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Proclamation on Psychologists’ and Other Professionals’ Participation in Coercive Interrogation

Petition published by Antonhartphd on Jan 05, 2008
Closed on Oct 04, 2008
284 Signatures 
Target: American Psychological Association and...
Region: GLOBAL
This petition represented an attempt to put pressure on the American Psychological Association to change its stance on the issue of psychologists' participation in torture, coercive interrogation and related activities. By the time this petition closed almost 300 psychologists and concerned others had signed it. This fall, the members of the APA voted on a referendum prohibiting psychologists' participation in coercive interrogation and related activities. The referendum was supported by a clear majority of psychologists. APA policy was officially revised. In October 2008 APA's president sent a letter to President Bush advising him of the change.

While the petition was never officially delivered to the leadership of APA, it may be viewed as a document that contributed to the momentum of the fight against psychologists' participation in coercive interrogation, torture and related activities.

Petition Background (Preamble):

Psychologists have participated and continue to participate in illegal and unethical coercive interrogations and related activities in detention centers at Guantanamo Bay and elsewhere.

The American Psychological Association has thus far declined to condemn such participation in absolute terms.

This is in contrast to most other professional organizations including the American Psychiatric Association.


Proclamation on Psychologists’ and Other Professionals’ Participation in Coercive Interrogation, Torture and Related Activities

We, the undersigned psychologists and allied professionals are committed to the rights of and respect for the dignity of all individuals.

As such, we oppose the direct or indirect participation of psychoanalysts, psychologists and other mental health practitioners in the coercive interrogation, torture or other potentially harmful, non-consensual use of human beings.

In contrast to the current position taken by the American Psychological Association, we call upon psychologists and other professionals to renounce and condemn the direct or indirect participation in torture, coercive interrogation and related activities wherever they may take place, regardless of whoever may claim their necessity or legality.

Psychoanalysts, psychologists and all members of the helping professions must be vigilant regarding the immorality of participating in contexts within which the essential ethical principle of doing no harm is set aside.

We condemn participation in activities in which psychoanalytic or psychological knowledge is used to exploit any person. Psychoanalysts, psychologists and other helping professionals know that they must treat fellow human beings ethically and with dignity and respect, even under conditions of dangerous adversity.

Those who seek to help and to heal cannot also be coercive interrogators. Practitioners who participate in coercive interrogations undermine the integrity and trust upon which therapy is based. The damage done by the few complicit practitioners compromises the efficacy of all practitioners, including those who resist such participation; it dismantles the essential principle that the practitioner will have the sufferer’s best interest as the highest priority and will never depart from this principle.

We, the undersigned, urge psychologists and other professionals to refrain from any and all participation, either direct or indirect, in the coercive interrogation, torture or non-consensual use of human beings and we urge them to speak out against such misconduct wherever and whenever it may arise.

Signed (with institutional affiliations provided
for purposes of identification only),

[This Statement was written by a Task-force of the Council of Fellows of the William Alanson White Institute of Psychiatry, Psychoanalysis and Psychology consisting of Anton H. Hart, PhD (Fellow and Task-force Chair), Jacqueline T. Ferarro, DMH, Elizabeth B. Hegeman, PhD, and Stefan R. Zicht, PsyD. It received final revision and approval for distribution by the Fellows on December 17th, 2007]

The Proclamation on Psychologists’ and Other Professionals’ Participation in Coercive Interrogation petition to American Psychological Association and... was written by Antonhartphd and is in the category Professional Ethics at GoPetition. Contact author here. Petition tags: , , , , , ,

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