Torture: Did the American Psychological Association Collude With Torture of Human Beings?
That the Justice Department and the CIA announced today, three days after it was first noted that ‘interrogations’ video tapes were missing, that they will probe destruction of taped interrogations… that may be less important to many of us, than this other issue….
There’s another critical reason why many of us who are shrinks want to retrieve and view, not just the two missing videotapes of CIA interrogations of two al Qaeda suspects, but many more of the tapes of so-called interrogations
Why? It’s our opinion that we think we will find sickening evidence that people of our own profession will be on those tapes, egregiously misguided or demented members of our own profession for whom the gloss of ‘being important’ to a government, has overwhelmed their decency utterly.
We think those tapes hold stomach-turning evidence that some in our profession have helped to ‘supervise, and predict and prophesy’ to those who are doing the direct torture –— the psychological breaking points of those being tortured.
The prestigious American Psychological Association has had so many important social justice outreaches over the decades, and so many good souls as members, (including those vociferously speaking out about what they see as APA’s ‘if/but’ defense and acceptance of torture under certain conditions)…. But, the APA may never recover from its public ambivalence about torture of human beings under President Bush’s administration.
That an organization of healers and helpers could not unequivocally step up and say, ‘We refuse to participate in any way to torture others,’ is surely the darkest moment in the profession worldwide since April of 1945.
Only the heart that is not stone, cries out. Only the mind that flows for life, cries out.
There is an old story my father used to tell about a war that came across the land. As the marauding tribe came across the mountains, the stones who loved the village people cried out that the enemy was on the way. Thus alerted by the cries of the stones, many villages were saved.
And this is why people have such love of mountains and magnitude, for they learned to be in each others’ protection.
Years of peace ensued. Then, one day another marauding tribe swept down out of the Urals with intent to find and pillage the peaceful farm families. The wicked riders stopped by a great lake to water their horses, clean their bloody swords in the water, and bath their blood soaked armor. But, the water cried out. “I am being defiled! Defiled, not by the sons of man, but by the sons of hell!”
And the villagers heard the water cry out and thus were able to save themselves.
This is why the people love to be near water, This is why they guard the water from harm, because of the troth that was made with water eons before… when water cried out to save the people, and thus the people and the water came into the protection of each other.
……..The misuse of water to misuse and harm humans: Defilement of all concerned, is just the right phrase.
Even when you think you have seen it all
Those of you who know me, know I’ve been a practicing psychoanalyst for decades. I’ve also served as Chair of the Colorado State Grievance board and as a member for more than 13 years… a board which, with the District Attorney’s office, hears monthly cases of mental health professionals who have been grieved against for allegedly violating standard practice, state law.
While 90% of shrinks are well trained and ethical, the 10% who aren’t, well, over those years on the Grievance Board, I thought I had seen it all.
Sexual intrusions on vulnerable patients by so-called professionals, sexual acts on children; crazy therapeutic techniques that have no treatment value in reality, one of them resulting in the death of a child at therapists’ hands, frauds of many kinds, bleeding patients for money, addicted psychology professionals, pushing suicidal patients into suicide, health insurance frauds, practicing outside one’s area of training and expertise, holding oneself out as a this, when in fact they were something else entirely.
But, I hadn’t see it all.
This past many years have been the saddest of times for those of us who are healers.
Never in our wildest dreams would we ever have imagined that the issue of torture would be put to us and that we would not as a group rise up en-masse to utterly and unequivocally condemn torture, no rationalizations or ifs, ands, or buts.
But, astonishing to anyone with a room temperature IQ and a sense of decency, that’s not what happened.
My colleagues and I had to definitively separate ourselves from ANY professional organization that holds itself out as a helper and healer of human beings, if that organization will NOT make a definitive statement condemning not only torture, including water boarding, but also far more shockingly, that publicly and privately allows their members the hideous option to, if they choose, PARTICIPATE in torture with the government.
Yes, you read that right.
There isn’t a set of words dark enough to describe this shame to our profession of healing and helping.
I don’t know a single shrink of conscience who supports any other psychologist, psychiatrist or psychoanalyst, for any reason whatsoever, to twist their and our professional/human promise “to help, and if they cannot help, to do no harm”…. into a poisonous brew of misguided faux-patriotism, financial gain from pulling down a government contract, and all that participating willingly in such nefarious and inhumane matters, points to.
but my heart is broken. Again, like everyone else’s, reduced to a diamond dust, what a heart that makes.
