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Psychoanalytic Dialogues: The International Journal of Relational Perspectives


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The Psychodynamics of Torture


Neil Altman Ph.D.
a a

Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis, New York University Version of record first published: 17 Sep 2008.

To cite this article: Neil Altman Ph.D. (2008): The Psychodynamics of Torture, Psychoanalytic Dialogues: The International Journal of Relational Perspectives, 18:5, 658-670 To link to this article: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10481880802297681

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Psychoanalytic Dialogues, 18:658670, 2008 Copyright Taylor & Francis Group, LLC ISSN: 1048-1885 print / 1940-9222 online DOI: 10.1080/10481880802297681

The Psychodynamics of Torture


Neil Altman, Ph.D.
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In this paper I consider some of the issues raised by the way the American Psychological Association has dealt with the participation of psychologists in interrogations at Guantanamo Bay. I set forth some of my experience, and what I feel I learned, from trying to convince the Council of Representatives of the American Psychological Association to support a moratorium on the participation of psychologists in interrogations of detainees at centers where due process is systematically denied. The paper was written before the Council of Representatives voted down the idea of a moratorium, with a coda describing the outcome.

N THE WAKE OF THE REVELATIONS OF ABUSIVE TREATMENT OF

detainees by U.S. personnel at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo Bay, Bagram, and elsewhere, the role of psychologists in the interrogation of enemy combatants has come under intense scrutiny. The American Psychological Association (APA) has officially taken the position that it is acceptable, even desirable, for psychologists to have a role in these interrogations, in that their psychological knowledge can help ensure that interrogations can be conducted in a safe, that is, nonabusive, and effective manner. In this paper, I argue that this position rests on an overvaluation of cognitive knowledge and control. This overvaluation is widespread in organized psychologys overestimation of the degree to which knowledge gained through controlled research can lead to effective transformation of complex and heretofore intractable social problems, as well as of the role of cognition in

Neil Altman is Adjunct Clinical Professor in the Postdoctoral Program in Psychotherapy and Psychoanalysis at New York University, Editor Emeritus of this journal, author of The Analyst in the Inner City: Race, Class and Culture through Psychoanalytic Lens and coauthor of Relational Child Psychotherapy.

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the genesis and treatment of the complex and often intractable psychological problems in living of individual people. I argue that the interrogation of alleged terrorists and their alleged accomplices is so fraught with emotion that the scientifically based knowledge of psychologists hardly ensures that they will not, too, dissociate, come under the sway of powerful situational factors, get carried away by poorly understood emotional cross-currents, all the while clinging to the justification that they are protecting the detainees, and/or the U.S. population. Join me now in a description of my experience trying to bring this perspective to bear within the APA. In August of 2006, I finished my term as a representative of the Division of Psychoanalysis to the APAs governing body, called the Council of Representatives. At the last meeting, I submitted a resolution asking APA to call for a moratorium on the participation of psychologists in interrogations taking place at U.S. detention centers, like Guantanamo Bay, holding so-called enemy combatants. (The resolution and supporting materials can be found at apa.org/ethics) Earlier in the meeting, the Council had passed a new resolution reaffirming and updating its 1986 resolution against torture. The significance of this measure was that it recognized that since 1986 APA has become a Non-Governmental Organization accredited to the United Nations, and thus bound to affirm and promote UN documents, such as the Declaration on Human Rights and other elements of international law such as the Geneva Conventions. APA thus affirmed that law means international law, not just U.S. law. However, in the same resolution APA also defined torture in line with the qualifications and reservations with which the U.S. ratified the Geneva Conventions. It is too complicated to go into the details now, but suffice it to say that some ambiguity remained as to the standards recognized by APA when there is a conflict between U.S. law and international law with respect to torture, and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment. My resolution was based on this ambiguity and declared that psychologists should not be working in detention centers until this ambiguity is cleared up by a definite statement by the U.S. government that the Geneva Conventions and other relevant documents are to be the basis of U.S. policy. In the absence of such a statement, I argue, psychologists cannot know whether their behavior or the behavior of others that they may witness or with which they may collude is legal or illegal. Instead of such a clear statement, the military commissions act of 2006 leaves it to the president to decide what constitutes a breach of the Geneva Conventions. Psychologists working in such detention centers are at legal risk when these rulings are at variance with the international standard.

