Thursday, December 2, 2010

Thursday 2nd December 2010

Before testimony began this morning, Judge Bauman interviewed by telephone a Miss Lane, who had agreed to make a video to be used as an affidavit. She was upset about the publicity being engendered by the internet, and said that she had agreed to give testimony via a video solely for use by the court. She objected to the edited versions appearing on the internet, with their loss of detail. She was the 10th wife out of 25, and said, “I object to being posted on line. Had I known media would edit, I would not have shared [my testimony with the court].”

Expert Witness Dr. Lawrence Beall then took the stand. An experienced qualified clinical psychologist from Utah, Dr. Beall told of his dealings with more than 20 FLDS members in the United States. He spoke of a wide variety of polygamous patients suffering significant forms of psychological trauma, which differed between male and female patients.

Young male patients exhibited signs of anti-social behaviour, such as deep anger, and in some cases states of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), brought on by one traumatic event in a young man's life. They looked upon themselves as second-class citizens, about to enter a world in which they had no appropriate skill set, and unfairly forced to compete with older men.

Beall found many of the women to be suffering from cognitive dissonance, which arose when they tried to deal with discrepancies between their faith and the actions of others. Women also exhibited deep shame, guilt, blame, anxiety, depression and a certain level of numbness in their behaviour.

Beall also pointed out that adolescents had difficulty forming an identity for themselves, but they were not encouraged to ask questions, which led to acts of rebellion, and feelings of low self-esteem and of being of little value to the world. Young men such as these needed a sense of safety, connections within the outside world, cognitive restructuring, and basic life skills. They were woefully unprepared for life outside polygamy.

After taking the first (huge) step of leaving the polygamous community, such defectors needed help from many social services, including transition houses, work experience coordinators, jobs, financial support, and expert help with legal issues such as child custody. Dr. Beall characterized the situation as “an immense problem”.

The final, pointed, question of the session came from a BCTF counsel, who asked Dr. Beall if, to his knowledge, the children in a polygamous community were taught thinking skills in their schools. His response was a monosyllabic “No.”

For more on a day of significant testimony, see here

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