5 Steps to Choosing Torture: Psychologists Breaking Bad


Earlier this month, a 542-page report was released, concluding that top officials of the American Psychological Association, including its ethics director, contorted and altered the association’s ethics policies so the psychologists on the Pentagon’s payroll could use their expertise to refine and expand methods of torture. The new “ethics light” guidelines concluded that it was appropriate for psychologists to remain involved with “enhanced” interrogations, to make sure they remained “safe, legal, ethical and effective”. Kind of like having physicians preside over lynchings to ensure they are done humanely. Groucho Marx once sneered, “Those are my principles. If you don’t like them, well…I have others”. He described the APA’s position on its own “other” ethical principles.

A spokesperson for the APA fessed up: “The actions, policies and the lack of independence from government influence described in the Hoffman Report represented a failure to live up to our core values. We profoundly regret, and apologize for, the behavior and the consequences that ensued. Our members, our profession and our organization expected, and deserved, better.”

How could you? I mean, how could we? How could influential members of the nation’s largest association of psychologists make such a disastrous blunder? The first Principle of the Ethical Code of Psychologists is “Do no harm”. Period, end of story, that’s all she wrote. The principles that follow are just commentary. The profession of psychology is often paired with the word “calling”: People are mostly drawn to it because they are fascinated with all things human and seek to relieve others’ suffering and help better understand the problems we face as a human community.
As might be expected, the military psychologists first got involved to help, not harm. They were called upon to improve the training of personnel —> Read More