Home | About | Donate

First Step for Reform: APA Votes to Bar Psychologists From Colluding in Torture


First Step for Reform: APA Votes to Bar Psychologists From Colluding in Torture

Nadia Prupis, staff writer

The American Psychological Association (APA) on Friday voted overwhelmingly to bar its members from participating in the interrogation of U.S. prisoners on foreign soil, officially ending the association's complicity in torture of detainees and taking the first step out of "the dark side."

All but one member of the APA's Council of Representatives voted to end the association's collusion with the CIA and other U.S. intelligence agencies in abusive interrogations as well as the so-called "noncoercive" kind now being carried out by the Obama administration.


The pity is that they chose to do that rather than bar those with insufficient ethical nous from credentialing and licensure. Barring the insufficiently-ethical would also have solved this problem: [quote]Reisner also noted that the vote only prohibits psychologists from colluding in interrogations conducted in the name of national security, ignoring “domestic cruelty” carried out within the U.S. justice system. But he said he hoped the APA’s decision could influence the treatment of American prisoners as well. “We have to consider that in the future,” he said.[/quote]


It took the APA 10 years to come to this conclusion? And at that they did not bar all abuse. These are psychologists we depend on for mental health? Too bad they don’t have a better moral compass.


Round up the purveyors of torture and bring them to trial, if it must start at the bottom to get to the top so be it.


I’d disagree. Healthy people tend to exhaust their vindictiveness after just a little while, so we should start at the top where the torture is implicitly ordered and torturers recruited so that when we exhaust our willingness to punish, the worst will not have escaped.


I understand the outrage, but note that the vote had only one dissenter, a military shrink who may be implicated and therefore should be evaluated and perhaps struck off.


Ironically, the whole sorry saga only represents yet another real life example of the psychological principle Milgram demonstrated way back in the 1950s.


Because it’s a collegial professional association run by volunteers. Beating them up for not being on top of things would be like beating up a model-rocket society because a few of the members used their skills to blow a hole in a bank vault and run off with the money. Would you think it fair in such a case to call the East Treestump Model Rocketry Club the East Treestump Bank-Robbers Club?

I’m happy to jump up and down on their case for solving the wrong problem --those who put together the rule that was voted into being should certainly have known it was the wrong rule-- but it seems quite harsh to call them “psychopaths” because of it.

If you want fictional --but very well-scripted-- examples of psychopaths, go to the library and check out the first 3 seasons of Once Upon A Time. There are 6 recurring characters portrayed who behave very badly (Regina/The Evil Queen, Mr Gold/Rumplestiltskin/The Dark One, Spenser/King George, Cora, The Wicked Witch, and Peter Pan). Three of them are canonical psychopaths, 2 are voluntaries (“successful” in Hare’s terms), and one appears to be a psychopath but isn’t. See whether you can work out which are which.


Funny: so what this article is telling me is that, not only did I meat economic students that literally stated they want to work in the erroneous hegde funding business, but now I could have been sitting a student in my psych classes that could have become a torturer? Lovely, welcome to America where psycholigists that ‘help’ sex offenders that are required to recieve treatment for thier issues by someone that does not care about the victim, and screw with their heads, creating more victims…oh wait, that actually happens. God bless those that create more victims in society…We’re number #1…we’re number #1…yea.


Amy Goodman was at the convention and there’s a good 20+ minutes of direct commentary on Friday’s Democracy Now program. I thought of YOU and this forum’s other psychologists. I would not be surprised if you are DOD psychologists, too. The material on ethics was quite compelling. You, Jag, and others who have spent your would-be working days structuring opinions in this forum ought to take a good listen to their words.


Most had no idea of the extent of the DOD program and its wish to get Psychologists on board to grant horrors a veneer of legitimacy. It took time for a scathing report that was meticulously documented (The Hoffman Report) to expose the mostly secretive goings on. In other words, it’s wise not to indict the entire organization for the work of prestige & status-seeking pursued by morally repugnant types.


I’ve shared this before. When I started my college years my inclination was to become a Psychologist. Two things turned me off. First, it was obvious to me that those studying Psychology were young men not getting laid and young women trying to resolve their own social problems.

The 2nd was that my first year Psychology professor was an obnoxious and arrogant guy who put 3 statistics up on the board. The statistics showed that people UNTREATED recover at higher rates than those treated by a psychologist and lowest on the list of recovery were those treated by Psychiatrists. In other words, the statistics counter-indicated Psychology’s typical therapeutic tools as any path to recovery!

Since Milgram’s experiment likely involved young people pursuing studies or careers in Psychology, many of them would wish to be validated by persons with credentials: i.e. authority figures.

In addition (although it’s seldom mentioned), the high preponderance of Judeo-Christian training induces in most persons a fear of Original Sin or God’s would-be punishment. Patriarchal religions give rise to inner authoritarian beliefs and prejudices.

Thus the penchant for “just following orders” is part of the religious philosophy inculcated into persons of Western culture.

It would be interesting if such an exam were conducted on Buddhists or Indigenous Natives or individuals less suffused with so punitive a belief system. And that belief system has become the foundation for Western Law and is itself carried over into economics as justified by today’s Austerity: The New Calvinism.


It’s not so much a “repetition of this shameful cooperation” as it is the result of bringing so many Nazis directly into U.S. armed forces and the NSA. Project Paperclip is not some “Twilight Zone” conspiracy theory and it involved many hundreds, if not thousands, of German psychologists, engineers, scientists, etc. How then could this ilk’s expertise in all forms of warfare not win primacy inside U.S. war-oriented departments? Apart from being enemies during the war, there was great admiration for the efficiency of the Nazi machine, its streamlined propagandistic systems, its expert use of technology, and its cold-hearted focus on the ways of war.

Those who make war their professional calling tend to admire others of the same “sensibility.”

MINITRUE often relates that the U.S. has largely morphed into a Fourth Reich. There are far too many similarities… which many would take for PROOF of that assertion:

  1. Border fence
  2. Armed guards and lots of media glorifying soldiers and warfare
  3. Pervasive spy-Stasi state
  4. Use of major False Flag in order to rescind all major Civil Liberties
  5. Control of press/media to repeat Official Stories conducive towards military objectives
  6. Massive punishment shown for dissenters, whistle blowers, truth tellers
  7. Emphasis on banning abortion and control of women’s rights
  8. Use of a Semitic scapegoat
  9. Lousy economic circumstances as back-door recruiting tool of soldiers from lower income families
  10. Secret military courts
  11. Use of extensive forms of torture
  12. Covert FEMA camps
  13. Tanks all over and a slow, steady upswing in military tactics being utilized by domestic police departments
  14. The use of fear/trauma as mind-control to virtually hypnotize a population into obeying “unitary executive” style tyrants
  15. Turning established law on its head due to “National Security” concerns
  16. So much money bled on spreading wars and weaponry that the treasury is empty when it comes to HONEST needs of citizens
  17. Using “national defense” as the ruse to round up/silence “enemies” sans trial, jury, etc.

In other words, the parallels extend way beyond the use of a particularly odious group of psychologists to further the goals of Totalitarian fascists.


You are over-generalizing.

Just because John Yoo pushed a legal argument that “justified” torture doesn’t mean that all lawyers deserve the same indictment.

Within any field there are honest persons driven by integrity and moral virtue and others who will capitalize on any circumstance for personal advantage.

THAT distinction is important.

Watch the clip from about the 20 minute point and maybe you will realize that you’re missing something: (August 7)


So you’re a Psychologist who can’t differentiate between meat–what some people eat, and meet–as in “to encounter”? And you have a degree? Doubtful. More likely you’re one of the tag team using yet another sign-on name to grant the illusion that lots of people think along similar lines.


“Funny: so what this article is telling me is that, not only did I meat economic students that literally stated they want to work in the erroneous hegde funding business,”


Don’t be mislead by TJ’s lies, he’s just trolling you, trying to wind you up. I’m not and never have been a DOD psychologist. Nor have I ever worked for any other government agency anywhere as a psychologist.

