This week on 9/11 Free Fall, psychologist Robert Griffin talks with host Andy Steele about his involvement in AE911Truth’s soon-to-be-released documentary, The Unspeakable. Griffin shares his admiration for the individuals featured in the film, whom he spoke with in preparation for his own interview, and also discusses the social and psychological challenges faced by victims’ family members and activists who question the official 9/11 story.
Welcome to 9/11 Free Fall, I'm the host Andy Steele. Today, we're joined by Robert Griffin. Robert is a psychologist and a member of Psychologists for Social Responsibility. He is a 9/11 Truth advocate and is featured in AE911Truth's film called 9/11 Explosive Evidence: Experts Speak Out. He is also in our latest film, The Unspeakable, which we'll be talking about today. Robert, welcome back to 9/11 Free Fall.
Thank you, Andy. Glad to be here.
So, it's been a while since you've been on this show. Something we always like to learn about our guests, and I think the audience, which is composed mainly of 9/11, Truth advocates like yourself, likes to hear this too, because it's always an important moment for us and our own development on this journey here, to where we are now. Remind our audience, what first made you begin to question the fall of the towers on September 11th?
Yeah, the fall of the towers really, came somewhat later. My first idea was that it was being used in the wrong way and in a very dysfunctional way. And then, I began to suspect that they were negligent in supposedly not caring for so long and so much about terrorism. And I said, "Geez, that seems just like a passive wish of not caring." And so, it was only with time, and then listening to some folks like David Ray Griffin, and so on, that I began to put more pieces together. And then, with the architects and engineers coming out, I said, "Okay, this is now a science, it's not theories. It's not a speculation. And that we're solid."
And that happened over years and like many, I suppose, in the early years, I'm talking about 2000, 1, 2, 3, and so, that sometimes I would just fall back into almost a trance, because, I wouldn't know that many people that would doubt the official story, or I wasn't hearing it, I wasn't seeing it. So, I got caught up in the movie at times. And then, I'd have to snap back and say, "Wait a minute, I don't know that, that's true." But, it was hard to stay out of the movie, I think until the architects and engineers group came along.
Right. And again, it's the same for so many people out there. And it is a trance now. Most people that I interview on the show, don't just watch a YouTube video back in 2007, or whenever they woke up, and then immediately say, "Yup, they were brought down in controlled demolitions. I want to go out and be an activist for it." Most people take their time, because they don't want to believe this. Most people didn't come into the situation wanting to believe that something like this could be true. And what you were saying /that it was negligence on the part of the government. I mean, that was a more mainstream attitude. It was more acceptable to say that back in the day, although they didn't really want you criticizing anything about 9/11 or the government's response to it in the days following.
So, I mean, just a lot of great people drawn to the same goal and from so many different backgrounds, there's really something miraculous about all that to me. Now, considering that the early propaganda against 9/11 Truth was that people who question the government's narrative have some mental illness. That's the way they tried to paint all of us back in the day, and they really do today as well. How did that jive with you personally and professionally after you woke up to what really happened on that day?
Well, it was hard and I think that's part of what made it difficult to think about and to talk about. And much of our reality is a social reality, that it's what others acknowledge and what can be communicated to others, and others will communicate, that we tend to recognize ourselves. And so, it was infuriating. And I guess, I compare it a lot to, I work with families and what happens in families with different types of things and abuse, or neglect, and addiction problems, is that it's difficult for individuals in a system to speak in ways that are different than the system beliefs. And that maybe, one could say that society is something where we agree to believe a certain set of ideas and often that are not true.
So, that was hard, it was frustrating. And the few times I did attempt to speak to someone back in the early years, it was difficult, because they didn't have a place for that. And it's said that we're maybe storied animals, that we think in stories and we get information, and there's different little filing cabinets and such. And then, if our information and our perceptions don't fit the story, we don't have a place to put that information and it just falls away and we don't absorb it sufficiently, and remember it. So, the stories that we live in are really how we see things, or as has been said, the story that we tell is the spell.
