Torture: There Were Orders to Follow

That’s the title (the second part) of a New York Times editorial from April 4. Considering the American Psychological Association’s (APA) stance on torture, this has considerable significance for psychologists. Psychologists are not completely banned from engaging in torture in the current APA ethics code. One argument is that psychologists in the military must follow orders. This is particularly important when it has been shown that psychologists have taken an active role in developing and overseeing interrogations for the military.

Here’s an excerpt from the beginning of the article:

You can often tell if someone understands how wrong their actions are by the lengths to which they go to rationalize them. It took 81 pages of twisted legal reasoning to justify President Bush’s decision to ignore federal law and international treaties and authorize the abuse and torture of prisoners.

Eighty-one spine-crawling pages in a memo that might have been unearthed from the dusty archives of some authoritarian regime and has no place in the annals of the United States. It is must reading for anyone who still doubts whether the abuse of prisoners were rogue acts rather than calculated policy.

Kalea Chapman, Psy.D.


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

One thought on “Torture: There Were Orders to Follow”

  1. When growing up here in San Francisco I use to search the library at my Junior High School looking for books on Slavery. To my uttermost regret I found books on horrific photos of Black people being lenched and tortured in what seemed a setting of a white township get together.
    The photos depicted a circus or pinic amphere where all the whites were seated comfortably surrounding the hanged body of a black male and were actually ingaged in a family outting.
    There was even children, wives and professional people present.
    I find myself today at 52 years of age not shocked at the prospect that we are ingaged again in the sysmatic torture and brutality witnessed in Iraq and Afganistan and are now questioning the Bush Administrations use of these inhuman methods all over the world.
    I find it also equally frightening that American Medical personnel are working with certain govermental agents in this diabolical practice of torture.
    I wonder now how many of out medical and psychriatic institutions are now infected with these medical and mental health monsters and the impact they will have on unsuspecting innocent Americans and people of color.
    I will never completely ever trust another white medical or mental health professional for my well-being again until this subject is fully explorered and these people and institutions are vetted openingly.


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