World Psychiatric Association Statement Bans Psychiatrists from Participating in Torture

World Psychiatric Association reiterates position that psychiatrists should not participate in or assist the torture of any person for any reason

Shannon Peters

The World Psychiatric Association (WPA) recently released a statement banning psychiatrists from participating in interrogation procedures. The statement, published in Torture Journal in October, outlines what is considered interrogation and torture, and ethical guidelines for psychiatrists. The WPA writes:

“The World Psychiatric Association reiterates its position that psychiatrists should not participate in, or otherwise assist or facilitate, the commission of torture of any person under any circumstance.”

Photo Credit: Flickr

This statement comes two years after the Hoffman Report was released, which outlined how the American Psychological Association colluded with the US government to conduct torture (for more reactions to the Hoffman Report see here and here). The WPA cited the Madrid Declaration, first approved in 1996, which explicitly states psychiatrists should not participate in any mental or physical torture. They also review that psychiatrists are physicians bound by the Hippocratic Oath “never to do harm.”

The WPA defines interrogation as “the attempt to elicit from a person deprived of liberty information that is not intended for the therapeutic benefit of the person.” The WPA makes very clear that even indirect or covert participation in torture is unethical. This includes “the creation of environments that might undermine the self or the identity of the detainee.” Additionally, the statement requires psychiatrists to report if they become aware that torture has occurred.

Conducting interviews with someone in custody who has been “appropriately authorized by a court or by counsel” as part of a “therapeutic or forensic process” are not considered interrogations. In addition, the statement allows psychiatrists to provide training to military or civilian law enforcement on “recognizing and responding to persons with mental illness” and “the possible adverse medical and psychological effects of techniques and conditions of interrogation.”

The WPA statement is followed by two comments. The first is by Stephen Soldz, Director of the Social Justice and Human Rights Program at the Boston Graduate School of Psychoanalysis and former Fellow-in-Residence at the Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics at Harvard University. Soldz describes the statement as “a landmark development for the profession of psychiatry” that carries the conversation “beyond the realm of ‘torture’ to that of interrogation more broadly.” He writes:

“It establishes a bright line: any direct involvement in interrogations of any kind is an inappropriate activity for psychiatrists. In establishing this line, the Declaration implicitly relies upon the telos of medicine as grounded in improving the health and well-being of the individuals and groups who are the target of any psychiatric intervention.”

The second comment is written by Steven Miles, Professor Emeritus of Medicine and Bioethics at the University of Minnesota and Board Member at the Center for Victims of Torture in Minneapolis. Miles discusses that psychological torture is increasingly being used over physical torture, not because it is more effective, but because it does not leave “somatic scars, torn ligaments, mutilated appendages, resolving bone fractures or subcutaneous calcifications (caused by electrical burns) that can serve as evidence in trials or news media.”

Miles states that psychiatric torture “plies a pseudoscientific veneer to interrogation plans that… gives professional solace to psychiatrist-torturers who practice a shopworn craft that has been shown to lack merit.”

Both commentators call on other medical societies, like the American Medical Association, to adopt similar policies. Miles suggests that the next step is to hold physician torturers accountable through licensing boards and the criminal court system. Torture and interrogation do not uphold the health profession’s ethical principle of nonmaleficence (i.e., do no harm) and cannot be tolerated by psychiatrists.



World Psychiatric Association. World Psychiatric Association declaration on participation of psychiatrists in interrogation of detainees. Torture Journal27(3). (Link)

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  1. If the APA no longer wants psychiatrists participating in torture, and since the UN declared “forced psychiatric treatment is torture,” then this means the psychiatric profession should no longer be allowed to force treat anyone.

    Although I don’t see any mention of the APA wanting to end forced psychiatric ‘treatment’ torture in this blog. Not to mention, defaming people with scientifically invalid DSM disorders,

    then attempting to gaslight people into believing those invalid DSM disorders are real “life long, incurable, genetic” diseases, “just like diabetes,” is a form of mental abuse, not a form of mental health care. Especially if part of this gas lighting process includes forced or coerced psychiatric drugging, which is torture according to the UN. Thus, this type of psychiatric mental abuse should also be banned. But if psychiatrically defaming, gas lighting, and neurotoxic poisoning people were to be banned, there would be nothing left for the psychiatrists to do, since that’s all they do.

    I don’t think it’s possible for the psychiatric industry to not participate in torturing people, at least not until after they flush their invalid DSM “bible” down the toilet where it belongs, and end their gas lighting and mass neurotoxic poisoning of people.

    The WPA defines interrogation as “the attempt to elicit from a person deprived of liberty information that is not intended for the therapeutic benefit of the person.” If this is inappropriate, which it should be, then all my doctors should lose their medical licenses at a minimum. Since their queries from me and my family were all about getting information they could use against me, for their own financial benefit and for other nefarious reasons, like aiding, abetting, and empowering pedophiles and covering up easily recognized and ‘complex’ iatrogenesis.

    Oops, not ‘complex’ enough. The antidepressants and/or antipsychotics can create ‘psychosis’ via anticholinergic toxidrome poisoning.

    And anticholinergic toxidrome poisoning is not “depression caused by self,” “bipolar,” or “schizophrenia,” it’s anticholinergic toxidrome poisoning.

    • Exactly Someone Else. The elephant remains hidden in plain view and most people- even in the “movement” speak around it, as if it doesn’t even exist and we continue to spin our wheels around and around the lies that never end.

  2. Who defines “torture”? Psychiatrists?

    As long as psychiatry is going to be imprisoning people, and asking for a “confession” (admission) of “mental illness”, before it will release (discharge) them back into the general population, I don’t think you can accuse it of being innocent of torture. I can’t imagine that this statement is anything but tongue in cheek as psychiatry and psychiatrists are torturing people at this very moment.

    What they’re saying is we don’t want psychiatrists to be accused of “torturing” people the way psychologists have been accused of doing so, and here, it’s okay to “torture” locals, just not foreigners, in the interest of what? Diplomacy? I can’t help but think this statement partakes a little of that power struggle between two competing professions more than anything else.

    Are eastern European, and in particular, Russian psychiatrists, going to stop labeling, drugging, and locking people up for disagreeing with the government? Ditto, USA psychiatrists?

  3. Many don’t realize the drugs are themselves exquisite torture. If they saw us in thumb screws, on a rack, or being burned by cigars more would sympathize with us. But since our suffering is invisible, no one–except psychiatrists and us–sees it for what it is.

    • Great points by all. This may be the turning point we need to really push for the end of the scam. The social conditions in which we live, are the most important factors affecting individual and community health. Lack of access to resources (the basic necessities of life) is a critical public health and safety issue. Contrary to popular belief, health has little to nothing to do with access to the sham of “Allopathic health care” currently sucking up the loins share of “allotted” resources. In fact, it has an inverse affect on health.

      There is a need to make reparations to oppressed (psychiatrized) and impoverished groups of people. As such, a wider systemic view of how oppression is sanctioned by the state and using the laws already in place, are the best hope we have to hold it accountable in upholding its duty to free all people from the oppression of poverty. The cost of not doing so is astronomical in terms of human pain and suffering, which is exactly why they refuse to do so, or pay lip-service to doing so with no meaningful follow through.

      The system uses any expression of “negative” human reaction- distress, anger, as evidence of “mental” instability which it has medicalized in order to justify its power to subjugate, punish, silence, other, discriminate and target people who speak out.

      Without access to decent food and housing (SDOH), people will eventually get physically sick. Lacking money that allows access to safe, effective (natural) alternative choices, people are forced to inter-face with the sub-standard Allopathic sick care system that automatically (force) streams and “screens” them for “mental illness”.

      Labeling poor, hungry, disenfranchised, hopeless people as “crazy” saves the time of rounding them up, tattooing them and putting them on a train. There is no exit from the system, it is a life-sentence for everyone trapped in it, after which it is easy to use the larger social structure to keep them subjugated and oppressed via misinformation and public belief.

      Drug (silence), fear and lock up the “crazies”, the reds, the disabled, the blacks, the gays; who ever the oppressed targeted enemy of the moment happens to be. The rhetoric is, in order for these people to live in dignity, we have to take the resources out of your pocket, which will in turn put your health and safety in jeopardy. That is how easy it is to pit people against each other, make them hate and live in fear of each other.

      In fact the middle class is already disappearing. The stress, sleepless worry and concerns for their own health and safety are twisted into ‘mental illness’s”, which if and when needed, are used against them to call into question their credibility and justify the “everyday abuse levied under the guise of “helping” them. It is in fact the systems way of helping themselves to the minds of the masses. The public hands over the power and control they fear losing to the system in return for the illusion of safety and help that is in fact a “medical fraud”. Not just an extension of the age old snake oil salesmen peddling poop in a pretty bottle, but true psychological war-fare on the naive, misinformed masses who unwittingly defend and protect their abusers.

