Psych prof calls for change in APA stance on interrogation

Pyschologists should not be co-opted into participating in torture. Psychological research indicates that individuals do not ordinarily become whistleblowers, but instead tend to act like sheep. Why is the American Psychological Association allowing its members to work at detention sites? Other professional associations like the AMA and the psychoanalyst group will not permit their members to be placed in this situation.

EC Psych Profs Call for APA to
Change Stance on Interrogation

Oct. 4, 2007

Michael R. Jackson

Michael R. Jackson, associate professor of psychology at Earlham, invites colleagues from across the nation to join his department’s faculty and sign the Resolution Regarding Participation by Psychologists in Interrogations in Military Detention Centers.

RICHMOND, Ind. — The psychology department at Earlham College has passed a resolution calling for a change in the interrogations policy of the American Psychological Association (APA). Breaking new ground by taking this national leadership role, the Resolution Regarding Participation by Psychologists
in Interrogations in Military Detention Centers
is the first of its kind issued by an American college or university academic unit.

While Michael R. Jackson, the convener of Earlham’s psychology department, acknowledged that the APA Council of Representatives recently passed a resolution condemning torture, he says that the well-intentioned resolution still allows psychologists to participate in “coercive interrogations so long as these interrogations do not cause significant pain and suffering or lasting harm.”

Jackson says that not only does the APA resolution violate its own established ethical principles and code of conduct, but that it also continues to permit psychologists to be associated with agencies or facilities in which prisoners are deprived of due process of law, which, he says, is also a violation of the APA code.

“Most troubling of all,” writes Jackson in a letter to colleagues at other colleges, “by allowing psychologists to continue to participate in the interrogations of detainees in secret military and CIA facilities, it continues to aid in legitimizing these interrogations and (foreign detention centers).”

The purpose of the resolution, says Jackson, is to invite other psychology departments to join Earlham’s psychology faculty in condemning the involvement of psychologists in these types of interrogations and to call upon the APA to take a “clear and unambiguous stand on the issue.”

Calling the APA’s stance “ethically compromised,” Jackson draws on Earlham’s educational mission, which is informed by the distinctive perspectives and values of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).

According to an Earlham document called Principles and Practices, the College’s educational values “are rooted in a commitment to caring for the world we inhabit, improving human society, promoting global education, seeking peaceful management and resolution of conflicts, affirming the equality of all persons, and maintaining high moral standards of personal conduct.”

Morals and ethics are paramount says Jackson, who also notes “the AMA doesn’t allow participation in these types of interrogations, nor does the American Psychiatric Association. The APA is the only professional association that allows its members to do that.”

While Jackson says that some human rights groups also have criticized the APA’s stance, “to my knowledge we were the first psychology department in the country to do so, and we have been recognized by dissident groups within APA as taking a national leadership role in opposing APA’s ethically compromised position.”

Since sending his letter to other colleges in late September, Jackson reports that the psychology department of Guilford College in Greensboro, N.C., another historically Quaker college, has also passed the Earlham department’s resolution.

Explore posts in the same categories: CIA, Guantanamo, Interrogation, Pyschological torture, Torture

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