FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Psychologist Complicity in Torture Challenged

by STEPHEN SOLDZ

For years dissident members of the American Psychological Association, along with non-member psychologists, have fought the associations policies promoting psychologist participation in military and intelligence interrogations. These dissidents argued that psychologists aiding interrogations were sometimes aiding torture and other abuse. Further, even in cases where the interrogations were not themselves abusive, psychologist participation violated the profession’s principle ethical injunction, to “Do No Harm.”

The APA leadership, in contrast, claimed that psychologists were necessary to prevent harm to detainees, though they never explained how this prevention would actually occur. Meanwhile, the press and official documents gradually revealed the fact that psychologists, rather than preventing harm, were central actors in designing and implementing the “enhanced interrogation” techniques used by the CIA in its torture centers and by certain military interrogators at Guantanamo and elsewhere.

The APA response was to deny the facts as long as possible. When pure denial was no longer viable, they resorted to admitting that a very few psychologists acted against their professional ethics in aiding abuses. They have never commented on the role bof psychology as a profession when members of the ptofession are designing and implementing a systematic governmental program of abuse. Rather, APA leaders did everything in their power to obscure the issues in order to maintain their support for psychologist participation in detainee interrogations.

Yesterday a group of APA members filed a formal complaint with APA President Bray protesting what they regard as systematic violations of APA procedures and by-laws by the association in pursuit of its position that psychologists should participate in Bush-era detainee interrogations.

The extent of procedural violations is a major piece of evidence behind dissidents beliefs that APA leadership were knowingly complicit in the Bush program of detainee abuse. The other major pieces of evidence are the APA’s systematic refusal to acknowledge psychologist participation in abuses until the public record made denial impossible, and the massive resistance of APA leadership to any attempts by members to change policy. When APA members, by a vote of 59% to 41%, voted to condemn psychologist participation in illegal detention sites like Guantanamo, the APA accepted the formal wording but worked to obfuscate its application to any actual existing sites.

Many APA members have resigned in disgust at the association’s leadership’s duplicitous role. Yet other dissidents remain members and are pursuing all available means of redress allowed by association rules. This formal protest is their latest effort. Under APA rules, President Bray is to appoint a Committee on Constitutional issues, with membership acceptable to complainants, to investigate. APA rules stipulate that this Committee should be formed and operate expeditiously. The ball is now in President Bray’s court.

Here is a pdf of the letter sent to President Bray.

STEPHEN SOLDZ is a psychoanalyst, psychologist, public health researcher, and faculty member at the Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis. He edits the Psyche, Science, and Society blog. He is a founder of the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology, one of the organizations working to change American Psychological Association policy on participation in abusive interrogations. He is President-Elect of Psychologists for Social Responsibility [PsySR].

 

STEPHEN SOLDZ is a psychoanalyst, psychologist, public health researcher, and faculty member at the Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis. He edits the Psyche, Science, and Society blog. He is a founder of the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology, one of the organizations working to change American Psychological Association policy on participation in abusive interrogations. He is President-Elect of Psychologists for Social Responsibility [PsySR].

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

December 07, 2016
Michael Schwalbe
What We Talk About When We Talk About Class
Karl Grossman
The Next Frontier: Trump and Space Weapons
Kenneth Surin
On Being Caught Speeding in Rural America
Chris Floyd
In Like Flynn: Blowback for Filth-Peddling Fascists
Serge Halimi
Trump, the Know-Nothing Victor
Paul DeRienzo
Flynn Flam: Neocon Ex-General to Be Trump’s National Security Advisor
Binoy Kampmark
Troubled Waters: Trump, Taiwan and Beijing
Tom Clifford
Trump and China: a Note From Beijing
Arnold August
Fidel’s Legacy to the World on Theory and Practice
Dave Lindorff
Is Trump’s Idea To Fix a ‘Rigged System’ by Appointing Crooks Who’ve Played It?
John Kirk
Cuba after Fidel: Interview with Professor John Kirk
Jess Guh
Repeal of Affordable Care Act is Politics Playing with the Wellbeing of Americans
Eric Sommer
Team Trump: a Government of Generals and Billionaires
Lawrence Davidson
U.S. Reactions to the Death of Fidel Castro
John Garvey - Noel Ignatiev
Abolitionism: a Study Guide
Clancy Sigal
Caution: Conspiracy Theory Ahead!
December 06, 2016
Anthony DiMaggio
Post-Fact Politics: Reviewing the History of Fake News and Propaganda
Richard Moser
Standing Rock: Challenge to the Establishment, School for the Social Movements
Behrooz Ghamari Tabrizi
Warmongering 99 – Common Sense 0: the Senate’s Unanimous Renewable of Iran Sanctions Act
Norman Solomon
Media Complicity is Key to Blacklisting Websites
Michael J. Sainato
Elizabeth Warren’s Shameful Exploitation of Standing Rock Victory
David Rosen
State Power and Terror: From Wounded Knee to Standing Rock
Kim Ives
Deconstructing Another Right-Wing Victory in Haiti
Nile Bowie
South Korea’s Presidency On A Knife-Edge
Mateo Pimentel
Some Notes and a Song for Standing Rock
CJ Hopkins
Manufacturing Normality
Bill Fletcher Jr – Bob Wing
Fighting Back Against the White Revolt of 2016
Peter Lee
Is America Ready for a War on White Privilege?
Pepe Escobar
The Rules of the (Trump) Game
W. T. Whitney
No Peace Yet in Colombia Despite War’s End
Mark Weisbrot
Castro Was Right About US Policy in Latin America
David Swanson
New Rogue Anti-Russia Committee Created in “Intelligence” Act
George Ochenski
Forests of the Future: Local or National Control?
December 05, 2016
Bill Martin
Stalingrad at Standing Rock?
Mark A. Lause
Recounting a Presidential Election: the Backstory
Mel Goodman
Mad Dog Mattis and Trump’s “Seven Days in May”
Matthew Hannah
Standing Rock and the Ideology of Oppressors: Conversations with a Morton County Commissioner
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
#NoDAPL Scores Major Victory: No Final Permit For Pipeline
Fran Shor
The End of the Indispensable Nation
Michael Yates
Vietnam: the War That Won’t Go Away
Michael Uhl
Notes on a Trip to Cuba
Robert Hunziker
Huge Antarctica Glacier in Serious Trouble
John Steppling
Screen Life
David Macaray
Trump vs. America’s Labor Unions
Yoav Litvin
Break Free and Lead, or Resign: a Letter to Bernie Sanders
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail