The issues of whether psychologist should participate in coercive interrogations draw sharply divided opinions among investigators and even the public. Some believe that psychologists are an integral part of the interrogations since they can ensure that the prisoners or detainees are not handled with cruelty.
However, other people believe that the psychologist participation has the potential of violating the international human rights and the code of conduct of the profession. In this regard, Mark Costanzo, Ellen Gerrity and Brinton Lyke reason that participation of psychologists in interrogations should be banned (Slife, 2010, p. 312).
In opposition an intelligence consultant and a psychologist Kirk Hubbard give an argument that banning psychologist from participating in interrogations is a restriction of the ways that psychologists can ethically protect the public by providing their support to government intelligences.
The major profession organization for psychologist in the US, The American Psychological Association (APA) enforces a number of ethical requirements to the practicing psychologists (Slife, 2010, p. 313).
These standards include; The Beneficence and Non-malfeasance Principle that requires the psychologists to try as much as possible “to do no harm” to the people they deal with and also strive to protect the welfare and human rights of the people they interact with.
Besides they are also required to observe and respect tight and dignity of other people. Psychologists are required to respect the worth of every individual.
Participation of psychologist in the coerced interrogations is an infringement of the rights of those they are dealing with, and a violation of the code of conduct provide by APA (Slife, 2010, p. 313). Coercion causes metal and physical harm and when excessive torture is used, I can leave long lasting consequences to the victims and the perpetrators of the torture.
This means the psychologist are involved they fail to observe dignity and rights of people, caring for the welfare of others, professional and social responsibility and lack of integrity or competence (Harris & Botticelli, 2010, p. 116).
Psychologists are arguably doing a great job benefiting many people in the community and questioning their tactics is uncalled for. Over the decades, the profession of psychology has struggled to distinguish itself as a unique scientific field that is of great importance in the current society playing crucial roles in governance, security and military activities (Harris & Botticelli, 2010, p. 117).
In a world where people cannot easily agree on what is right and what is wrong, the actions that benefit many other people seem to be the better ways of looking at what is good or bad (Harris & Botticelli, 2010, p. 116).
In the case of threats from terror, Hubbard suggests that the security intelligences are only left with an option of watching what the terrorist do, listen to what they say and how they act, to know their intentions (Slife, 2010, p. 322).
Regardless of what the US groups of psychologists think, terrorist mean to harm innocent people and disrupt their way of life.
Banning the involvement of the psychologists means that this would restrict their contribution to the protection of the whole society. Besides the psychologists will not be accountable to the society considering they may have failed to prevent an incidence that was preventable (Bersoff, 2008, p. 326).
It’s irresponsible to withhold information that can influence potential terrorists to disclose important information just because the code of conduct wants to protect people who do not care about consequences of their actions (Bersoff, 2008, p. 326).
Hubbard says yes (Slife, 2010, p. 322). His reason is that it is a positive way that psychologists can contribute to the safety of the society. Besides, this is a question of an individual right and the benefits of safety to a whole society.
The ticking bomb situation are real and this is the reason why psychologist need to be allowed to step up to the table and offer alternative ways that are effective in obtaining crucial information when there is imminent danger of terror attack (Slife, 2010, p. 323). There are a number of real life examples where terror attacks have been intercepted after obtaining crucial information this way.
Bersoff, D. (2008). Ethical Conflicts in Psychology. (4th Ed.). Washington, DC: American Psychological Association
Harris, A., & Botticelli, S. (2010). First Do No Harm: The Paradoxical Encounters of Psychoanalysis, Warmaking And Resistance. , London: Taylor & Francis
Slife, B. (2010). Taking Sides: Clashing Views on Psychological Issues. New York: McGraw-Hill