Thanks for posting this, Phil, I have also blogged about it at:

I will not be back in Boston until 30 August, but I hope those in the area
will join in the protests Soldz describes at the very end of the piece. The
link for the APA convention, which is this week:


On Mon, Aug 11, 2008 at 4:44 AM, Phil Gasper <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> 08/08/10/ending_the_psychological_mind_games_on_detainees/
> *Ending the psychological mind games on detainees*
> By Stephen Soldz  |  August 10, 2008
> WHEN MOST people think of psychologists, they think of a professional
> helping them with life's emotional difficulties, or of a researcher studying
> human or animal behavior. Since the Bush administration and the war on
> terrorism have transformed our country, however, a new, more ominous image
> of psychologists has slowly seeped into public consciousness.
> Psychologists have been identified as key figures in the design and conduct
> of abuses against detainees in US custody at Guantanamo Bay, the CIA's
> secret "black sites," and in Iraq and Afghanistan. Psychologists should not
> be taking part in such practices.
> Yet a steady stream of revelations from government documents, journalistic
> reports, and congressional hearings has revealed that psychologists designed
> the CIA's "enhanced interrogation" techniques, which included locking
> prisoners in tiny cages in the fetal position, throwing them against the
> wall head first, prolonged nakedness, sexual humiliation, and waterboarding.
> Jane Mayer, in her new book, "The Dark Side," reports that the central idea
> was the psychological concept of "learned helplessness." Individuals are
> denied all control over their world, lose their will, and become totally
> dependent upon their captors.
> At Guantanamo, the Red Cross described a system of psychological abuse as
> "tantamount to torture." Psychologists, and some psychiatrists, helped
> interrogators "break down" detainees by exploiting information in their
> medical records. Thus, someone with an intense fear of dogs would be
> threatened with snarling dogs, while a person with a fear of being buried
> alive might be threatened with being sealed in a coffin.
> When reports of these abuses surfaced, we psychologists looked to our
> largest professional organization, the American Psychological Association,
> to take the lead in condemning them and taking measures to ensure that they
> would not recur. After all, these actions by psychologists violate the
> central principle of the APA's ethics code: "Psychologists strive to benefit
> those with whom they work and take care to do no harm."
> The APA, however, failed to take clear action. While the American Medical
> Association and the American Psychiatric Association quickly and
> unequivocally condemned any involvement by its membership in such
> activities, APA leaders quibbled over whether psychologists had been present
> at the interrogations and questioned the motives of internal critics.
> When the leadership appointed a task force on the ethics of psychologist
> involvement in interrogations, the report was strangely unsigned, and the
> members' names were kept secret from APA members and the media. Finally, it
> was revealed that a majority of members were from the military-intelligence
> establishment, with four having served in chains of commands implicated in
> detainee abuses. Three of the four nonmilitary members have since denounced
> the task force process and two have called for the report to be rescinded.
> The APA has since passed several antitorture resolutions - all of them full
> of loopholes - but has failed to take ethics enforcement action against a
> single psychologist for participating in abuses, despite publication two
> years ago of a detailed interrogation log showing the participation of a
> military psychologist in the abuse amounting to torture of a Guantanamo
> detainee.
> Not surprisingly, unrest among APA members is growing. Many members,
> including the founder of the APA's Practice Directorate and the former head
> of its Ethics Committee, have resigned in protest.
> This month, ballots went out for a first-ever referendum to call a halt to
> psychologist participation in sites where international law is violated. And
> dissident New York psychologist Steven Reisner, a founder of the Coalition
> for an Ethical Psychology, is running for the APA presidency. His principal
> campaign platform is for psychologists to be banned from participating in
> interrogations at US military detention centers, like Guantanamo Bay, that
> violate human rights and function outside of the Geneva Conventions. In the
> nomination phase Reisner received the most votes of the five candidates.
> At our annual convention in Boston this month, other APA members and I will
> rally against association policies encouraging participation in detainee
> interrogations. We will be joined by community activists, human rights
> groups, and civil libertarians to demand that APA return to its fundamental
> principle of "Do no harm." Psychologists owe it to their profession and to
> the cause of human rights to oppose abuses, not participate in them.
>  Stephen Soldz, psychologist and psychoanalyst, is professor and director
> of the Center for Research, Evaluation, and Program Development at the
> Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis.

Michael Balter
Contributing Correspondent, Science
Adjunct Professor of Journalism,
Boston University

Email: [log in to unmask]

Balter's Blog: