Tag Archives: CIA

Winter 2018 JHBS: Ida Frye on Autism, Operative Psychology in Germany, and More

The Winter 2018 issue of the Journal of the History of the Behavioral Sciences is now available. Articles in this issue explore the Peace Corps in the Philippines, the work of Ida Frye on autism, and “operative psychology” in the German Democratic Republic. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“The creation of a postcolonial subject: The Chicago and Ateneo de Manila schools and the Peace Corps in the Philippines, 1960–1970,” by Christa Wirth. Abstract:

In the 1950s and 1960s scholars from the University of Chicago and the Ateneo de Manila created social scientific knowledge that helped establish the Peace Corps as a Cold War institution in the Philippines. Central were the social scientists at the University of Chicago and the Ateneo de Manila University who established a knowable postcolonial subject: “the Filipino,” which resulted from their research on Philippine values. In this context, the Ateneo/Chicago social scientists developed the “SIR,” the “smooth interpersonal relation” model that entails the notion that Filipinos and Filipinas particularly valued this nonconfrontational skill set among people. The SIR model was taught by social science experts to early Peace Corps volunteers as they prepared for their assignments in the Philippines. The article shows how the SIR model could cause distress and confusion as it was applied by Peace Corps volunteers in the Philippines.

“Rethinking the origins of autism: Ida Frye and the unraveling of children’s inner world in the Netherlands in the late 1930s,” by Annemieke Van Drenth. Abstract: Continue reading Winter 2018 JHBS: Ida Frye on Autism, Operative Psychology in Germany, and More

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APA out of Guantánamo

Well it’s been a long haul, but it’s official. The Pentagon has ended their use of psychologists in the Guantánamo Bay prison.

The post-Hoffman Report AGM in Toronto this past summer saw the association executive taken to task by the membership for ongoing failure to enforce increased ethical requirements initiated in 2008’s Petition Resolution.

The media should be praised for contributing external pressure through exposure of the association’s collusion with  American governmental agencies in ways that violate international human rights agreements as established by the UN, including interrogation programs run by the CIA under the Bush administration. As reported in the NY Times,  a FBI-led High-Value Detainee Interrogation Group, founded under the Obama admin, is the only part of the current government to have expressed concern over the APA’s new adherence to their own policies. Here’s hoping that doesn’t prove to be cause for real concern moving forward.

The Times’ piece also succinctly covers the association’s internal climate re. this most recent turn of events:

Some current and former military psychologists have been critical of the A.P.A. ban, saying it is so broadly written that it could make it difficult for them to work professionally in almost any national security setting. But advocates of the ban say it had to be written in a way that would close what they believe were longstanding loopholes in the organization’s ethics guidance.

Below please find a reverse chronology of our extensive APA torture coverage from throughout the era in which these developments occurred (It is our sincere wish to be able to end the series with this post):

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History and the Hoffman Report: A Round-Up

Chances are you, like us, have been following the fall out from the American Psychological Association’s Hoffman Report, which details how the organization colluded with the United States government to ensure psychologists remained part of its torture program. While there are a ton of opinion pieces floating around in the wake of the report, we thought we’d highlight a few pieces that take a particularly historical view on the current situation.

Over on the Hidden Persuaders blog, part of a project on Cold War era brainwashing efforts, Marcia Holmes has written “What we’re reading now: The APA report.” Holmes details the events leading up to the Hoffman Report and situates psychology’s involvement in torture in relation to the emergence of “operational psychology.” The fundamental tension between “operational psychology” and ethics, Holmes argues, may never be resolved. Read the full piece online here.

BBC Radio program Witness has produced an episode on “CIA Mind Control Experiments” in the 1950s. While this piece is not directly about the Hoffman Report, it documents  the long history of relations between psychology and the CIA:

In the 1950s the CIA started attempting to brainwash psychiatric patients. They wanted to develop methods which could be used against enemies in the Cold War. Hear from one man whose father was experimented on in a Canadian psychiatric hospital.

The full 10-minute episode can be heard online here.

