Oy, oy, oy, oy, oy. Camping must be one of the more interesting human beings I’ve been able to analyze (at least one of the most interesting among the older folks I’ve read in my lifetime). And honestly, upon contemplation, I believe he has some deep psychological need for attention and recognition. Notice how at the beginning of this video he directs attention not to his error, but instead to the amount of listeners tuning in to hear him speak. “I am nothing” he says near the close of the video, but indeed, we find that during the entire clip, Harold Camping has constantly been trying to receive recognition, attention and respect. Something he used to have from his former loyal and dedicated followers before he caused them to humiliate themselves and lose everything because they believed his prediction about doomsday, May 21st 2011.
It’s at 1:26 in part 3 of his interview with the International Business Times – the smile. You can see his mouth widen enough to show his teeth and his eyes ever so slightly ‘brighten’ in genuine delight at the interviewer’s comment. What’s attention-grabbing about this expression is the timing and his expression directly after. Right before Camping’s subtle smile the interviewer (a very stern, experienced woman by the sound of it) says this: “…but because they believed that the end of the world must’ve been-” Stop! 1:26, we see him smile for no more than a second. When suddenly his right hand (which, during the smile, tensed and lifted off the arm of the chair during the duration of the smile) loses tension entirely and goes limp as the smile vanishes:
Directly after he regains control of his expression his eyes flick to his right and back in a millisecond (so fast that initially, I didn’t see it); was he attempting to create a new explanation? Possibly for his smile? Maybe for the question? I’m up in the air about it, but he was fighting hard to remain composed despite his clear glee at the attention. His hand begins to tense again and at 1:31 he licks his lips as she begins asking about his new date for doomsday – licking the lips is a popular male pacifying behavior – (in combination with his hand tensing yet again at the exact same time) representing a sudden discomfort and uncertainty when he can tell where the line of questioning is going. After this, we suddenly see his face turn cheerful, along with leg shifting/bouncing and hand twitching (more energy redistribution) while he attempts to put the interviewer in her place.
~Note: Energy redistribution is when we try to contain a strong a emotion, but the ‘energy’ leaks into other areas. Such as twitching or tapping fingers and bouncing legs and feet.~
We see a ‘hand pump’ (shown in th photograph below; his right hand suddenly grips, then releases fabric of armrest) at 1:58 when the interviewer says “Yes, yes.” in agreement with Camping’s comment about many people being affected by the recession. He becomes a little more confident, until his pacifying behavior vanishes altogether. He gets a bit cocky with her at 2:26 when she begins to speak again, giving a degrading and authoritative finger point directly at her. For a while he goes into a condescending sermon. We see after a comment from the interviewer at around 4:00 that he becomes very pleased with himself for coming up with a biblical point. We can hear his voice go up in pitch and volume with zest and confidence at 4:03 as he explains his point using slightly repetitive phrasing, commonly used when someone is so proud of a point that they feel a need to repeat it to feel certain the response is heard. e.g., “Well, no that’s the point of prayer, you don’t rely on your own understanding, that’s the point of prayer…” (found at 4:01) “But [your followers] relied on your understanding-” The interviewer begins before being interrupted by Camping.
Switch over to 5:00, a question is asked by a female reporter, “It’s safe to say that the mainstream population that heard about May 21st didn’t believe it-” Stop! 5:06:
we see Camping’s middle and pointer finger on his right hand flex upward with tension from a presumably negative emotion judging from the no-longer-confident expression on his face.
I actually believe I see his wrinkles ever so slightly deepen in his nasolabial folds and the left corner of his mouth turn down a bit more, but I cannot be certain due to the camera moving and causing a blurry image at this point.
But what we can see for certain, is at 5:07-5:09 as the reporter continues “…it didn’t happen-” Camping’s hands going from a very comfortable fold to a defensive clutch as his arms and hands in a manner brace themselves against the sides of the chair, if he were standing he might have put a hand on one of his hips.
Continuing, “…now they say, ‘See? This was ridiculous. And, at best-” at 5:12, we see Camping’s eyes flick off to the left, possibly instinctively looking for an exit. He is obviously very uncomfortable. His eyes only glance for a moment before switching back over to look again at his attacker. At 5:15 ( the last photograph above) we can see Camping grabbing onto the arms of his chair in a sudden defensive position.
The reporter finishes her leading comment, “…this was some kind of scam'” at 5:18 his eyes again flick to a possible exit. His face may be intending to say ‘I have this under control’, but so far, his body says “I really don’t like this…” He clearly feels attacked. At 5:18 also we see his head slightly tilt to his left (pictured on the left), a signal that is meant to instinctively induce sympathy and discourage an attack, we do this when we feel either trusting and allow ourselves to be vulnerable, or, as in Camping’s case, this is done as a way to subconsciously and instinctively show that we are no threat, and that by exposing the soft skin of the neck, reveal our vulnerability in hopes of the attacker ceasing (in this case) verbal warfare.
She asks the question, “Does it worry you that you’ve hurt the credibility, or made a mockery of religion in some way?” Camping at this point appears to hide behind his biblical authority. I find it a bit odd – and perhaps telling, that when he seemingly makes a comment about ‘other pastors’ (“Most pastors would never admit they [made] a mistake because they’re trying to preserve their own credibility in the eyes of those who are listening…” 5:46 in the video) he points not outward, but inward, pressing his left pointer finger onto his chest as he speaks:
Camping denies responsiblity in the interview for the emotional distress of his followers who lost everything because they believed him in their heart of hearts. And he has turned his back on them. Could this possibly be a tell of what Camping knows to be the real truth of the matter? That he is denying responsiblity to save his own face? Honestly, I believe so. He speaks along yet another minisermon, giving the latest reporter his authoritative pointing finger at 7:03 while he quotes a Bible verse.
Here’s my opinion of Harold Camping upon seeing his face, which is a nearly complete paradigm shift from what it was when I simply read the stories: Camping is a sick human being, and heaven knows I wish the man could be charged with a crime. The humiliation he has caused, and the refusal to help the people who so entirely trusted him, speaks to a selfish, attention-driven human being. My heart aches for this man’s victims (yes – his victims), he shouldn’t be left to lead this circus for another 5 months (the new doomsdate is October the 21st) he should be in prison.