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This paper grows out of my reflections on encountering skepticism on the part of the APA leadership and many of the rank and file about my resolution. The most common response, the party line, as it were, was that psychologists should be in the detention centers because they have the expertise to resist behavioral drift toward abusive treatment and can be whistle-blowers, acting as safeguards when interrogations get out of hand. In my view, this idea that being an expert is insurance against drifting into abusive behavior, or collusion with abusive behavior, amounts to a vast overvaluing of cognition as opposed to emotional forces like fear, rage, helplessness, and sadism. It began to seem to me that this overvaluation of cognition is a kind of magical thinking, reflecting the omnipotent wish that we could change or master ourselves by thinking differently. I began to think that the ascendance of cognitive behavioral therapy and positive psychology are other parts of a contemporary wave of magical thinking that is, sadly, how many people cope and that is part of a huge marketing effort on the part of organized psychologyappealing to some consumers but even more to profit-oriented third-party payers. The more tragic view of psychoanalysis offers much less consolation. My resolution asks people on the APA council of representatives to swim against the current on this issue, to acknowledge that psychological expertise and good intentions have such a limited impact in the face of the brutal U.S. response to 9/11 that we are essentially helpless to intervene on the ground, aside from the fact that such intervention is in neither a psychologists training nor a psychologists job description. On a deeper level, my resolution suggests that none of us is immune to the emotional dynamics that produce torture and that it behooves us to avoid circumstances that have been set up, more or less deliberately, to foster abuse. In this paper, I try to fill in some details about these emotional dynamics, with respect both to those who end up perpetrating torture (shorthand for torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment) and to those who explicitly or tacitly support its use among the general population. I believe that the discourse about the treatment of detainees in Guantanamo Bay and other such centers overemphasizes the degree to which that treatment serves rational ends and is subject to rational control. When torture is publicly shown to have taken place, perpetrated by U.S. agents, those involved are portrayed by the government and in the media as deviant individuals, rather than as people who were swept up in a dynamic, emotional process that any and all of us would have been powerfully subject to under certain conditions. We maintain the fiction that the problem is a few bad apples, thus aborting the process of reflecting on the disease of which those individuals are the symptoms, a disease to which all of us are vulnerable. My

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thesis is that resort to torture, or cruel and inhuman treatment of detainees is a desperate effort to maintain a sense of omnipotence in the face of feelings of helplessness and humiliation; further, once there has been recourse to torture, a dynamic of sadism may take hold that has a momentum of its own. First, with respect to helplessness: on a national level, it seems apparent that international behavior is frequently driven by the need or desire to restore a sense of control, actually omnipotence, after a defeat produces the humiliation of having been unable to control events. We in the United States, with our vaunted can do ethos and history of real and imagined mastery over nature and people are particularly vulnerable to a sense of humiliation when we feel helpless. Violence is the effort of last resort to restore an unlimited sense of control, to dispel humiliation. Cases in point are too legion to catalogue; in recent U.S. history we have the U.S. invasion of Grenada after the defeat in Vietnam, and Iraq after 9/11, to contemplate. The fantasy of a new American century1 appealed to the need to restore a sense of American omnipotence and invulnerability that had been badly damaged. Nations, with their military resources, are often tempted to resort to military means to feel a sense of power and agency; the problem is that when force and violence are used to exert control, those against whom these resources are aimed end up feeling in danger of being humiliated themselves, so that a vicious circle of humiliation and violent response is set in motion. Efforts to obtain a feeling of omnipotent control inevitably involve transferring the sense of helplessness and vulnerability to someone else, most often the one who threatened to render one helpless in the first place. Violent conflicts, then, entail a mutual effort to render the other powerless. When one side is forced to surrender, the cycle may stop for the time being, yet the seeds are usually sown for the next conflict. In short, violence is both a desperate and ineffective means of exerting a sense of control. When fantasies of omnipotence are in play, the person or group of people become more, rather than less, vulnerable to humiliation, since omnipotent control is never achievable for us human beings, even with, or especially with, weapons of mass destruction. Weapons of mass destruction feed the fantasy of omnipotence, of having appropriated the basic energy of the universe so that in a sense God is on ones side. The experience of powerlessness is then that much more bewildering and enraging. Recourse to violence ultimately reflects human unwillingness to accept powerlessness and vulnerability, a large portion of which is inherent in the human condition.

