Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Psychological And Physical Torture Have Similar Mental Effects

Date:
March 6, 2007
Source:
JAMA and Archives Journals
Summary:
Forms of ill treatment during captivity that do not involve physical pain -- such as psychological manipulation, deprivation, humiliation and forced stress positions -- appear to cause as much mental distress and traumatic stress as physical torture, according to a report in the March issue of Archives of General Psychiatry, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Forms of ill treatment during captivity that do not involve physical pain--such as psychological manipulation, deprivation, humiliation and forced stress positions--appear to cause as much mental distress and traumatic stress as physical torture, according to a report in the March issue of Archives of General Psychiatry, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.

Related Articles


Most widely accepted definitions of torture encompass both physical and mental pain and suffering, according to background information in the article. "After reports of human rights abuses by the U.S. military in Guantanamo Bay, Iraq and Afghanistan, a U.S. Defense Department working group report on detainee interrogations and a U.S. Justice Department memorandum on U.S. torture policy argued for a fairly narrow definition of torture that excludes mental pain and suffering caused by various acts that do not cause severe physical pain," the study authors write. The detention and interrogation procedures that are excluded from this definition include blindfolding and hooding, forced nudity, isolation and psychological manipulations.

Metin Basoglu, M.D., Ph.D., King's College, University of London, and colleagues interviewed 279 survivors of torture from Sarajevo in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Luka in Republica Srpska, Rijeka in Croatia and Belgrade in Serbia between 2000 and 2002. The survivors (average age 44.4, 86.4 percent men) were asked which of 54 war-related stressors and 46 different forms of torture they had experienced. Each participant then rated each event on scales of zero to four for distress (where zero was not at all distressing and four was extremely distressing) and loss of control (where zero was completely in control and four was not at all in control or completely helpless). Then, they reported how distressed or out of control they felt overall during the torture. Clinicians also assessed the survivors for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other psychiatric conditions.

The participants reported an average of 19 war-related stressors and 19.3 types of torture. An average of 96.3 months had passed since their last torture experience. More than three-fourths (174) of the survivors had PTSD related to their torture at some point in their lives, 55.7 percent (128) had current PTSD, 17 percent (39) were currently depressed and 17.4 percent (40) had a past episode of major depression.

To more easily compare forms of torture, the researchers divided events into seven broad categories: sexual torture; physical torture; psychological manipulations, such as threats of rape or witnessing the torture of others; humiliating treatment, including mockery and verbal abuse; exposure to forced stress positions, such as bondage with rope or other restrictions of movement; loud music, cold showers and other sensory discomforts; and deprivation of food, water or other basic needs.

Participants who had undergone physical torture rated their experiences from 3.2 to 3.8 on the distress scale. Sixteen of the 33 stressors from other categories were rated in the same range of distress. "Sham executions, witnessing torture of close ones, threats of rape, fondling of genitals and isolation were associated with at least as much if not more distress than some of the physical torture stressors," the authors write. "There was thus substantial overlapping between physical torture and other stressors in terms of associated distress. The control ratings also showed a similar pattern."

Physical torture was not significantly associated with PTSD or depression, suggesting that both physical and non-physical treatments caused the conditions at similar rates. "The traumatic stress impact of torture (physical or non-physical torture and ill treatment) seemed to be determined by perceived uncontrollability and distress associated with the stressors," the authors continue.

The authors concluded that aggressive interrogation techniques or detention procedures involving deprivation of basic needs, exposure to adverse environmental conditions, forced stress positions, hooding or blindfolding, isolation, restriction of movement, forced nudity, threats, humiliating treatment and other psychological manipulations do not appear to be substantially different from physical torture in terms of the extent of mental suffering they cause, the underlying mechanisms of traumatic stress and their long-term traumatic effects. These findings do not support the distinction between torture versus "other cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment." Although international conventions prohibit both types of acts, "such a distinction nevertheless reinforces the misconception that cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment causes lesser harm and might therefore be permissible under exceptional circumstances. These findings point to a need for a broader definition of torture based on scientific formulations of traumatic stress and empirical evidence rather than on vague distinctions or labels that are open to endless and inconclusive debate and, most important, potential abuse."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by JAMA and Archives Journals. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

JAMA and Archives Journals. "Psychological And Physical Torture Have Similar Mental Effects." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 6 March 2007. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070305202811.htm>.
JAMA and Archives Journals. (2007, March 6). Psychological And Physical Torture Have Similar Mental Effects. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070305202811.htm
JAMA and Archives Journals. "Psychological And Physical Torture Have Similar Mental Effects." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/03/070305202811.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Health & Medicine News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Texas Nurse Nina Pham Cured of Ebola

Texas Nurse Nina Pham Cured of Ebola

AFP (Oct. 25, 2014) — An American nurse who contracted Ebola while caring for a Liberian patient in Texas has been declared free of the virus and will leave the hospital. Duration: 01:01 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

IKEA Desk Converts From Standing to Sitting With One Button

Buzz60 (Oct. 24, 2014) — IKEA is out with a new convertible desk that can convert from a sitting desk to a standing one with just the push of a button. Jen Markham explains. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

Ebola Protective Suits Being Made in China

AFP (Oct. 24, 2014) — A factory in China is busy making Ebola protective suits for healthcare workers and others fighting the spread of the virus. Duration: 00:38 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

WHO: Millions of Ebola Vaccine Doses by 2015

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) — The World Health Organization said on Friday that millions of doses of two experimental Ebola vaccines could be ready for use in 2015 and five more experimental vaccines would start being tested in March. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins