Tuesday, June 24, 2008

This decade's Nazi Doctors

If one delves into the profoundly depressing research on torture and genocide (something that has been a passion of mine since my teens), one will likely run into Robert Jay Lifton's book The Nazi Doctors. Even if one doesn't quite get to that particular classic, it becomes clear in a hurry that many members of the medical profession were implicated in Germany's genocidal activities during the 1930s and 1940s. This decade, it's a different regime, with our so-called helping professions implicated in torture. As someone who got into the field of psychology hoping to do some good for humanity, I've been horrified with what some of my peers have involved themselves in, and the seal of approval that the major umbrella organization for psychology (American Psychological Association) has given their activities. Thankfully, I'm not alone, as some of my peers have been speaking out against psychology's involvement in torture for quite a long time. Two who come immediately to mind: Steven Soldz via his blog Psyche, Science, and Society; and the psychologist who runs the blog Invictus. Both have been doing yeoman's work covering the latest developments regarding the role of the psychological profession in the perpetration of torture at Guantánamo Bay. Please read what they write. When I think of terms like "Nazi doctors" or "little Eichmanns", it's the so-called professionals who've devoted their lives to acting as perpetrators and/or apologists for the war crimes that have been committed this decade.

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