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for a New American Century was a think tank founded in 1997 by William Kristol and Robert Kagan.

1Project

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The dynamics I am describing are heightened in this age of terrorism. With the employment of suicide bombing and access to weapons of mass destruction, small groups of people can disable the military superiority of a superpower. With the intention to die, suicidal terrorists put themselves beyond the reach of any conceivable violent preventive action. The worst that one can do to a suicidal terrorist intent on martyrdom is kill him, and that, perversely, fulfills his wish. Fantasies of omnipotence are generated among terrorists as well, and the threat of humiliation and feelings of helplessness are generated among the population in the would-be superpower. In the war on terror, a superpower such as the United States becomes desperate to disable the power of small groups of people who can render our nation powerless, its arsenals of nuclear weapons useless. These dynamics are captured in the thought experiment proposed by Alan Dershowitz (2002, p. 131), the so-called ticking bomb scenario. Dershowitz asked his students to imagine that there is a ticking bomb a nuclear device, hidden in Times Square, set to go off imminently. You have a terrorist in custody who knows where the device is but he refuses to tell you. Do you torture him in an effort to find out where the device is? Dershowitz has claimed that when he raises this question, people nearly unanimously agree that it is justified to torture one person if there is any chance that this act will provide information that might save the lives of hundreds of thousands or millions of people. Dershowitz generalized from this thought experiment that torture may be justified in general when the potential benefit far outweighs the harm done to the detainee or detainees who are tortured. Dershowitz has advocated for the use of sterilized needles pushed under the fingernails as a mode of torture that avoids unnecessary physical damage. Several aspects of this thought experiment are worth considering in the context of the considerations I am putting forth. First, note the helplessness of the authorities, agents of a great nation, a superpower, in relation to this single individual who possesses crucial knowledge, and in relation to the possibly very small group of people who have managed to place a small (possibly suitcase size) nuclear device somewhere in Times Square. Second, note the way that Dershowitz has presented the choice to be made as a purely rational matter, in terms of a Benthamesque calculation about the maximum total benefit to the population. The (carefully minimized) damage to the terrorist is weighed against the deaths and injuries to hundreds of thousands, millions, of people. The torturer, in this case, and those who authorize his actions (Dershowitz would have us appoint special courts for such situations), are not driven by emotion; they are

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dispassionately assessing the best course of action. While I would not want to dismiss the rational elements in Dershowitzs analysis, I believe that there are powerful emotional undercurrents in Dershowitzs example that are camouflaged by the rational presentation. To begin with, the scenario is constructed in an emotionally manipulative way, even though it is not entirely beyond plausibility. A maximally frightening scenario is conjured up in order to convince the reader that torture is justified in an unspecified variety of situations that are less clear cut. Next, the people who are authorizing and carrying out the torture are presented as purely rational actors; but imagine yourself in their shoes. If I thought, or knew, that there was a nuclear device set to go off in Times Square, I would be frantic with fear and rage. I would not be cool and calculating in any sense. If I imagine myself being the one who is pushing the needle under the alleged terrorists fingernail, I would be numb, completely dissociated, or perhaps in a sadistic frenzy: TALK, MOTHERFUCKER! I would feel this especially strongly if more mild efforts to get the person to talk had been ineffective, if the alleged terrorist had exercised the power he has to refuse to talk. In such a situation, one becomes helplessly enraged and desperate to feel empowered. Inflicting physical pain when one has a physical advantage is a cheap but quickly effective way to feel empowered. This is a common dynamic of child abuse. Even to imagine the needle going under the fingernail arouses intense emotion. It is nave to think that panic and sadism would not be driving cognition and choices of action in this situation, not to mention less clear-cut situations such as those facing interrogators at Guantanamo Bay and Abu Ghraib when faced with an unspecified but plausibly horrific threat from nameless and faceless people, and confronted with a person who may or may not have specific information about those threats. In sum, I think Dershowitzs strategy to convince people that torture should be used under some circumstances fails to take account of the way that helplessness, panic, and rage are inevitably activated in the face of terrorism. That is the point of terrorism: to force those feelings into people who are perceived as oppressors but who are getting off scot-free from the consequences of their actions, and to manipulate them to respond in an impulsive and brutal way that will show their true colors and contribute to a general radicalization that will bring about a desired apocalypse. In the face of a powerful emotional force field such as I have described, I suggest that the function of the idealization of rationality, as seen in Dershowitzs thought experiment, is to seek to prevent being overwhelmed via seeking an illusory sense of distance and objectivity. All of us need ways to hold on to a sense of equilibrium and control in the face of emotional

