Apology and Reparation: Two Steps the American Psychological Association Should Take Today

TRANSCEND MEMBERS, 1 Aug 2022

Roy Eidelson – TRANSCEND Media Service

28 Jul 2022 – This past May, in recognition of the 25th anniversary of the United Nations International Day in Support of Torture Victims, the executive committee of the Society for the Study of Peace, Conflict, and Violence (Division 48 of the American Psychological Association) voted to endorse a brief statement. The statement calls upon the APA’s leadership to

  • apologize to the victims of U.S. war-on-terror prisoner abuses, and
  • make recurring financial contributions to organizations that provide support for torture victims and their families.

As the statement explains,

“Over a period of years, predominantly Muslim and Arab men and boys imprisoned at Guantanamo Bay, CIA black sites, and other locations were subjected to physical and psychological torment and degradation… These operations relied significantly on the involvement of psychologists. That involvement was tragically preserved and promoted, in part, by the APA’s own misguided actions and inaction.”

In the three months since the statement was issued, nearly two dozen organizations have also endorsed it, and additional groups are currently engaged in discussions about endorsement. The full list of endorsers to date appears below. It includes several APA divisions as well as internationally recognized organizations such as Amnesty International USA, the Center for Constitutional Rights, the Center for Victims of Torture, Physicians for Human Rights, and Veterans for Peace.

Thus far, the APA’s board of directors has not responded to this call for action. Next week the APA will hold its annual convention. With thousands of members gathering in Minneapolis, the convention would be an ideal time for the APA’s leadership to issue an overdue apology and make a public commitment to providing support to victims of torture.

Note: The APA routinely makes financial donations to other 501(c)(3) nonprofits whose needs and activities are consistent with the Association’s own mission to “to promote the advancement, communication, and application of psychological science and knowledge to benefit society and improve lives.” A review of recent APA annual tax filings through 2020 reveals numerous contributions to organizations that serve vulnerable populations—but none to groups that provide support to torture victims and their families.

Organizational Endorsers as of July 26, 2022

*Society for the Study of Peace, Conflict, and Violence, Executive Committee (APA Division 48)

*Society for Personality and Social Psychology (APA Division 8)

*Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues–SPSSI (APA Division 9)

*Society of Counseling Psychology, Executive Board (APA Division 17)

*Psychologists in Public Service (APA Division 18)

*Society for the History of Psychology, Executive Committee (APA Division 26)

*Society for Community Research and Action (APA Division 27)

*Society for Psychoanalysis and Psychoanalytic Psychology, Executive Committee (APA Division 39)

*Divisions for Social Justice of the APA (a consortium of 22 APA divisions; the position of DSJ does not necessarily represent or reflect the views of individual divisions)

*Coalition for an Ethical Psychology

*European Community Psychology Association

*Psychologists for Social Responsibility

*International Network for Peace Psychology

*International Society for Ethical Psychology and Psychiatry

*Amnesty International USA

*Association of World Citizens

*Center for Constitutional Rights

*Center for Victims of Torture

*Jiyan Foundation for Human Rights US

*Physicians for Human Rights

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Roy Eidelson is a member of the TRANSCEND Network and was a member of the American Psychological Association for over 25 years, prior to his resignation. He is a clinical psychologist and the president of Eidelson Consulting, where he studies, writes about, and consults on the role of psychological issues in political, organizational, and group conflict settings. He is a past president of Psychologists for Social Responsibility, former executive director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Solomon Asch Center for Study of Ethnopolitical Conflict, and a member of the Coalition for an Ethical Psychology. Roy is the author of Political Mind Games: How the 1% Manipulate Our Understanding of What’s Happening, What’s Right, and What’s Possible and can be reached at reidelson@eidelsonconsulting.com.


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This article originally appeared on Transcend Media Service (TMS) on 1 Aug 2022.

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