      Please consider not participating in the “crazy” making of those who speak out or you/we disagree with. That is how the state turns groups of people into the enemy, (feared, dangerous, unstable) in order to justify harming/subjugating them with labels, drugs, loss of freedom and legal rights. Keep criticisms fact based as opposed to Ad Hominem slurs.
      Anyone fighting for illusive, non-existent, withheld justice (a form of social injustice and political violence) may wish to:
      understand the covenants the country in question signed or ratified with the UN and how this works
      understand the constitutional law (the Human Rights Act) in the country in question
      find the key case law that supports the duty to meet the peoples needs
      find the top lawyers or figure out how to draft a claim against the government
      Consider all means of bringing evidence of the harm and need for equality to light including the International Criminal court

  4. yeah, I’m with everybody else. Torture and punishment are the core of psychiatry. To be a “mental patient” is to be subjected to torture under the guise of “treatment.” “Good patients” are rewarded with less toxic drugs, perhaps controlled substances, now and then disability. “Bad patients,” especially “trouble makers,” are severely punished with toxic drugs (often administered by force), shock ‘treatments,’ and more stigmatizing labels.

    If psychiatrists care for the human race, as a whole, perhaps they should consider doing real medicine for a living, and leave the pseudoscientific belief system behind. The world would certainly be a much better place without psychiatry, that’s for sure.

  5. Well, there goes 80% of psychiatrists’ business! If only they would abide by this, involuntary “treatment” would come to a swift end. Frank’s right, the problem is who gets to define “torture”. If you asked the “patients,” you’d get a very different answer than if you ask the psychiatrists.

  6. I remember being interrogated at many meetings they held while I was inpatient. Ten doctors and me. They would grill me. During that time I was often belittled, shamed, even mimicked. I recall that even if I asked to be given time to speak I would be cut off before I even finished a sentence. In my own defense, if I anticipated such a meeting, I began writing papers so that I could “get more words in.” They would refuse to read the papers I had written. One time, the doctor hastily ripped the papers out of my hand, and then, faked it that he was reading them (he couldn’t have read my handwriting that fast!) allowing each paper to fall to the floor as he did so, and then, made some irrelevant comment indicating he had no clue of the content. I was jeered at. I heard them sigh with boredom. They rolled their eyes when I spoke. When my parents were brought into session, they belittled my parents.

    That was torture. It was torture to poke fun at me repeatedly, torture to make me look incompetent, torture to make me stumble on my own words and torture to needle me unnecessarily and then, claim I had an anger problem.

    I owe psychiatry a lot. Because of these torture sessions, where I had to present myself before these idiots, I learned to survive their interrogation, even though they made me feel like crap. I am now an excellent public speaker. Shall I credit them, or myself?

  7. One time, the psych told me, “Okay, we will allow you one word only.” Literally!

    And people wonder why I fight so hard to be heard, even when it is no longer necessary. Why sometimes I don’t let others get a word in. Why I am terrified of being cut off. I credit psychiatry.

    I don’t know if the fear they instilled in me will ever really go away.

  8. I’m sure the World Psychiatric Association’s statement banning psychiatrists from torture will comfort Garth Daniels (, who for years has been secluded, restrained to a hospital bed for months at a time, forcibly injected with psychiatric drugs, and forcibly given ECT. According to the WPA’s statement, psychiatrists can torture clients like Garth to their heart’s content provided it is “intended for therapeutic benefit.” As long as psychiatry defines torture according to the intent of behavior (tying a non-violent client to a hospital bed for 6 months and repeatedly shocking his brain without consent “for his own benefit”), as opposed to actual behavior that grossly violates a client’s civil rights regardless of its therapeutic intent, torture will continue to be endemic in the mental health system.

  9. The title to this article might as well have been “World Psychiatric Association Statement Bans Psychiatrists from Being Psychiatrists.”

    Psychiatry is, by definition, torture. It is the pseudo-scientific system of slavery, torture, and abuse. It is deception and coercion masquerading as medicine and therapy. The World Psychiatric Association? More like the World Torture Club. Enough of this nonsense. Slay the Dragon of Psychiatry.

  10. There is an easy way for the state agents interested in torturing their captives to invite psychiatrists back, and in an open way: they should rebrand their torture practices as “deradicalisation programs”, or “deprogramming sessions”, or “extremist group exit therapies”, or something else like that, and claim that these practices are for the good for the people being tortured. Under such conditions, psychiatrists would still be allowed by the WPA to participate, and the cruel business-as-usual with proceed unabated.

    To be short: you want to practice torture in a modern humanistic society? Rename it “therapy” and claim it is for the good of its victims!