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forces far less overwhelming than the ones associated with Dershowitzs thought experiment. Extreme emotional conditions evoke extreme dissociative responses. Extreme or not, when emotions are split off and denied, they have a way of being enacted unreflectively, sometimes by other people into whom they are projectively displaced. Consider how some members of the the Military Police of Bagram detention center might have ended up holding some of the panic and rage felt by all of us after the 9/11 attacks: On May 20, 2005, the New York Times (Golden, Khapalwak, Gall, Rhode, & Delaquerierre, 2005, p. 5) published an article called In US Report, Brutal Details of Two Afghan Inmates Deaths. In this article it is reported that a detainee named Habibullah was brought to the Bagram detention center in Afghanistan in late 2002. In line with standard procedure, Mr. Habibullah was hooded, shackled, and isolated for the first 24 to 72 hours of his detention. A particularly defiant prisoner, Mr. Habibullah kneed a soldier in the groin after being given a standard rectal exam. He was then shackled by his wrists to the wire ceiling over his cell. Mr. Habibullah was struck several times after he continued being uncooperative, (p. 4) after which he was reported to be coughing and suffering from chest pains. He was spitting up phlegm, prompting people who were trying to interrogate him to laugh and make fun of him, calling him gross and nasty. Nonetheless, he remained defiant. When asked if he wanted to spend the rest of his life in handcuffs, Mr. Hibibullah said, Yes, dont they look good on me? On December 3, he was in an isolation cell, according to the Times, tethered to the ceiling by two sets of handcuffs and a chain around his waist. His body was slumped forward, held up by the chains. Approached by one of the Military Policemen (MPs), Mr. Habibullah spit on his chest. The MP shouted, Dont ever spit on me again! and kneed him sharply in the thigh more than once. Twenty minutes later, Mr. Habibullah was found dead. An autopsy showed bruises on his chest, arms, and head. There were, according to the Times, deep contusions on his calves, knees, and thighs. His left calf was marked by what appeared to be the sole of a boot.(Golden et al., 2005, p. 6). He died when a blood clot, probably caused by the injuries to his legs, traveled to his heart. The soldier who had last struck him was described as distraught and running about the room hysterically. Three soldiers have been charged with assault and other crimes. Another detainee named Dilawar was also defiant. When a soldier brought him some water, he spit in the MPs face and began kicking him. The soldier kicked back. Dilawar screamed out Allah, Allah, Allah! Other sol-

