Neuron Culture

Psychologists, doctors, and torture

Vaughn Bell, looking at the recent reports on torture, finds unsettling information about the participation of psychologists and physicians:

The Washington Post has an article exploring recently released ‘war on terror’ interrogation memos, showing that “psychologists, physicians and other health officials” played a key part in interrogations widely condemned as torture.

It’s an interesting revelation because during the long debates, and some say heal-dragging, over whether the American Psychological Association should ban its members from participation, one of their main arguments was that psychologists should participate to prevent any unethical behaviour.

Instead, it looks like the presence of psychologists and other health officials was used to justify the interrogations as reasonable, despite the fact that the Red Cross’s condemnation of techniques as “tantamount to torture” has now been justified by the release of official documents.

The American Psychological Association underwent a lot of contortions on this issue. It’ll be interesting to see it responds to this.  

Comments

  1. #1 Comrade PhysioProf
    April 18, 2009

    This is a fascinating issue. One of the reasons it is fascinating is that there are certain professions where everyone is all like, “ZOMFG!!! Even the {whatever profession}s were involved!!!” There is no reason whatsoever to believe that the prevalence of moral degenerates differs from profession to profession, regardless of stereotypes.

  2. #2 llewelly
    April 18, 2009

    Comrade Physioprof is right – but certain professions, like doctors and psychiatrists, are much more capable of enhancing the damage done. Consider a torturer advised by a psychiatrist or a surgeon versus a torturer advised, by, say, a web developer or an interior decorator.

  3. #3 MattK
    April 18, 2009

    a torturer advised, by… an interior decorator

    Oh God!

  4. #4 Comrade PhysioProf
    April 19, 2009

    Very good point, llewelly.

  5. #5 T. Hunt
    April 19, 2009

    While the modern Hippocratic oath does not contain “first, do no harm’, it does contain this passage:

    “I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.”

    Another oath approved by the AMA contains this passage:

    “That you will exercise your art solely for the cure of your patients, and will give no drug, perform no operation, for a criminal purpose, even if solicited, far less suggest it.”

    Those in the medical profession that participated in the torture of others should be prohibited from ever involving themselves in the practice of medicine, anywhere, for any reason. Period. They have violated a concept that goes to the very heart of their value and place in our society and have forfeited the right to ever be called on again in that capacity. Biblical shunning would be appropriate.

    To willingly and deliberately enable others to inflict pain and damage on another human being, for ANY reason, is a crime worse than the actual infliction of that pain or damage. It gives the act of torture a moral blessing that it neither deserves or warrants. Torture itself is nothing but sadism and its utility has been widely disproved. There is nothing to be gained, short term or long term, except the degradation of those who torture and those who sponsor it. And in doing this, we have put those who fight for us, those we call upon to give the utmost measure, in gravest danger when they take the battlefield in our name.

    We have been diminished as a nation and as an idea in the world due to the fear that has overwhelmed us since Sept. 11, 2001. We have allowed those who speak for us to torture and deceive on our behalf and we all bear some of the responsibility for the acts of our nation. We need to start setting things right and a first step would be for the AMA to expel any who participated in or enabled torture.

    Criminal proceedings against those who ordered torture should begin immediately and those that meekly followed should at least be removed from government service.

    This will haunt us for far longer than we can imagine and we will never fully recover. But we can make strides in that direction if we are willing to stand by the principles we have so long given lip service to.

    T. Hunt

  6. #6 Linda Gore
    April 23, 2009

    Vaughn Bell has ZERO credibility owing to Vaughn Bell having made himself a criminal accomplice of corrupt US Authorities and corrupt US Psychologists taking part in the Conspiracy to Blackmail, Torture, and Murder all the crime victims of US Torture Cartel.

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