Sacred Disorder | Cliff Bostock's blog – 'Finally, I came to regard as sacred the disorder of my mind' (Rimbaud)

More on psychologists and torture

Saturday’s New York Times published a follow-up story on the controversy over psychologists’ participation in “enhanced interrogations,” which I wrote about recently.

The American Psychological Association, which is holding its annual conference in Boston this week has been debating whether to designate participation in such interrogations as a violation of its code of ethics. It’s also become an issue in the election of a new president of the association.

On one side you have those who claim participation by psychologists helps prevent the interrogations from turning into torture. The other side points to the ample contrary evidence that the psychologists are helping “break down” detainees with techniques whose aims violate international law.

I find the argument ridiculous. It’s been demonstrated again and again that these techniques only produce “false confessions” and all manner of bogus information. Why would any ethical psychologist want to participate in any practice that makes subjects so miserable that they will say anything to end their torment?

I find it fascinating, by the way, that none of the follow-ups I’ve read include mention that Martin Seligman, a former APA president and the creator of influential “positive psychology,” is among those under scrutiny. It was reports of his participation — which I frankly think has probably been overstated — that turned this into a news story in July.

Read the Times piece here.

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