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diers thought this was funny and laughed at Dilawar. Soon soldiers stopped by to kick him to make him shout out to Allah and laugh at him. On December 8, 2002, an interrogator who felt an urgent need for some information from Dilawar found him evasive. He was smiling and refusing to stay kneeling on the ground or in a sitting position without a chair against the wall. An MP began shoving him against the wall when he could not maintain the sitting position because of his damaged legs. He was kicked in the groin. The interrogation degenerated into a session of shouting, pushing, shoving, and kicking him. Half an hour later, an interpreter found him hooded, shackled to the ceiling of his cell, and slumped over. In response to his plea to see a doctor, an MP responded Hes just trying to get out of his restraints. Soon thereafter Dilawar was found dead. One of the coroners who did an autopsy said the tissue of his legs had basically been pulpified. I recount these details not to traumatize you but to give you a sense of the emotional atmosphere that leads to abuse, the helplessness of the interrogators, their inability to break the will of the detainees, the vicious circle of humiliation that leads to violence. Mackey and Miller (2004), the pseudonym adopted by one of the interrogators at Bagram, wrote of the gravitational laws that govern human behavior when one group of people is given complete control over another in a prison. I believe Mackey is referring to the way detention are set up to control the inmates every move, but this is an illusion of control, not real control. Just as a small child can render an adult helpless by refusing to be toilet trained, or by continuing to cry when the adult cannot take it anymore, the detainees can exert complete control over their captors by refusing to cooperate, by simple acts like spitting. And just as child abuse often comes about when an adult who needs to feel in control, but is rendered helpless by a tiny little child, resorts to the one sure fire element of superiority that he has, physical force, so abuse of detainees is actually fostered by the illusion of complete control. These dynamics operate not only in those who are immediately involved in interrogations but also in those who explicitly or tacitly condone torture, that is, most of us. We are all feeling frightened, helpless, angry. Some of us may take comfort in the idea that our bad guys are as bad as their bad guys, that we are not disabled by moral scruples that might inhibit the kind of ruthlessness that prevails in all out war. On the other hand, most of us take pride in the high moral ideals professed by the United States of America and are troubled by finding ourselves accused of the very human rights abuses that we thought were the provenance of countries we considered less civilized. In negotiating this conflict between our fear and helplessness on one side and our moral ideals on the other, I think it is helpful to keep in

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mind the emotional dynamics of the situation, not to obscure these dynamics in an unrealistic posture of rationality and expertise. Otherwise, people like military policemen end up acting out our rage and fear, while we, from an innocent position, deplore their actions. Psychological research shows that it is not so difficult to put people in a position to act out such feelings. The social psychology experiments of Stanley Milgram (1964) and Philip Zimbardo (Haney, Banks, & Zimbardo, 1973) show how easily ordinary people can be influenced to inflict pain on an innocent person by simply having an authority figure ask them to do so. Such behavior occurs when the only emotional dynamic in play is the wish to comply with or please authority. When humiliation, helplessness, revenge, and sadism are operative, the magnetic attraction of violence increases geometrically. One of the central insights of psychoanalysis has been that emotions are most likely to be acted out when they are not formulated, verbalized, thought about, integrated with the rest of our psychic capacities. Trauma studies have taught us that when experiences are so overwhelming that they elude representation, they tend to recur, in the form of flashbacks or in the ominous feeling that the traumatic event is always about to happen again. In addition, when one has been in a victimized position there is a strong impulse to turn the tables, sometimes to the point of victimizing others, in an effort never again to be in the helpless position. This is one of the ways in which sexually abused persons so frequently end up abusing others. Trauma studies, the work of Mary Main (1995) and her colleagues, Fonagy, Gergely, Jurist, and Target (2002), for example, suggests that the way this repetition with the tables turned can be avoided is to mentalize (Fonagy et al., 2002, p. 3) the trauma, that is, to learn to think about it, to represent the events in words so that it can be understood as an event in time, one that is not timeless in the sense of being forever about to recur, and one that depended on a certain interpersonal or historical circumstance. Main and her collaborators found that people who can talk and think about their traumatic experiences articulately are less likely to repeat the trauma with the tables turned by abusing their children as they were abused, for example. Returning to our situation in the U.S., I suggest that our victimization on 9/11 and the way in which we have in many ways been threatened with helplessness by modern terrorists have been incompletely mentalized by us as a people. We so quickly went on the attack in Afghanistan and Iraq that the sense of helplessness quickly was overshadowed by a demonstration of force. The sense of helplessness gets displaced onto those we attack; we are the attackers and not the attacked. We deny that in the end attacking others may make us more likely to be attacked; in classic neurotic fashion, our

