Psychologists and the Use of Torture in Interrogation

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According to the UN convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or degrading treatment (CAT), “Torture is defined as any act by which severe pain or suffering, be it physical or mental, intentionally inflicted on a person for purposes as obtaining information or a confession from a third person.”(pg. 314) Psychologists Mark Costanzo, Ellen Gerrity, and M. Brinton Lykes argue that the use of torture and other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment by psychologists to obtain information from people should be banned. Costanzo et al presented a series of statements: that since torture is a violation of the domestic laws, international law and the violation of human rights; psychologists should not only abstain from the use of torture but also abide by these laws. They went further to say that not only does it violate human rights and international laws but it is also against the professional and ethical code of conduct for psychologist, so for these reasons torture or any other means of interrogation that causes harm to a person should not be considered. Another point made by these authors is that the use of torture has an interrogation technique might not be an “effective means of gathering reliable information (pg. 317).” This is because under intense torture and pain, research as shown that people tend to give whatever information is expected of them be it true or false to “make the torture stop”(pg. 317). Not only is torture not an effective means of extracting information it is also “one of the most extreme forms of human violence” (pg. 319) and has a long term physical and psychological effects on its victim. Studies have shown that the consequence torture includes “PTSD, depression, physical symptoms, and the existential dilemma” (pg. 319). Mark Costanzo, Ellen Gerrity, and M. Brinton Lykes concluded by recommending to the APA, the U.S government

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