Amnesty International UK spokesperson Neil Durkin pointed out that the psychological trauma inflicted on the Guantánamo inmates should not be overlooked. "With numerous suicide attempts and reports of Guantánamo prisoners on the edge of psychosis, we are extremely concerned that even those eventually released from the camp will be mentally scarred for the rest of their lives," he said. "Over 200 of the Guantánamo prisoners are now held in solitary confinement - and after years of detention without charge or trial this is taking a heavy toll."
There have been few scientific studies of the psychological effects of working as a prison guard, but classic experiments in the 1960s and 1970s showed how easy it is to prompt ordinary people to perpetrate extremely cruel acts given the right conditions.
In the so-called 'Stanford prison experiment' in 1971, college students were asked to act out roles as guards and detainees in a mock prison in the basement of the university's psychology department. Both groups quickly adapted to their roles and the guards became increasingly sadistic and cruel in their treatment of the prisoners. The results were so shocking the experiment was stopped early.
"It's not that we put bad apples in a good barrel. We put good apples in a bad barrel. The barrel corrupts anything that it touches," the experiment's author Dr Philip Zimbardo is quoted as saying on the American Psychological Association's website.
Last week I received an email from a dear friend. The email came from Sweden, on Valentine’s Day. I have spent the better part of this week trying to craft a response. I have failed. This post is my attempt at a response.
This blog is anti-torture. There is a logo on the sidebar of this blog that declares the unequivocal position of this blog and its author. Being anti-torture seems to me to be a commonsense position to hold. It is however not a position that is universally held. There are torturers in this world and there are those who aid and abet the torturers. Then there are the victims. My friend, Tasneem Khalil, is a torture victim.
These are among the many costs of torture...
Read both stories.