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"Any of us could be the man who encounters his double." -- Friedrich Durrenmat (1)

Jane Mayer's new book, The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the War on Terror Turned Into a War on American Ideals (not due out in the bookstores until tomorrow), is already creating headlines and generating controversy. This article will examine the issues around U.S. torture practice, in light of new allegations in the book, and review an email conversation between myself and a prominent nationally-known psychologist whom Mayer says assisted in the planning of U.S. government torture.

Scott Shane at The New York Times wrote an article last Friday describing how Mayer reveals that the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) told the CIA last year in a report that the interrogation of "high-level" detainees, such as Abu Zubaydah, "categorically" constituted torture, were illegal, and amounted to prosecutable war crimes. Zubaydah, famously, was one of three prisoners the government has admitted were waterboarded. A videotape of his interrogation was destroyed by the CIA.

In an July 14 interview with Scott Horton at Harper's, Jane Mayer discussed the reaction to the ICRC charges:

... Abu Zubayda claimed to have been locked in a tiny cage, in which he had to remain doubled up for long periods of time, prior to the period when he was waterboarded. This account — which he gave to the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) — was confirmed to me independently by a former CIA officer familiar with his interrogation....

The reaction of top Bush Administration officials to the ICRC report, from what I can gather, has been defensive and dismissive. They reject the ICRC’s legal analysis as incorrect. Yet my reporting shows that inside the White House there has been growing fear of criminal prosecution...

Ms. Mayer concludes that the addition of an immunity provision in the Military Commissions Act passed by Congress in 2007 was an attempt to address such fears among administration figures. She further opines that it seems unlikely to her that anyone in the Bush administration will actually face domestic prosecution for war crimes, as the "political appetite" seems lacking. And then she adds the following (emphasis added):

An additional complicating factor is that key members of Congress sanctioned this program, so many of those who might ordinarily be counted on to lead the charge are themselves compromised.

A Prominent Psychologist Comes Under Fire

While medical personnel associated with the ICRC have played a heroic role in documenting and advocating for prisoners' rights, doctors and psychologists associated with U.S. detention and interrogation of so-called "enemy combatants" in the "war on terror" have not acquitted themselves with the same ethical probity. In fact, they may be guilty of war crimes themselves.

Jane Mayer's new book also looks more closely at the utilization of SERE techniques as a template for U.S. torture of detainees. (SERE stands for Survival, Evasion, Resistance, & Escape, and is a military program aimed at training U.S. soldiers for torture at the hands of vicious captors, those who would not honor Geneva Convention protocols. Ironically, the U.S. itself announced that "enemy combatants" are not bound by those same Geneva agreements.)

It's been a year since SERE military psychologists James Mitchell and John Bruce Jessen were accused, in an article by Katherine Eban in Vanity Fair, of teaching SERE techniques to interrogators at Guantanamo and elsewhere. (I covered the "nuts and bolts" of how SERE procedures were taught at Guantanamo in a recent essay.) According to a different article by Jane Mayer last year, Mitchell utilized the theories of "learned helplessness" in implementing his interrogation lessons. (Mr. Mitchell denied this assertion.) Mayer wrote:

Steve Kleinman, a reserve Air Force colonel and an experienced interrogator who has known Mitchell professionally for years, said that "learned helplessness was his whole paradigm." Mitchell, he said, "draws a diagram showing what he says is the whole cycle. It starts with isolation. Then they eliminate the prisoners’ ability to forecast the future—when their next meal is, when they can go to the bathroom. It creates dread and dependency. It was the K.G.B. model. But the K.G.B. used it to get people who had turned against the state to confess falsely. The K.G.B. wasn’t after intelligence."

This torture model of dread, debility through isolation, and dependency may have been the model of the K.G.B., but it was intellectually codified by U.S. psychologists and psychiatrists in the 1950s, most notably in a 1956 article in the journal Sociometry, Brainwashing, Conditioning, and DDD (Debility, Dependency, and Dread). One of the authors of this article, Harry Harlow, went on to become a president of the American Psychological Association (APA).

In Mayer's new book, she implicates another former APA president in the development of torture, Martin Seligman, the creator of the theory of "learned helplessness". I have not seen Mayer's book, which hasn't been released yet, so my accounts come from statements online by Scott Horton, as well as the latter's interview with Mayer previously cited. Horton wrote (emphasis added):

[Mayer] traces the development of the torture techniques to the work of two contractors, Mitchell and Jessen, and disclosed the specific techniques they developed.  She notes that the techniques rely heavily on a theory called "Learned Helplessness" developed by a Penn psychologist Martin Seligman, who assisted them in the process.

Seligman is no obscure academic, or bureaucrat. He is one of the best known psychologists in the country, a prominent professor, and leader of the Positive Psychology movement, often quoted in the nation's psychology textbooks. Mayer's allegations about Seligman were picked up anti-torture activist and psychologist Stephen Soldz at his blog. This brought a rejoinder from Seligman himself, denying he assisted in torture in any way. He continued:

I gave a three hour lecture sponsored by SERE (the Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape branch of the American armed forces) at the San Diego Naval Base in May 2002. My topic was how American troops and American personnel could use what is known about learned helplessness and related findings to resist torture and evade successful interrogation by their captors.

I was told then that since I was (and am) a civilian with no security clearance that they could not discuss American methods of interrogation with me. I have not had contact with SERE since that meeting. I have not worked under government contract (or any other contract) on any aspect of interrogation or any aspect of torture. Mr. Mitchell and Mr. Jessen were present in the audience of about 50 others at my speech, and that was, to the best of my knowledge, the sum total of my "assisting them in the process."

What Seligman Told Me

In December 2006, following suspicions (at that time uncorroborated by government documents) that SERE had been used to reverse-engineer torture, as reported by Jane Mayer in a July 2005 New Yorker article, which mentioned Seligman by name, and by Mark Benjamin at Salon.com, I wrote to Seligman and asked him about reports he had taught at the SERE school. I was then researching an article on psychological research into sensory deprivation and torture. (The article turned into a presentation at the APA convention in 2007, and was subsequently published as "Psychology and Research into Coercive Interrogation".) Dr. Seligman's answer to me then (December 2006) was much the same as that made to Soldz above.

I tried to push Seligman a little harder on the issue:

I really have only one outstanding question that remains from my original questions: Were you aware -- or do you even believe -- that your work on learned helplessness has been used not only to help our soldiers withstand coercive interrogation, but to conduct such types of interrogation by U.S. interrogators themselves?

Martin Seligman replied tersely:

I am not available for further comment. (2)

About seven months later, as further revelations about SERE and torture surfaced, including admissions by the Pentagon Office of Inspector General (in a report publicly released in May 2007) that SERE reverse-engineering had taken place, and that Mitchell and Jessen were involved, I revisited the issue with Dr. Seligman in August 2007:

When I wrote to you before, you declined to comment on my question. But I think it is incumbent upon you now to say more about what you know, as well as what you think, about the use of your work by military and CIA psychologists to instigate torture. I ask you this as a colleague in the field, and as a psychologist interested in stopping torture, and ashamed of the actions of some in our field in perpetuating abusive behavior. I would think you would like to clear your name, which otherwise remains linked (even if in obscure ways) to some of the worst episodes in our nation's and our profession's history.

Dr. Seligman replied (emphasis added):

I am entirely out of this loop, having had zero contact with SERE since my talk in April 2002. I know nothing at all about how they have applied LH concepts to either help our own people or to the interrogation of prisoners. When I asked about the latter at my talk, they told me that they could not give me any information at all, since I had no "classification."

My talk was about how to teach our people to resist LH [Learned Helplessness] and my life work has been devoted to the issues of undoing LH, not about inducing it in other human beings.

Once again, I persevered, intrigued that Seligman appeared to be admitting that he had asked about application of "learned helplessness" techniques to the interrogation of prisoners. Why, in December 2002, had he bothered to ask? Was he suspicious? Did he know more than he was saying, or even worse, had he done more than he was admitting? I wrote (emphasis in original):

I appreciate your quick reply, and I understand that you had nothing to do with how LH concepts were used by others. But, given the controversy over psychologist participation in interrogations (a vote on competing resolutions is due at the next [APA] Council meeting), and the fact that your ideas and research were obviously used (you even asked them about it), what is your position on the use of your research by others, and on psychologists involved in military/CIA interrogations under the current administration?

Dr. Seligman replied:

The only "position" I am comfortable staking out is "Good science always runs the risk of immoral application. It goes with the territory of discovery."

Doubling and Collaboration with Torture

Dr. Seligman's "position" was startling. Even if one accepts his denial of further association with the torture program initiated by the Bush administration, utilizing SERE coercive techniques, Seligman seems to believe it's okay to settle for a "see no evil" approach. In his point of view, he is a scientist, a discoverer of new knowledge. If his work might be abused, that is not a concern of his.

This is an immoral position, of course, even if not necessarily criminal, in a forensic sense. If I could question him further, I would ask why he was asked to give this particular "lecture" at a SERE school at this time, and who asked him to do so. (Mayer says Seligman was connected with the CIA, but no further details are given.) I would further ask what led him to inquire about the possible use of SERE techniques on interrogations of prisoners, and why, when he was waved off, he acquiesced so meekly.

For years now, Dr. Seligman has been quiet about the use of his own theories in the application of horrifying torture techniques. Why this silence?

The situation with Seligman, like those of other psychologists and psychiatrists who worked for the CIA's MKULTRA and like programs over forty years ago, reminds me of the analysis Robert Jay Lifton made of the behavior of doctors in Nazi Germany, who were implicated in anti-semitic purges of Jews from the medicine field, and in programs of forced sterilization, euthanasia of mental patients, and later, in the operations of the concentration camps. (The Germans, I should note, were not the only people to engage in forced sterilizations. The United States, too, engaged in eugenics policies such as forced sterilization earlier in the twentieth century, and many doctors participated in that.)

In his book, The Nazi Doctors, Lifton describes the phenomenon of "doubling", or "socialization to evil."

Doubling arises in the context where a professional must "function psychologically in an environment... antithetical to his previous ethical standards..." The person must be able to connect with both the prior, ethical self and the new, unethical environment or institution. The splitting of the professional self allows for an adaptation to evil and an escape from subsequent feelings of guilt or wrong-doing, as "the second self tends to be the one performing the 'dirty work'." What makes the entire process so insidious is that it usually takes place outside of individual consciousness, even as it involves "a significant change in moral consciousness." Thus, doubling can be understood as an adaptation to an extremely immoral culture or institution, allowing for disavowal of guilt. (See The Nazi Doctors, Lifton, pp. 421-423).

We can see this in Seligman's disavowal of any wrong-doing, and even his strong protestations of being against torture. Now, it's notoriously difficult to psychoanalyze someone from afar, but how else are we to explain the monumental and repeated violations of basic ethical practice by physicians and psychologists over the years, whether it has to do with secret study done on unknowing African-American subjects as part of the infamous Tuskegee syphilis patients experiments that lasted for forty years, until 1972; the human plutonium radiation experiments of the last century; the CIA mind control programs noted above; or the development and implementation of current psychological torture programs, which continues to date?

Are We Morally Doomed?

I think Jane Mayer is wrong on one point. As pointed out earlier, she is pessimistic that this nation has the "political appetite" to bring the perpetrators of torture to the bar of justice in his country. I hear that from many. But where there is a will, there is, proverbially, a way. It is not about "appetite" anymore. It is about what we must do, if we are not to take that final step into the dark side, a place Vice President Cheney so-famously told us we would have to go. We know now what awaits us there.

Worse even than the doubling of an individual like Martin Seligman is the behavior of the professional organizations for doctors and psychologists. The American Medical Association, while officially having a policy of not participating in interrogations at Bush's war on terror prisons, has taken no steps I know of to investigate or police violations of this policy. For years, the American Psychological Association has maintained that, while against torture, it supports psychologists working at prisons like Guantanamo, even if they do not allow basic human rights, because supposedly they lessen the possibility of abuse. The logic is grotesque, at best, and grossly misleading when you realize it's psychologists who have been implicated in organizing the abuse. But on this, the APA remains silent, rendering that organization, in Mayer's own characterization, "worthless."

In the famous legend, Faust bargains away his soul to the devil for the privilege of obtaining knowledge. In Goethe's rendering of the story, Faust is redeemed in the end, and the spirits who help him remind us, "He who persists in striving ever upwards, him we can save."

(1) Quote taken from Robert Jay Lifton's The Nazi Doctors, Basic Books, 1986/2000, p. 418.

(2) The quotes from my email correspondence with Dr. Seligman were the source of some quandary for me, as I was unsure whether to utilize them. I sought consultation for this issue with a long-time, highly respected journalist who thought it appropriate. I do want to make clear that all who communicate with me by voice or by writing (including email) and ask for confidentiality or non-attribution will have their request respected. My quotations from the Seligman correspondence with me are drawn from a professional exchange and not, in my opinion, privileged.

Also posted at Invictus

Originally posted to Valtin on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 09:49 PM PDT.

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  •  Tip Jar (244+ / 1-)
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    Hidden by:
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    If Jane Mayer's book is as promising as the controversies already leaked, then we all may have much to talk about on this subject before the week is out.

    War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight, The lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade Invictus

    by Valtin on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 09:51:09 PM PDT

    •  Please, everyone, recommend this (45+ / 0-)

      I often wondered why, of all the disciplines in medicine, the American Psychological Association was the only one not to repudiate torture.  Dr. Seligman once was president of the APA.  

      American Psychological Association refused to ban torture.  If you don't believe me, check the link.

      Now I know why.

      "Everything in life is somewhere else, and you get there in a car." E. B. White

      by maggiejean on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 10:38:20 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

        •  Martin Seligman is a good man. (31+ / 0-)

          He doesn't condone torture.  All of his work for the past 40 years has been about helping people who have gone through experiences of learned helplessness.

          Seligman has dozens, if not hundreds of students and intellectual offspring who are among the most dedicated psychologists in the world, and none of these people is known as being inhumane in any way.

          To the contrary, Seligman's students and progeny have been known for advocating the most humanistic values.

          You can be sure that Martin Seligman is a lifelong Democrat.

          No one's perfect, and everyone has said or done a misguided thing at some time, but you can't legitimately accuse Martin Seligman of aiding or abetting torture.  I'm sure he's horrified by the scandals at Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib and everywhere else.

          I think you're barking up the wrong tree by going after Dr. Seligman.

          •  Hey, enthusiast (4+ / 0-)

            I love your comment, but I think you meant to attach it to someone else.

            Cheers.

            Pluto now orbits Overnight News Digest ʍou sʇıqɹo oʇnld

            by Pluto on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 11:30:27 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  He wanted it near the top (8+ / 0-)

              it's a direct reference to the diary, and not another comment.

              Sadly, this happens a lot.

              NFTT Progressively supporting the troops

              by Timroff on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 04:26:06 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Something I really (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                wayoutinthestix

                can't stand.

                "You have attributed conditions to villainy that simply result from stupidity"

                by newfie on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 05:27:07 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

              •  And yet, it works. Look at the recs. n/t (0+ / 0-)
              •  ?? If someone comes to the diary "late" yet has (0+ / 0-)

                a relevent statement to the diarist (tip jar) or the diary itself...must they post at the end of the last post (dozens or hundreds later)?

                In general, line jumping is annoying, sure.
                What is wrong with this post in this place?
                JV

                Bottled hot water for dehydrated babies? WTF?!

                by JVolvo on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 10:24:46 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Not to completely derail this thread... (0+ / 0-)

                  but had enthusiast responded to the diarist himself, I wouldn't have said a thing. But as Pluto points out, the comment makes no sense from Pluto's point of view -- and it's less likely that the diarist might respond directly to it.

                  Sure, it's no fun to be late and have something relevant to add, but to try to add that relevance by jumping up and down behind someone who was already there is annoying and rude. Far too often you see threads like this trail off into the right-hand margin because someone wanted their comment to be seen earlier rather than later. I'm certain that more often than not it's a vanity thing -- no one likes to be lost at the bottom of a chain of 500 comments -- but we can't all be first, and the sooner we come to realize this, the more civil our discourse will become.

                  NFTT Progressively supporting the troops

                  by Timroff on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 02:40:03 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

          •  ...but the APA should take action against torture (28+ / 0-)

            in 2008.  The APA has been amiss in having allowed its name to be tarnished.  Not enough psychologists are politically active, and too many of them are willing to be fawning, brown-nosing, and obsequious participants of the establishment who care more about their financial health than anything else.

            •  and too many psych patients are tortured in theUS (26+ / 0-)

              There is a lot of inhumane treatment amounting to torture and abuse, here in the US - directed against US citizens with mental illnesses.

              Some are put in jail, rather than the mental health system, where they belong.  In fact, a lot are in jail, and horribly treated there.  Why isn't there any horror at the vile treatment of prisoners, including hundreds of thousands imprisoned for simple drug possession?  Their lives are destroyed, ruined, and when they are released from jail, they're never going to be the same.  Society damaged them, destroyed them, just for using pot or some other drug.  Use a drug, and we'll fucking ruin your life!  That's the motto here.  Talk about torture and abuse.

              Then, there are many who get all kinds of disgusting treatment in mental hospitals.  A friend recently completed her internship at a large institute near NYC, and she spoke of patients literally begging her not to be tortured with electroconvulsive "therapy."  There's nothing she could do.  "Bad" patients got the electro-shock treatment.  

              You think One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest is ancient history?  Think again - it goes on every day.

              Teenage girls, brought in for swallowing pills or acting out in some way, being stripped naked and humiliated in mental hospitals.

              The abuse that goes on every day in this country is appalling.  Psychologists are often part of the system that perpetrates this mistreatment, but so are nurses, so are psychiatrists, so are police, detention workers, prison guards, those in authority.

              •  I share your opinion about the ongoing abuses (26+ / 0-)

                I even recently reprinted a talk by the psychologist Craig Haney on psychologists and abuse at U.S. detention facilities.

                What makes this diary different tonight, is that the issue is about torture ordered from the White House and/or the highest levels of the Pentagon. If this stands here, then there's no hope of addressing the torture, abuse and injustice further downstream.

                War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight, The lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade Invictus

                by Valtin on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 11:49:15 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  You should be writing a book (4+ / 0-)

                  if you already are, well good! If not, you've got a lot of material already broken up into chapters! (your diaries)

                  You should also cross post this at DD, too.

                  OK, done telling you what to do ;-)

                  Searching for corrupt, lobbyist loving John McCain?

                  by Lisa Lockwood on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 06:11:05 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                •  The problem we have is that, if execution (4+ / 0-)

                  is a legal punishment, then "partial execution" logically follows as being one too.

                  To the argument that punishment has to be preceded by a proof of guilt, I would counter that, in theory, that's correct.  But, to a very significant extent, the judicial system has come to consider the presumption of innocence until guilt is proven beyond a reasonable doubt as a technical prerequisite to establish the parameters of the contest between the prosecution and the defendant.  In other words, innocence is an assumption to prompt a contest (trial).  If there's to be no contest, then the assumption of innocence is dismissed and replaced by the assumption of guilt--which merits punishment.

                  Why do we prohibit coerced confessions?  Because they would invalidate the voluntary confessions on the basis of which so much of our punishment is meted out.

                  In any event, if the captives are presumed guilty of a capital crime (meriting execution), then partial execution to get them to admit it can't be bad.

                  How do you tell a predator from a protector? The predator will eat you sooner rather than later.

                  by hannah on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 06:55:38 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Really, the problem is allowing a sitting (8+ / 0-)

                    president to mutilate national and international law, unencumbered by oversight, checks or balances, in order to unjustly imprison and torture under the erroneous guise of "terror."

                    For sure the death penalty is a gross misrepresentation of a civil society, however disregard of international laws and using torture as a means to justify padding one's pockets with crude is a heinous crime against all humanity.

                    My Homer is not a communist. He may be a liar, a pig, an idiot, a communist, but he is not a porn star. -Grandpa Simpson

                    by xobehtedistuo on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 07:19:21 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

              •  time to roll back (10+ / 0-)

                that hyperbole knob a couple of clicks.

                Conflating justifiable condemnation of our nation's drug law enforcement policies with our treatment of the mentally ill is absurd. Terrible argumentation, and counterproductive to both causes.

                So we're clear, electroconvulsive therapy is a medical procedure. Psychologists are not medical doctors, and thus by law cannot perform it. If you need a strawman punching bag, you'd be marginally closer to the mark by picking on psychiatrists. They have MD's.

                Furthermore, it is a crime punishable by imprisonment to use electroconvulsive therapy on an involuntary recipient. I grant you that the early history of this technique's clinical usage was pretty horrific. But please cite one documented example of this happening in the US anywhere in the last 30 years. It is never, I repeat NEVER used in any punitive or disciplinary fashion. That's a good way for a mental health practitioner to end up with a revoked license, or in prison. ECT's only remaining recognized clinical application is in the alleviation of symptoms of major depression, and then only when the patient consents in writing, and THEN only when the symptoms have been resistant to other forms of treatment such as medication and psychotherapy.

                The mental health system in this country leaves much to be desired. I know, because I work in it. But to insinuate that psychologists, especially those in clinical practice, somehow intentionally inflict harm or perpetuate needless suffering is baseless, preposterous, and insulting. Do you even know a psychologist?

                I really liked your previous comment above, but as a grad student in a doctoral psych program I can tell you that you are way off base on this one. Sounds like you've been getting all your information from the Church of Scientology or their front group, CCHR. (No, I will not link to them.)

                Try again.

                "I seek the truth, which never yet hurt anybody. It is only persistence in self-delusion and ignorance which does harm." --Marcus Aurelius

                by electric meatball on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 12:03:16 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  perhaps you could explain (7+ / 0-)

                  how the Judge Rothenberg Centre in Massachusetts manages to hook CHILDREN with psychiatric or neurological conditions up to shock apparatus throughout the day and administers "mild" electric shocks as method of behaviour control, then? (Note: this is not "shock therapy," which as you note does have a therapeutic purpose--it is the use of pain as a behaviour control tool.)

                  Abuses occur when oversight and, more important, a moral centre is not present. Lawsuits do continue to be brought by patients and their families over misuse/abuse of ECT. Some of these have been settled in patients/families' favour in the past 30 years.

                  That said, I agree with you that there is a danger when one seeks evidence. I use FindLaw rather than Google searches. There are a lot of $cientology front groups out there, not just CCHR (We are lucky here in the UK that this coercive organisation has a far less prominent presence in either the "treatment" or advocacy community. I hope it stays that way.) The most unfortunate thing is that psychiatric survivors DO need a voice, as they ARE frequently abused. The culprits are more often less well-trained frontline and security staff than psychologists or psychiatrists, but there are a number of programmes within which oversight from these highly trained professionals is lacking, and some do look the other way when agreement to treatment is coerced.

                  Political Compass says: -8.88, -8.67
                  "We never sold out cos no one would buy."--J Neo Marvin

                  by expatyank on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 12:20:26 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  Unless you can demonstrate (5+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Avila, meg, juslikagrzly, dmh44, MaskedKat

                    or document that this Judge Rothenberg CentER in Massachussetts is in the business of adminstering electrical shocks directly to one or both hemispheres of the brain for the express purpose of inducing a petit mal seizure, you are making a false comparison. For that is what ECT entails.

                    Children with severe neurological or psychiatric deficits are often administered treatments based on the consent of the party responsible for them, if they are found legally incompetent to grant informed consent themselves. This is standard, accepted practice the world over. If you mean to suggest that this Center is in the business of using electrical shock simply to modify the behavior of misbehaving youngsters, well, I'd love to see the evidence. At which point I would stand up and condemn the practice with you. Forgive me if I don't hold my breath.

                    I have no knowledge of what this institution does. I do know that use of a mild electrical stimulus as a behavioral feedback device, as I suspect the program you describe entails, is a legitimate application as well as a far cry from the criminal misapplication of electroconvulsive techniques.

                    "I seek the truth, which never yet hurt anybody. It is only persistence in self-delusion and ignorance which does harm." --Marcus Aurelius

                    by electric meatball on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 12:36:42 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  It's a pretty awful institution (8+ / 0-)

                      and attempts have been made to close it down, but sadly, parents have come to it's defense. Here's a link to an excellent Mother Jones expose.  As you can see, it is pretty isolated and it's policies are not supported by most who work with children.  But, shamefully, it keeps going.

                      Don't believe everything you think.

                      by EJP in Maine on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 01:45:35 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Having read the article (2+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        melo, EJP in Maine

                        I'm surprised I haven't heard of this place. I'm not at all impressed with their "treatment" approach. It fails to differentiate between symptoms and causes and doesn't appear to try to address them discretely. Using shock on "high-functioning" kids (i.e., non-developmentally delayed) to modify their behavior represents a "path of least resistance" approach that I find indefensible.

                        I work with such kids, every day, as a therapeutic behavioral specialist. Severely Emotionally Disturbed kids, some higher-functioning with Dx's like ODD, ADHD, RAD, Bipolar, and Conduct Disorder. Others have developmental delays (mental retardation, autistic spectrum disorders), PTSD, or psychotic disorders. My job is to work with the child and his therapist to address the worst, most problematic behaviors that are threatening his/her placement. Most of the population I work with are kids in level 12 or 14 group homes - the last stop before juvenile hall or psychiatric wards.

                        Without exception I can tell you that the number one thing these kids respond to is the caring, one-on-one involvement of an adult who shows them unconditional positive regard and takes the time to listen to, and genuinely care about, what the child wants for him/herself. After that, it's just details. Identify the need that is fueling the behavior, find a way to gratify the need that doesn't involve aggressive or destructive behavior, and you empower the child to start changing their world and their circumstances themselves using new tools.

                        In my line of work, we get a lot more mileage out of introducing alternative behaviors to their repertoire than we ever get out of simply trying to extinguish a behavior through aversives. Unfortunately, it appears from this article that this institute doesn't hew to that approach.

                        "I seek the truth, which never yet hurt anybody. It is only persistence in self-delusion and ignorance which does harm." --Marcus Aurelius

                        by electric meatball on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 12:10:32 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  This place is clearly sick (2+ / 0-)
                          Recommended by:
                          Valtin, electric meatball

                          and not like 100's of excellent treatment programs for kids throughout the country, as you described.  I only mentioned it because you said you had not heard of it--I know about lots of good programs, and, unfortunately, some mediocore programs.  this one appears to be one of the worst.  As a psychologist, it is good to know it exists, because it does come up as an example of how bad programs can be.  

                          Last I heard, I think they had been forced by the state to stop the shocks--at least unless they had approval from the state in individual cases.  I don't remember the details, but the Boston Globe has follwoed the story.

                          Keep up your great work!  You will be a great psychologist!

                          Don't believe everything you think.

                          by EJP in Maine on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 12:23:33 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                    •  Psychologists (10+ / 0-)

                      have the power of a license, a Ph.D., and the ability to walk away into private practice; therefore they are seldom directly responsible for the day-to-day abuses at inpatient treatment facilities.  The people who directly administer coercive and punitive measures usually do not have the luxury of saying "no" to a directive from a Higher Authority, as well as being in direct line-of-fire when psychiatric patients become violent, which can lead to excessive use of force or drugs in the attempt to subdue them.  I know a number of people who have left jobs in psychiatric institutes because of these conflicts; they are caught in a situation where they are in the middle between the needs of patients, the institution, and their own physical safety, and the one that deserves the least value, the institution, is the one with the most power ... and always wins, one way or the other.

                      It's truly an institutional problem, deriving from the way we treat personal and emotional problems in an impersonal and, dare I point out, COST EFFICIENT setting.  What is good for individuals becomes lost, which is why I'm a street-witch and not a "professional" therapist.

                    •  tried to make it clear in my post (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      electric meatball

                      that what JRC does is not ECT. I was after a larger point, though happy to see a discussion open up on JRC itself.
                      What they do is aberrent, even by the standards of the worst programmes--the only places I've knowledge of worse practice are Russia and Kenya, both of which routinely use beatings as control methods in children's institutions.
                      The point I was trying to make is that psychologists, and psychiatrists, can end up doing things that are insupportable when an environment is created in which such things are considered acceptable. At JRC, that environment is the JRC itself--they have for many years answered to no one but themselves. They work to bring parents into their closed system, convincing them that without this "treatment" their children would die or maim themselves.
                      In the case of the post that we are all responding to, that environment is the "war on terror", in which the previously unthinkable has become routine practice. Except--in the case of mental health professionals, many of these practices were NOT unthinkable in recent memory. There has been an uneasy alliance between psychology/psychiatry and repression around the world, from its misuse by the Soviet Union to imprison dissidents, to the participation of people like Cameron in CIA abuses. Research into behaviourism in particular has had overt social control and military applications from its inception.
                      MOST mental health professionals are well-trained and ethical, but when systems become corrupt, even well-meaning and basically decent people can become corrupted by them.
                      Please don't assume I'm anti-psychiatry, I work with folks at various levels of MH care every day and have utmost respect for th vast majority of them. I have, however, met some of the bad apples, as well as some of those who have participated in evil because of the systems they were within. To give one example, my son's first neuropsychiatrist--a good man who was very helpful to our family--participated in administering LSD to children with autism when he was a research student. He was in a programme led by a top "expert" in the field (still practicing and worshipped by some) and went along because he assumed this expert was right. I'm quite sure that today he would not make any such decision, but he was dealing with a devalued population under the sway of a particular philosophy that said any measure was OK when fighting this "tragic" condition. As someone who has been researching the history of autism treatment for many years now, I can tell you some hair-raising stories about what used to be done and what is still being don in the name of "treatment"--JRC is one of the worst examples, but suffice it to say, what they're telling you in school isn't always how it happens on the ground.

                      Political Compass says: -8.88, -8.67
                      "We never sold out cos no one would buy."--J Neo Marvin

                      by expatyank on Wed Jul 16, 2008 at 12:26:13 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Fair and well thought out points, all (0+ / 0-)

                        I think we agree on most of this. Thanks for taking the time to reply at length.

                        "I seek the truth, which never yet hurt anybody. It is only persistence in self-delusion and ignorance which does harm." --Marcus Aurelius

                        by electric meatball on Wed Jul 16, 2008 at 03:29:28 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                  •  The Judge Rothenberg center (9+ / 0-)

                    is an horrendous institution that ought to be closed, and its administrators imprisoned.  I wrote about it in school of shock: your tax dollars help torture children
                    but it's not engaged in ECT.  

                •  Psychologists, no (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  juslikagrzly, Marc in KS

                  But psychiatrists, who have an M.D. to distinguish them from psychologists, can (unless things have changed since I majored in psych back in the late '70s).  Both follow the APA guidelines in any case.

                  Listen, nowadays you have to think like a hero -- just to behave like a merely decent human being.

                  by caul on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 02:18:20 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  Modern ECT is not torture (4+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                bellevie, kurt, dmh44, myelinate

                Patients receiving ECT are under anesthesia. The experience is not torture.  ECT is a treatment for those with severe depression that hasn't responded to other treatments. In California, involuntary ECT requires consideration of all other alternatives, then evaluation by two other doctors, and then an order by a judge. It's not done on a whim.

                I've referred just one patient for ECT in my many years of practice, but her insurance would only pay a portion of the bill, so she opted not to be treated, rather than receive a large hospital bill.

                On the subject of the forced interrogation of prisoners, the American Psychiatric Association, by the way, has come out strongly against participation by psychiatrists-- a marked difference from the actions of the American Psychological Association.

            •  Agree about APA's role (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              juslikagrzly, xobehtedistuo

              but not sure what data you're using to assert we are "fawning, brown-nosing..." etc.

              "All of us -- as citizens and as a government -- have a moral responsibility to each other, and what we do together matters." J.R.E., 1/30/08

              by MaskedKat on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 06:00:24 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  Martin Seligman can be a good man (29+ / 0-)

            and still have done or condoned awful things. In fact, much of my diary is about explaining how that is possible, i.e., "doubling".

            That's why I used the Faust analogy at the end, following a usage Lifton also employed.

            My criticism is aimed at Seligman's complacency and silence, not at his participation, since I don't know everything it entailed. I think there's still questions about the latter, and we'll see what comes out in Mayer's book.

            Meanwhile, you haven't addressed any of the actual positions taken by Dr. Seligman, as I reported them, nor my take on them.

            Dr. Seligman is a very honored man, won many awards, etc. Unfortunately, many of the most honored men and women in the behavioral sciences have also been implicated in helping construct covert programs for coercive interrogation for the past 50 years. Check out the links in the diary.

            It's not Seligman I'm after. It's the use of torture I wish to stop.

            War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight, The lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade Invictus

            by Valtin on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 11:45:16 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I really don't think you can or should blame (15+ / 0-)

              Seligman here.  All you would need to know to be able to apply the Learned Helplessness concept to torture you could easily pick up from an Intro Psych textbook; you hardly had to hear him speak to do it.

              The application of principles of Learned Helplessness to torture no doubt long preceded Seligman's formalization of the concept.  The idea is simply: prove to people that trying does them no good for long enough, and after a while they will stop trying, even if it turns out that that later trying would actually have done them some good.  I think that both Stalin and the Nazis understood that one -- probably the Romans and the Spanish Inquisition too.

              As for the notion that any good idea can be abused, he's pretty much right there, although "many good ideas" would be more accurate.

              I share your desire to get rid of torture.  I don't think you help the cause by dragging Seligman into it.  At worst, it smacks of using him as a convenient whipping boy to gain attention to the fight.  (I give you more credit than that, though.)

              John McCain's Court will overturn Roe; don't kid yourself.

              by Seneca Doane on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 11:52:40 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  First of all (10+ / 0-)

                I didn't make the claims about Seligman, that was done by a premier U.S. journalist. Secondly, my beef with Seligman is his cavalier attitude toward the use of his work. I think that his role is worth investigating further, as is the role of APA in general. I've written on the latter before many times.

                War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight, The lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade Invictus

                by Valtin on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 12:21:03 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  It's not a *cavalier* attitude (15+ / 0-)

                  It's both a fatalistic and realistic one.

                  He does not "own" the concept of Learned Helplessness.  It is neither copyrighted nor patented.  He can't actually do anything about how it is applied, other than condemning it and distancing himself from it, which it looks to me that he has done.  He is not Tom Lehrer's concept of Werner von Braun --

                  When the missiles go up
                  Who cares where they come down?
                  That's not my department

                  -- although, if he were, he would deserve appropriate criticism.

                  Your criticism seems based on some notion that the supposed adoption of his ideas -- as, in my opinion, little more of an intellectual gloss, something familiar to anyone in social science who has seen their opinions applied outside of the academy -- puts some onus on him to do more to squelch torture.  I reject the notion that his personal responsibility is any greater than anyone else's.

                  As for investigating the role of the APA, if you look back at those diaries you'll probably see my recommendations for those that I saw.  By all means, go for it -- some within the association seem to have something closer to real culpability.

