Psychologists: Ethics transcend politics

Oct. 13, 2009 at 1:12 AM
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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark., Oct. 13 (UPI) -- Psychologists cannot be party to torture and there should be no pre- or post-Sept. 11, 2001, ethics, two U.S. psychologists said.

Psychology professor Jeffrey Lohr and colleague David Tolin, both of the University of Arkansas, documented the history and criticisms of the ethics policy of the American Psychological Association. The researchers examined the evidence of any alleged role of psychologists in "creating, teaching and implementing torture practices."

They found psychologists did more than just develop and train others in "enhanced interrogation methods." Investigative reports and recently declassified documents show that psychologists have been directly involved in administering such interrogation, including waterboarding, Lohr and Tolin said.

Before the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the American Psychological Association required psychologists to adhere to an ethics code and, should a law be at odds with the code, to "resolve the conflict in a responsible manner." The code was revised in 2002 to permit psychologists to "adhere to the requirements of the law, regulations, or other governing authority" over professional ethics.

"As an ethical organization, we must recognize that there are no 'pre-Sept. 11, 2001, ethics' or 'post-Sept. 11, 2001, ethics,'" Lohr and Tolin said in a statement. "Rather, our discipline is guided by a core set of principles that should not vary according to shifts in the political tide."

The findings were published in the fall issue of the newsletter of the Society for a Science of Clinical Psychology.

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