‘Anti-torture’ candidate to run for APA presidency

Despite the American Psychological Association revising their ethics policy twice in the debate over American psychologists’ participation in war-on-terror interrogations, significant unrest still remains over the fact the APA has yet to actually enforce its reluctantly implemented ban.

The Boston Globe has an op-ed article by psychologist and APA critic Stephen Soldz who notes that an anti-torture candidate has been put forward for the APA presidency in an attempt to force the Association’s hand.

The new candidate is psychologist Steven Reisner who even has a campaign website – an innovation for presidential elections which are usually wildly underwhelming.

According to the Globe piece, Reisner received the most votes of the five candidates in the nomination phase. If the momentum carries forward, APA’s careful tiptoeing to avoid offending the US military may backfire if the most political president for years takes the helm.

Interestingly, both Soldz and Reisner are psychoanalysts, a group who have been leading the campaign against psychologists’ role in US military interrogations and who have consistently opposed the ‘war-on-terror’ since it began.

Freud himself was particularly interested in the tension between individual drives and governmental control. In Civilization and its Discontents he suggested government was an inevitable result of the need to control the unacceptable desires we all have.

He was particularly interested in how common individual neuroses get expressed socially as we project our own fears onto specific groups deemed to be ‘outsiders’, often with barbarous and disastrous consequences.

Link to Boston Globe op-ed.

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