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

August 29, 2016
Eric Draitser
Hillary and the Clinton Foundation: Exemplars of America’s Political Rot
Patrick Timmons
Dildos on Campus, Gun in the Library: the New York Times and the Texas Gun War
Jack Rasmus
Bernie Sanders ‘OR’ Revolution: a Statement or a Question?
Richard Moser
Strategic Choreography and Inside/Outside Organizers
Nigel Clarke
President Obama’s “Now Watch This Drive” Moment
Robert Fisk
Iraq’s Willing Executioners
Wahid Azal
The Banality of Evil and the Ivory Tower Masterminds of the 1953 Coup d’Etat in Iran
Farzana Versey
Romancing the Activist
Frances Madeson
Meet the Geronimos: Apache Leader’s Descendants Talk About Living With the Legacy
Nauman Sadiq
The War on Terror and the Carter Doctrine
Lawrence Wittner
Does the Democratic Party Have a Progressive Platform–and Does It Matter?
Marjorie Cohn
Death to the Death Penalty in California
Winslow Myers
Asking the Right Questions
Rivera Sun
The Sane Candidate: Which Representatives Will End the Endless Wars?
Linn Washington Jr.
Philadelphia District Attorney Hammered for Hypocrisy
Binoy Kampmark
Banning Burkinis: the Politics of Beachwear
Weekend Edition
August 26, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Louisa Willcox
The Unbearable Killing of Yellowstone’s Grizzlies: 2015 Shatters Records for Bear Deaths
Paul Buhle
In the Shadow of the CIA: Liberalism’s Big Embarrassing Moment
Rob Urie
Crisis and Opportunity
Charles Pierson
Wedding Crashers Who Kill
Richard Moser
What is the Inside/Outside Strategy?
Dirk Bezemer – Michael Hudson
Finance is Not the Economy
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Bernie’s Used Cars
Margaret Kimberley
Hillary and Colin: the War Criminal Charade
Patrick Cockburn
Turkey’s Foray into Syria: a Gamble in a Very Dangerous Game
Ishmael Reed
Birther Tries to Flim Flam Blacks  
Brian Terrell
What Makes a Hate Group?
Andrew Levine
How Donald Trump Can Still be a Hero: Force the Guardians of the Duopoly to Open Up the Debates
Howard Lisnoff
Trouble in Political Paradise
Terry Tempest Williams
Will Our National Parks Survive the Next 100 Years?
Ben Debney
The Swimsuit that Overthrew the State
Ashley Smith
Anti-imperialism and the Syrian Revolution
Andrew Stewart
Did Gore Throw the 2000 Election?
Vincent Navarro
Is the Nation State and Its Welfare State Dead? a Critique of Varoufakis
John Wight
Syria’s Kurds and the Wages of Treachery
Lawrence Davidson
The New Anti-Semitism: the Case of Joy Karega
Mateo Pimentel
The Affordable Care Act: A Litmus Test for American Capitalism?
Roger Annis
In Northern Syria, Turkey Opens New Front in its War Against the Kurds
David Swanson
ABC Shifts Blame from US Wars to Doctors Without Borders
Norman Pollack
American Exceptionalism: A Pernicious Doctrine
Ralph Nader
Readers Think, Thinkers Read
Julia Morris
The Mythologies of the Nauruan Refugee Nation
George Wuerthner
Caving to Ranchers: the Misguided Decision to Kill the Profanity Wolf Pack
Ann Garrison
Unworthy Victims: Houthis and Hutus
Julian Vigo
Britain’s Slavery Legacy
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail