Psychological damage and torture: Important Findings.

Psychological damage and torture: Important Findings.

by BFSkinner

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Wed Jun 03, 2009 at 07:38:51 AM PDT

The following is a summary on a just released study enttitled:

A multivariate contextual analysis of torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatments: Implications for an evidence-based definition of torture. The study appears by Basoglu, M. was in American Journal of Orthopsychiatry. Vol 79(2), Apr 2009, 135-145. and for those interested can be found at PscyNet to Buy or view the abstract

More after the break

The study at its heart helps refine the very definition of “torture.”

There have been some that suggest that there is a distinction between torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatments, and this distinction has allowed for people to say that cruel/degrading treatments (CIDT) is not torture as it is associated with less mental suffering, so it is OK to use in exceptional situations when information is needed, i.e. torture might always be wrong but cruel or degrading treatments is ‘not as bad as’ torture and thus is OK at times. This research was set up to test that view.

CIDT events:
deprivation of food, water, sleep, urination/defecation, and medical care, forced stress positions, isolation, fear-inducing psychological manipulations, humiliating treatment, exposure to hot/cold temperatures and exposure to extreme sensory discomfort

Physical Torture events:
electrical torture, hanging by the hands, beating the soles of the feet, genital/anal torture and stretching of extremities

Population:
432 people who were held captive and tortured in two different situations

  1. 230 survivors in former Yugoslavia countries
  1. 202 survivors from the coup d’état in Turkey in the early 1980s

Methods:
The research focused on 46 different forms of torture, rated by participants on a 0 to 4 perceived distress scale–where 0 was not all distressing and 4 was extremely distressing.

Participants rated the stressfulness of their overall torture experience using the same scale. They were also assessed for PTSD.

Results:
Participants averaged 21 stressor events during detention or captivity.

Survivors who rated CIDT as more distressing were also likely to report their overall torture experience as more stressful.

Perceived severity of physical torture was not associated with perceived severity of overall torture experience.

CIDT was also associated with higher rates of PTSD than physical torture.

Analysis:

Often people say that well they might oppose torture, CIDT is ‘not so bad’ and therefore it should be used if needed. The results of the study provide evidence to counter the idea that physical torture is somehow worse then CIDT and that if events do not ‘rise to’ the level of physical torture then they are somehow OK. These results, I hope, should put that distinction to rest.

Research already shows that torture does not produce valid information* so, together with these findings is there any reason why anyone should support its use? Hell no.

Rebecca Lemov, The World as Laboratory: Experiments with Mice, Mazes and Men (New York: Hill and Wang, 2005), p. 192.

Rebecca Lemov, “The American Science of Interrogation,” Los Angeles Times, October 22, 2005;

Alfred McCoy, “Cruel Science: CIA Torture and U.S. Foreign Policy,” New England Journal of Public Policy, 19, no. 2, Winter 2005, p. 216.

Robert J. Lifton, “Home by Ship: Reaction Patters of American Prisoners of War Repatriated from North Korea,” American Journal of Psychiatry April 1954, pp. 733-34;

Lemov, The World as Laboratory: Experiments with Mice, Mazes and Men, p. 198.

Lawrence E. Hinkle, Jr., “The Physiological State of the Interrogation Subject as it Affects Brain Function,” The Manipulation of Human Behavior, ed. Albert D. Biderman and Herbert Zimmer (New York: John Wiley and Sons, Inc., 1961) p. 43, cited in Steven M. Kleinman, “KUBARK Counterintelligence Interrogation Review: Observations of an Interrogator,” Educing Information: Interrogation: Science and Art: Intelligence Science Board Study Report on Educing Information, Phase 1 (Washington, DC: National Defense Intelligence College Press, September 2006), p. 132.

Randy Borum, “Approaching Truth: Behavioral Science Lessons on Educing Information from Human Sources,” Educing Information: Interrogation: Science and Art: Intelligence Science Board Study Report on Educing Information, Phase 1 (Washington, DC: National Defense Intelligence College Press, September 2006), pp. 26, 42.

Borum, “Approaching Truth: Behavioral Science Lessons on Educing Information from Human Sources,” p. 42.

Kleinman, “KUBARK Counterintelligence Interrogation Review: Observations of an Interrogator,” p.128.

Steven A. Drizin and Richard A. Leo, “The Problem of False Confessions in the Post-DNA World,” 82 N.C. L. Rev. 891, pp. 948-49,

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