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efforts to avoid a particular danger actually makes us more vulnerable to that danger. I am suggesting that our willingness to condone torture is part of this process of defensively grasping for a position that feels powerful, in which we are victimizing rather than being victimized. Rationalizing the resort to torture contributes to our failure to mentalize our sense of helplessness and victimization, to accept that these feelings are inevitable in todays world and in the wake of 9/11, and to be thoughtful about how to respond to our trauma and to the ongoing threat of terrorism in a way that doesnt, in the end, make us more vulnerable. So where does all this leave us with respect to the APA and torture? The overvaluation of conscious, cognitive, control is widespread in U.S. culture these days, and specifically characterizes the culture of the field of psychology, where the dominant forms of psychological intervention (cognitive behavioral) assume that cognition can be relied on to override emotion. I am not denying that cognition can play an important role in therapeutic change, but when cognition is split off from emotion as evidenced even in the name of the technique, it seems to me that a dissociative process is at work. More generally, I believe that unrealistically high expectations attend so-called evidence-based interventions in a wide variety of contexts to address individual and social problems. The result is an illusion of mastery of complex problems like mental illness, substance abuse, and violence, by resort to research studies that, in the interest of a rationalized, and thus controlled, experimental procedure, often oversimplify problems and solutions. With respect to the issue of interrogations, the idea that psychologists know about behavioral drift (Behnke, 2006, p. 6) such as occurred in the Milgram and Zimbardo experiments described previously, is invoked to argue that psychologists armed with knowledge are insured against succumbing to the emotional force of the situation. In such a case overvaluation of rationality also serves a particular defensive purpose, that of guilt-management associated with our self-interested collusion with the status quo and with the powers that be. Hanna Arendt (2006), writing about the Nazis and elaborating on the concept of the banality of evil, attributed much of their participation in the holocaust to careerism,2 that is, to people carrying out their assigned duties, regardless of the moral and ethical implications, in the interest of career advancement. APA has both careerist and ethical commitments. APA exists in large measure to advance the professional interests of its members; at the same time, ethical self-regulation is seen as
2few

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vices, in Arendls mind, were more vicious than careerism (Robin, 2007).

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part of the function of a professional organization. This is one of those moments where there is potential and actual conflict between careerist and ethical commitments. The careerist concerns affect military and police psychologists most directly, any psychologist who is dependent on government support less directly. But few of us, in fact, consistently disavow careerist concerns. We clinicians have benefited from and are dependent, more or less, on our professional organizations lobbying for us with governments and ensuring some level of insurance reimbursement for us. The question is, when does an ethical concern become so acute that it overrides careerist concerns? When careerist concerns prevail in an organization faced with an ethical crisis such as APA faces, we may also suspect that the dissociative process termed by Grand (2006, p. 16) malignant dissociative contagion, is in play. Here is perhaps another case in which an emotional process is camouflaged by a seemingly rational calculation of self-interest. At the same time, none of us should delude ourselves that we are immune to such defensive processes. For most of us, our professions collusion with the existence of detention centers is morally intolerable. At the same time, we should acknowledge that we have fewer careerist interests that are directly affected. If the moratorium resolution is to be adopted by APA in the end, those whose careerist interests are more directly affected must be won over. In that sense, it will be helpful if we clinicians concerned about this issue bear in mind that we are all subject to careerist-ethical conflicts in one form or another. We also should be wary of taking a page from the book of those who overvalue rationality to think that our knowledge of defensive processes guarantees that we will be able to rise above them. It is not helpful, if we are aiming at consensus, to be moralistic or dismissive of our colleagues careerist concerns and emotional dilemmas. It is true, I think, that some of our colleagues are only interested in advancing their careers and are indifferent to the ethical issues. For the most part, however, people who are wary of the moratorium resolution are not insensitive to the ethical dimension and can be educated and influenced. The opportunity to do some education and to hear about the ethical concerns of military psychologists, for example, has been a rewarding aspect for me of working on the moratorium resolution. In the end, if we reach an impasse, I may feel the need to force a showdown, a vote up or down, about the moratorium resolution, but only after doing my utmost to reach my colleagues who are on the fence. Of course, APA will all along be reading public opinion on the ethical issues and responding to what the organization sees as its own self-interest as well as attempting to do what is right.

