The Psychology of Torture


Published on

To view our other Research Maps go to:

Published in: Education, Technology, Spiritual
  • Be the first to comment

  • Be the first to like this

No Downloads
Total views
On SlideShare
From Embeds
Number of Embeds
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

The Psychology of Torture

  1. 2. <ul><li>The PsychFutures Research Maps are a series of digests on the most popular Psychology related topics, whereby linking to podcasts, videos, journal publications, websites and blogs; ideal if you’re looking for inspiration to kick-start your dissertations and research projects. </li></ul><ul><li>The topics are varied, including Love, Sport and Music. To view the full list and download the other Research Maps click here or go to: /page/research </li></ul>Providing One-Stop Summaries and Directions For Your Research
  2. 3. Introduction <ul><li>Whether physical, psychological or both, torture depends on complex interpersonal relationships between those who torture, those tortured, bystanders and others. Also involved are the deep personal processes in those tortured, in those who torture and others. The interacting psychological relationships, processes and dynamics are the basis of the psychology of torture. </li></ul>
  3. 4. <ul><li>A torturer will invade the shrine of one’s privacy, intimacy and integrity and do so in a deliberate, public and repeated manner, often sadistically and sexually, with obvious pleasure. For this reason, the outcomes of torture are often irreversible, long-lasting and all-pervasive. </li></ul><ul><li>The body of the tortured can often become their worst enemy – identified by the torturer as an accomplice and a territory. This leads to a humiliating dependency on the torturer; when bodily needs such as sleep, toilet, food and water are denied, the tortured is rendered bestial not by the sadistic torturer but by their own human needs. </li></ul>Introduction
  4. 5. Research <ul><li>Over the past 50 years, originating with the Milgram experiment , research has shown that given the right circumstances and with appropriate encouragement and setting, the majority of people can be encouraged to torture others. </li></ul>
  5. 6. Research <ul><li>The stages of torture mentality include; </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Reluctant or peripheral participation </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Official encouragement: As with the Milgram experiment and the Stanford Prison experiment , most people will follow directions given by an authority figure in an official setting, even if personally they are uncertain. The main motivation for this is presumably loss of respect or status, and the desire to be seen as a “good subordinate” </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Encouragement by peers: the acceptance of torture as necessary, deserved or acceptable, or to comply so as not to reject a peer group belief. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Dehumanisation : viewing victims as an object of curiosity and experimentation, whereby the pain inflicted becomes merely a test to see how the victim is affected. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Disinhibition : socio-cultural and situation pressures may cause the torturers to experience a lessening of moral inhibitions, and consequently act in a way normally seen as unacceptable by law, custom and conscience. </li></ul></ul>
  6. 7. Research <ul><li>As with many other procedures, once torture is established internally as acceptable under certain circumstances, the use becomes institutionalised and self-perpetuating over time. During the Abu Ghraib prison torture , one of the supposed ringleaders, Charles Graner Jr exemplified torture mentality when he was reported to have said “The Christian in me says it's wrong, but the corrections officer in me says, ‘I love to make a grown man piss himself’&quot;. </li></ul><ul><li>When the victim is deprived of contact with others and starved of human interactions, they bond with the torturer. Akin to the Stockholm syndrome , “traumatic bonding” is based on hope and the search for meaning in the brutal and nightmarish world of the victim. </li></ul>
  7. 8. Research <ul><li>The bond between torturer and tortured is especially strong when a collaboration is formed around the rituals and acts of torture, for example, if the victim is coerced into choosing the implements of torture or type of torture to be inflicted. </li></ul><ul><li>Psychological torture relies primarily on psychological effects, and only secondarily on any physical harm inflicted. Psychological torture does not always involve physical violence, although a continuum between psychological and physical torture exists. They are often used in conjunction with one another, overlapping in practice: the fear and pain induced through physical torture often leading to long-term psychological effects, and many types of psychological torture often involving some form of pain or force. </li></ul>
  8. 9. Research <ul><li>Methods of psychological torture attempt to destroy the victim’s self-image by removing any control they have over their environment. This creates a state of learned helplessness, psychological regression and depersonalisation. Other techniques may involve sleep deprivation, enforced nudity, head shaving and other forms of sensory deprivation . </li></ul><ul><li>Another form is indirect torture, preying on the victim’s loyalty and affection to a partner, relative, friend etc, whose real pain causes vicarious suffering to the intended psychological victim, who consequently feels guilt but is spared the physical harm which may affect their ability to comply with the torturer. </li></ul>
  9. 10. Research <ul><li>Psychological torture, while it may not leave any permanent physical damage (often one of the motivations for using this method as opposed to physical) can similarly lead to permanent mental damage. </li></ul><ul><li>The United States came under criticism after being accused of making extensive use of psychological torture techniques at Guantanamo Bay and other sites following the 9/11 attacks. Other countries have also been accused of using psychological torture, including Iran. </li></ul>
  10. 11. Useful Journals <ul><li>Journal of Communication </li></ul><ul><li>Journal of the American Medical Association </li></ul><ul><li>Clinical Psychology Review </li></ul>
  11. 12. Useful Books <ul><li>The Psychology of Torture by Shirley Spitz </li></ul><ul><li>Psychology and Torture by Peter Suedfeld </li></ul><ul><li>The Psychological Origins of Institutionalised Torture by Mika Haritos-Fatouros </li></ul><ul><li>Unspeakable Acts, Ordinary People by John Conroy </li></ul>
  12. 13. Experts <ul><li>John Conroy – Author of “Unspeakable Acts, Ordinary People”, lecturer, writes reports, speeches etc. </li></ul><ul><li>Scott Allen, MD - Medical Advisor for the Campaign Against Torture at Physicians for Human Rights member. </li></ul><ul><li>Bryant L. Welch JD, PhD - a clinical psychologist and attorney. He is the author of State of Confusion: Political Manipulation and the Assault on the American Mind (St Martins Press, 2008). </li></ul>
  13. 14. Videos/ Audio <ul><li>Psychology and Military Torture – Dr John Breeding, PhD </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Click here to watch </li></ul></ul><ul><li>No Place to Hide: Torture, Psychologists, and the APA </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Click here to watch </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Torture Interferes with Memory – Scientific America </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Click here to listen </li></ul></ul>
  14. 15. Blogs and Articles on the Web <ul><li>Slate – Psychology and Torture </li></ul><ul><li>The Washington Post – The Psychology of Torture </li></ul><ul><li> - (Understanding) the Psychology of Torture </li></ul><ul><li>Opinionator Blog – Psychology and Torture </li></ul><ul><li>Psychology Today - Our Opinions About Torture Depend on the Person Who Is Tortured </li></ul>
  15. 16. References Mental Health Matters: = com_content&view = article&id =754:the-psychology-of-torture&catid=140:abuse-issues&Itemid=1872 The Psychology of Torture: http:// Wikipedia: http:// Beyond Intractability (What it Means to Dehamanize by Michelle Maiese) http://http:// /essay/dehumanization/ Psychology (The Milgram Obedience Experiment by Kendra Cherry) http:// The Stanford Prison Experiment http:// / Psychology Wiki (Disinhibition) http:// Wikipedia (Abu Ghraib prison torture) The New York Times (Charles Graner Jr) Love and Stockholm Syndrome: The Mystery of Loving an Abuser The Psychology of Torture by Sam Vaknin http:// The American Journal of Psychiatry - Sensory Deprivation Truth Guantanamo Bay and Social Psychology are Abused Together