spirit, 
although its focus is apocalyptic. The resentful tone and damnation of non-believers has 
particular precedent in apocalyptic scripture, noted the professor. In short, according to 
Dr. Peterson, there is nothing in the BIDI that promotes a conclusion of a major or minor 
psychiatric condition."
  
Is this overreach, or what?
 
 
Daryl 
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and I am responsible for the metaphors that populate my mind.’ Daryl

 
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lunaverse:

In the course of researching my book, I've been in contact with Dr. Michael Welner, who ran the forensics psychology analysis of Brian David Mitchell to prove he was mentally fit to stand trial for the kidnap of Elizabeth Smart. He was kind enough to provide me the link to the full report, which is publically accessible, but hasn't been widely publicized.

 

It's a lengthy report (206 pages) but I read the entire thing and found it utterly fascinating.

 

http://www.forensicpanel.com/data/Unsorted/BDM_CST_Report.pdf 

 

Trigger warning, of course. It recaps the kidnapping and subsequent events. It has some quotes from Elizabeth I've never seen elsewhere. It covers Mitchell's life details and his time under observation after his arrest. It talks about the works of scripture Mitchell wrote and also has a section on Fundamentalist LDS leaders. It goes into detail about how he brainwashed Wanda Barzee and Elizabeth Smart.

 

A couple of things stood out to me.

 

It really angered me to learn that the Church knew about abuse Mitchell had committed against his stepdaughters in the 80s, when he was an upstanding member with callings. And of course, as we've seen in other publicized (and not-so-publicized) stories, the Church covered it up and let him go on with his callings. It infuriates me that the Church could have prevented continued abuse of his stepdaughters, and his subsequent abuse of other children as well as Elizabeth Smart and his attempted kidnapping of two other girls after her.

 

The section on how religious figures and clergy use religiously-based cognitive distortions to justify their behavior was also interesting, especially how they turn those distortions into manipulative levers to use against victims.

 

In conclusion, the panel found that Mitchell was not psychotic or delusional, though unsurprisingly, he was found to be narcissistic and antisocial, among other things. As such, he was fit to stand trial, and the rest is history.

 

I've read the first 20 pages or so of the report and was reading about Mitchell's being diagnosed by one doctor as incompetent to stand trial and the other saying he was. Mitchell was so good at "managing the interrogation" after he was captured that the investigators got upset at him. That doesn't sound like someone who is a dummy. 

 

One doctor suggested he was psychotic because he would go into public places with Elizabeth, although covered up in a birkha like robes. But Mitchell sounds like someone who is addicted to seeing how close he can get to the edge without getting caught. 

 

I had to laugh though because when he started coming up with his own "scripture",I got to thinking about Joseph Smith and how he would have responded to that kind of questioning. JS lived in a time when people had very limited education and were easily led to do almost anything. With no critical thinking skills and of a "religious" background anyone with a strong personality and persuasive skills could amass a number of bleary eyed, devoted followers. 

 

Amazing report. I've never seen anything like it. Sounds like the basis for a made for television movie...or has that been done already?

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Born Free:

Thanks for sharing that. I'll digest it with interest.

Just this week I've become aware of a father in Melbourne 30 or so years back, who raped his own daughter from 12 to 16 years of age, and then sent her away to Church College, New Zealand to cover it up, with the assistance of a local senior Church authority.

 

This religion's ineptitude in handling sexual abuse is monumental.

I want to see more of the Church  being held accountable for that ineptitude and cover-ups.

I am sure the Church won't be too keen to have their role in effectively enabling this man, becoming public. And I'd guess that got scant media coverage in Utard.

 

Daryl 

 

 Actually, I had a hard time finding links to this report on google, so I'm sure few people have seen it. I doubt the media anywhere reported that the Church played the role that they did.

 

Luna 

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Born Free:
I know of Petersen, but not any detail.

A question for those more familair with the man and his expertise than me, what are his qualifications to draw the conclusions present in this summary from that report:

"Daniel Peterson, Ph.D., a BYU professor with an expertise in scriptures, has studied the 
BIDI at the request of prosecutors. Dr. Peterson discerned that the BIDI was compiled 
and assembled carefully, and over an extended period from a number of sources.
 
Doctrines and Covenants is influential, according to Dr. Peterson, as are other works – attributed and not. Its production reflects cool assembly rather than the pouring forth of the ecstatic and mystical mind. 
 
The writing, per Dr. Peterson, captures the voice of Mormon scripture with rational spirit, 
although its focus is apocalyptic. The resentful tone and damnation of non-believers has 
particular precedent in apocalyptic scripture, noted the professor. In short, according to 
Dr. Peterson, there is nothing in the BIDI that promotes a conclusion of a major or minor 
psychiatric condition."
  
Is this overreach, or what?
 
 
Daryl 

 

 His point was that basically, Mitchell's religious writings were in the same spriti, language, and theme as LDS scripture, and therefore, not totally crazy or unfounded in reality. The same way someone writing Harry Potter fanfic isn't delusional. For Mitchell to be delusional would be for JS to be delusional. It was Peterson's option that Mitchell was fit to stand trial, as was Welner's. And mine. (And I don't think JS was delusional either. I think the only difference between Mitchell and JS is that JS was a better people-person.

 

Luna 

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Life Rocks:

 

I've read the first 20 pages or so of the report and was reading about Mitchell's being diagnosed by one doctor as incompetent to stand trial and the other saying he was. Mitchell was so good at "managing the interrogation" after he was captured that the investigators got upset at him. That doesn't sound like someone who is a dummy. 

 

One doctor suggested he was psychotic because he would go into public places with Elizabeth, although covered up in a birkha like robes. But Mitchell sounds like someone who is addicted to seeing how close he can get to the edge without getting caught. 

 

I had to laugh though because when he started coming up with his own "scripture",I got to thinking about Joseph Smith and how he would have responded to that kind of questioning. JS lived in a time when people had very limited education and were easily led to do almost anything. With no critical thinking skills and of a "religious" background anyone with a strong personality and persuasive skills could amass a number of bleary eyed, devoted followers. 

 

Amazing report. I've never seen anything like it. Sounds like the basis for a made for television movie...or has that been done already?

 

 

It hasn't been done. I'm not even sure if a book has been written? Dr. Welner's told me nothing in his report has been officially published. I'll be the first, apparently. (I will reference this report for a couple of points I'm making in my book.)

 

Luna 

 

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Has anyone done a psychological study of Ed Smart, Elizabeth's father? He "hired" Mitchell, for some reason. Was there some "churchy" involvement? Have always been curious as to how that came about.
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I’ve begun worshiping the sun for a number of reasons. First of all, unlike some other gods I could mention, I can see the sun. It’s there for me every day. And the things it brings me are quite apparent all the time: heat, light, food, a lovely day. There’s no mystery, no one asks for money, I don’t have to dress up, and there’s no boring pageantry. And interestingly enough, I have found that the prayers I offer to the sun and the prayers I formerly offered to God are all answered at about the same 50-percent rate.” George Carlin

 
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Tessa:
Has anyone done a psychological study of Ed Smart, Elizabeth's father? He "hired" Mitchell, for some reason. Was there some "churchy" involvement? Have always been curious as to how that came about.

 

 That is actually described in this report. It was his wife, who saw Mitchell panhandling and offered him work. It seems she tended to do that sort of thing fairly often, and it fits the profile of trusting, charitible Mormons who believe in reward for hard work (and for getting exceptionally good deals and not having to pay fair wages).

 

And generally, hiring people off the street is not dangerous. I don't think LDS are the only ones who do it, judging by the number of men standing outside Home Depot everyday waiting for work.

 

Luna 

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Wow, Mitchell really played law enforcement, the courts, and the media, didn't he? I seem to recall media coverage of the trial being postponed because he'd started singing hymns loudly in court. They hauled him off when he refused to shut up. I think he was trying to get himself labeled crazy. 

 

He's crazy like a fox, maybe. 

 

I haven't read this report yet (but you can bet I'm going to read every line), but my suspicion was that A. Mitchell was not the least bit mentally ill. Personality disordered probably, but not psychotic or schizophrenic or anything like that. And B. He knew exactly what he was doing. 

 

My question to you Luna: Without giving away anything important (because I will totally buy your book after publication; hope it'll be on Amazon), can you summarize in a vague way what you're writing about? 

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Dogzilla Joy:

Wow, Mitchell really played law enforcement, the courts, and the media, didn't he? I seem to recall media coverage of the trial being postponed because he'd started singing hymns loudly in court. They hauled him off when he refused to shut up. I think he was trying to get himself labeled crazy. 

 

He's crazy like a fox, maybe. 

 

I haven't read this report yet (but you can bet I'm going to read every line), but my suspicion was that A. Mitchell was not the least bit mentally ill. Personality disordered probably, but not psychotic or schizophrenic or anything like that. And B. He knew exactly what he was doing. 

 

My question to you Luna: Without giving away anything important (because I will totally buy your book after publication; hope it'll be on Amazon), can you summarize in a vague way what you're writing about? 

 

Not to spoil the conclusion of the report, but yes, you're spot on about Mitchell's intelligence and motives. (It's still a fascinating read.)

 

Thanks for asking. It's not giving anything away to describe my book. :) The working title is Recovering Agency: Lifting the Veil of Mormon Mind Control. I am matching up research on cults with LDS theology and culture to show exactly how it's done. The first part is demystifying cults and mind control and explaining the human psyche to give background on the psychological forces are employed (like cognitive dissonance theory). The second part is describing each of the 30 or so mind control techniques that have been identified by researchers (like Milieu Control, Elitism, Belief Follows Behavior, Induced Phobias, etc), and giving examples from LDS literature.

 

Then a quick wrap up at the end, probably showing how the techniques reply on one another and interplay (like Elitism is required of offset Guilt & Shame). 

 

I'm about halfway through the first draft, and it's running long. I originally planned a third section with exit phases and how to adjust to the real world for people who have just left, finding your real identity, and special considerations for things like abusive homes, LGBT, etc. But there's no room for that. There's enough material to write an encyclopedia even without that section. :) I may write a second book for that type of content. This book is still great for recovery purposes even without that, since research shows the largest part of recovery from cults comes from understanding the control mechanisms used.

 

I will also probably pubish smaller supplementary 99cent ebooks, like an updated version of my BITE Model and Mormon Control piece that's circulating on the internet. I've already been in contact with Steve Hassan (author of Freedom of Mind, Releasing the Bonds, Combatting Cult Mind Control) to get permission to do so. (And he's interested in possibly running a seminar with me.) 

 

Luna 

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I will buy your book as well! It sounds superb in information and description.
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That. Sounds. Awesome. 

 

I am totally in. Just let us know when it hits publication. 

 

P.S. I would really like my copy to be signed by the author, if you don't mind.

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Dogzilla Joy:

That. Sounds. Awesome. 

 

I am totally in. Just let us know when it hits publication. 

 

P.S. I would really like my copy to be signed by the author, if you don't mind.

 

I will definitely be announcing it here for all you guys. :) And yes, I'd be happy to sign it, although the way Amazon does selling it's hard to arrange that over long distances (one of the major drawbacks of modern book shopping). We'll figure something out I'm sure.

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I've now read nearly 60 pages of the report and I see so many similarites.

 

I remember when I read "Under The Banner of Heaven" and started learning more about the Hitler Youth and the Nazi Propaganda Machine, how the Church does many of the same things to get converts to the cause. There are similarities with the Lafferty brothers who were also receiving "revelations from God". 

 

I have to wonder about Mitchell's wife and why in the world she would go along with this nutcase. She doesn't come across as the sharpest tool in the shed.

 

There are some really strong human instincts in "brain washing" and manipulating a population. Tell a big lie and keep repeating it over and over. 

 

John Krakauer said that by the time the Saints moved to Utah they have really been hardened and tested with their faith and the physical demands of treking over the plains to Utah. Being in a secluded area away from any of the other groups of people was like Jim Jones or David Korresh taking their flocks to some kind of isolated compound. 

 

Then they control the information that their flock receives. The Ensign and The Church News, New Era...all positive all the time. The Nazi's had The Signal which projected a positive image of the Nazi regime for the public. Certainly, belonging to a group that's so insular makes it so you are limited in your world view and incapable of making it on the outside. The leaders project a we against the wicked world. We're the chosen.There's an incredible pressure to tow the line so as not to be "cast out" from the flock.

 

I remember Neal Maxwell saying that those who left the Church can't leave it alone and for good reason. They leave behind all their communities and friends, their only way of life and sometimes their families.

 

Mitchell reminds me of the Lafferty brothers. I personally think he did become delusional and deranged in his religious beliefs considering himself a prophet. I want to roll my eyes and groan, "Oh Brother!" But it's clear that he's terribly narcisistic and self serving. Tlhe problem is that no one can maintain the image over time especially by himself and as he was being monitored in Utah State Hospital, he let his guard down on numerous occasions with his interactions with the staff. Then we he was back in court he went back to his singing and "pretending" to be a prophet. 

 

I'm not sure who has the tougher time challenging the Church and it's doctrines. I think those people who are raised in the Church would struggle because they're conditioned to believe it right from birth. They have no life experience outside the Church. For converts, many come from a troubled past and really swallow the Church doctrines whole and I think the degree of difficulty leaving is determined by how deeply entrenched emotionally you are/were in the Church.

