By guest author Dr.Paulo Sargento
Two years have been completed after the disappearance of Madeleine Beth McCann, and we are led to believe that very little is known and a lot is yet to become known. Well, I have quite a different opinion: a lot is known already and there is still something to become known. But the post that I write today does not have the purpose to make a balance of the case, as these first lines might suggest. It does instead intend to unburden a few loose notes that, I believe, will very soon become the subject of deep analysis soon.
Firstly, a note concerning the health state of Kate McCann.
As I have already mentioned, there have been many rumours concerning Kate McCann’s emotional health. There were even rumours of an alleged suicide attempt. These rumours came from Her Majesty’s Land, from a source that usually doesn’t mess around. Of course I’m aware that the argument that I have just given is fallacious, inasmuch as the behavioural pattern of said source doesn’t guarantee the truth of the information. But the fact is that the information (true or not) arrived, as I had already mentioned, on a cold Friday night in December. Why do I return to information that I have held for a few months already? Because some indications concerning Kate McCann’s health state have been intensifying.
As a matter of fact, this issue of Kate’s depressive health state started being spread by her relatives and friends, namely during the period that followed the archiving of the process (late July 2008). From August 2008 onwards, Kate McCann started seldom appearing in public, with an almost full absence after Christmas. Her own mother stated that she felt lonely and rejected, even by her own husband, Gerry McCann. She was never again seen jogging or walking the twins. This matter increases in pertinence if we pay attention to the fact that Kate is apparently thinner, a fact that is visible in her trip to the United States, to participate in the Oprah Show.
Therefore, we ask ourselves: for a person who practises sports with great regularity, what problems may appear when that practise suddenly stops? An obvious answer: that person will grow fatter and will present symptoms of anxiety, due to the deregulation of endorphins (hormones that our body processes, especially with frequent practise of sports, which constitute a sort of natural anti-depressive). Now, what could we observe? Apparently, something paradoxical. Kate does not grow fatter, she even grows thinner, and according to relatives, she has been obsessed about reading the process, depressed and not even the twins have cheered her up (depressive signs, we could speculate).
Let’s recall the episode of the washing of Cuddle Cat, on the 12th of June 2007, which is mentioned in her diary. What meaning does that episode have within this story? It’s very likely to be the first expression of a grieving process, which can be compared with the fact that Kate apparently didn’t recognise her daughter in the age progression images that she was shown on Oprah’s Show. Why? Because in the first situation, according to her own words, Kate practically doesn’t admit that Maddie may return (cf. post about Cuddle Cat in this blog), and in the second one, the non recognition seems to signify Kate’s incapacity to picture an older Maddie, because her last image is that of a 3-year-old girl.
Therefore, whatever happened, shows through in Kate as an IRREPARABLE LOSS.
Alas, concerning this matter, Clarence Mitchell’s lapsus linguae, in his last interview with BBC is extraordinarily clarifying: when confronted with the possibility of an opportunistic abduction, after the child left the house on her own to look for her parents (a rather unwise theory, it should be said), the Spin Doctor said – “that didn’t happen, Kate knows it”. In short, whatever happened was certainly very hard and I’m not surprised that Kate is, in fact, suffering a severe emotional disturbance. I hope that the decision concerning the maintenance of pacts take into account the cost/benefit relationship of these sufferings. I know that I had already written about this issue but I felt the duty to explain the arguments, and to appeal for borderline situations to be avoided.
Secondly, a note about the alleged age progression portraits.
Duarte Levy, who was present at Oprah’s show, didn’t leave his credits to others (thank you, Duarte) and, as usual, diligently investigated with the FBI about the origin of said so-called portraits. The information that he obtained is that the FBI had no participation whatsoever in those “artistic” productions. This information is precious to explain what I have been trying to state concerning other allegedly forensic productions, like for example the e-fits: these are always fallacies that try to confuse the argument of authority (it was an FBI artist), with the authority of argument (it’s a production of unequivocal forensic value).
Age progression portraits must be based on rigorous methodologies, from a scientific point of view, and not constitute a mere based photographic manipulation. There are previous issues that are related to anthropometric concepts, with developmental, racial, sexual norms, phenotypical probabilities from the evaluation of the genogram, among others. But apart from this, there is a methodology problem: a post hoc construction without the use of the notion of an independent variable. Meaning, Madeleine could have many faces today, keeping her general traits: blond hair and blue eyes, with the small mark on her iris.
And the rest? Well, if we were completely honest and the so-called forensic production had indeed the purpose of searching for Madeleine, then we would have to act differently. I propose the following methodology: to create four groups of independent forensic artists, and “blind” (meaning, none of the investigators in any given group knows what the others are doing). Two groups of artists are given instructions to create, at least, three progression portraits of Maddie, based on the SAME original photo (of Maddie) and according to the same methodology that should take into account the abovementioned variables. Then, two other groups of forensic artists take the three portraits, from each group that created the progression, in a random manner, and are given the following instruction: “these children are six years old. Please, according to the criteria (that we described before), produce three age regression drawings, that represent these children at the age of three”. Of course, control or placebo pictures would have to be introduced (variations in the colour and shape of hair, eyes, etc., and the introduction of a drawing of another child). Then, the chief investigator (the only one that knows the methodology) should compare the regression photographs with the original Maddie photograph that was used as a model for the progressions, according to precise anthropometric concepts. The photo that would be the best match with the original might then constitute a good hypothesis of age progression.
The way that things are now, the only thing that we’re producing is a potential error and information deviation. But could this be the purpose? Well, I don’t know. But I know that one month ago, the purpose was to carry out a local campaign (Aldeia da Luz) with Maddie’s photo at the age of 3, and now the purpose is to carry out a worldwide campaign (the programme is broadcast in 144 countries) with a photo that allegedly approaches Maddie’s present physiognomy. Which one is it, then? Who runs the campaign? Is it those retired Scotland Yard officers? Let’s wait for the next strategy. Until then, let’s watch the Oprah Show attentively so we can, as Duarte Levy said it, appreciate the McCanns’ Show. And a curiosity: do notice Kate’s clothing…
See you very soon!
Paulo Sargento on “Câmara de Comuns”
Translated by Astro from Joana Morais blog.