Tuesday, March 06, 2007

There is no such thing as "Torture Lite"


Out of Tune
Originally uploaded by McNeney.
Or so says Dr. Steven Miles of the University of Minnesota's Center for Bioethics.

From Alan Zarembo at the LA Times, we learn,
Degrading treatment and psychological manipulation cause as much emotional suffering and long-term mental damage as physical torture, researchers reported Monday.

Psychiatric evaluations of 279 victims of torture and other abuses from the Balkan wars of the 1990s showed that both types of ill treatment led to similarly high rates of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. The victims themselves rated the psychological tactics on par with the physical abuses they suffered.

The study, published in the Archives of General Psychiatry, grew out of questions about how the Bush administration has interpreted international and U.S. laws as they relate to interrogation of suspected terrorists.
You can read the entire study, as published in the Archives of General Psychiatry. While most of the issue is behind the firewall, this article, which they must have believed was important, is out in the open.

And important it is.

This pretty much sums things up:
The present study results suggest that psychological stressors cannot be easily distinguished from physical torture in terms of their relative psychological impact. Although physical torture methods were rated as somewhat more distressing than some stressors that did not involve severe physical pain, certain other stressors, such as sham executions, threats of rape, sexual advances, threats against self or family, witnessing the torture of others, humiliating treatment, isolation, deprivation of urination/defecation, blindfolding, sleep deprivation, and certain forced stress positions, seemed to be as distressing as most physical torture stressors. These findings suggest that physical pain per se is not the most important determinant of traumatic stress in survivors of torture. The fact that physical torture did not contribute to long-term psychological outcome over and above the effects of nonphysical stressors further supports this point.
Well, that would seem not to support certain positions I've heard administration officials proposing.

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