 

When people bear their "testimonies" that they believe the Church is true to the very "fibre of their beings", they're not kidding. They do and because so even considering the possibility that the Church isn't what it claims to be is beyond what many can even comprehend. It means giving up their entire foundational belief system and that is incredibly painful. 

 

This has been incredibly interesting. Thanks for sharing the link. 

 

 
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lunaverse:
Dogzilla Joy:

Wow, Mitchell really played law enforcement, the courts, and the media, didn't he? I seem to recall media coverage of the trial being postponed because he'd started singing hymns loudly in court. They hauled him off when he refused to shut up. I think he was trying to get himself labeled crazy. 

 

He's crazy like a fox, maybe. 

 

I haven't read this report yet (but you can bet I'm going to read every line), but my suspicion was that A. Mitchell was not the least bit mentally ill. Personality disordered probably, but not psychotic or schizophrenic or anything like that. And B. He knew exactly what he was doing. 

 

My question to you Luna: Without giving away anything important (because I will totally buy your book after publication; hope it'll be on Amazon), can you summarize in a vague way what you're writing about? 

 

[snip]

 

Then a quick wrap up at the end, probably showing how the techniques reply on one another and interplay (like Elitism is required of offset Guilt & Shame). 

 

[snip]

 

Luna 

 

These days I am passionate about the way Mormons live in a world where toxic shame and inferiority are juxtaposed with short stints of feeling narcissisticly superiour. As Brene Brown points out, the 'look-at-me, look-at-me' grandiosity of narcissism is a misguided attempt to relieve the toxic invisibility and smallness of shame.

 

I believe the Church actually trawls for people who are shamed, promising them a magical fix for shame, which is very attractive psychologically. I can see that with crystal clarity in my own family of origin.

 

But like a pusher of drugs, having brought the toxically shamed individual/s into their sphere of influence, they never offer any meaningful resolution to shame, instead working it with this inferior/superiour process to milk it.

Members are guilted up with all the perfection shit, and then promised that if they just give more, they'll get the sweet relief of looking down on others.

Sick fnckers.

 

Daryl 

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and I am responsible for the metaphors that populate my mind.’ Daryl

 
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Life Rocks:

I've now read nearly 60 pages of the report and I see so many similarites.

 

I remember when I read "Under The Banner of Heaven" and started learning more about the Hitler Youth and the Nazi Propaganda Machine, how the Church does many of the same things to get converts to the cause. There are similarities with the Lafferty brothers who were also receiving "revelations from God". 

 

I have to wonder about Mitchell's wife and why in the world she would go along with this nutcase. She doesn't come across as the sharpest tool in the shed.

  ...

 

When people bear their "testimonies" that they believe the Church is true to the very "fibre of their beings", they're not kidding. They do and because so even considering the possibility that the Church isn't what it claims to be is beyond what many can even comprehend. It means giving up their entire foundational belief system and that is incredibly painful. 

 

This has been incredibly interesting. Thanks for sharing the link. 

 

 

The report gets into how Wanda was brainwashed, I think around page 160-170, where it also talks about how religious cognitive distortions allow abusers to justify their behavior to themselves.

 

What you're describing there is exactly what I'm writing about. :) I was just writing about milieu control today and the Church Correlation Committee and other ways of isolating members from competing ideas.

 

Luna 

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Have you added the new information from Elizabeth Smart about why she didn't leave because she believed she was "damaged goods?"
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Tessa:
Have you added the new information from Elizabeth Smart about why she didn't leave because she believed she was "damaged goods?"

 

 Of course. :)

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Born Free:

These days I am passionate about the way Mormons live in a world where toxic shame and inferiority are juxtaposed with short stints of feeling narcissisticly superiour. As Brene Brown points out, the 'look-at-me, look-at-me' grandiosity of narcissism is a misguided attempt to relieve the toxic invisibility and smallness of shame.

 

I believe the Church actually trawls for people who are shamed, promising them a magical fix for shame, which is very attractive psychologically. I can see that with crystal clarity in my own family of origin.

 

But like a pusher of drugs, having brought the toxically shamed individual/s into their sphere of influence, they never offer any meaningful resolution to shame, instead working it with this inferior/superiour process to milk it.

Members are guilted up with all the perfection shit, and then promised that if they just give more, they'll get the sweet relief of looking down on others.

Sick fnckers.

 

Daryl 

Great insights, Daryl.  Thanks for this.

 

 
       
 


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