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The situation in some respects is reminiscent of the moral situation posed by slavery. The United States was founded with certain foundational moral principles, like the principle that all men are created equal and enjoy an equal right to the pursuit of life, liberty, and happiness. Then there was the economic and psychological convenience of tolerating slavery for the shareholders and their allies. The coexistence of high values and ruthless self-interest creates a serious problem of guilt management. At the time of slavery, some solved this problem by denigrating black people so that they could be thought to deserve their fate. In the end, slavery was abolished, not only because of moral discomfort and the influence of the abolitionists, but also because it no longer served the self-interest of the industrial North and the North won the war. Similarly, APA is trying to juggle ethical values with self-interest. To the extent that self-interest entails being in the governments good graces, a moral crisis is created when serving the government entails participation in ethically dubious or clearly unethical projects. The deployment of the argument that psychologists are there as safeguards and whistle-blowers, as experts on behavioral drift, and so on, puts guilt to rest for some. In the end, if the situation changes, it will be to some extent because people find it within themselves to tolerate guilt enough to realize there is a problem that needs to be solved, and because the organizations calculation of its self-interest shifts so that association with the detention centers is seen as a net loss.
REFERENCES

Arendt, H. (2006). Eichmann in Jerusalem: A report on the banality of evil. London: Penguin. Behnke, S. (2006). Monitor on Psychology, 37, 10. Dershowitz, A. M. (2002). Why terrorism works. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press. Fonagy, P ., Gergely, G., Jurist, E., & Target, M. (2002). Affect regulation, mentalization and the development of the self. New York: Other Press. Golden, T., Khapalwak, R., Gall, C., Rhode, D., & Delaquerierre, A. (2005, May 20). In U.S. report, brutal details of 2 Afghan inmates deaths (pp. 19). New York Times. Grand, S. (2000). The reproduction of evil: A clinical and cultural perspective. Hillsdale, NJ: The Analytic Press. Haney, C., Banks, W. C., & Zimbardo, P . (1973). Interpersonal dynamics in a simulated prison. International Journal of Criminology and Penology, 1, 6997. Mackey, C., & Miller, G. (2004). The interrogators. New York: Back Bay Books. Main, M. (1995). Recent studies in attachment: Overview with selected implications for clinical work. In S. Goldberg, R. Muir, & J. Kerr (Eds.), Attachment theory: Social, developmental and clinical perspectives (pp. 407467). Hillsdale, NJ: The Analytic Press. Mangelsdorf, A. D. (2006). Psychology in the service of national security. Washington, D.C.: APA Books.

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Milgram, S. (1964). Group pressure and the action against a person. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology, 9(2), 137143. Robin, C. (2007, p. 18) Dragon-Slayers. London Review of Books. January 4, 2007. 127 West 79th Street #3 New York, NY 10024 neilaltman@hotmail.com

CODA (January 2008)


In August of 2007 the Council of Representatives of the American Psychological Association voted down the moratorium resolution that I had proposed. In July, the Board of Directors of the APA attempted to prevent a vote on the resolution by proposing their own substitute motion, which if adopted would have replaced my motion. The Boards substitute motion went further than previous actions by the Council of Representatives, in that it specifically prohibited certain interrogation techniques, such as waterboarding, and acknowledged that torture and cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment could be a function of the setting as well as of specific interrogation techniques. A group of representatives from the Divisions for Social Justice approached the Board with proposed modifications to their substitute motion, strengthening the prohibitions against specific interrogation techniques, and reinserting a moratorium provision with a provision that psychologist participation in detention centers in which there was no due process for the detainees would be limited to health care provision. In the end, this provision was voted down. I have come to believe that the leadership of APA opposed my motion in large part because there is a growing national security specialization in psychology (Mangelsdorf, 2006) for a discussion of the functions and competencies of such a specialization) that would have been threatened by a moratorium on participation in interrogations under conditions such as those at Guantanamo Bay. From discussions with members of the Council of Representatives, it became my impression that many were swayed by the leaderships argument that psychologists should be involved in interrogations to protect the detainees. In my view, this argument provided a compellingly benevolent self-image for psychologists at a time when there were allegations of collusion with human rights violations on the part of psychologists. It would have taken a good deal of tolerance for guilt on the part of psychologists to have accepted that there was the potential for wrongdoing when psychologists consult to interrogators. In my view, U.S. citizens in general, and U.S. psychologists in particular, put a great deal of energy into maintenance of a benevolent self-image.
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