                  If more comes out specifically about Seligman intentionally or negligently fostering torture, I'll change my tune.  But for now, I'd say that this is more smoke than fire, except that I don't really see any smoke either -- just some haze.

                  John McCain's Court will overturn Roe; don't kid yourself.

                  by Seneca Doane on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 01:05:53 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  you've got to be kidding me . .. (3+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Canadian Reader, Prof Dave, Mary2002

                    He's a leader in this area. . . .who isn't shy about letting his opinions be known.

                    The fact that he can't go out and clearly state that a good practicing psychologist should be agaisnt torture, and that he fears/regrets that some of his work has been abused by our own governmenent . . .speaks volumes to me.

                    Obama lied. The 4th amendment died.

                    by daddy4mak on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 08:04:55 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  How do you know he hasn't? (0+ / 0-)
                      •  i think Valtin wouldn't be asking the questions (0+ / 0-)

                        otherwise....I mean..Seligman writes articles, he could submit an opinion piece anywhere . ...

                        Obama lied. The 4th amendment died.

                        by daddy4mak on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 09:08:37 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                        •  You appear, then, to have no idea (3+ / 0-)

                          what he may or may not have said otherwise.  What you know is that he, in essence, told Valtin to sod off after presumably gleaning that the line of questioning addressed his own complicity in torture, of which I see no evidence at all given his explanation for the purpose of the talk to SERE.

                          Were I an academic being accused of contributing to such atrocities when I had done nothing wrong, I probably would have told Valtin to sod off as well.  Valtin happens not to be crazy, but a lot of self-proclaimed "independent journalists" are.

                          The other thing that strikes me is that his "unavailable for comment" reply smacks of legal advice from whatever institution with which he is now affiliated.  I would not condemn him for saying what a lawyer told him to say in that context.

                          You seem very willing to malign a man based on nothing but smoke and supposition.

                          John McCain's Court will overturn Roe; don't kid yourself.

                          by Seneca Doane on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 12:26:22 PM PDT

                          [ Parent ]

                •  I have to disagree here (14+ / 0-)

                  If we believe Seligman's statements, then there seems little reason to condemn him.  In particular, his statement that good science can be abused is simply a fact.

                  Suppose that he was asked to give a lecture on how US troops could resist torture.  Should he not have given such a talk?  It is clear to me (and, I am sure, to Seligman) that his lecture could be used for nefarious purposes.  Should he then not have given the talk?

                  I think almost any invention or discovery can be used for nefarious purposes.  

                  •  I have to disagree as well. (7+ / 0-)

                    He has had plenty of opportunities to state that the use of principles he articulated not be used against people.

                    By shrugging and letting the chips fall where they may, he is not acting to the fullest extent possible to stop an out-of-control government from using his work inappropriately.  

                    He needs to at least make a statement against the nefarious use of his research, as he bears some responsibility for its use if he has some power to put an end to it and does not do so.

                    •  I suppose he *could* say that (0+ / 0-)

                      but why should he have to?

                      Does a person who manufactures a hammer have to say "not to be used to beat people with"?

                      no.

                      Does a person who manufactures electrical outlets have to say "You shouldn't hook wires to this outlet and use the other ends to shock people" ?

                      no.

                      •  If the government started (0+ / 0-)

                        using hammers to beat people, and electrical outlets to shock people, I, for one, would hope that those manufacturers would criticize the government's use of their products.

                        If they didn't, I would lose respect for them, and I would criticize their flexible ethics.

                        •  I think that's kind of silly (0+ / 0-)

                          Not to make light of torture; not that at all.  The government's actions are appalling and we all agree on that.

                          But this seems silly.  Almost anything that anyone has ever invented can be used to torture people or hurt people, or otherwise abused.  

                          •  What I am trying to tell you (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            melo, plf515

                            is that psychologists go through extensive ethical training to avoid situations that the Nazis and other medical and mental scientists have found themselves in.  For example, the Stanford prinson experiment was unethical, and the experimenter pulled the plug himself.  That is one case where the situation was ended because of the understanding that ethics in the psychological profession were being violated.

                            If you want to know more about these ethics training programs, you can sign up and take one here.  I don't know if it is the same as the member training.

                            This is no light matter, though I understand what you are saying.  The bottom line is that psychologists and psychiatrists have a professional obligation not to harm, to report harm, and to maintain the highest ethical standards.  The potential to harm is so large that it simply cannot be taken lightly.  Given where the government has gone with this research, there is an obligation by psychologists and psychiatrists to do something to prevent (and end) their involvement and to stop others from using their psychological knowledge for nefarious ends.  Psychologists have a professional responsibility to make this stop in a way no other profession has.

                            Electricians, workers, and manufacturers are simply not on the same level with regard to this, as their training is not useful in the same way.  If electricans were asked to diagram out ways to shock the testicles of prisoners, if workers with hammers were asked to create plans to hit prisoners with their tools, and these actions were performed by Army personnel who couldn't have otherwise created these techniques, then they would be analogously culpable as psychologists for what is going on in Guantanamo.

                            The simple fact is that ethical standards require psychologists to stand up and put on record that they are opposed to this use of psychology, whether the particular theory is theirs or not.  We have failed as a profession to get this right, and are enabling our political leaders to turn us into unethical, situationally-relative excusers of torture.

                          •  I actually know a bit about the ethical (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Prof Dave

                            standards for psychologists, since I've got a PhD in psychometrics, and took a course in ethics for psychologists (it was, ironically, taught by a woman who had no ethics, but she knew the code).

                            I certainly agree that psychologists have an obligation to report harm.  The main point of Valtin's diaries has been one I entirely agree with: Psychologists should have no role in helping anyone torture anyone.  

                            Where we disagree is on what Seligman could be expected to know.  He was asked, apparently, to give a lecture on how captured prisoners could withstand torture, or something similar to that.  He could, therefore, reasonably expect that his talk would be used for that purpose.  It is something reasonable for him to do.

                            Does Seligman have an obligation to say that he disapproves of torture?  I don't think he does.  I agree it would be a good thing for him to do.  But I don't think it's obligatory, either under the APA standards or under my own moral standards.

                            I don't think Seligman did anything wrong.  There may have been better ways to act - there nearly always are.  But there is a difference between acting less than optimally and acting in ways that are unethical, immoral, or illegal.

                      •  And in this case (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        melo

                        there is only one use for the intersection of Guantanamo and psychology.

                        And it's not pretty.

                        Granted, hammers can build the prison, and electrical outlets to power the lights, and are therefore much more neutral.

                        However, it's not like the US government is using Learned Helplessness to increase the psychological stability of "enemy combatants", or to generally be concerned about the welfare of these persons.

                        In this context, there is no neutral use.  It is torture, pure and simple, and the best and brightest, especially those whose theories are being (mis)used, needed to speak up long ago.

                        •  But did Seligman know that he was (0+ / 0-)

                          lecturing to people who were running Guantanamo?

                          As I understand, he said he was lecturing about how to cope with being tortured.  That makes no sense at all if he was lecturing to the people who were running Gitmo.  It does make sense if he thought his instruction would be used to train American soldiers who might be captured and tortured, but, AFAIK, none of this happens at Guantanamo.

                          Yes, if you give a lecture on, say, the characteristics of hammers, to people who you have good reason to suspect are going to use that information to torture people, you are reprehensible.  I don't see that Seligman did this

                  •  Why can't the man, then, simply say: (7+ / 0-)

                    "I do not condone the use of these techniques under any circumstances. My research and teaching is dedicated to methods of resistance against torture.

                    "If I had reason to believe that I was being used in a program to disseminate and actually use these techniques on people, rather than just for resistance training, I would not participate in any such program."

                    He could add:

                    "In the case you are asking about, I do not have any actual information how my teaching was used. I did ask a question at the time and received no answer, so I simply do not know. But as mentioned, since that time I have not further participated in with this particular program."

                    That he's not saying anything like this suggests to me that either there is:

                    1. Some sense of guilt;
                    1. A lack of courage to take any stand as a human being against torure in general, hiding behind a purely professional persona; and/or
                    1. Coerced silence by orders of the U.S. military/government.
                    •  From similar reactions I've seen (3+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Valtin, Remillard, plf515

                      in business, his current posture - after letting more facets of his intellectual involvement slowly drip out, upon further questioning - is remarkably in step with a simple, CYA attitude.

                      That is, he may not be directly guilty of anything mentioned in this diary, but could certainly be concerned about his becoming legally or professionally exposed (likely, unfairly) as a route to get at the true perpetrators and/or issues, here.

                      Few people desire to become the pressure point that's leveraged for investigating true criminals - least of all, those of significant community (in this case, a professional community) standing, IMHO.

                      "So, please stay where you are. Don't move and don't panic. Don't take off your shoes! Jobs is on the way."

                      by wader on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 08:40:55 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                    •  Or maybe he just wants to be left (0+ / 0-)

                      alone?

                  •  IF (2+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    meg, Prof Dave

                    If Seligman had an inkling that his lecture would be used for nefarious purposes, and there's some evidence (ambiguous) from his comments to me that that was the case, then ethically he was bound not to give that talk. It's very simple, actually.

                    War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight, The lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade Invictus

                    by Valtin on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 08:11:22 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Do you think your petty semantic parsing (3+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Joe Bob, Nowhere Man, thestructureguy

                      relieves you of responsibility for your evidence free assault on his character?

                      ...Thus, doubling can be understood as an adaptation to an extremely immoral culture or institution, allowing for disavowal of guilt. (See The Nazi Doctors, Lifton, pp. 421-423).

                      We can see this in Seligman's disavowal of any wrong-doing, and even his strong protestations of being against torture. ...

                      We?

              •  For that matter (6+ / 0-)

                abusive spouses use them quite a lot. Part of the immobility and unwillingness to leave the person is due to a degree of learned helplessness.

                •  I have discussed the learned helplessness (7+ / 0-)

                  scenario with various patients, in an effort to help and educate. So I understand that LH has helped clinicians and patients understand something about how human being are conditioned. Unfortunately, like most knowledge, it has been abused. You would think the man most associated with LH theory would be outraged about what has happened to it... you'd think...

                  War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight, The lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade Invictus

                  by Valtin on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 12:54:39 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  "You would think the man...would be outraged (12+ / 0-)

                    about what has happened to it... you'd think..."

                    This seems abundantly clear to me -- and I echo your sentiments based on the neutral comment you quote him saying re his position on the use of his work to teach torture techniques to Americans to apply against detainees:

                    The only "position" I am comfortable staking out is "Good science always runs the risk of immoral application. It goes with the territory of discovery."

                    He could have said, for example, "Well I'm outraged and disgusted by this if it's true.. but I've also been in science long enough to know that "Good science always runs the risk of immoral application. It goes with the territory of discovery."

                    It seems to me, Valtin, you are expressing in this diary your shock at what appears to be a lack of condemnation of these practices used by American Interrogators.

                    The idea that your diary somehow tarnishes the man and his body of work is, to me, preposterous. Both things can be true. And the feeling I get from this diary is that they are.

                •  Seligman is more on the hook for that (4+ / 0-)

                  but that's a place where LH does lead to some wrong theoretical conclusions, as it fails to explain Battered Women who kill their batterers (and thus marks them as culpable.)  The much better approach, in my opinion, is taken in Elizabeth Schneider's Battered Women and Feminist Lawmaking, which I cannot recommend highly enough for its discussion of Learned Helplessness (among other things), and which argues that by and large women are rational actors stuck in awful circumstances rather than conditioned not to recognize their ability to escape.

                  If Seligman failed to offer any caveat to the willy-nilly application of his theory towards torture, in the way that he didn't do so in the area of battery, then he would indeed be more culpable.  But that episode stands in stark contrast to this one, at least based on what we seem to know so far.

                  John McCain's Court will overturn Roe; don't kid yourself.

                  by Seneca Doane on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 01:11:34 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

              •  Then he should have allowed them to gain (3+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                meg, wader, Valtin

                a better understanding through any one of the papers or texts. His complicity begins with an agreement to lecture while failing to pursue the questions he obviously felt were necessary and important enough to ask

                " ... I know nothing at all about how they have applied LH concepts to either help our own people or to the interrogation of prisoners. When I asked about the latter at my talk ..."

                I guess his insight works only in asking the obvious, if not omniscient, question but fails when it comes to getting the answers he fears will result.

                My Homer is not a communist. He may be a liar, a pig, an idiot, a communist, but he is not a porn star. -Grandpa Simpson

                by xobehtedistuo on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 07:38:00 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  That lecture occurred at a time (0+ / 0-)

                  when he neither knew nor had reason to know that torture was occurring or planned.  His "asking about the latter" would be in the context of wondering how the planned on using his theories, which he pretty clearly had imagined involved the former.  That question being "necessary and important" is entirely your own gloss.

                  I don't know what good you think "a better understanding" would have done.  It's not an extremely complicated theory; as I said, you could get what you need of it from an intro Psych text.  He did not have control over their use of his concepts -- it's not even clear that he could have had influence over it -- and its not clear that the subject of his talk was anything other than a basic conceptual review of things that they already understood.  (Why have him out at all, then?  Because they have the money to do so.)

                  John McCain's Court will overturn Roe; don't kid yourself.

                  by Seneca Doane on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 12:18:55 PM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  The world knew that torture was (0+ / 0-)

                    planned from the moment Bush made the distinction between lawful and unlawful combatants by designating those imprisoned for alleged crimes of terrorism as "enemy combatants" in a blatant effort to sidestep the Geneva Conventions and all National and International laws. Torture was made inevitable, by all those individuals along the way who didn't ask questions or asked, but were satisfied to not receive an answer.

                    My Homer is not a communist. He may be a liar, a pig, an idiot, a communist, but he is not a porn star. -Grandpa Simpson

                    by xobehtedistuo on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 01:23:34 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  "The world knew," did it? (1+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      thestructureguy

                      I'm afraid I have to challenge you for citations.  I assumed at the time -- as did most of the commentary I recall -- that that distinction was being made so that he could evade the standard federal court system and exert greater control over the process, not so that he could torture.  Your blithely imputing this "knowledge" to Seligman is somewhere between unfair and obscene.

                      John McCain's Court will overturn Roe; don't kid yourself.

                      by Seneca Doane on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 01:59:42 PM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Fair enough. (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Bad Juju

                        And, the invasion of Iraq was not for oil, because ...  as I recall, most of the "commentary" stated Saddam was responsible for 9/11.

                        Even if you don't want to admit any knowledge to what the designation of "enemy combatant" implied, I will and there were plenty of people who did and were in the forefront of this argument warning of it's implications. Oh well, who knew it would come to pass ... except all those who are still at the forefront of this argument.

                        I'm imputing "that knowledge" on all of us, not just Seligman, and yes, I agree that it is obscene, as torture can be nothing but. Believe me when I say that there is more than enough complicity in this country to go around and fill the world thrice over.

                        Our failures are still potent as the debate of just when torture is acceptable supersedes the question of when will the torturers be held accountable for their crimes. This whole thing reminds me of the Colon Powell debate of who knew what, when. We all knew, consciously or subconsciously, and if we didn't then shame on us for being asleep at the wheel because we should have known.

                        As for Seligman, the diarist provided an out, a doorway to retribution against a government that would pervert his life's work and Seligmans's response was a callous denial of awareness. Why is he not spearheading this debate and demanding an accounting from those who would unjustly apply his concepts? Therein lies the true rub!

                        My Homer is not a communist. He may be a liar, a pig, an idiot, a communist, but he is not a porn star. -Grandpa Simpson

                        by xobehtedistuo on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 02:44:41 PM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

            •  Would like to note that while (6+ / 0-)

              "just following orders" was found to be an inadequate EXCUSE by the trials at Nuremberg, bringing forward an excuse implies awareness that the behavior in question was wrong.  What happens when such awareness is missing?

              What seems to have happened in the Bush/Cheney administration is that personal responsibility has been entirely replaced by the virtue of obedience.  That is, instead of assigning moral value to individual acts, the only moral criterion that is recognized is whether or not a particular act is in compliance with a directive from some higher authority.  

              I'm reminded that conservatives used to rail against what they called "situational ethics."  I think we assumed they meant that the moral value of an act could change depending on who did it and whom it affected.  What, it is now apparent, they really objected to was the assignment of moral value on the basis of the consequence or effect of an act.  What they prefer is that the moral value of an act be defined by who does it--i.e. whatever the President does is good because he's the President.
              If who someone is determines the value of what he does, it certainly simplifies existence.  No need to make choices.

              How do you tell a predator from a protector? The predator will eat you sooner rather than later.

              by hannah on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 07:17:21 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  I have misgivings (9+ / 0-)

            about the conclusions regarding Seligman in this article, too.

          •  I agree, enthusiast. (5+ / 0-)

            He's been doing work on LH for decades - I don't see how it's incriminating for him at all to have asked in 2002 how his work was being applied. Not at all.

            He replied to your questions, it seems he didn't give you the answers you wanted.

            "All of us -- as citizens and as a government -- have a moral responsibility to each other, and what we do together matters." J.R.E., 1/30/08

            by MaskedKat on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 05:57:44 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Agree with this. (5+ / 0-)

            A top published scientist can't control what is done with his work by others.  As an unlicensed street-witch, I do all sorts of things with the knowledge I gather from Legitimate Sources that would shock and appall those who developed it within strict guidelines and Government Funding.  You just can't DO a lot of things inside the standard rules.  Which would of course be exactly what the torturers say.  

