Friday, August 17, 2007

Lament of a Former APA "Affiliate:" Will the APA Renounce Torture?

I have never been a fan of the APA. Though a student "affiliate" during my doctoral study days, I couldn't afford the hefty dues following graduation. But more important, I joined the then fledgling American Psychological Society, which drew many of those turned-off by the domination of th field by mostly well-heeled practitioners (therapists) rather than researchers and non-clinical psychologists (eg, industrial-organizational, developmental, experimental, etc.) [Note: I no longer belong to that organization either.] This is not to say that many of the nations most pre-eminent psychologists from clinical to developmental to industrial-organization to social psychology didn't continue to belong. They did, in pretty large numbers. Indeed, some of those I most respect have long been associated with the organization. The question now becomes what the larger membership will they do about the contribution a small number of APAs members have made to the torture of those the CIA wisks away to secret "extraordinary rendition."

I look on in horror at the continuing saga of APA contortions concerning its permissiveness concerning torture. Over a long period, there's been nothing in its language or its actions forbidding participation in torture or extreme interrogation. Instead, in Bush-like fashion it claims a "we don't torture" whitewash. Now comes news from the Spokesman Review newspaper in Spokane, Washington, that allegedly APA former APA Pres. Matarazzo is involved in a firm involved in enabling torture. I am appalled. Does that explain the APA's permissiveness?

I am looking to and hoping that the nations pre-eminent body of psychologists will do the right thing and renounce torture and all its doublespeak codewords. Tomorrow will tell whether this organization deserves the respect many have long afforded it.