Psychologists have played many roles in past and present wars such as the interrogation at Guantanamo Bay (Pope, 2011). In addition, their role has been felt in experimental psychology and other fields. The present roles psychologists continue to play in wars include ensuring that the processes of war are safe, ethical, legal, and effective for every participant unlike in the past. The role of the psychologist in the past ensured the detainees of war were not subjected to inhuman treatment during interrogations process (Miles, 2009). From the period when the US military and civilian officials started interrogating and detaining Guantanamo Bay prisoners and torturing them, psychologists in their operations (Ackerman, 2015) assisted them. Many of these psychologists were not merely complicit in the aggressive nature of American military interrogative methods. Most psychologists were enlisted to have aided in the development of more aggressive kind of interrogation including long periods of standing and snarling dogs against those who were regarded as suspects of terrorism (Lauritzen, 2013).
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Some military psychologists took part in breaking detainees down. For instance, psychologists were involved in treating the detainees clinically, and even providing advice to interrogators on how best they could engage them through exploitation of their phobias (Greene & Banks, 2009). In the Guantanamo Bay prisons, psychologists were mainly involved in setting up plans and monitoring the processes of interrogations, which were individually designed for every detainee. The drawn up plans included sleep deprivations and shackling of detainees in stressful positions (Sandoval, 2014).
Although all psychologists are supposed to be ethical in their interrogations, this has not been practiced in the past. Instead, most psychologists have made abuse of prisoners by creating an environment that glorifies inhumane treatment of detainees (LoCicero, et al., 2016).
Currently, psychologists are trying to maintain ethical practice by protecting the individual and helps in eliciting information that may prevent prisoners from being subjected to future acts of violence such as exploitations, physical harm, and threats. While there have been certain reforms to reduce minimize acts of violence, such measures have only protected the psychologists who have abused their positions (American Psychological Association, 2007). The truth is that psychologists are still allowed to take part in the interrogation of detainees. Many of them are secretly designing and monitoring interrogations, which are aimed at exploiting not only the physical, but also the mental vulnerabilities of prisoners (Baele, 2016). Psychologists are consciously aware that it is illegal and unethical to adopt techniques that would profoundly interfere with a person’s personality. Nevertheless, most interrogators would go to every extent to ensure that the detainees admit to committing an offence since they are in control of every detail of interrogations (Funk, 2015).
In some occasions especially in the Guantanamo Bay interrogations, some psychologists even refused to provide medical records of the detainees to their lawyers even if they are aware of the importance of unveiling such information (Pope and Gutheil, 2008). Furthermore, at Guantanamo Bay, some psychologists withhold or even sometimes dispense medical care based on the detainee’s willingness to speak during interrogations, but this is unethical.
The role of psychologists in experimental psychology and other fields should never be underestimated. While psychologists, just like doctors usually face dual loyalties during war, ethically, no prisoner of war should face any form of physical or mental abuse. Additionally, they should not be enlisted in any form of scientific experiment without consent, which contravenes the ethical code of conduct (Dixon, 2013).
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