Relationship between the APA and the Military

A SHORT HISTORY OF THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE AMERICAN PSYCHOLOGICAL ASSOCIATION AND THE U.S.MILITARY

By Marie Jonas '11 - June 2010

The U.S. response to September 11th marked a fundamental shift in the country’s approach to combating terrorism – from a law enforcement approach to a war paradigm. The implications of this shift for the military have received significant attention, but the impact on other professions, in particular psychology, is far-reaching but less publicized.

However, revelations of the involvement of psychologists in the development and implementation of so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” used by interrogators has focused the spotlight on the professional ethics of psychologists and the ramifications of their breach.

This paper reviews the history of close ties between the field of psychology and the U.S. military since World War I to explain, in part, the participation of psychologists in interrogations of suspected terrorists after September 11th. It also reviews the role of psychologists in developing and implementing “enhanced interrogation techniques” of detainees and the ensuing debate this caused within the American Psychological Association.

Please consult the paper’s bibliography for further information on this topic.

Download full paper (pdf).