Childhood: Crossroads of life
The first ten years form a template for what’s ahead in one’s life. A snowball effect accumulates both body and mind interactions that result in how development and behavior emerge. Childhood experiences are the deciding catalyst for a person’s life-outcome; they influence life from birth to death.
Infants with close bonding and loving connections with parents form the roots of their character—morality, trust and mutuality. A secure base for exploring and learning propels the infant into the early years of childhood with a sense of self, autonomy and the desire to connect with others. The foundation of morality is, indeed, grounded in the first three to five years, and this morality will be played out during the teenage and young adult years.
Entering the school years with enthusiasm depends on the strength of early attachments to parents. While the mother serves as the source of energy, possibilities and safety, the father serves as the pivotal person to carry the young child beyond mother to the rest of the family and others. The power of attachment in the first ten years will be reflected in adolescence and onward.
Students who achieve success in school and in life are those who enjoyed their first three years of play with their parents and the next seven years solidifying their parent-child attachments.
When a child experiences neglect and the lack of a consistent, loving, and caring relationship with a parent, a child is unable to form a secure attachment or, in severe cases, they form a disorganized attachment. Emotional or physical abuse is also a factor in bringing about disorganized attachment. The child, with a mind that is still being formed, perceives himself and his family through the lens of a life situation that is unsettled, uneasy and unrelenting. His distorted view of life portrays the world as an unpleasant and unfriendly place, full of people who neither want him nor care what happens to him.
As his development unfolds, he creates a disorganized pattern of behavior by reorganizing his mind in order to make it possible to survive and function under such adverse conditions. When the child doesn’t know how to express his feelings and his fears, tension builds until he has to find a way to expel it, even though the outcome may be harmful to himself or others.
We as a society only have to look at our increasing prison population to become aware that a tsunami of childhood and adolescent trauma and neglect is somewhere on the horizon. Its peril will come ashore at the cost of personal prosperity and social security that falls on the wallets and the woes of the public.
The Witness: Developmental Anatomy of a Killer
By Dr. Wanda Draper, Ph.D. with Collin Stutz, M.F.A.
Wanda Draper grabs the attention of the jurors when she steps down from the witness box and stands in front of them with a LifePath©, that leads them, hand-in-hand with the defendant, from his birth to his murderous act. This LifePath©, now the author’s signature weapon in the courtroom was, for twenty years, developed, time-tested and perfected for use in expert testimony. Through this visual device, the jury discovers how the “blood-thirsty reprobate” was sculpted during his malleable childhood and adolescence. This unique approach pieces together the shards of family circumstances and critical life events, so often swept under the rug of family shame or neglect, to reveal how one’s past casts a grave shadow over his future.
THE WITNESS brings a new dimension to the genre of true crime literature and drama. CSI has long since rolled up their tape; but, the investigation isn’t over. Detectives cool their heels from pounding the pavement; however, the interviews have just started. The suspects, charged and booked, are left to contemplate their future; yet, the key to their future lies in their past. While the crime is solved, one question remains: What is justice? The most fascinating and interesting thread to be untangled from the horrid mess of a human starts with the jury’s verdict — Guilty.
In the second stage, or penalty phase of the trial, the jury is now charged with the task of deciding a just and adequate sentence. They are instructed to put aside their own experiences along with their education, to put on the defendant’s shoes and arrive at an impartial decision based on the “monster in human form.” The newly convicted murderer’s motives, in this penalty phase, are balanced against humanity; one side argues that the weight of the crime warrants death by lethal injection while the other side contends that the scale tips towards life in prison without parole.
The murderer is prosecuted; such an atrocious act warrants death, the DA argues. They push and press the circumstances, mounting the evidence to a landslide verdict. In the midst of the overwhelming accusations and suppositions, one obstacle keeps the rising tide at bay. That one, a witness, defends the indefensible. The witness for the criminal. The witness of the psychological, physical and emotional development of the murderer. The witness for the human charged with taking the life of another. This is the account of The Witness.