Sunday, February 16, 2014

Torture - From Wikipedia

Motivation to torture

Research over the past 50 years, starting with the Milgram experiment, suggests that under the right circumstances and with the appropriate encouragement and setting, most people can be encouraged to actively torture others.[1]

John Conroy:
When torture takes place, people believe they are on the high moral ground, that the nation is under threat and they are the front line protecting the nation, and people will be grateful for what they are doing.[2]
Confidence in the efficacy of torture is based upon the behaviorist theory of human behavior.[3]

Stages of torture mentality include:

  • Reluctant or peripheral participation
  • Official encouragement: As the Stanford prison experiment and Milgram experiment show, many people will follow the direction of an authority figure (such as a superior officer) in an official setting (especially if presented as mandatory), even if they have personal uncertainty. The main motivations for this appear to be fear of loss of status or respect, and the desire to be seen as a "good citizen" or "good subordinate."
  • Peer encouragement: to accept torture as necessary, acceptable or deserved, or to comply from a wish to not reject peer group beliefs.
  • Dehumanization: seeing victims as objects of curiosity and experimentation, where pain becomes just another test to see how it affects the victim.
  • Disinhibition: socio-cultural and situational pressures may cause torturers to undergo a lessening of moral inhibitions and as a result act in ways not normally countenanced by law, custom and conscience.
  • Organisationally, like many other procedures, once torture becomes established as part of internally acceptable norms under certain circumstances, its use often becomes institutionalised and self-perpetuating over time, as what was once used exceptionally for perceived necessity finds more reasons claimed to justify wider use.
One of the apparent ringleaders of the Abu Ghraib prison torture incident, Charles Graner Jr., exemplified some of these when he was reported to have said, "The Christian in me says it's wrong, but the corrections officer in me says, 'I love to make a grown man piss himself.'"[4]

Psychological effects of Torture

Torture has profound and long lasting physical and psychological effects. Torture is a form of collective suffering. It does not limit to the victim. The victims’ family members and friends are also affected due to adjustment problems including outbreaks of anger and violence directed towards family members.

Based on new research psychological and physical torture have similar mental effects. Often torture victims suffer from elevated rates of Anxiety, Depression, Adjustment Disorder, PTSD, DESNOS (Disorders of Extreme Stress Not Otherwise Specified) , Somatoform Disorders and sometimes psychotic manifestations, nightmares, intrusions, insomnia, decreased libido, memory lapses, reduced capacity to learn, sexual dysfunction, social withdrawal, emotional flatness and periodical headaches. Based on new research psychological and physical torture have similar mental effects. Symptoms should always be understood in the context above.

No diagnostic terminology encapsulates the deep distrust of others which many torture survivors have developed, nor the destruction of all that gave their lives meaning. Guilt and shame about humiliation during torture, and about the survivor’s inability to withstand it, as well as guilt at surviving, are common problems which discourage disclosure. On top of this, uncertainty about the future, including the possibility of being sent back to the country in which the survivor was tortured, and the lack of any close confidant or even of any social support, compound the stress. Some current conditions are identifiable as additional risk factors: social isolation, poverty, unemployment, institutional accommodation, and pain can all predict higher levels of emotional distress in torture survivors.[5]

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