            I'm appalled, though, that the APA hasn't come out and broadly condemned participating in torture yet.  It's strange to me, because I read a number of articles in the eighties and early nineties where it seemed that this was just around the corner.  The AMA had that fight and got over it fairly quickly.  Breaking the rules in order to do whatever it takes to HELP suffering people is one thing.  Ennabling evil for a paycheck ...

          •  Since it is only humans who attempt (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Canadian Reader

            to coerce the behavior of others with physical and psychological force, I am always struck by the suggestion that torture is inhumane.

            That said, let me suggest that the reason the claim to have engaged in torture is so easily refuted is because it is assumed that inflicting physical distress on purpose has to gratify some sadistic impulse to be classified as torture.  Since the agents of government who inflicted distress on their captives were not doing it to satisfy themselves and may even have been personally horrified, it wasn't torture.

            So, what was it?  I would suggest that, especially since they were instructed that if the captive died, they were doing it wrong, what the interrogators were about was carrying out a "partial execution."  This characterization, in addition to being more accurate in regards to what was actually done, has the advantage of pointing out that, however guilty the captives were thought to be, interrogators inflicting punishment is an abuse of power, pure and simple.

            If there's one thing we should know about Republican bureaucrats by now, it's that they are particularly adept at using language to disguise their true intent.  Letting physical assaults stand as an "interrogation technique" is letting them get away with it.  
            To interrogate is to speak with--ask a question; get an answer.  While some behaviors such as dancing have been accorded the status of speech (as an  expression of opinion that's to be free), there's no way in which grabbing, punching and inundating with water can qualify as speech.

            How do you tell a predator from a protector? The predator will eat you sooner rather than later.

            by hannah on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 06:42:42 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  The definition of "humane" includes (0+ / 0-)

              compassion, sympathy. "Human" as we all know, is a species. Different meanings and connotations, even if they have the same root.

              But your point is well taken and worth it. And I couldn't agree more.

          •  Seligman may very well be "a good man," (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Canadian Reader, Valtin, esquimaux

            however, this does not diminish his responsibility in the matter. The measure of a good man are his actions in times of distress, not in times of innocuous circumstances.

            The fact of his callous disregard made evident in the statement

            "I know nothing at all about how they have applied LH concepts to either help ... or to the interrogation of prisoners. When I asked ... they could not give me any information ..."

            speaks as loud as his actions.

            You're right, no one is perfect, but a good man takes the steps to ensure that no evil result as a consequence of his actions, and if perchance evil is the result, then he immediately takes responsibility for his actions and enjoins all those involved in their exploitation of his actions to ensure honor and moral rightness be restored at the expense of "evil."

            Seligman is up that tree with everyone else who decided to turn a blind eye to what was inevitably and historically destined to result. And, I did not "question" is not a justification.

            My Homer is not a communist. He may be a liar, a pig, an idiot, a communist, but he is not a porn star. -Grandpa Simpson

            by xobehtedistuo on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 07:05:37 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  There is NO evidence in this diary (5+ / 0-)

              that Seligman is complicit in the use of his theory to enhance torture.  I have not read the book, so maybe there is more there.  However, to say that Seligman turned a blind eye based on what is presented here is over the top.

              You're right, no one is perfect, but a good man takes the steps to ensure that no evil result as a consequence of his actions, and if perchance evil is the result, then he immediately takes responsibility for his actions and enjoins all those involved in their exploitation of his actions to ensure honor and moral rightness be restored at the expense of "evil."

              Seligman is up that tree with everyone else who decided to turn a blind eye to what was inevitably and historically destined to result. And, I did not "question" is not a justification.

              Eyes on the Prize - JedReport

              by juslikagrzly on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 07:30:34 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  It is not my intention to imply that Seligman (0+ / 0-)

                stood shoulder to shoulder with interrogators at Guantanamo or worked with interrogators to come up with better torture techniques (as some in the field have done). My expostulation is to imply complicity begins with knowledge.

                Seligman knew enough to ask the right question, as any one person worth their salt and academic credentials would when faced with a military or government entity asking to be enlightened about your applicable "techniques" during war time. Seligman's complicity for me begins with failure to ascertain the inevitable answer and continues with a failure to aggressively pursue truth and retribution from an entity that would exploit him (as well as his work) at the detriment of the entire nation.

                A callous denial does not a man of integrity make.

                My Homer is not a communist. He may be a liar, a pig, an idiot, a communist, but he is not a porn star. -Grandpa Simpson

                by xobehtedistuo on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 08:15:59 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  What specific questions did he ask? (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  kurt, fisheye, thestructureguy

                  There are many assumptions here that imply knowledge of Seligman's specific question or his "failure to ascertain the inevitable answer".

                  As far as I can tell from reading this diary, many are basing their reactions to Seligman on an email correspondence he purportedly had with the diarist.

                  Not enough evidence --- too many assumptions and leaps of logic.

                  Eyes on the Prize - JedReport

                  by juslikagrzly on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 08:20:14 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  How will LH concepts be applied to the (0+ / 0-)

                    interrogation of prisoners?  

                    When I asked about the latter at my talk, they told me that they could not give me any information at all, since I had no "classification."

                    My Homer is not a communist. He may be a liar, a pig, an idiot, a communist, but he is not a porn star. -Grandpa Simpson

                    by xobehtedistuo on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 08:25:44 AM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  Point taken. However, IF my understanding (0+ / 0-)

                      of his participation is correct, he was invited to speak to SERE, which is in service of teaching our military personnel how to avoid learned helplessness.  If there were some in the audience who then used his theory to enhance torture techniques, how does this make Seligman complicit?

                      Shall we hold him responsible for all serial killers who kidnap/torture/murder while inducing learned helplessness in their victims?  Is he responsible for the domestic violence victims whose partners evoke learned helplessness?  Should he never speak again about his theory on the off chance that someone will misuse it or misapply it?

                      My hyperbolic questions are similar to the hyperbole in this diary.

                      Eyes on the Prize - JedReport

                      by juslikagrzly on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 09:38:20 AM PDT

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  Complicit by the fact that he would continue the (0+ / 0-)

                        lecture despite the fact that he was refused the one answer he obviously sought. At what point does insight fail? At the point of the question? Or, at the point of the answer? At what point, when overtly denied clarification to the consequences of your actions does one say, "I cannot continue this in good conscience?"

                        History is chalk full of scientists, teachers, engineers, physicians, psychiatrists, etc., etc. whose claim is "if I would've only known." And, yet you can ask the question in full awareness and be unconcerned about the answer?

                        My Homer is not a communist. He may be a liar, a pig, an idiot, a communist, but he is not a porn star. -Grandpa Simpson

                        by xobehtedistuo on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 10:05:46 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

                      •  If you (0+ / 0-)

                        had developed a theory, which was highly tied in to your life work and your professional reputation, and you discovered that some of your students were misusing it, or the government in general, to torture people, would you not want to speak out? The whole thing makes no sense, and cries out for greater explication.

                        I have given some opinions on why I think Seligman has been so reticent. Others can give theirs.

                        War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight, The lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade Invictus

                        by Valtin on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 11:54:33 AM PDT

                        [ Parent ]

          •  seconded. (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Joe Bob, fisheye, thestructureguy

            Diarist: You've got nothing where Seligman is concerned, apart from that he spoke at one SERE event in 2002. On the basis of this most tenuous of connections to subsequent horrors, you're ready to sink a man's reputation and career through implication and innuendo, eh?

            If you can't back up your shit with better evidence than you've put on display here, I hope Seligman sues the fuck out of you.

            It's called the american dream because you have to be asleep to believe it. - G. Carlin

            by RabidNation on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 07:39:14 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

      •  Thanks maggiejean (9+ / 0-)

        The topic is often overlooked by many, perhaps because it is so depressing to realize how much we have lost this country to barbarism and imperial rule. Then, too, I couldn't think up a title that might have been catchier, as I think the title has a lot to do with it sometimes. Not a bad title, but perhaps not one to pull in the ambivalent or the wary.

        War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight, The lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade Invictus

        by Valtin on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 10:43:45 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Thank you for writing this (6+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          rhfactor, Avila, Valtin, Pluto, blueoasis, NonnyO

          diary.  My only hope is that enough people understand just how important this subject is.  It's implications are well...I have no words.  

          "Everything in life is somewhere else, and you get there in a car." E. B. White

          by maggiejean on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 10:48:08 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I was lucky (9+ / 0-)

            There are many, like me, that get access to some insider information, but can't do much with it. If the Seligman issue hadn't come out more, I wouldn't have been able to write this diary. If I'd written this two years ago, I don't think it would have been acceptable to many, as we did not then have government corroboration of the SERE reverse-engineering. The Senate Armed Services committee is having hearing on this very subject now.

            See my earlier diaries from past few weeks for more insight into the latter.

            War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight, The lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade Invictus

            by Valtin on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 11:22:34 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Valtin, I'm concerned about a few things (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Remillard, thestructureguy

              in your diary.  First, let me say that I agree that APA has not taken a tough stance on its members (psychologists) being involved in torture, nor have they, as a body, decried the use of torture or forbid their members from participating.  It is quite a controversy within the profession.

              Second, a caveat.  I don't belong to APA for several reasons; it feels like one big lobbying group to me and personally it seems that they sold their souls to the devil for legitimacy (read money).

              However, I was shocked at your allegations that Seligman is somehow complicit in the use of torture because he gave a talk to SERE and did not provide YOU with what you thought were acceptable answers to your questions.  There is not enough information in your diary to roundly condemn the man and I think your evidence is slim to non-existent that he is complicit in the use of "his" theory.

              I am also concerned that you present your views as "published".  Getting an opinion piece published in a local psychological association's newsletter is not, in academic circles, considered to be "published".   A newsletter is not a refereed journal.  If my Psychinfo search is correct you are a published author in refereed journals but not in this area.

              I understand and agree with your stance against torture and have long been upset that my profession has not come out strongly against it.  While there is much to be concerned about vis a vis APA, your diary is both lacking in facts and evidence about Seligman and if you read the comments, has set off a firestorm of misinformation about psychological techniques.  

              Yes, APA should take an ethical and strong stance against torture.  But I agree with one commenter (at least) that besmirching Seligman's name is over the top given what you've presented as evidence of his complicity.  

              Eyes on the Prize - JedReport

              by juslikagrzly on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 07:21:37 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Many points (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                meg

                First, I did not publish on Seligman lightly, as I have sat on my correspondence with him for over a year. Secondly, re being published. I never said I was published in a refereed journal. My only reason for stating that I was published, or that I presented an initial part of my research at an APA conference, was to demonstrate that I was not approaching Dr. Seligman in a false manner, but was always truthful with him. My research in this area is ongoing, and I only published in the newsletter because I was personally asked by the editor, who was present at the conference and saw my talk.

                Finally, it is not I who accuse Seligman of complicity in the torture program, it's Jane Mayer. And I assume her editors and publisher have vetter her statements. Still, my condemnation is in relation to Seligman's moral stance, and his abdication of leadership on a subject that touches his own work and his own field. He is not a nobody, but a former president of APA and a highly regarded researcher, who was asked to lecture at the SERE school.

                There are further questions Seligman could answer, but he chose not to be forthcoming. Why? It's not just to me. If that were the case, I'd never publish this diary! He has also not been forthcoming with other psychologists and with more than one national journalist. I think this merits further investigation.

                War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight, The lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade Invictus

                by Valtin on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 08:57:29 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Thanks for your response (1+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  Valtin

                  I am not disagreeing with your stance on torture.  I am concerned that there is scant evidence in this diary to imply that Seligman is abdicating his moral and ethical obligations.

                  Your own words:

                  intrigued that Seligman appeared to be admitting that he had asked about application of "learned helplessness" techniques to the interrogation of prisoners. Why, in December 2002, had he bothered to ask? Was he suspicious? Did he know more than he was saying, or even worse, had he done more than he was admitting?

                   emphasis mine

                  From your conjecture that he "appeared to be admitting" you go on to devise illogical questions based on an unproven assumption.

                  I am not at all trying to defend Seligman if he has indeed been complicit in advocating and/or teaching techniques used in torture.  I am decrying a lack of evidence and the assumptions following that are contained in your diary.

                  Eyes on the Prize - JedReport

                  by juslikagrzly on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 09:26:29 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  If I could rewrite, I might be a bit clearer (0+ / 0-)

                    I guess I disagree and think these questions are legitimate. Anyway, they are what went through my head at the time. As time passed by, and I learned more about the SERE program, I became even more suspicious.

                    The SERE program is never used for interrogating our prisoners. This is made clear over and over again in SERE protocol. SERE employs a number of psychologists whose job is to keep things safe for the trainees.

                    Why, oh why, would MS ask about whether the info was to be used to interrogate prisoners (and not just inoculate our men against stressful interrogation) unless he had some reason to ask? So I asked him about that, and got the final "position" reply that you can read in the diary. Now, that seemed cagey to me.

                    War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight, The lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade Invictus

                    by Valtin on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 02:24:05 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

      •  I've got an advance copy (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Valtin

        of "The Dark Side" if there's anything in there people are particularly interested in I can tell you what it says.

        •  While I plan to read the book (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          JStrass

          can you educate if there is more information on any role Dr. Seligman might have had, or did Jane Mayer already publicly indicate everything she "had" on him?

          There are plenty of people here who would like to know.

          War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight, The lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade Invictus

          by Valtin on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 08:58:38 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  That's it on Seligman himself (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Valtin

            It says that Kirk Hubbard, the "Director of Behavioral Sciences Research at the CIA until 2005" attended the lecture. It also quotes an Air Force colonel as saying "Learned Helpfulness was [Mitchell's] whole paradigm." It continues on to address the conditions of Zubayda's interrogation in (horrifying) detail. However, what you've got there is all there is about Seligman's own actions.

            •  That's disappointing (0+ / 0-)

              as I had hoped there would be more. Not because I want to "get" Seligman, but to help clarify matters. I suppose we know all we will know for know.

              War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight, The lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade Invictus

              by Valtin on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 02:25:29 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  Based on JStrass's post (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                thestructureguy

                You owe an apology (at the very least) to Seligman and to Jane Mayer.

                You have contrived, from second-hand reports and attempted telepsychology, to construct a scenario in which Jane Mayer has directly implicated Seligman in the use of LH in applying torture. You posted several times, most directly here, to the effect that it was not yourself, but Jane Mayer, making these accusations against Seligman. Now it turns out that Mayer made no such accusations.

                You have apparently fabricated the worst kind of accusations that could be leveled against another human being. Are you going to hope that the world forgets? Or, if you actually have some genuine evidence against Dr. Seligman, himself, are you going to produce it at last?

                I won't be complacent this time. Been there, done that, got the orange jumpsuit.

                by Nowhere Man on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 03:34:07 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

      •  Another reason I'm glad a member (4+ / 0-)

        of APS, not APA.  Not only is it run by people who are little concerned with the science, but they can't even work up the gumption, given their current kowtowing to Washington, to say that torture is wrong.  The APA's status as a scientific society is giving way to its role as a lobby.

        I know a lot of smart clinicians who are members of APA, but I know a lot more who are not very deep thinkers.

        Je suis inondé de déesses

        by Marc in KS on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 05:05:05 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Glad to be part of NASW (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Marc in KS

          I'm a clinical social worker and belong to NASW.  Happily, NASW has repeatedly gone much farther than the APA.  From a statement by the organization in September 2006:
          "members shall not violate the NASW Code of Ethics in collaborating on "Behavioral Science Consulting Teams" ("BSCT’s") by designing or implementing psychologically abusive environments and techniques aimed at detainees. We join with our colleagues in the American Psychiatric Association, Physicians for Human Rights and other health professions in rejecting inhumane interrogation tactics and dehumanizing punishments."
          The statement does not mention the American Psychological Association, which, to this day has not prohibited its members from participation in Bush's torture program, as the AMA, the American Psychiatric Association and NASW.

          One cannot deny the humanity of another without diminishing one's own. James Baldwin

          by CarolynC967 on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 06:58:16 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Your link disproves your statement (0+ / 0-)

        While not banning psychologists from participating in interrogations, the council approved a resolution prohibiting involvement in interrogations that use at least fourteen specified methods, including sleep deprivation, sexual humiliation and mock executions. APA representatives argue the presence of psychologists keeps interrogations safe and prevents abuse.

        Are there no medical doctors at Guantanamo?

      •  This APA link is (0+ / 0-)

        devastating.  I grew sick reading the transcript, but I am grateful to have it to help support my arguments when I am talking to others about U.S. use of torture.

        Thank you for the link, maggiejean.  

        ...just another hooligan from the Dalai clique

        by RadioGirl on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 10:11:59 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Wow, how did I get onto the RL? (13+ / 0-)

      I went away and came back and am very pleasantly surprised. My thanks for those who have or are recommending this diary, as I think it is an important contribution to the recent revelations about the U.S. torture program and how it involved, with an emphasis on how and why some of the people participated.

      War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight, The lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade Invictus

      by Valtin on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 11:40:29 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Seligman (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jiffykeen, juslikagrzly, ozarkspark

        Are you accusing Seligman of actively particpating and or, teaching, and or condoning torture?  

        I belong to no organized party. I am a Democrat. Will Rogers

        by thestructureguy on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 11:44:37 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  No (9+ / 0-)

          But Mayer seems to do so. I say we need more information. What I am accusing Seligman of is complacency and ethical blindness. He must know something about his theories being used in interrogations. He even asked SERE about what they were doing. Why'd he ask then? There were no articles in the paper about this until three years after his lecture there.

