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Depsychologizing torture

Jan De Vos (UGent)
(2011) CRITICAL INQUIRY. 37(2). p.286-314
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Abstract
It was only in 2006 that the American Psychiatric Association and the American Medical Association prohibited their members from direct participation in intelligence interrogations in U.S. detention facilities such as Guantánamo and Abu Ghraib. It took the American Psychological Association, however, still two more years to tell their psychologists not to participate in the same type of interrogations. This article asks why psychology was the ‘last man standing’ and puts forward the hypothesis that the psychologization of torture is the stance which unites defenders and opponents of torture. The historical work of McCoy revealed the intricate bonds of the psychology departments with the military practice of psychological torture, but a close reading of the well-known experiments of Stanley Milgram and Philip Zimbardo, rather then being explanatory, suggests a via regia leading easily from psychology to torture. Thus, rejecting the idea that psychology is a valuable knowledge potentially dangerous when in wrong hands, it is argued that psychology carries in its core subjection and de-subjectivization.
Keywords
Guantanamo, psychologization, torture

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Citation

Please use this url to cite or link to this publication:

Chicago
De Vos, Jan. 2011. “Depsychologizing Torture.” Critical Inquiry 37 (2): 286–314.
APA
De Vos, Jan. (2011). Depsychologizing torture. CRITICAL INQUIRY, 37(2), 286–314.
Vancouver
1.
De Vos J. Depsychologizing torture. CRITICAL INQUIRY. 2011;37(2):286–314.
MLA
De Vos, Jan. “Depsychologizing Torture.” CRITICAL INQUIRY 37.2 (2011): 286–314. Print.
@article{1086870,
  abstract     = {It was only in 2006 that the American Psychiatric Association and the American Medical Association prohibited their members from direct participation in intelligence interrogations in U.S. detention facilities such as Guant{\'a}namo and Abu Ghraib. It took the American Psychological Association, however, still two more years to tell their psychologists not to participate in the same type of interrogations. This article asks why psychology was the {\textquoteleft}last man standing{\textquoteright} and puts forward the hypothesis that the psychologization of torture is the stance which unites defenders and opponents of torture. The historical work of McCoy revealed the intricate bonds of the psychology departments with the military practice of psychological torture, but a close reading of the well-known experiments of Stanley Milgram and Philip Zimbardo, rather then being explanatory, suggests a via regia leading easily from psychology to torture. Thus, rejecting the idea that psychology is a valuable knowledge potentially dangerous when in wrong hands, it is argued that psychology carries in its core subjection and de-subjectivization.},
  author       = {De Vos, Jan},
  issn         = {0093-1896},
  journal      = {CRITICAL INQUIRY},
  keyword      = {Guantanamo,psychologization,torture},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {2},
  pages        = {286--314},
  title        = {Depsychologizing torture},
  url          = {http://dx.doi.org/10.1086/657294},
  volume       = {37},
  year         = {2011},
}

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