Because of my training and background I was once asked to run a piece of a psy-war operation (and was going to accept, since psy-war is far better for children, cats, and other living creatures than hellfire-missile-war), but since everything to do with the War Department is a boys’ club and was even more so then, they withdrew the offer when they learned I was out as a dyke. Even before Clinton, if I hadn’t told they would never have asked, but alas, I’d already told and that put me beyond the pale.


I’m sure you’re being funny, but there’s some truth to that.

Do you remember his explanation for that?

Phil Zimbardo’s did, but Milgram’s didn’t. His subjects were self-selected, but came from the general population of New Haven, both sexes, all ages, all edu levels, all backgrounds.

Milgram suspected that the widespread, self-congratulatory belief among USAians was wrong about the Shoah having been committed because the Germans were especially depraved. His idea was that they’d been taught from the cradle to obey authority no matter the cost, and that people in most countries, very much including the US, would be just as obedient. And he was right.

And his results were so powerful and so thought-provoking that similarly powerful experiments were all but forbidden.

There was recently a semi-replication in France:

[quote]France is reeling from a documentary about a psychological experiment disguised as a game show. Researchers staged a fictitious reality show to see how far people would go in obeying authority, especially if television reinforces that authority.

The disturbing results have alarmed the French.

The fictitious game show had all the trappings of a real TV quiz show, including a beautiful and well-known hostess, and a raucous audience. A group of contestants posed questions to a man sitting inside a box in front of them in an electric chair. The hostess and a chanting audience urged the players — who had levers in front of them — to send jolts of electricity into the man in the box when he gave an incorrect answer. Even when the player screamed out in pain for them to stop, 80 percent of the contestants kept zapping him.

In reality, the man in the electric chair was an actor who wasn’t really being shocked — but the players and the audience did not know that. [/quote]


Very true. But the majority aren’t psychopaths even if only because there aren’t that many psychopaths to begin with and there are other fields with much more scope for exploitative abuse.


Yes, it’s a tv series now in its 5th year. And it’s surprisingly good! I don’t own a tv either and wouldn’t take one as a gift, but watching the episodes on dvd without the commercials is quite nice. It has a pretty intriguing thesis (at least for me, since I was/am a great fan of the traditional stories that the Langs collected during the late 19th c. and published as the Red, Blue, Yellow, etc. Fairy Books). If you’re interested in psych, do consider checking out the dvds (or blu-rays, if you have one of those) and studying the episodes.

Yep, no question. But first that person would have had to be willing to give up their practice long enough to do the research, which of course would have been stonewalled to a fare-thee-well. How did we ever find out about the torture? It was disclosed for partisan political ends, wasn’t it?


nottheonly1 sez: “One person would have equally sufficed in the APA to address the morally unacceptable support of a terror regime torturing humans with impunity.”

From the article “That includes not just its actions in aiding torture, but also its suppression of would-be whistleblowers and others who objected to the association’s role in the program.”

There was a dissenter/whistle-blower. She was ignored and vilified.

"Jean Maria Arrigo’s inbox is filling up with apologies.

For a decade, colleagues of the 71-year-old psychologist ignored, derided and in some cases attacked Arrigo for sounding alarms that the American Psychological Association was implicated in US torture. But now that a devastating report has exposed deep APA complicity with brutal CIA and US military interrogations – and a smear campaign against Arrigo herself – her colleagues are expressing contrition.

“I have been wanting to email you since reading the Hoffman report on Wednesday to let you know how ashamed I am about not believing what you and others had been saying about APA’s actions,” wrote a psychologist Arrigo wished to remain anonymous.

Arrigo estimates she has received perhaps a dozen such emails since David Hoffman, a former federal prosecutor, confirmed what she has crusaded against for a decade: the APA’s institutional involvement with torture led to a concerted effort to quash dissent, lie to the public, and silence people like her. In a story full of villains, Arrigo emerges from Hoffman’s report as a hero – and a martyr.

Arrigo herself is fearful that the APA will ride out the wave of bad publicity rather then remove the rot of torture from the root. More personally, she told the Guardian, it has been jarring to see what her colleagues were saying – and doing – about her behind closed doors."