Torture, and the Abuse of Psychologists’ Professionalism.

James Risen’s book, Pay Any Price. Greed, Power and Endless War. 2014  P.163-201., describes the development of the American torture programs with the complicity of the Psychologists and the APA, their professional association. Only one apparent whistleblower, Gerwehr, who died in a motor cycle accident, at age 40, looked to be on the edge of opening up to a journalist at Vanity Fair who was investigating the work of psychologists in the Bush administrations torture program. The inhumanity inflicted on torture victims  and the blind obedience shown by psychologists working as advisors and torture planners and as torturers, is astounding. 

The author Freire is quoted as saying, “Lovelessness is the central feature of oppression.” (paraphrased) The kind of misery inflicted upon victims was loveless.  Torture victims were stripped of their humanity by being called enemy combatants who were labelled this way in order to move them outside the accountability of international humanitarian law. Waterboarding, and rectal feeding are simply vengeance with the intent to cause suffering. Isolation and creating fear of being lost to the world, are the tools of the heartless and the depraved. Inflicting pain was described by low level torturers as a rewarded central objective. Misuse of victim’s known psychological vulnerabilities, their phobias, encouraged a bias toward SADISM.

Willingness to work with soldiers to harm victims knowing that no factual intel would result, suggests psychologists’ COLLUSION. Silence in the face of the facts showing that torture was pointless and useless suggests professional ACEDIA, one of Dante’s punishable sins against a loving god, the failure to do the right thing, when they knew exactly what they should have done. Then distancing blame from one’s own actions and allowing low, entry level soldiers to take the blame for torture when the truth came out, suggests cowardice, allowing others to be scapegoated for their own orders. Finally, denying policy makers to know that the program served no purpose other than for personal enrichment of the torturers, suggests deliberate SECRECY. Selling the techniques as ‘safe’ to provide cover that torture was humane, was a perversion of professionalism, a deliberate selling out of ETHICS in order to “follow orders” and to follow a path to wealth. Finally as SCIENTISTS, to allow non existent ‘secret’ data to state that the techniques were ‘useful’ and ‘safe’ was to defraud and denigrate an entire profession which had been associated with helping people. Cutting a deal with the defense department to obtain prescription privileges in exchange for offering the program the imprimatur of scientific-ness and objectivity, was CORRUPT.

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