Exactly. To me, it's a greater sign of mental illness when people just blindly believe what the TV tells them, I'll share the story really quick. When the whole allegations against Bill Cosby were coming out, and I didn't follow it closely, and I don't claim to have some deep knowledge of all the facts behind that, but, it just came up at work, or the place where I was working at the time. And the immediate knee-jerk reaction of one of the people there said, "Oh, they're all lying about that." I said, "How do you know that?" And they're just like, "Well, come on, it's Bill Cosby." I'm like, "You know, he's not the guy that he plays on TV. You don't know what the person's like behind the scenes." But, people assume that a character that they play on television is the real person.
And so, this translates out into issues like that, but it also translates out into issues like September 11th. I mean, everybody has an agenda in government. And of course, even if it was just negligence, and let's just put aside controlled demolition for a second, even though it was just negligence, of course, people in positions of responsibility are going to want to cover for themselves. Of course, they're going to want to put out the best narrative, that they can and try to disassociate themselves from blame. And of course, if there is a wider plot going on there involving the demolitions of the towers... I mean, again, if the TV is saying, and people will just agree with it. If they're saying there's nothing to the evidence, people will just go along with it, because Popular Mechanics appears on the History Channel. And so, to me, that's a greater sign of mental illness, when you don't question, when you don't think for yourself and you just follow along and do whatever that flickery blue box tells you. Now, let's get to The Unspeakable here. You appeared in it, and I've been told that you watched the September 10th screening with a group of Catholic workers in, I believe it was a church in Washington, D.C. You can clarify that for me, if you want. But, talk about that experience and what was their response?
Yeah, it was that the Catholic Worker House in Washington, D.C. And they held a screening. it was open to people in the community and there were two rooms and they were packed. And so, it was interesting that the Catholic workers would show a film like that. But, what I found, and what I find in general, is that this film looks at the individual stories and that we see thing... nothing's real until it's a specific and individual, that these abstractions of numbers of how many people were killed. I believe it's maybe 30,000 soldiers that have killed themselves now, that were involved in these wars based on 9/11.
So, that's an abstraction. Now, if I knew a particular individual, and I think I did know one person who came in for an evaluation once. He drove his car too fast through town and died. Now, that strikes me harder than the number. So, with the film and the individuals you have real life people, real life emotions, real life relationships in a context. And so, that makes it real and gets out of the realm of what you were referring to earlier about conspiracy theories and how the film was labeled. And, I'm sorry... how Spike Lee's film, or docuseries, was indicated.
So, the reaction though, that I found was that people didn't know what they were going to so much see. And I think I'll just say, it's just an observation, that people in the 9/11 Truth Movement, the activists tend to be activists and want to figure out what to do and are less likely to process the emotions and things like that.
So, the reaction continued to be, and I found this throughout my experience with people that are activists, is has been primarily one of action and rather than contemplation. And so, that was the response there. And so, I think for the general public, that's a different story. And I think the film works well with people that have been exposed to some of the media coverage around Spike Lee's docuseries, and that shows. These are just ordinary people that didn't have any ideas of such things. And that only after the exposure and after time only began to find out things many years later.
So, I think, it's a good introduction for people who have not been exposed. But I was glad to be there. And I was glad that they showed it at the Catholic Workers House, it was where it was shown, that they did do it. So, that was my experience that night. And I had not seen the film before, so I was catching it myself.
Right. And I want to talk about that, because, obviously, you are in it, and then you now get this opportunity to actually see it. What was your impression of it?
Well, I hear that it's been revised. And it continues to be improved and edited and so on, because they were operating under a deadline, but I found the family members very impressive, that these were all individuals that, whether it came out totally in the film or not, were very competent, very accomplished and very smart. And to see their own grief process, there really, wasn't so much about 9/11 and the government and what they did with it, and so on but, their own personal journeys. So, I guess I had spoken to the family members prior to the film, so I had a personal connection. So, I really liked and cared about the people that were in the film. And so, to see them in their wider context with more family members, for me personally, was a treat, so to say, that I really appreciated that.
How did it compare to what you imagined when you were first invited to participate in the film?
Yeah, I wasn't exactly sure, what was going to be. I wasn't told everything that about the docuseries and such right away. So, I thought it would be similar to the other AE film where they'd have mental health professionals talking about things. So, this was much more just about the regular people and their stories. And I guess, these were people that cared about the individuals that many of us, as I say, these are statistics of what happened, in abstract. And so, the ability to see people that had an individual sense of responsibility to this, was different. There was something called the bystander effect that happened; it was thought of and theorized about several decades ago, where the more people that are present, the more bystanders there are in a situation that requires a response, or help and intervention, the less likely people were to respond, because the responsibility for responding and acting was diffused among people, the more there were.
