Psychologists and Interrogation

A role in prescription privileges?!
There’s been some press on psychologists’ role in interrogations, for instance, at, the New Yorker, Vanity Fair.

On Friday, the ACLU called on the American Psychological Association (APA) to prohibit members from participating in torture. This morning, August 19, there was to be a vote at the APA convention proposing a moratorium on such participation.

In the past, APA has shied away from an out-and-out moratorium, preferring a position asserting there is an ethical place for psychologists in interrogations.

I don’t yet know what happened with the vote.

Here’s a juicy quote from Democracy for Missouri that makes a loose, but thought-provoking connection between prescription privileges (RxP) and psychologists involved in interrogation:

Eban, the author of Rorschach and Awe, an investigation of the relationship between the APA and government interrogators, contends that the presence of psychologists in interrogations allows interrogators to employ more dangerous techniques in the belief that detainees are being safeguarded by the presence of psychologists.

A crucial APA Council vote on a moratorium on the presence of psychologists in interrogations is expected Sunday morning. A second resolution, drafted by the APA Board, which lists prohibited torture techniques, will come up for a vote in the same session.

“The resolution proposed by the APA Board is little more than an affirmation of the APA’s existing opposition to torture. It is designed to prevent a vote on the moratorium,” said a spokesperson for Psychologists for an Ethical APA.

When asked to speculate on the APA’s reluctance to support passage of the moratorium, Brad Olson, Ph.D., chair of Divisions of Social Justice, a collaborative of 13 divisions of the APA, pointed to the APA’s long history of cooperation with the U.S. military, current internal conflicts of interest, and the role of the Dept. of Defense in helping the APA give psychologists prescription privileges.

This is certainly a charged issue, and one to watch.

Kalea Chapman, Psy.D.


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Clinical Psychologist practicing in the Los Feliz neighborhood of Los Angeles, California.

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