Saturday, October 11, 2008

Good news for Psychologists, and their Clients

Among the many shocking realities that emerge as one studies the evolution of the US torture system, one of the most shocking to me was to learn of the deep, and decades-long involvement of psychologists in the process.

And not just a few obscure practitioners here and there – this roll of shame included presidents of the American Psychological Association. (An eye-opening summary of these facts is here: )

Professor Alfred McCoy of the University of Wisconsin has also detailed the history in his indispensable book, A Question of Torture:

But in late September, there was finally a piece of good news on the psychological front. This release tells the story:

American Psychological Association Members Pass Historic Ban on Psychologist Participation in U.S. Detention FacilitiesWednesday, September 17, 2008Today, the membership of the American Psychological Association (APA) passed a referendum banning participation of APA member psychologists in U.S. detention facilities, such as Guantanamo or the CIA’s secret "black sites" operating outside of or in violation of international law or the Constitution.Dan Aalbers, one of the referendum’s authors, stated: "This is a decisive victory for the membership of the APA and for human rights advocates everywhere. This new policy will ensure that psychologists work for the abused and not the abusers at places like Guantanamo Bay and the CIA black sites. We expect that the APA’s leadership will immediately take action to ensure that psychologists are removed from the chain of command at places where human rights are violated or said not to apply."

More on this at the blog of Stephen Soldz, a Boston psychoanalyst who was at the UNC Torture Symposium last week, and has been a strong anti-torture activist in the APA:

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