          For the record, Dr. Seligman denies any such participation in teaching or condoning torture, and I printed the bulk of his response, and linked to the rest.

          War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight, The lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade Invictus

          by Valtin on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 11:52:49 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  This ethical line exists throughout our society. (4+ / 0-)

            In a way, you seem to be saying that he knew these people were going to misuse what he was lecturing about, others hear said he wasn't necessary, they could have learned from a book.
             Should he have known he was used as intelluctual cover, as that suggests, and should he have found a point at which he could have stood and resisted. This wasn't a public lecture, but one where the attendees are at the point of this spear, to not recognize and come down hard on the ethics issue, in that setting, with those people, cannot be some naive oversight.
             The cooption of scientists and engineers, and teachers too is at the heart of the Good German argument.
             
              Very difficult topic, thanks for writing about it, much appreciated that an expert can and does recognize the moral issues and refuses to participate, rather than $eek the slippery rationalizations always available.

            Obama...Hope McCain...Nope

            by KenBee on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 03:25:18 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

          •  Perhaps he asked to be assured that (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            jiffykeen, juslikagrzly, Valtin

            they would not  be so used.

            Nearly every invention or discovery can be used for horrendous purposes.  Should we then not make them?

            Is Thomas Edison responsible for the abuse of electricity in torturing people?

            I think your diary (and the book) are important; but I think (from what you've written here, anyway) that Seligman did not act wrongly.  

          •  Do we know exactly what he "asked" about in (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Valtin

            his lecture, where he was told he did not have enough clearance for the answer.

            Lot's of assumptions here about what Seligman did or did not say in his lecture.  

            Eyes on the Prize - JedReport

            by juslikagrzly on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 07:33:58 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  I know your question (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Avila

          wasn't for me, but I think he is saying that.  He's written about "splitting" of the professional self and adaptation to evil.  Man.

      •  Some of us are VERY concerned (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Avila, Valtin, luckylizard

        ...about the legalities and the ethical and moral implications of the US reputation in the rest of the world, how we've lost whatever moral imperative we used to have in criticizing third world nations.

        We've become that which we've criticized and despised in others... without the consent of the governed, the "leaders" of this nation have led us down this path to horror, and we do NOT approve in any way, shape, or form... and we're deeply ashamed and embarrassed that we have such "leaders."

        This is an important topic and should never be allowed to pass into oblivion.

        (¯`*._(¯`*._(-IMPEACH-)_.*´¯)_.*´¯)

        by NonnyO on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 12:32:06 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I think it's time (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          meg, Prognosticator, NonnyO, Clio2

          To ask the World Court to deliver a formal indictment of the main players -- Bush, Cheney, Atkinson, Rumsfeld, Yu -- and indicate, quite pleasantly, that they will be subject to arrest if they visit any civilized country in the world.  We seem to be paralysed by the fact that they're surrounded by the world's largest security force, but simply and politely declaring them ineligible to set foot in Europe without risking arrest by their hosts would constitute a major "signal" as well as a damned inconvenience for the rest of their natural lives.

          •  See this article (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Valtin, NonnyO

            on the efforts being made in here and in Europe to bring American officials to justice for war crimes.
             
            If these prosecutions go forward, Philippe Sands said in an interview back in May on "Fresh Air" that he felt extraditions for those officials were a very real possibility. The link to that interview is in the first link I posted here.

            •  Here's the meat of the article (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Valtin, NonnyO

              [ . . . ] President Bush and members of his administration - once out of office - will be liable and likely to face arrest and trial under the principle of universal jurisdiction, say international human rights lawyer Philippe Sands and Lawrence R. Velvel, Dean of the Massachusetts School of Law at Andover.

              The principle of borderless jurisdiction over war criminals played a part in the case of Mr. Pinochet’s 1998 arrest in London, marking its first use and a watershed event in international law - in spite of an earlier international ruling favoring immunity for former heads of state.

              [Snip]

              Also known as the universality principle, universal jurisdiction covers international crimes regardless of where or by whom they were perpetrated - on the principle that some crimes are so egregious as to defy any local jurisdiction. A universal crime is therefore prosecutable no matter where in the world the prosecution is undertaken.

              Crimes that constitute violations serious enough to invoke the universality principle are genocide, torture, crimes against humanity, extrajudicial executions, war crimes, and forced disappearances, all of which were charged against Mr. Pinochet [ . . . ]

              From the first link above.

    •  Foster Kennedy addressed the APA in 1941 (5+ / 0-)

      and condoned murder of disabled children. He was at that time supported by a large proportion of its members. Their journal reprinted his speech with a glowing and supportive editorial. (see "The Problem of Social Control of the Congenital Defective: Education, Sterilization, Euthanasia," American Journal of Psychiatry, July, 1942, vol. 99, pages 13-16). This organisation has flirted and sometimes participated with the "dark side" since the start.
      I say this despite feeling that psychology and psychiatry hold great promise for human good.

      BTW, the "learned helplessness" principle is routinely used in the autism field (which I work in) as a way to blame people with ASD for their own difficulties--another shameful result. People with ASD can experience isolation,pain, discomfort and inability to predict the future as a result of their disability, and as Seligman and others have demonstrated, LH is a natural result of this. I've never understood the jump that some practitioners then make to it a stick to beat them with--"you can do this, you're refusing because of just learned helplessness."

      Political Compass says: -8.88, -8.67
      "We never sold out cos no one would buy."--J Neo Marvin

      by expatyank on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 12:08:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  VERY interesting quote (19+ / 0-)

      An additional complicating factor is that key members of Congress sanctioned this program, so many of those who might ordinarily be counted on to lead the charge are themselves compromised.

      This, I believe, is the key reason Pelosi, Reid, et al., are refusing to impeach Dickie and Georgie.

      Anyone with an IQ above a rock had to have figured out ages and ages ago that those who allowed the lying war criminals to divert military forces from Afghanistan to Iraq without so much as a squeak of protest laid themselves wide open to future war crimes charges if they were aware of the Geneva Conventions and how it's part of the treaties clause in the Constitution, and had to realize they abidcated their constitutional duties as the only branch of government who can declare war and fund war.  They did nothing to stop Georgie and Dickie, and even funded the illegal, unconstitutional, unethical, immoral, and dishonorable war of aggression (a war crime)... which makes them accomplices.  They can also be tried under US Code, Title 18, War Crimes.  Any advance knowledge of torture makes them accomplices to a second set of war crimes.

      I don't think they realize that if they had gone ahead with impeachment hearings by at least Feb. 2007 that we would have forgiven the Congress Critters and allowed their "If I had known then what I know now" stupid excuse (they should have known; we all did, 'cuz we listened to Hans Blix even in Lamestream Media evening snooze shows say there were no WMD in Iraq), we would have forgiven them their willful ignorance and only wanted to go after Bush, Cheney, and perhaps their entire administration, but we wouldn't have had time to develop a fierce confused anger at our Congress Critters for their spinelessness (Dennis Kucinich excepted, 'cuz he is the only one who has tried to do something).

      Instead, now they've compromised themselves beyond our ability to accept their excuses of lack of knowledge.  If we knew, they had to know; it's part of their job description to know the Constitution (and if they don't, they should quit or at least never run for office again).  And they kept on funding the war, funding the torture at Gitmo... without any strings attached.  Even after the (limited) publicity in Lamestream Media, they still funded the illegal war and haven't forcefully tried to stop the torture.  That makes them capitulators and accomplices after all these years.

      They can't try to claim (like Georgie and Dickie) that Guantanamo is a no-man's-land where no laws exist.  It's a US military base!!!  Whatever laws apply at other US military bases around the world have to apply at Guantanamo Bay, too!

      Has anyone else ever noticed that while guard and reserve troops going to or coming home from Iraq or Afghanistan get a hero's send-off or welcome home... but you never hear of any regular military personnel coming home from Gitmo?  Or, at least there have been none in my state.  Who is running the show at Gitmo...?  Is it the US military?  Is it Blackwater?  Who?

      (¯`*._(¯`*._(-IMPEACH-)_.*´¯)_.*´¯)

      by NonnyO on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 12:26:53 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Glad you caught this quote (7+ / 0-)

        I put part in bold emphasis, but there wasn't enough room in an already long article to elaborate. Your comment really helps the discussion.

        War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight, The lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade Invictus

        by Valtin on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 12:52:28 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  It Bears Repeating (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Valtin, trashablanca, NonnyO, cynndara, Clio2

        An additional complicating factor is that key members of Congress sanctioned this program, so many of those who might ordinarily be counted on to lead the charge are themselves compromised.

        And cries out for the naming of names, so that they may  face judgement; I would hope that they face it at the bar of justice, but I must insist they face it at the polls, for it is the only way that those of us they purport to represent can clear ourselves of this crime.

      •  At least some are regular Army, though I know (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        NonnyO

        this through the oddest of channels.  In a birdblog I did (it might have been at another site - I have to look) about Cuba, someone posted a photo of a Cuban Kestrel that their son had taken while he was stationed there.  He was an MP, and had taken an interest in birds while he was stationed there.

        Now, go spread some peace, love and understanding. Use force if necessary. - Phil N DeBlanc

        by lineatus on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 07:37:45 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Man o Man o Man o Man, Valtin (9+ / 0-)

      I am so pleased to read of your direct communications with Seligman on this issue of using SERE training to teach the US how to torture effectively. And in your persistence in followups, even a year later.

      It is so rare to get to hear/read direct questions and answers -- colleague to colleague -- without the dreaded and all-pervasive PR layers intervening as go-betweens.

      We rarely see Bush posed unvarnished questions. That rare occasion with that Irish TV Network years ago was a wonder to behold. But day to day it's filtration from tiptoeing journalists asking Dana Perino, and her spinning an answer, with the person who needs to be asked the question shielded from the loop.

      Which is why I am so appreciative of your engagement of this subject in such a firsthand manner, and all the subsequent publishing you have done, including your posting this Article (not Diary) here at DailyKos.
      Jonathan Turley's interpretation of Mayer's accounts of Intl Red Cross presenting our CIA with their finding that USA was absolutely committing torture was something to behold as well. His comments gave me a chill, for it appeared he actually astounded himself, or so it seemed, that he believes that since our US Congress is doing absolutely nothing about holding accountable  the leaders who engineered and condoned these torture/ war crimes, that an International Tribunal should form, as they did in the case of Serbia, to come here to the United States to FORCE the United States to uphold the rule of law and criminally prosecute these war criminals.

      I posted this video before, so will just include the link this time -- just as a reference for anyone didn't see it:  http://www.youtube.com/...

      Thank you for being a member of this community, and for sharing your information and analysis with us. I come away richer in understanding.

      •  That was a RARE but AWESOME journalistic moment.. (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rhfactor, meg, oldjohnbrown, Feeling Blue

        Dudehisattva... <div style="color: #0000a0;">"Generosity, Ethics, Patience, Effort, Concentration, and Wisdom"&l

        by Dood Abides on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 02:33:46 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  absolutely, and rediscovered by HuffPost the (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Dood Abides

          other day. But it's even more amazing in the context of WHEN it was done. It caught Bush totally off guard. And it was in the midst of the lapdog American White House Press Corps perpetuating Bush spin on the world.

          She deserves a statue in America, even though she's Irish.

          As do Americans Colleen Rowley

          Sibel Edmunds

          Mark Klein

          Barbara Lee

          and others.

          AMerica has been so dumbed down we don't even recognize who there heroes are anymore.

      •  It's hard (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        melo, rhfactor

        to use FORCE on the biggest, baddest army in the world.  That's undoubtedly what Darth Cheney and the Clones are counting on.  An open indictment, however -- one that politely doesn't declare guilt outright, just indicates that there is cause to believe that crimes have been committed and commits an international body such as the World Court to actually conduct a trial if possible -- and then an open arrest warrant throughout the civilized world, would be a powerful form of censure.  It would isolate people who need to connect with other world leaders in order to do their jobs, and give every tin-pot nation in the world an excuse to say, "Sorry, I'm afraid we can't do favors for people who are under indictment for war crimes; we have to do business with the Europeans, you know."

        •  That is EXACTLY my view: World censure (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          melo

          and... the implicit pressure and (let's use the F word!) fear accompanying the awareness that Bush Cheney Powell Rice Rummy Tenet et al would have that if they flew to foreign nations they risked being arrested for detention for international war crimes.

          THAT would satisfy me in a way Pelosi could never achieve. I'd LOVE for them to feel like prisoners in their own country, afraid to ever travel lest they be nabbed and face the REAL CONSEQUENCES of their actions that the USA have been such cowards about producing.

      •  Thanks for posting the link to Turley (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rhfactor

        and to others who have mentioned it or also posted, as I had not a chance to see it before now. Turley's been great on this, and since he has access to MSM, his contribution is huge. He is one very brave and courageous man.

        War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight, The lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade Invictus

        by Valtin on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 09:20:55 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes, but I want to know this: (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Valtin

          Does anyone know how he is viewed in the world -- prior to being on Countdown with Olbermann? I had heard, but have no direct knowledge of, idea that he is so respected as a constitutional lawyer and that he is non-partisan and reluctant to take extreme positions.

          But the more I see him on Olbermann, it almost starts to sound glib the way Keith (or Rachel) pose questions to him that he in effect agrees with and then goes on to explain.

          I've never seen them disagree or Turley take issue with any characterization Olbermann presents. Which has created a not so good ripple effect:

          People on the right have been shaping the narrative that Olbermann ONLY has guests on who rubber stamp everything he says.

          I have to say, this is true.

          That doesn't mean he should play that faux-fairness game of bringing on someone with an opposite opinion -- that's just "News as Sports*" (huge revenue generator). It's hard to know how I'd "improve" Olbermann's show, but I do think it hurts his SWING VOTER APPEAL to be perceived as having rubber stamp guests. Regardless of the fact-base and reputation of such experts like Turley, THEY begin to acquire the odor of LIBERAL PARTISAN, which then diminishes the power of what they're saying. Which is why I asked about Turley's reputation PRIOR to COuntdown. As for me, I am stunned listening to him for past 2 years. He's like a wolf howling truth from a mountaintop but only a small fraction of the country hears him --

          and his very real concerns get diluted by the blather of the DEMOCRATIC Talking Points machinery lead by the completely hollow Pelosi & Reid.

          *"News As Sports". This is a term I coined a few years back. I've essayed extensively on this in blogosphere, tracing is all way back to Roone Arledge's landmark creation "ABC Wide World of Sports", a pioneering & multi-emmy-award-winning sports show that Roone used to create all the standard broadcast tools of today that we take for granted sicne everyone uses them. But he invented all of these -- they didn't exist before he conceived of them for that show: Slow-motion, stop-action, Iso-cam, countdown clock showing duration or coutdown to zero, "lipstick" camera first used for Olympics coverage of the Luge... as well as "soft packages" of bio material of sports players, as well as "graphics packages" that would be pulled up to illustrate scores in context, seasonal records, etc.

          He was hired by always-third-place ABC News and in re-developing what a News Show could be, he replicated ALL of those sports models for the groundbreaking show "World News Tonight" -- itself inventing the idea of multiple anchors for news... Frank Reynolds in DC, Peter Jennings in London, Max Robinson in CHicago.

          Way more complicated than this, but no space to discuss it here. Suffice to say that the Fox programming model is an extension of "News as Sports" pushed to the extreme.  It's also easier to produce and typically garners higher ad revenue than "old school" news style of hard questions, guest experts, with tough analysis.

          rhfactor

    •  Just want to say (0+ / 0-)

      at this late date... I was reading the voluminous comments in the upper thread, and this is a very interesting and passionate but measured discussion.  I wish more in-depth discussions on DailyKos were like this.  Energetic and full of information, but civil.  Thanks, people!

  •  Arrow. Zing. Bullseye . This ... (28+ / 0-)

    ...is an excellent piece, Valtin, both for its clarity and because of your relentless pursuit.

    You are so right about this:

    I think Jane Mayer is wrong on one point. As pointed out earlier, she is pessimistic that this nation has the "political appetite" to bring the perpetrators of torture to the bar of justice in his country. I hear that from many. But where there is a will, there is, proverbially, a way. It is not about "appetite" anymore. It is about what we must do, if we are not to take that final step into the dark side, a place Vice President Cheney so-famously told us we would have to go. We know now what awaits us there.

    We must indeed.

    Kudos. I would triple-Recommend this if I could.

    I am an anti-imperialist. I am opposed to having the eagle put its talons on any other land. -- Mark Twain

    by Meteor Blades on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 09:56:07 PM PDT

  •  I have an appetite (16+ / 0-)

    In fact I am starving!

    As pointed out earlier, she is pessimistic that this nation has the "political appetite" to bring the perpetrators of torture to the bar of justice in his country. I hear that from many

    "Fear not the path of truth for the lack of people walking on it." Robert F. Kennedy

    by enough already on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 09:59:09 PM PDT

  •  LH is hardly obscure (12+ / 0-)

    As you pointed out yourself, Seligman's work is widely available in textbooks, his own publications, etc.

    He's put himself in an odd position here.  

    The military could have learned anything it wanted to about LH (and figured out how to induce it) without ANY help from Seligman himself.  And Seligman could have made a full-throated denial of any complicity with complete confidence.  And it's perfectly true that one could use his theories just as easily to induce LH as to learn how to treat it.

    Was he threatened, do you think?  Or is he just so embarassed to have his good name linked with torture that he is not responding rationally?

    This is strange.  Great diary!

    •  A little transparency (6+ / 0-)

      would be helpful.  You know how good the current adminstration is at this.  Dr. Seligman is very important in the APA.  But as I said earlier, why did this organization refuse to repudiate torture?