Finally historian Laura Stark, writing in Inside Higher Ed, explains “Why Ethics Codes Fail.” Stark, having previously written about the first ethics code adopted by the APA in 1973, argues that,

The APA’s current ethics mess is a problem inherent to its method of setting professional ethics policy and a problem that faces professional organizations more broadly. Professions’ codes of ethics are made to seem anonymous, dropped into the world by some higher moral authority. But ethics codes have authors. In the long term, the APA’s problems will not be solved by repeating the same process that empowers a select elite to write ethics policy, then removes their connection to it.

All ethics codes have authors who work to erase the appearance of their influence. Personal interests are inevitable, if not unmanageable, and it may be best for the APA — and other professional groups — to keep the link between an ethics policy and its authors. Take a new lesson from the Hippocratic oath by observing its name. The APA should make its ethics policies like most other papers that scientists write: give the code of ethics a byline.

Read the full piece online here.

If there are other historically focused responses to the Hoffman Report that we’ve missed please feel free to add them in the comments!

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APA Denounces CIA Psychologist

James MitchellI think this counts as an event worthy of breaking AHP’s summer silence.

The American Psychological Association (APA) has come out in favor of stripping James Mitchell of his license to practice. Mitchell (pictured right) is one of the psychologists who worked for the CIA developing and applying controversial “enhanced” interrogation techniques that were used against terrorism suspects at Guantanamo Bay prison and other “black sites” that the CIA maintains around the world. An Associated Press article about the APA’s actions can be found here.

The is move surprising because the APA has been heavily criticized both from within its membership and without for being evasive in efforts to forbid its members from participating in such activities. First it issued directives with ambiguous wording. When the membership voted overwhelmingly in favor of a more direct statement against torture, the APA Board came under fire for dragging its feet in  implementing the resolution.

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CIA Didn’t Know History of SERE

Soldiers waterboarding in the field in VietnamIn a stunning confirmation of George Santayana’s adage that those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it*, the New York Times reports that none of the Bush cabinet members, including then-CIA director George Tenet, knew that the “Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape” (SERE) methods they used while interrogating inmates at Guantanamo and other “off-shore” prisons, had been developed decades before by the US military, “to give American pilots and soldiers a sample of the torture methods used by Communists in the Korean War, methods that had wrung false confessions from Americans.” Continue reading CIA Didn’t Know History of SERE

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CIA Psychologists “Broke the Law”

Guantanamo Bay prisonDuring the debate over how the American Psychological Association should respond to reports of  psychologists participating in the “enhanced” interrogation of terrorism suspects in off-shore prisons, APA officials consistently argued that psycholgoists were there to protect the prisoners, ensuring that the procedures used did not endanger their mental health. Continue reading CIA Psychologists “Broke the Law”

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CPA Recap

The Canadian Psychological Association held its 69th Annual Convention last weekend in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

The History and Philosophy of Psychology Section made a strong showing with a number of very interesting presentations.

The one talk that stood out in particular, at least to me, was presented first thing Saturday morning by the very dynamic speaker Dr. Richard Brown. The talk, entitled “The X-38 Project: Donald O. Hebb and the study of perceptual isolation,” examined the evidence surrounding Donald Hebb‘s possible involvement with the CIA.

Brown’s talk responded particularly to the accusations made against Hebb by Alfred W. McCoy in A Question of Torture: CIA Interrogation from the Cold War to the War on Terror (AHP reported on this book back in January). Going over an enormous amount of previously-sealed documents, some only recently made available, Brown argued that Hebb never worked for the CIA nor was the CIA particularly interested in Hebb’s work until after much of it was completed. Though Brown concluded with the disclaimer that no document he has “yet” to see leads him to believe there is a connection, the presentation was thoroughly convincing that no connection existed between Hebb and the CIA.

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Psychology’s History and the CIA

CIAThe discussion over the relationship between Psychology and the CIA continues:

In the most recent edition of the Journal of Humanistic Psychology, 48(1), there appears an article by Stephen P. Demanchick and Howard Kirschenbaum entitled “Carl Rogers and the CIA” in which they link Carl Rogers to the Society for the Investigation of Human Ecology:

Carl Rogers was a pioneer and leader in the humanistic psychology movement. Although his many professional activities and accomplishments are well known, the story of his association with the Society for the Investigation of Human Ecology—a front organization for the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)—is barely known and has never been explored in any depth. This article attempts to tell that story in the context of America during the 1950s, Rogers’s academic career, and the mission of the CIA.

Continue reading Psychology’s History and the CIA

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