LONDON, June 3 (UPI) -- Being held captive in a hostile and life-threatening environment may cause more psychological damage than physical torture, British researchers said.
Dr. Metin Basoglu of King's College London and the Istanbul Centre for Behaviour Research and Therapy examined the psychological impact of war captivity, physical torture, and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment.
Basoglu said assumptions of a distinction between torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment have led some to argue the latter is associated with less mental suffering and therefore more acceptable in exceptional circumstances.
The researcher examined the psychological impact of the captivity experience in 432 individuals. One group included 230 survivors tortured during the war in the former Yugoslavia, and 202 survivors detained and tortured for political and other reasons after the military coup d'etat in Turkey in the early 1980s.
The study participants rated the stressfulness of their overall torture experience using the same scale. They were also assessed for post-traumatic stress disorder.
The study, published in the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, found survivors who rated events such as deprivation of food, water, sleep, urination/defecation and medical care, as well as forced stress positions, isolation, fear-inducing psychological manipulations, humiliating, exposure to hot/cold temperatures and exposure to extreme sensory discomfort as more distressing were also likely to report their overall torture experience as more stressful.
Perceived severity of physical torture such as electrical torture, hanging by the hands, beating the soles of the feet, genital/anal torture and stretching of extremities were not associated with perceived severity of overall torture experience.