      "Everything in life is somewhere else, and you get there in a car." E. B. White

      by maggiejean on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 10:58:10 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Seligman (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      jiffykeen, juslikagrzly

      He stated he lectured one time in 2002 on how to RESIST LH.  You have any facts contray to this?

      I belong to no organized party. I am a Democrat. Will Rogers

      by thestructureguy on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 11:35:48 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  He said, she said (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        rhfactor, Avila, kurt, airmarc, adrianrf

        Let's get the entire thing into a hearing, under oath. It's too important to leave to who said what. In any case, I think we'll know more when Mayer's book is published in full.

        Meanwhile, what we do have is evidence of Mitchell and Jessen at Seligman's lecture, and Mitchell caught in a lie about his interest in LH. Mitchell and Jessen are named in a Pentagon Office of Inspector General Report as being involved in the propagation of torture.

        I'm not going to repeat my whole diary. If you wish to defend Dr. Seligman, that is your right.

        What is your counter-argument?

        War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight, The lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade Invictus

        by Valtin on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 11:57:21 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  My counter arguement is you presented no facts (6+ / 0-)

          that Seligman did anything other then lecture on how to resist LH in 2002.  I never heard of Seligman until i read your diary.  But I'm very concerned how easily accusations that are very damning can be made without any facts.  You did present him as some kind of architect of American tourture and is basically the same as a Nazi.

          I belong to no organized party. I am a Democrat. Will Rogers

          by thestructureguy on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 12:03:57 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Bullshit: "You did present him as some kind of (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            juslikagrzly, Valtin

            architect of American tourture".

            Wrong.

            Your comment is somewhat akin to saying about Dr. DeBakey's death 2 days ago...

            ( see:  Pioneering heart doctor Michael DeBakey dead at 99 )

            "Well this is the first I've heard of him, but you're presenting him as someone who didn't save enough people thru open heart surgery"

            Equally absurd. Find out -- before characterizing from the hip.

            •  Still, the broader point is correct, (5+ / 0-)

              this diary presents zero evidence that seligman was even minimally compliant or complaisant about the use of his theories for torture. And it substitutes a childish insistence by the writer that his perspective rules for any actual research. Uh. Writing a series of badgering letters which receive courteous but firm denials doesn't constitute proof of anything other than that the writer has an inflated opinion of himself. What faustian bargain is Seligman supposed to have made? None. So why the lifton quote about faust? simply as a smear.

              aimai

              •  Agreed (2+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                MadLibrarian, kurt

                You put a lot of stress about how Seligman seems somehow apathetic about "his work" being used for torture, but when he says

                "The only "position" I am comfortable staking out is "Good science always runs the risk of immoral application. It goes with the territory of discovery."

                he's right.  There's nothing he can do if people use his already published work (and widely known; LH is the stuff of Intro Psych textbooks as you said) for evil, and it's not really his fault if they do.

                The wider issues of the APA's silence on torture and the allegation that there have been practicing psychologists on-site in Gitmo are much more damning, though.

                "While there is a lower class, I am in it; while there is a criminal element, I am of it; while there is a soul in prison, I am not free!" -Eugene V. Debs

                by leftneck on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 09:27:41 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  That was my reaction as well. (0+ / 0-)

                  Isn't the same logic applicable to the split between the harnessing of the atom for nuclear energy and its use in the development of a weapon of unprecedented destructive power?

                  Do we implicate as "evil" those that develop the idea of learned helplessness? Ore just those that set it into application?

                  If I were Seligman, I might have more questions about the misuse of LH than he seems to be asking. But I don't think it follows that one lecture on the positive implications of LH, with the bad guys in attendance, fully implicates him as complicit in the use of LH as a psychological instrument of torture.

                  Nothing requires a greater effort of thought than arguments to justify the rule of nonthought. -- Milan Kundera

                  by Dale on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 09:52:09 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  interesting analogy (0+ / 0-)

                    which occurred to me too, reading upthread.

                    the operative difference is that albert einstein came out strongly to regret how his scientific discoveries were responsible for mass murder of civilians.

                    Seligman...not so much

                    valtin offered him many chances to make his feelings clear, he chose not to. we can speculate at to why quite legitimately, just as S. can come here to explain his position, if he feels dissed.

                    he's not a torturer, duh, but he's enabling by affecting a CYA neutrality, imo.

                    in his position, and lecturing where he does, neutrality is somewhat damning by association. a simple sentence disclaiming would suffice, valtin is not smearing him, he's reminding him of the chain of events concatenating from his work, and asking for straightforward answers as to his moral position.

                    Co-opted?

                    why? just kos..... *just cause*

                    by melo on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 01:23:37 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                  •  The nuclear energy comparison is obvious (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Valtin

                    and rightfully so. It is ICONIC for something used for good and evil. You cold and should say the same about Television as a medium.

                    But I find that y'all are hell-bent on taking this diary author to task because he questions an Icon about exactly that propensity -- to have an "invention" so powerful & influential being co-opted and applied for evil.

                    My takeaway from this diary is the author feeling astounded by the seeming inability of, or lack of desire of, Seligman to outright CONDEMN the use of torture, and specifically the use of the very tools he pioneered for good being used to advance torture goals of US perpetrators. REGARDLESS if those ideas have long ago passed into the public domain of psychology.

                    Why can't you allow the author that disappointment without now looking to tarnish him?

                    Sometimes I just don't get this community.

                    IT's FRIKKIN' OBVIOUS THAT POWERFUL THINGS CAN BE USED FOR BOTH GOOD AND EVIL.

                    Who the hell doesn't "get" that... without a pioneer telling us that as his answer to a very clear moral/ethical question?

    •  Not enough information in this diary (3+ / 0-)

      about Seligman's intentions, other than he did not respond to the diarist's questions in a way that the diarist wanted, to make these assumptions.

      I'm truly not trying to cover for Seligman, I just think we don't have any evidence that he did or did not advocate, or refute, the use of his theory in teaching torture techniques.

      Eyes on the Prize - JedReport

      by juslikagrzly on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 07:47:21 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Some Days I Feel It's Possible to Way Overthink (7+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    melo, Avila, Simplify, Valtin, cynndara, adrianrf, Clio2

    conquest.

    It's going to take a library full of long well argued diaries to convince me that making all this happen wasn't 3 orders of magnitude simpler than our figuring it out.

    Mainly because those of us trying to figure it out are immersed in an assortment of fantasies  we insist on sustaining in the explanations, that the perps are not.

    Are "we" morally doomed? No, of course not.

    But we may well be practically doomed, for an almost countless number of reasons because of the nature of leadership our kind of society tends to select in many different areas.

    There are a number particular areas of government, economy and culture where a really sick vengeance lust is evident, has been probably forever. They've almost all been on the ascendancy for a couple generations and I don't think it'd take a high school grad to have worked out the plan to make that happen on purpose.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 10:35:04 PM PDT

    •  Vengeance less (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      melo, adrianrf

      than competition and ambition.  Our society is founded on the principle that those who are first, fastest, best, who "make it HAPPEN", regardless of what IT is, will be highly rewarded, while the rest are tossed off into the dust of middle-aged unemployment, high blood-pressure and heart disease with minimal health care.  In this environment, there are great rewards for "success", at any price and under any conditions, and comparatively minor costs for rule-breaking, when rules even exist.  The field is tilted in favor of those with no morals and no internal limits on their behavior, whether in making fraudulent loans, building defective levees, or in killing prisoners in order to elicit the information their superiors want to hear. "Pushing the boundaries" is another word for breaking rules and turning values into pretzels in the rush for competitive success.

      The rules of our society are clearly and obviously made to be broken; so why should we be surprised when people break them?

    •  This is an interesting comment (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      melo, Hastur, kurt

      though telegraphic.

      I have become interested in the ways that the principle of violence as a first resort has in recent years spread and multiplied and popped out and become officially and socially approved in various but related shapes and forms and degrees throughout various levels of our American society. Holographically, if you will.

      It was always one element of our culture, founded as this country was, partly on conquest and slavery -- but the general trend seemed to be setting the other way, well into the 20th Century.

      The acceptance of torture is one case in point.  

  •  This book will compliment another that's come out (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Avila, meg, Valtin, blueoasis, kurt

    recently.

    I'm referring to Torture team : Rumsfeld's Memo and the Betrayal of American Values by Philippe Sands.

    "Our world is not a bullet point, added to a speech to drum up support or votes. It is THE point of all that we do and are as a species."

    by Patch Adam on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 11:15:51 PM PDT

    •  And these books follow (7+ / 0-)

      the incredible research done by Alfred McCoy, Michael Otterman, Katherine Eban, Gordon Thomas, Stephen Miles, John Marks and many others on this issue.

      There's been a veritable tsunami of information, trying to break through the miasma of MSM-generated pop culture and ignorance, which latter the government counts on to perpetuate and/or cover up its crimes.

      War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight, The lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade Invictus

      by Valtin on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 11:19:57 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  It seems that doubling, per se, would be more... (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Avila, Valtin, kurt, cynndara, leftneck

    applicable to those engaged directly in the development of interrogation techniques or their implementation. If Seligman was receiving grants to institute more research into ostensibly alleviating LH, one could perhaps then draw the parallel with doubling. It just strikes me as a tad bit of a stretch. Not entirely inappropriate to use it, but a bit too far for this case. Possibly.

    Time lost is always a disadvantage that is bound in some way to weaken him who loses it. -Clausewitz

    by Malachite on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 11:33:25 PM PDT

    •  Why I used doubling (7+ / 0-)

      It may a stretch (the jury's out), but I think it helps explain the actions of a profession that has refused to come to grips for the moral responsibility of participation in a war machine that is responsible for torture. And this is not just any old participation, in  some cases it is very direct and planful.

      We need hearings and more investigations to find out just how much any individual, including Seligman, may have been responsible.

      War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight, The lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade Invictus

      by Valtin on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 11:59:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Your indictment of Sigelman amounts (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Joe Bob, leftneck, thestructureguy

        to a baseless accusation and character assisination with little to no evidence he provided anything but knowledge, through a brief lecture, for resisting abuse. Your demands that he speculate on how his work may have been, with out his knowledge, used in contravention to his intent is absurd. As is your gross leaps of trasference of his actions to association with your Nazi screed.

        His position is not 'startling' it's common sence.

        You make unsupported accusations then attack the accused's protestations as further evidence of guilt by implementing a speculative and quack diagnosis of clinical 'denial'. Nothing startling about such a cheap and common tactic.

        You sully and distract from the need for honest scrutiny of this important issue with this hack piece.

        Your link to Andrew Sullivan's posting of a third parties review of of a book you haven't read as your only evidence is a joke.

        •  One point (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          kurt

          The linking of Seligman to the SERE school goes back to 2005. He was approached by other journalists before I ever wrote him. His answers have been consistent to all of them. I thought he bent a bit more in what he wrote to me, and that's why I published my account.

          This didn't all start with an Andrew Sullivan blog piece. All the relevant links are in the diary.

          War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight, The lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade Invictus

          by Valtin on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 10:14:43 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Confused (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    jiffykeen, lh114

    Seligman ony lectured on how to resist the torture.  A very noble thing to lecture on for our troops.  I don't understand how you can tie him in to the torture being done.  Do you have anything more then suspicion?  Any facts?  You imply he is like the Nazi's? Very poor diary regarding Seligman.

    I belong to no organized party. I am a Democrat. Will Rogers

    by thestructureguy on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 11:33:33 PM PDT

    •  Once again (7+ / 0-)

      I have not tied Seligman to any torture. I asked him his opinion about the use of LH, and he initially refused to comment, and then said he knew nothing about it.

      Seligman has said nary a word I know in the past six years about U.S. torture, nor the use of psychologists in constructing and/or participating in it, even after such was made absolutely clear.

      What do you make of that?

      War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight, The lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade Invictus

      by Valtin on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 12:14:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  My question (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        melo, Valtin, kurt, xobehtedistuo

        Again, why can't the man just say: "I don't approve of using these techniques on anybody. My only intention is to research and teach methods of  resistance."

        That is the missing piece. I don't think he knowingly taught torture techniques at all. Nor is the diarist claiming that.

        The point is that he apparently sees no personal, human responsibility to take any stand againt torture, even merely to clarify that he condemns it. The human being appears totally subsumed in a deracinated professionalism.

        However, it's also possible that U.S. authorities have directed him to keep his mouth shut if he knows what's good for him. That would be very much in line with how things seem to work these days.

      •  I make nothing of it (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kurt

        He has failed to speak.

        And...?  

        Failing to speak about something isn't evidence of anything.  Further, if someone were directly involved in torture, do you think they would hesitate to deny it?  Look at the behavior of our President, Mr "We don't torture" while he redefines and weasels around the fact that we clearly do torture.

        There is nothing in this diary or in the comments that is even evidence of Seligman doing anything wrong.  

  •  It's certainly offputting that (4+ / 0-)

    Seligman seems so cavalier in his attitude toward the use of his work for nefarious purposes; however, considering this is immoral in itself seems over the top.  It's unfair to expect a scientist to take blame for the misuse of his/her work by others, although it does say something about the person if she or he is unfazed by it.

    The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. Bertrand Russell

    by accumbens on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 11:49:09 PM PDT

    •  I respectfully disagree (6+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      melo, Avila, Pithy Cherub, Prof Dave, kurt, adrianrf

      As a colleague pointed out to me, "For moral guidance on this, [Seligman] should have followed those physicists who worked for the Manhattan Project who not only objected (putting their citizenship in jeopardy). And not only that -- they founded a publication dedicated to bringing these issues to the public, not some quietly uttered observation that SERE folks could hear."

      Sixty years ago this summer, 155 scientists working on the Manhattan Project to design and build the world's first A-bombs signed a petition to President Truman raising grave moral doubts about what they had created....

      To counter Szilard's petition, Groves ordered a poll among his scientists, but was chagrined when 83 percent of them favored a demonstration before using A-bombs against Japan. Groves squelched that poll too. And once A-bombs were used, and Japan had surrendered, Groves kept Szilard from publishing the petition in Science magazine by having it declared "Secret". The petition wasn't fully declassified until 1961, and wasn't published until 1963, a year before Szilard's death.

      Few people today even know that so many men and women who had worked to beat Hitler to the bomb had then tried to stop it once that race was won.

      Read the whole article here.

      War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight, The lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade Invictus

      by Valtin on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 12:06:22 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  There's a big difference (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jiffykeen, Captain Future, cynndara

        between seeing a moral issue with the use of a weapon explicitly developed as such and the use of knowledge  obtained in basic research not directed toward any questionable application.  Should those who developed anesthesia be held to moral principles if anesthesia is used in executions by lethal injection?  I don't think so.

        The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. Bertrand Russell

        by accumbens on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 12:44:55 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  If a scientist or doctor (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Avila, Prof Dave, airmarc, xobehtedistuo

          who worked on a new technique for anesthesia, and then gave a lecture for a government agency that was promoting execution by lethal injection utilizing just that form of anethesia (and such executions were then illegal), well then you'd have the proper analogy. I'm not saying the doctor spoke in favor of the executions, but I think anyone might ask -- what was he doing there?

          War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight, The lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade Invictus

          by Valtin on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 12:50:35 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Again the analogy is not on point, (0+ / 0-)

            the point being whether Seligman knew that they were asking him to speak because they wanted to use learned helplessness to interrogate and torture "prisoners" (as opposed to using it to protect our people).  Seligman denies he knew this was their intent apparently because he was not given proper clearance to receive such a disclosure.  The issue then is whether you believe him or not, and there the evidence seems inconclusive.

            The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. Bertrand Russell

            by accumbens on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 07:54:07 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  I agree the evidence is inconclusive (0+ / 0-)

              But when I gave Seligman a chance to voice his feeling about the use of LH for torture, he responded opaquely.

              It's not as if others, besides myself, haven't asked Seligman to explain himself.

              Then there is my big outstanding question: why would anyone associated with SERE in 2002, ask if his lecture would be used in interrogation of prisoners. SERE is not about interrogation of our prisoners. It never has been. Why ask? What tipped him off? And if he was tipped off, why?

              War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight, The lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade Invictus

              by Valtin on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 10:18:40 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  I agree it sound suspect, however, (0+ / 0-)

                there are alternative explanations.  In any case, there is no doubt that Seligman's responses are less than satisfactory and at the least seem to reveal less than admirable attitudes toward the uses of science.

                The trouble with the world is that the stupid are cocksure and the intelligent are full of doubt. Bertrand Russell

                by accumbens on Wed Jul 16, 2008 at 09:55:05 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

      •  This is exactly right. I thought of this when (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Valtin

        I read your article.  So, I guess that ethical training I have received did stick in my memory somewhere.

  •  You are being way too hard on Seligman (13+ / 0-)

    and your comparison of him and his work with Nazi doctors is unjustified by any evidence you've presented. All I see is innuendo and inference. Yet these charges are so serious they require a great deal more than that.  

    Seligman's work on learned helplessness goes back to the 1960s, and has been used by many people for many purposes since. His book on the subject is freely available, and doesn't require some secret instruction from him or anyone else. He is exactly correct that scientific findings can be used or misused by anyone.  Look at the damage caused by Social Darwinists who perverted Darwin's theories.

    These days, Seligman is known chiefly for his work on positive psychology.  Although I find this work a bit cheesy, it couldn't be farther from the psychology of torture techniques.

