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American Psychological Association Guilty of War Crimes?

A watchdog analysis released on Thursday (30th April 2015) examines the complicity of American Psychological Association in “Enhanced” Interrogation Programs in Guantanamo, Abu Ghuraib and elsewhere.

According to the report, authored by leading health professional and human right activists, American Psychological Association secretly worked with Bush administration to furnish an ‘ethical’ justification for the interrogation policy. Authors reviewed 638 emails between 2003 and 2006 and concluded that secret co-ordination occurred between APA and the government to justify torture programs. A report published last year by Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) also suspected that ‘health professionals may have committed war crimes’.

Any medical professional’s primary role is that of a healer, and their involvement in torture programs is acutely disturbing. A medical professional’s aim is to make amends to physical and mental condition not to destroy it. Such a betrayal to fundamental duty of healing poses daring questions in the minds of the public; how can I entrust them with my mental health.

I browsed through comments on the news on the web; there’s an array of feedback. Some have questioned the science of psychology and others have questioned ‘how’ qualified psychologists are. Relatively mild comments have treated this news as an exception without doubting the mental health professional body as a whole.

I take the news as an isolated event. I would not question the science because of the act of few psychopaths dressed as psychologists. I would not blame the whole association either; rather I’d direct my unequivocal criticism at the guilty few. I feel betrayed though; it’s a recurring theme over the globe, the sacrifice of ethical principles for material gains. We can see reports of dangerous contradictions: big pharma’s morally repugnant disregard for human life, political leader’s selfish whims, news agencies broadcasting biases etc. But, the amount of innovative positivity is also immense. In the wake of Nepal Earthquake, I’ve seen individuals, communities and groups from all over the globe devising ingenious ways to help their troubled fellow humans. Similarly, the participation of APA in the heinous act should not shadow the fact that several other humanitarian and medical organizations clearly condemned the interrogation and torture methods. Hopefully, good will trump evil.

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