But too, some of my colleagues who are pro-”get-em, torture em, so what?”
apparently really DO need their hearts examined. They absolutely do. To see if they still have one, a heart that is, and especially, a head that can think cohesively in humane ways.
The people in our profession who participate in torture need to be restrained from acting further. Who can effect that? The ethics boards of the large, national professional organizations set the drumbeat for everyone else to row to. Thus far, the APA has not effected this across the board ethic: NO TORTURE…and …. NO PARTICIPATION IN TORTURE OF HUMAN BEINGS.
We rely on the largest organizations of helpers and healers to lead. We cannot wait for individual professionals caught up in torture, to suddenly awaken and see how far their own souls have run away from them in utter revulsion of their colluding with what is not only purposely causing harm to others, but is anti-human at such deep levels that a beautiful soul and a normal mind cannot bear to be near such malignancy.
Didn’t we think the time of Mengeles was past?
Didn’t we laud the German doctors who stood up against Hitler’s orders to euthanize German children and adults who were born with retardation and being differently-abled? An order Hitler gave long before he turned to Jews and gypsies, Catholics, teachers, and homosexual people?
And didn’t we condemn at Nuremberg those doctors who did participate in harming, torturing, experimenting on, and murdering, accidentally or otherwise, other human beings in their custody? Wasn’t the United States one of the leaders of the world saying “THIS CANNOT STAND!”?
What mind snapped and where in our time, that any professional is caught in a huge inflation thinking helping the government damage people’s psyches is somehow right? What diseased mind ever suggested that the issue of torture is ‘a debate’? It is not a debate. It is a debasement of everything we hold holy.
What evil enchantment has come over such psyches that some who used to be ‘helpers of humankind, want now to stimulate themselves, excite themselves into jack-knifing and harming another human being irrevocably?
And, especially, what and where is the spell-breaker so sorely needed?
A brief psychology of malignant ambition
We shrinks KNOW that any person who strives ambitiously toward power or recognition, can be swept up in a form of self-importance, called an aberrant inflation. This can cause them to lose proper judgment, to aggress upon and prey upon others even though more and more they stand in the opprobrium of decent souls. They think they are superior; that others do not see the superior the way they do. They are eventually punitive. And like it that way.
Captured by their own wrongful-self-righteousness, and all their sick rationales, they live in a kind of manic passion, that they cannot see. But others can.
To have foibles as we all have, is one thing. But to be sick of mind and call oneself whole, is an illness all of its own. And such an ill person is known by their acts. Ethics, are higher than the law. Higher. Not lower. Higher.
As healthy wolves separate from a rabid wolf in the pack, so do the healthy human separate from one sick with such malignant power drive that they are willing to participate willingly in the inhuman.
We can argue about military and torture. But healers. Healers in CLEAR service to torture. Healers. Healers cannot torture. Healers can never torture. They cannot endorse it. They cannot participate in it in any way. Otherwise they must utterly and forever surrender the title Healer. They have made filth of what was given in a golden trust.
And time will tell whether there will be war trials for each of these individual colluder-doctors one day. We are not done with this issue yet. And will not be done. The stones cry out to and for the innocent people. And the water, the very water cries out against harm, also.
CODA: for more information see Dec 6 post from “Inside Higher Ed” which begins this way:
A movement that started in the psychology department at Earlham College — seeking to push the American Psychological Association to take a stronger stand against its members participating in interrogations that might deny basic human rights to prisoners — is growing.
Psychology departments at six colleges and universities have now endorsed resolutions saying that they believe it is unethical for psychologists to participate in any way in the interrogations of prisoners in facilities outside of the United States that lack the due process and other protections available to prisoners in the United States.
While APA ethics rules declare it unethical for psychologists to help any entity engage in torture, and the association recently strengthened those guidelines, the group left open the possibility of psychologists working in foreign prisons, assisting teams with certain kinds of interrogations. The refusal of the association to rule out such participation has angered many psychologists — enough so that six departments involved have taken steps to disassociate themselves from the association’s position…