    I don't know if Seligman was naive or what reason he had to give that lecture, but to implicate him on the basis of the evidence you present is unjustified and dangerous.  

    "The end of all intelligent analysis is to clear the way for synthesis." H.G. Wells "It's not dark yet, but it's getting there." Bob Dylan

    by Captain Future on Mon Jul 14, 2008 at 11:50:42 PM PDT

    •  Re Darwin (7+ / 0-)

      You may not know the whole story.

      When racial theories of human origin were making the round, implying that non-white "races" originated from separate stock, Darwin intervened and wrote The Descent of Man. Darwin made clear that human beings shared the same moral and intellectual origins and capacities. Despite claims he supported theories of racial inferiority, Darwin supported the fight against slavery, and the use of black troops in the Civil War. In Descent, he makes it clear that he finds Africans the intellectual equal of whites (black Africans being the subject at issue then, and now).

      If you read Darwin's correspondence in 1866 and 1867, this becomes quite clear. And you've read that... right? (hint: you can buy it from Cambridge University Press -- the publication of Darwin's correspondence is one of the great intellectual achievements of our time)

      War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight, The lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade Invictus

      by Valtin on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 12:12:49 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Gee, any other reading I should do? (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        jiffykeen, roubs, Prognosticator

        I guess you're so much smarter and better informed than me that I should just buy whatever you say, even when you offer no convincing evidence?

        And maybe you should do some reading on Social Darwinism, because your response has very little to do with it.  Nor does what Social Darwinists said have very much to do with what Darwin wrote, which is precisely my point. They twisted his work for their own ends.

        "The end of all intelligent analysis is to clear the way for synthesis." H.G. Wells "It's not dark yet, but it's getting there." Bob Dylan

        by Captain Future on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 01:31:55 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  The point is (4+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          meg, Valtin, kurt, adrianrf

          that Darwin made a large effort to refute Social Darwinism.

          Where is the effort by Seligman to refute/end the inappropriate use of LH?

          I think that is the main take-away from this diary; it also is the limit of his culpability in torture (unless the forthcoming book states otherwise).

        •  It never hurts. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Prof Dave, kurt

          When you commit yourself to education via Internet, simply following down the suggestions made by your teacher-peers can provide the equivalent of a world-class degree.  I know nothing of this book and am still busy tracking down a half-dozen others right now (grin), but I do highly recommend the method!

        •  You are correct (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Prof Dave

          to say I conflated your remarks about Social Darwinism with Darwin himself. It happens so often, I guess I got sensitive. And as someone who has closely studied Darwin's life (two years of dissertation research, and plenty private since -- the work was referenced in History of Science journal -- like Darwin, I am slow to publish), I probably jumped the gun.

          But my point on Darwin has taking action against misuse of his theories, or where there is a plain and important issue in his field still stands.

          Also, I really meant what I said about reading Darwin's correspondence -- a remark made for everybody. You can the history of my diaries and comments, and you will not find a stronger endorsement of any work than the one I made just above about this work. I don't make statements like this all the time.

          But I can understand that you felt jumped upon. You are right about Social Darwinism and its perverted history. An interested reader could begin with , Richard Hofstadter's Social Darwinism in American Thought (1955). The book has its detractors, but is a good introduction.

          War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight, The lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade Invictus

          by Valtin on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 10:25:18 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  But this was exactly CF's point. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        kurt

        Darwin's ideas were twisted by later pseudo-science for nefarious purposes. Do you have specific evidence that Seligman was implicated in the inversion of his own ideas for nefarious purposes?

        I agree with CF that you seem to imply a family resemblance with compromised Nazi doctors, without actually making the link outright. I would think that intellectual honesty would compel you to make this clear, one way or the other.

        Nothing requires a greater effort of thought than arguments to justify the rule of nonthought. -- Milan Kundera

        by Dale on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 10:01:02 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I do not think MS is like a Nazi (0+ / 0-)

          But the literature on doubling came up in a study on Nazi doctors. Lifton says the same thing occurs in criminal gangs, etc. Would making that point have made it any better.

          I know the whole Nazi comparison thing is often overdone, but that doesn't mean it can't or shouldn't be used. Let the reader decide. And stay away from slandering anyone as a fascist, etc., unless there's hard facts.

          If anything, the implied comparison is to Faust, a comparison which could be seen as complimentary.

          War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight, The lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade Invictus

          by Valtin on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 02:32:42 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  This will be a long struggle (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Avila, meg, Valtin, kurt, adrianrf, Clio2

    Thanks for this. I want to second your conclusion: "It is not about "appetite" anymore. It is about what we must do, if we are not to take that final step into the dark side..."

    Others have persevered in bringing their torturers to trial against what looked like impossible odds. The effort to get some judgment against Pinochet is the best known perhaps, but the citizen effort in Uruguay may be the most amazing. We Americans can learn hope and courage from others who have had to bring down torture regimes.

    FWIW: pictures from the speakout against torture at the APA meeting last year.

    •  Hiroshima & Dresden were WWII war crimes (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Valtin

      But, we won. Remind me again - who owns the media in America? If anybody's going to prosecute anybody, it'll be some dam furriners, and we'll just ignore them. Trade sanctions against America for human rights violations? That's a stretch.

      "The main enemy of the open society in no longer the communist but the capitalist threat."- George Soros

      by David Mason on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 03:15:02 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  McNamara said it best (0+ / 0-)

        When in the award-winning documentary The Fog of War, he noted that if the U.S. had lost WWII, our generals would have been tried for war crimes for the killing of civilians, terror bombings (Toyko, Dresden, Hiroshima).

        War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight, The lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade Invictus

        by Valtin on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 10:27:29 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Efforts to document the level (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    init

    of depravity of our government are worthy endeavors but there will never be any accountability.

  •  A fine diary. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    musicsleuth, Valtin

    Thanks.

    If you dance with the devil, then you haven't got a clue; 'Cause you think you'll change the devil, but the devil changes you. - illyia

    by illyia on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 01:40:16 AM PDT

  •  What do you expect from psychology? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    cynndara

    I know there are many kind people who have gone into the field because they genuinely wanted to help people, I know that they have helped millions. However, in psychology there has always been a fascination with behavior modification, indeed it is fundamental to many of the theoretically-helpful courses of treatment - the ends justify the means.

    The kind of people you will find at the top of the psychiatric community are the same kind of people you will find at the top in politics, business, the military, law... vain, prideful, arrogant, manipulative, god-like in their own minds. (Sociopathic...?) It's just how we do things in America. For these people, Guantanamo had to have appeared as the ultimate playground. Just, don't get caught.

    "The main enemy of the open society in no longer the communist but the capitalist threat."- George Soros

    by David Mason on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 02:58:37 AM PDT

  •  The Stranger (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Valtin, cactusflinthead

    Well we all have a face
    That we hide away forever
    And we take them out and show ourselves
    When everyone has gone
    Some are satin, some are steel
    Some are silk and some are leather
    They're the faces of the stranger
    But we love to try them on

    -Billy Joel

    Marge, I swear, I never thought you'd find out. -Homer Simpson www.beachcombings.net

    by rambler american on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 03:30:18 AM PDT

  •  Important diary (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    meg, Valtin, kurt, cynndara, adrianrf, Clio2

    Also note the interview of psychiatrist Angela Hegarty at Democracy Now, regarding her work with Jose Padilla:

    What happened at the brig was essentially the destruction of a human being’s mind. That’s what happened at the brig. His (Padilla's) personality was deconstructed and reformed.

    Thanks for the diary, and for citing Robert J. Lifton's groundbreaking work. He's a giant.

  •  I added the teaching tag (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    meg, Valtin, Feeling Blue

    and will include this in Daily Kos University, which goes up every Saturday at 9 AM Eastern, but stays open all week.

  •  Tipped & Rec'd (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Valtin

    Tough read first thing in the morning - but an important one.

    This ain't no party. This ain't no disco. This ain't no foolin' around!

    by Snud on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 04:17:18 AM PDT

  •  This post is slander (8+ / 1-)

    Look, despite what you think you are demonstrating by your continuing to badger Dr. Seligman (who I do not know, and I hasten to add this is not my field) you are simply nuts if you think that the army is incapable of taking a 2 hour lecture, reading a few books, and reverse engineering torture all on its lonesome. In fact, given that you have zero evidence that Seligman did more than that two hours, that is the likliest solution to the "conundrum" that you have wasted our time fleshing out with your increasingly intrusive and abusive demands that Dr. Seligman explain why he gave that two hour talk and whether he knew what would happen if he did.

    I have some news for you--people in academia give talks, and people in the audience take notes. I once met a woman who had heard my mother give a lecture twenty years before and who had taken a throw away line from the lecture and made a whole career out of it. Did my mother know that would happen? Why, no.

    You are really an asshole and you need to get over yourself. It may, indeed, be incumbent upon Seligman to denounce his former audience and renounce them as students once the facts are all in--but he couldn't have known in advance, and was not responsible, for the ways in which torturers choose to torture any more than the musicians whose music was used to torture were.

    aimai

  •  Torture/Elder Abuse (0+ / 0-)

    Could elder abuse be defined as a form of torture?  It seems the mental, and sometimes physical, methods are similar.

  •  Valtin, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Valtin

    Have you seen the video they just released of Omar Khadr being interrogated by CSIS ? Heartbreaking :(

    Thank you, my friend for always being a shining light of truth.

        Hugs,
        For Dan,
        Heather

    •  I saw the video (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Chacounne

      I had to stop watching. Maybe I'll try later. It's excruciating, the torture of this kid.

      Thanks, btw, for helping me out at firedoglake. I think it helped contribute to Sen. Levin addressing my questions.

      War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight, The lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade Invictus

      by Valtin on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 02:37:19 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  His voice will echo in my head (0+ / 0-)

        for a very long time.

        You're very welcome on the FDL thread. I have to say that I was completely disappointed in Senator Levin this morning; his sense of urgency was, to me, very lacking, although part of that might have been the nature of written communication.

           Hugs,
           For Dan,
           Heather

  •  Anyone have some facts (brief) for the the next (0+ / 0-)

    time torture comes up when talking politics with my brother. His argument is torture is no big deal because US has quietly done it for a long time. I believe much more has changed re torture practices under Bush admin than bragging about it. Does US have long history in the use of torture? My assumption is perhaps a few people were subject to "enhanced interrogation" in other countries during previous administrations.

    •  You're about right. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Valtin, no expert

      It was absolutely verboten during most of the Cold War; one of the ways that Americans differentiated their "Us" vs "Them" paradigm and thus you simply couldn't get good American boys to do it without causing revolt in the ranks and widespread demoralization.  That changed during the Vietnam War, both in the war and domestically.

      In Vietnam, young men were exposed to the hideous violations of what they had been raised to believe were the "rules" of war; that's typical of guerilla resistance/insurgency operations.  Many of them -- and again, remember that most infantry are YOUNG men, they lack experience and wisdom with which to contextualize witnessed atrocities -- reacted in uncontrolled fear and anger and committed their own atrocities in return.  And then they had to fit those actions into their mental scheme of morality ... some chose to self-justify by blaming the victims, making it okay because "They" did it first, or something equally bad.  This kind of behavior tends to self-reinforce, especially when the troops were primed for it by a decade of propaganda about Evil Chinese Communists and their butchering atrocities.  Meanwhile, back on the homefront, the Miranda decision and other "judicial activism" had made police business-as-usual extremely difficult.  My father used to bitch constantly about having his "hands tied" and about how the regulations and rules made it impossible to actually convict a bad guy and posse comitatus made it impossible for his people, who were DOD, to give even minimal assistance to domestic police forces, even when they had resources that PROVED the point.  There was a sincere belief on the part of "ground troops" in the military and the police, that the Law was being used to handcuff them, while criminals and enemies laughed in their faces.

      Gradually over time, these people aged and moved into more senior positions.  The critical experiences of their twenties and thirties have formed a pattern for their beliefs and actions now in their fifties and sixties, as they are the ones making regulations and managing lower-level enforcers.  Their feelings are reflected in the behavior they accept and condone.  They are still fighting a war they lost twenty years ago, and still convinced that if they could just fight it "all out" and use all the resources at their command, they could WIN.

  •  This is defamation. (8+ / 0-)

    This plays on the community's justified disdain for torture while dragging an academic's name through the mud. It seems like Dr. Seligman was being evasive because he figured that you were going to do this kind of hatchet job and compare him to Nazis. I'd be defensive too. He did not "invent" LH as someone might invent an atomic bomb.

    •  That was how I would have interpreted it, too (7+ / 0-)

      Disclosure....I am a psychology professor.  I've met Seligman speak a couple times and am close with some of his former students.  But I doubt he could pick me out of a lineup.  I've never spoken in particular to a military group, though I suppose someone in the audience could have been from the military now and then.

      When I read the email to Seligman asking if he had awareness that his work might be used for helping torture, my reaction was that it smacked of a witch hunt, sounding like a "when did you stop beating your wife" question.  I would have reacted just as he did because of the witch hunt aspect rather than because of any sense that I needed to disclose anything.

      As others have noted, his work on helplessness goes back to the '60's and is some of the best known in psychology.  The LH work has inspired models that have led to effective treatments for depression, as well as the ability to identify some who are at risk for depression for early intervention.  Hundreds of people know LH well and could have told the military anything the military was seeking.  As noted, they could pick up a few books, think a bit, and figure it out, I suspect.

      I read his response that as a scientist he knows his work might be used for immoral purposes to mean exactly that.  My own work is geared toward trying to alleviate psychological disorder.  Could it be used for immoral purposes?  I'm not sure how, but I have to allow for the possibility.  The only way of ensuring my work is not used for immoral purposes is to do no work.

      The diary relies on far too much inference, and far too little evidence.  I'm deeply disappointed.

    •  He could have prevented that (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      meg, adrianrf

      by one simple statement in addition to what he said: "I do not approve of using this knowledge to torture people, and my sole concern has been with methods to resist this type of torture."

      •  This isn't the point. (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        roubs, Nowhere Man, kurt, thestructureguy

        If Valtin is going to make the case that Seligman's behavior "reminds me of" Nazi doctors performing sterilization experiements, he/she better have substantial evidence that Seligman was an active participant in the development of LH as a tool for psychological interrogation... beyond a single lecture in 2002.

        On the basis of what Valtin wrote, I don't think we can go to bat for Seligman as a fearless champion of the ethical use of LH. But let's not pack him off to the war crimes tribunal quite yet.

        Nothing requires a greater effort of thought than arguments to justify the rule of nonthought. -- Milan Kundera

        by Dale on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 10:07:04 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  The scientific community (0+ / 0-)

      has been terribly implicated in the development and history of torture. There are plenty of books about this, and articles, and I'm not going to reproduce them here. I've written about them before. You could start by reading work by Alfred McCoy, Mike Otterman, Phillippe Sands, Stephen Miles, and many many others.

      This is true whatever one thinks about the actions and words of Dr. Seligman.

      War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight, The lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade Invictus

      by Valtin on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 02:42:16 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  This is a terrific diary. It is scary how (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Valtin, FishBiscuit

    closely we have come to resemble the Nazi regime. Thank God so many Americans are speaking out against it. I wish there were more, but I'm glad there are enough to insure the topic is not ignored.

    "Big boss man..you ain't so big, just tall, that's all." And McCain is the boss!

    by TheFatLadySings on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 06:17:33 AM PDT

  •  I believe an international body must take over (4+ / 0-)

    the investigation and prosecution of the Bush Administration's war crimes (and those in Congress who approved it). As much as we yell for impeachment, inherent contempt charges, special prosecutors and the like, this really is too large - too widely spread - to be trusted to virtually the same people who looked the other way while it was occurring.

    Senator McCain, we don't have to twist everything that comes out of a Republican's mouth - you guys come pre-twisted.

    by PatsBard on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 06:29:14 AM PDT

  •  Amazon has shipped my book (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Valtin

    I pre-ordered the book from Amazon and got a message over the weekend that it has been shipped, so it is about to hit the street. I can't wait to read it and I hope the traditional press has the guts to cover it. They always seem very selective about which books they give exposure to and this one may very well be just too hot for them to handle. I guess we'll find out this week.

    Great diary.  Thanks for putting this together.

  •  Reply from Martin Seligman (13+ / 0-)

    July 14, 2008

    The allegation that I "provided assistance in the process" of torture is completely false.

    I gave a three hour lecture sponsored by SERE (the Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape branch of the American armed forces) at the San Diego Naval Base in May 2002. My topic was how American troops and American personnel could use what is known about learned helplessness and related findings to resist torture and evade successful interrogation by their captors.

    I was told then that since I was (and am) a civilian with no security clearance that they could not discuss American methods of interrogation with me. I have not had contact with SERE since that meeting. I have not worked under government contract (or any other contract) on any aspect of interrogation or any aspect of torture. Mr. Mitchell and Mr. Jessen were present in the audience of about 50 others at my speech, and that was, to the best of my knowledge, the sum total of my "assisting them in the process."

    I have had no contact at all with the American Psychological Association about their relevant policies.

    As of today, I have not seen Jane Mayer’s book, only the blogs. If necessary, I will comment further on its contents.

    Most importantly, I strongly disapprove of torture and have never and would never provide assistance in its process.

    Martin Seligman

    •  Hurrah (7+ / 0-)

      Martin Seligman has said what needed to be said.

      Most importantly, I strongly disapprove of torture and have never and would never provide assistance in its process.

      That was the missing piece in his previous statements. I applaud his stand.

    •  Thanks for posting that (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      cactusflinthead

      Hope everyone reads it--- in fact, it really should be added to the diary as an update.

