Uproar Over Pro-Torture Stances in the Helping Professions

Jean Mercer posted an entry in her ChildMyths blog about the responses over different professional organizations to US-sponsored torture. The American Psychiatric Association shunned torture from the beginning, but the American Psychological Association was willingly complicit with the torture in Guantanamo Bay, and actually rewrote their code of “ethics”to become pro-torture. Fast-forward many, many years, and the American Psychological Association has finally passed a resolution to reverse this policy.

Mercer also points out that — unlike physicians (including psychiatrists), who since the time of Hippocrates have held the ethical principal of, “First of all, do no harm” —  psychologists have been reluctant to adopt this stance.

Mercer, a professor of psychology, covers not only the facts that I’ve summarized here, but also the background and recent brouhaha and uproar, so it’s well worth your time to read right now.

For my own part, I have something of an aversion to joining organizations with a rigid belief system. My wife and I raise free-range chicken and eggs, but we’re not organically certified. Similarly, I’m not a member of the American Psychological Association. Actually, I can’t be –unlike, say, the American Bar Association or the American Counseling Association, they don’t allow mere mortals to join, even as non-voting associate members.

Sadly, the Oregon Board of Psychologist Examiners adopted the old APA code of “ethics” wholesale. Did they know about the pro-torture stance? Did they care? I don’t know.  Either way, this manages to besmirch the State of Oregon in two ways:

  • by adopting a pro-torture code of ethics, and
  • by ignoring Oregon’s progressive, go-it-alone mindset.

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