And I think, that compares to where we're at that we say, "Well, there's these other people, the politicians, the media, and other engineers and architects is certainly these other people would be speaking up and they're responsible, not me. What do I know about architects, architecture and engineering?" But, these are folks, because they were personally touched in a way that was so deep and profound, that they could not forget, or not feel responsible, felt responsible and feel responsible to those people for the love and the care. And so, that was something that I ended up realizing that, I suppose a lot of things. And then, talking to the family members and seeing them on the film, it just gave me a whole new appreciation for how normal these people just were. And they were not anything that had any prior predisposition to conspiracies, or theories, or anything like that. So, it was a pleasure to meet them and I really admired all of them that I had seen and spoken to.
Right. And I've said it during the September 10th event, this really drives home why we do this work, which I think we need a reminder of every once in a while. Because as you do this advocacy for a new 9/11 investigation, it becomes work in a sense that, you think of 9/11 in a different way than you did on that day. You just look at it as the event that you're talking about and analyzing in a very scientific way. And it becomes easy to disassociate and just think of the nearly 3,000 people who died that day as a number. But, no, that was nearly 3,000 different stories here in our world, 3,000 different experiences here in this life. Everything that you out there in the audience have gone through from birth to now, these people went through some form of as well, and then just suddenly have it taken away from you in a moment, one morning.
And for me, personally, I focused on the controlled demolition, because it's the most obvious evidence. And that's what we do here at AE911Truth. But, what disturbs me the most are the people who had to jump from the top of the buildings. I have this issue with vertigo. I don't like standing on the edge of something high up. I don't mind going on an airplane, but when you're standing on the edge of something, I don't know. It just makes me uneasy. I don't like heights. And just to think about someone having to make that decision as to whether they're going to stay inside and die one way or jump out. I don't even like to think about it, but some people had to do that, and they deserve justice as well. So, that's something that reminds me why I do this work.
But then you look at the families, too. I mean, it's the most awful thing to take somebody's child away from them, even if they're an adult, because their whole life is their kids. They dedicate to it. And to take that away from them. And we were angered when we thought it was just a regular terrorist attack, but, when we learned there was something more to this, that there were explosives in the towers that whoever did that has still gotten away with it. Now, we got to get on this. We got to get an acknowledgement and full justice for all of those people. Now, in preparation for your own interview in the film, you interviewed each of the people that you just mentioned. Tell our audience what that was like.
Well, I'll tell you, the people were very impressive as individuals, very accomplished, very intelligent. And it was also just humbling to see who they were and what they had gone through. And then, with some of the people, like Bob McIlvaine, how he had been transformed as a person in ways that are incredible.
Now, I saw some people that had struggled a bit, let's say initially, when they found out early that you had the trauma of losing somebody in this horrific event, and you began to suspect, or come to be convinced, that this was something else. That tended to hit people harder than people that found out later, who had a chance to grieve and get on more with their life, and where it's not, what we call complex post-traumatic stress that involves relationships, the trauma to the social world.
And so, there was different types of some involved depression and drinking and things, and had to come out of that. So, that was understandable, but, that they did. And then, others who found out only years later and some were, until were actually recently, they tended to have, because they took it in stages of losing their family member under as awful and unusual circumstances as it was, but not with, what I would say, complex post-traumatic stress that are prolonged insult that the other folks that suspected earlier on, an insult to their being, to their intelligence, to their dignity, and that were isolated and shamed for suspecting the official story to be false.
And so, that was something I came away with, that the repeated trauma of being dismissed and shamed and called conspiracy theorists and people not wanting to talk to them, was something they had to endure as well. People that went along with the official story initially, didn't have that. They had positive social responses and support, and that was a completely different thing.
So, I saw, what I would say is the psychological abuse to the families, through the ignoring of them, the isolating them in the media and in our communities. And to agree that happens to all of us that suspect the official story, that we have to pretend. And I guess I compare it a lot to where I went to school at Penn State, where the folks that knew, had to keep quiet and it was about what was going on. And so, The Unspeakable, which the film is entitled, has a great application, of how we all deal with it, or how we fail to deal with it.
And that, that unspeakable, is within us, that when we deny and it provides the seed bed for these actions to occur, like enablers that, within whatever system it was. And the term unspeakable was coined by the Trappist Monk, Thomas Merton. And to describe what he saw, is just tremendous evil. And in our society, throughout the Vietnam War and the assassinations of the 1960s, and that we, as a country, we've been involved in it for some time, all the way back to World War II and some of the atrocities that we committed with bombing civilians, and sometimes burning to death 100, 000 people a night in Japan. And so, we just dismiss all that.
And so, we make it possible, in other words, that the unspeakable is within us as well. It's not just what's out there that someone else does, but that it's within us. And that was part of why I felt without thinking of the unspeakable, that I thought I wanted to be willing to do something that it was wrong to refuse to say something. And that I didn't want to be in that sense of being, even though I didn't have words for it at the time. So, I forgot what your question was, but that's what some of the things I felt was important to share
We only have a few minutes left here. I want to take advantage of the fact that you are here, you're a psychologist, we have a lot of activists that listen to the show. And it becomes hard, at least at first, when you wake up to this, to stay well-rounded in society, because it's like, "If they're lying about this, what else are they lying about?" And you can't even trust anything at any point. Now, to me, in a certain sense, it's empowering, because everything is, I don't want to say fake, it really exists, but it's just phony and you can see through it. And then, you start looking at politicians and government officials and police, and almost, just kids in a uniform. And it makes you more powerful. That's the way I see it.
But, a lot of people have trouble dealing with this reality and wanting to stay positive. You got to stay positive in this world in order to move forward and live your daily life and separate from it. But, how do people do that if they're struggling with those issues?
Well, that's very hard, obviously. I think if we can use some examples through history that say, Japan and Germany, who had to face some awful truth and situations after the war. They dealt with it and they seem to do fairly well and economic powerhouses, and they didn't all fall apart. So, I guess you compartmentalize, that sometimes, you're aware of it, you don't have to talk about it to everybody necessarily, that you can pick your spots, and that life, is basically good.
And with some of the people that I saw in the film as well, that they researched history and they found out this was more or less, it wasn't that unusual that governments do things. And so, I think also family, family, and friends that we need, we need to be connected and that, that's healthy. And when we're isolated, it's not healthy, but it doesn't have to... I've seen many people, who they're aware of it, but they go about living their lives. Now, I'm not sure that's the way to go. Because, most people that are interested in, in getting it out.
But, I think two things I would say, what has helped me. One, is that sometimes when things are falling apart, which I think our country has become dysfunctional to a degree, that is not sustainable. Partially, through these lies and distortion, to make it harder to function. When you can't self-correct and you have these blind spots and these hidden areas, and the imperialism and such that, that falls apart. And when things fall apart, secrets just come bursting out. They just come out, because they've got bigger problems.
And the other thing that's helped me, I'll just say, is with the environmental situation that is very serious and that life on earth and human life and human communities are at risk. And so, in comparison, that even if 9/11 was, as we thought it was, we have this other problem. And so, it helped me to put 9/11 in perspective that while resolving this, I can't see us resolving our situation with the environment and all the implications, unless we were to be able to be truthful and deal with this, but this other problem is larger. And that, 9/11 is perhaps a symptom, but in my opinion, it is not the biggest threat facing humanity. And that's the good and the bad news.
But I think relationships enjoying, appreciating nature, all the things that make people healthy, engage in those as well. That's what I would tell people. And be nice, be present for your friends and your relatives, be caring, and don't be transformed oneself as much as possible by this kind of unspeakable horror that was 9/11, and continues to be.
Absolutely, couldn't agree with you more and always remember that you are an individual out there, you are not the country, or not the problem. You are not the event that happened 20 years ago. You are you, and that's all that matters, and life is a miracle. No matter what's going on in your life, or in the bigger picture, or in the world. I mean, you look down to the sidewalk and see a little flower, a little sunflower, or whatever they're called, or a dandelion coming up through it; that right there is a miracle, and that's what you got to be in this world and keep a sense of humor, because that will get you through life, better than anything. Robert, thank you so much for what you're doing, for being in the film and of course, for coming on 9/11 Free Fall today.
Take care, and we'll be in touch, I'm sure, at some point.