    •  Please note (0+ / 0-)

      the diary specifically stated that Dr. Seligman denied any association with the process of torture, quoted two thirds directly from his statement, and linked to the full statement.

      But I thank you for posting the entire thing in the comments.

      War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight, The lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade Invictus

      by Valtin on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 10:34:11 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Whoa Bessie-- (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Nowhere Man, kurt

        Yes, you provided the link to the FULL statement, which is not very long-- so why not include the part that states "Most importantly, I do not approve of torture....."?

        Not everyone clicks on every link, and Seligman begins this sentence with "most importantly", so he must consider it an essential part of his statement.

        It would have been more fully honest to include it, and would have precluded many commenters from asking why Seligman would not state his categorical rejection of torture-- when in fact he stated it pretty clearly in the sentence you omitted.

        •  Correction-- typed in haste (0+ / 0-)

          The sentence actually begins "Most importantly, I strongly disapprove of torture...."

        •  I wrote (0+ / 0-)

          that Seligman denied he was involved in assisting in torture in any way. And I quoted in the diary/article his statement to me:

          My talk was about how to teach our people to resist LH [Learned Helplessness] and my life work has been devoted to the issues of undoing LH, not about inducing it in other human beings.

          I'm sorry if I can't reproduce every word of every quote, as the article is way too long. Statements that one is against torture are near universal (Bush is against torture, etc.), and I thought wouldn't be as convincing a statement of what he feels he is about as the one I quote above.

          One can quarrel, if one wishes, but I don't believe I misrepresented Dr. Seligman's position in any way.

          War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight, The lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade Invictus

          by Valtin on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 11:48:49 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  But "We can see.." (0+ / 0-)

            How his position is just doubling denial? because the theory exists in someone elses work about Nazi scientists and doctors?

            Maybe Lifton should be out reprimanding proffessionals in his field for misusing his theories as fodder for innuendo.

            Worse even than the doubling of an individual like Martin Seligman is the behavior of the professional organizations for doctors and psychologists.

            Is this part about Seligman a statement of opinion fact or hypothetical?

            And on that paragraph. Should all doctors excuse themselves from places where human rights are violated because they are impotent to resist corruption?

            Should the enemies wounded be denied treatment on a battlefield?

  •  This sounds like propaganda. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Nowhere Man, fisheye, thestructureguy

    As we all know, there is a specific group in this country who spend a great deal of their extensive resources fighting psychiatry and psychology as "evil mind control."
       I feel like I'm reading a fear-mongering caricature of the "evil psychiatrist/psychologist."
    There are not a lot of supporting facts here. When you involve the Nazis in a comparison I think you need more facts.

    •  I've posted voluminously on this (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      kurt

      You could click on my name and read diary after diary of facts. I wish I could cram it all into one diary, but I can't. Perhaps you could begin with my reference to the Harlow article in Sociometry in 1950s.

      War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight, The lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade Invictus

      by Valtin on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 10:36:10 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Ok. (0+ / 0-)

        I wasn't questioning the part about the history of psychological torture, I was questioning the bit about Seligman.
        But I definitely did not make that clear.
          Seligman developed his theory of LH while studying depression in the 60s/70s. Later, he gave a speech on his long published theory and at that time, asked a question about interrogation techniques which he reports was not answered because he doesn't have security clearance. According to your diary Mayer writes that Mitchell and Jessen relied heavily on Seligman's work.
        Ok, so how does this turn Seligman into a possible war criminal?
        You write later that

        This is an immoral position, of course, even if not necessarily criminal, in a forensic sense.

        But shortly there after you compare his behavior to Nazis so the implication is he may be a war criminal. Also, she says he may be connected to the CIA despite his denial.
        You quote Seligman as saying:

        My topic was how American troops and American personnel could use what is known about learned helplessness and related findings to resist torture and evade successful interrogation by their captors.

        This is what he said his goal was when he gave the speech.
        I still don't understand why we shouldn't believe him.
        How does that implicate him?
            The SERE people obviously knew his work when they invited him. Had he refused to speak at the naval base he would not have been withholding his discoveries from them.
             It feels like you are saying he is a bad person because he has not been a vocal opponent of torture and that because his work may have been used by others as a basis for torture he has a moral obligation to speak out.
           Maybe. But we don't know his personal situation and we seem to be putting a lot on this guy without a lot of supporting evidence.
           

  •  What? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joe Bob, Remillard, lucidity

    Seligman seems to believe it's okay to settle for a "see no evil" approach.

    Where exactly did he say that?  He said what is certainly true -- any scientific advancement can be perverted in use of evil.  You may as well criticize Watson & Crick for the eugenics movement.

    You know, usually I agree with you when it comes to exposing the dark side of psychology.  And I have issues with Seligman's tests using dogs.  But you are attempting to get him to "confess" to some kind of wrongdoing that undermines the positive contributions you are making in regard to exposing psychologists' role in torture.  In the best case you are accusing him of turning a blind eye to a problem when it is actually starting to sound like he had suspicions his life's work was being perverted.

  •  If key members of congress and of the psychology (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Valtin

    community must stand trial for war crimes too, so be it, it's time to do some serious cleansing.

  •  I respectfully disagree with a few of your points (6+ / 0-)

    Primarily with your depiction of Seligman's position.

    If he was telling the truth, and he didn't know his ideas had been perverted and inverted, then he is not to blame for their misuse.

    Yes the Tuskegee experiments, and other such horrors, show clearly that people can get to a pretty damn weird place in their head, involving Olympic-level cerebral-ethical gymnastics.

    But that doesn't have anything to do with Seligman's poistion. What made Tuskegee awful was its directors callousness towards life, not the basic science of "how are these guys getting sicker?". Science is amoral. It's just the process of finding shit out in a rigorous way. What you do with what you've found out is where the ethics come in.

    Now, of course, you can choose unethical ways of obtaining knowledge, but again, it's how you do it, not the knowledge itself and no one is saying Seligman got his knowledge unethically.

    If he did help knowlingly design America's torture program, then yeah, he'd be a scumbag. But I didn't see much evidence on that here. I'm sure we'll all find out more in the future. (Either that, or I'll meet you in the gulag.)

    •  One point only (0+ / 0-)

      that I wish to speak to in your comments.

      You say "Science is amoral." That ethics come in after one has obtained knowledge.

      I disagree. The production of knowledge is a social process. For instance, who decides what is worthy subject to pursue?

      In science, they call this the social construction of knowledge. I am not someone who believes there is no objective knowledge, e.g., mathematical. But when it comes to human beings, behavior, psychology, etc., then we have a hefty dose of politics and morality that enter the picture before the social process of science (which is done by human beings) is engaged.

      War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight, The lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade Invictus

      by Valtin on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 10:40:15 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Eh.... (0+ / 0-)

        Yes, any time your are experimenting on people, you damn well better take care to do so ethically. But that's before the science, really. Or in addition to it.

        The production of knowledge is social, only inasmuch as any endevour involving more than one person is. Yes, all of the structure around science is social and political, but a basement experimenter, with good methods and interesting, replicable results, can perform science without any social interaction beyond publishing his results.

        Yeah, there's a heck of a lot of politicking involved in deciding where money goes... but that's a hell of a long way from the notion that the process of science has an ethical component.

  •  A very powerful statement (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Valtin, xobehtedistuo

    You raise an interesting issue with Seligman. Although I find his work compelling, with some of his more recent studies of character traits particularly interesting, I am a little puzzled about his silence on the use of learned helplessness principles by psychologists. That silence, given his prominence within APA, speaks volumes. Great diary. Keep up the good work.

    Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. - Martin Luther King, Jr.

    by DWG on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 09:11:30 AM PDT

  •  The APA ammended their anti-torture resolution (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    oldjohnbrown, Remillard, kurt

    This past April the added amendment states:

    "Be it resolved that this unequivocal condemnation includes all techniques considered torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment under the United Nations Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; the Geneva Conventions; the Principles of Medical Ethics Relevant to Role of Health Personnel, Particularly Physicians, in the Protection of Prisoners and Detainees Against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or Punishment; the Basic Principles for the Treatment of Prisoners; or the World Medical Association Declaration of Tokyo. An absolute prohibition against the following techniques therefore arises from, is understood in the context of, and is interpreted according to these texts: mock executions; waterboarding or any other form of simulated drowning or suffocation; sexual humiliation; rape; cultural or religious humiliation; exploitation of fears; phobias or psychopathology; induce hypothermia; the use of psychotropic drugs or mind-altering substances; hooding; forced nakedness; stress positions; the use of dogs to threaten or intimidate; physical assault including slapping or shaking; exposure to extreme heat or cold; threats of harm or death; isolation; sensory deprivation and over-stimulation; sleep deprivation; or the threatened use of any of the above techniques to an individual or to members of an individual's family. Psychologists are absolutely prohibited from knowingly planning, designing, participating in or assisting in the use of all condemned techniques at any time and may not enlist others to employ these techniques in order to circumvent this resolution's prohibition."

    So it seems to me that the APA has now spoken out against torture. I would think it difficult at this point for any psychologist to go into Gitmo for example, and do it without some form of participation.

    Regardless, it is important to note that there are a lot of Psychologists not affiliated with the APA.

    We can see this in Seligman's disavowal of any wrong-doing, and even his strong protestations of being against torture.

    What a crock. By virture of our claims of innocence, is evidence of guilt, or worse that the fundamantal denial is proof of the condition. Please don't become a psychologist. Your diagnostic skills are seriously in question.
    Personally and professionaly (and I am in the field), your suggestion that Seigleman has experienced a condition of "doubling" is dubious at best. Maybe I too suffer from it because I also innocence and denounce torture.

    The APAs slow response to this has been a source of consternation. My ehtics tell me that under no circumstances should me professional actions do harm, contribute to harm, or in any way promote harm to any individual.

    lastly, the military branch of psychology "Psy-ops" is more than capable of carrying out everything that you have suggested here. They are trained and sworn to military duty. That trumps whatever "ethics" they subscribed to as psychologists. In a personal conversation with just such an individual, he said, "yes it is a conflict, but you do what your ordered to."

    To further understand this, it can be placed in the context of the Milgram study or the Stanford prison experiment

    "America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter, and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves." (Abraham Lincoln, 1809-65)

    by Kairos on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 09:12:39 AM PDT

  •  US vs Geneva Is Not "Ironic" (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Dave925, Mr X, Remillard, imchange

    (SERE stands for Survival, Evasion, Resistance, & Escape, and is a military program aimed at training U.S. soldiers for torture at the hands of vicious captors, those who would not honor Geneva Convention protocols. Ironically, the U.S. itself announced that "enemy combatants" are not bound by those same Geneva agreements.)

    That's not ironic. It's perfectly consistent that the US would both train soldiers how to resist torture by others, while the US tortures people. In fact, US expertise in how to resist torture is perfectly compatible with the US developing torture techniques that people can't resist.

    And this "Dark Side" isn't some contradiction to US policy, either. That Dark Side has always been an essential part of US policy. It's a Dark Side of the actual American character, not some exotic alien land into which we have only recently begun to cross.

    The contradiction lies only in our minds, where we expect the US to never do these evil things. We believe the hype that "god is on our side". That is a myth, not a backstop for irony.

    60M+ Americans voted twice for Dick Cheney. Another 100M+ sat on their asses twice while he was elected. These people accept, even cherish the Dark Side. They're not new. Nor is the denial of them and their ilk who live in the Dark Side without remorse or qualm.

    We have to stop lying to ourselves about America's purity. We stole this land from the nations who we found here. We enslaved and genocided them. We enslaved and genocided other people elsewhere, and collaborated with even more savage slavers and genociders, to harvest the world headquartered on this continent. We have raped, tortured, murdered, genocided, lied, cheated, stolen, and Dark Sided our way to the top, whenever that was convenient. Even when inconvenient, sadistic Americans burning deep in our national soul have found it easy enough to run the country through wasteful and necessary abuse of millions of people through centuries.

    But we are finally seeing the truth become undeniable - despite a galaxy of denial that's kept it in the "dark" all this time. A great credit to the American character is the necessity of denying all that Dark Side, in order to keep people participating in it. We deserve a great deal of credit for keeping it "Dark", rather than embracing it as have past cruel oppressors. From our many client dictators, back through the Nazis, back through our Arab slavery partners, back through the Inquisition, back through all manner of medieval and earlier empires built on evil and oppression elevated to a virtue, the temptation to drop the pretense and embrace the evil while vilifying the good has brought many once reasonable people wholly into the Dark Side - to their eventual ruin. America still needs to think of itself as good, and the Dark Side as a mere temptation, a rare indulgence only in "emergencies". We have to use what we've actually got of virtue and decency to confront this Dark Side and demolish it.

    It will never be eradicated. Humans have a Dark Side, and Americans are human in all our species' contradictory diversity. Our freedom lets us express both our "Light" and our "Dark" sides. But the Dark has run the show virtually unobstructed for so long, after so long left to fester only casually obstructed, that the Light is in danger of extinction, as it has been before and elsewhere. We can work hard with what we've got to reverse the balance towards the Light. We can use the heavy weight of the Dark to throw the Dark down, and cast the full Light on it. That will shrink the Dark, and, if we're truly as Light as we aspire to be, keep the Dark at bay for a good long stretch.

    There's no irony in any of that. Unless we fool ourselves into thinking we're better than we are. That we're not is part of how we become so.

    "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

    by DocGonzo on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 09:19:29 AM PDT

    •  Can We Get There From Here? (0+ / 0-)

      We can work hard with what we've got to reverse the balance towards the Light...That will shrink the Dark, and, if we're truly as Light as we aspire to be, keep the Dark at bay for a good long stretch.

      Historical evidence and personal observation verify that, as you said, "It will never be eradicated. Humans have a Dark Side..." It certainly appears that as soon as they are stressed, far too many humans are ready to abandon their humanity and destroy the lives of other people.

      I hope for a better future, but I expect a worse one. At least until civilization as we know it is destroyed.

      This is CLASS WAR, and the other side is winning.

      by Mr X on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 10:53:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Hope Works (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Valtin

        Without hope, we're doomed. Hope doesn't guarantee success, but it's essential to success. And hope makes the journey there, even if it eventually fails, more bearable. So hope for an improving human condition is well worth it, its own reward.

        However, hope need not be a placebo or just a "happy pill". The rest of human history shows an overall improvement in how we treat each other, even if there are ups and downs, over the long term. America usually leads others to hope for their own improvement. Not only is it OK for others to lead, as Europeans are prepared to do (as well as other people around the world, even if their own countries are bad or deteriorating). But if the US learns to follow the lead of other countries' inspiration, as they have from ours, then we're all better at leading each other to become better.

        So there's ample reason to hope. The only reason to abandon it is if we have already abandoned it. And even then, that's a bad reason.

        "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." - HST

        by DocGonzo on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 12:38:50 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Terri Gross interviewing Meyer (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Valtin, Eloise

    as I type, Fresh Air for July 15. Should be able to re-listen on the npr Fresh Air web site soon.

  •  Seligman isn't responsible for misuse of LH (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    roubs

    You're way off base in harassing Seligman for the Bush administration's misuse of LH. As he said, his purpose has been to help people avoid the condition of "learned helplessness." There is no evidence whatsoever -- you have no evidence whatsoever -- that he ever encouraged the use of LH theories to torture U.S. detainees. It's disappointing to see a smear like this on Daily Kos.

    •  How do you know? (0+ / 0-)

      I can't tell without first having some feeling for how he found himself giving that 2002 talk.  

      What was the stated purpose of the talk?  Was it part of a larger series?  What organization sponsored it?  How did the sponsor decide to ask Seligman?  What contacts and/or funding did he have with the sponsor prior to the talk?

      If you know of answers to this kind of question, then you can say unequivocally, as you do, that Seligman isn't responsible for 'misuse' of LH.  Otherwise, you shouldn't make that claim.

  •  Doubling is the Dark Side (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Valtin

    Thanks, great info. And, it raises some new questions. I've watched the medical field get darker and darker over the last decades. I've asked myself why this is so. Why do medical professionals care so little? Why do they bow down to corporations and insurance companies?  

    This idea of doubling not only may be a factor in torture, but it may figure into the doctor that denies you medical care because your insurance company says no.  

    Is it not torture to deny care to a patient in extreme back pain? Would torture be an alien concept to them?

    "...redefining the nature of politics from the ground up...Barack Obama." Dylan endorses Obmama

    by redtex on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 12:26:49 PM PDT

    •  Good points (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      redtex

      Lifton makes the point in his book that doctors may be more susceptible to doubling than others because of the difficult nature of their work that brings them into a lot of moral gray areas.

      War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight, The lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade Invictus

      by Valtin on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 02:47:04 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  The psych of doctors? (0+ / 0-)

        Maybe, that should be studied. I worked in the medical field for years. True, some of them were great people.

        But, when my son was deciding on a medical career I encouraged him to go into nursing. I thought those moral gray areas would be a shadow over him.  

        I'd really like to learn more about doubling. And, see the whole medical field revamped.

        "...redefining the nature of politics from the ground up...Barack Obama." Dylan endorses Obmama

        by redtex on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 06:19:44 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  FYI (0+ / 0-)

    Link to L.A. Times review of Mayer's book.

    Summary: A great book, and for those interested, the Seligman issue is not mentioned in the review.

    War is the statesman's game, the priest's delight, The lawyer's jest, the hired assassin's trade Invictus

    by Valtin on Tue Jul 15, 2008 at 04:58:53 PM PDT

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