Tuesday July 14, 2009

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There is currently a bill sponsored by Assemblyman Ortiz that will ban ECT on young people under 16 and requires other measures to prevent forced or coerced ECT.
Please check it out and sign on with support using the comment box below.  


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Mental Patients Liberation Alliance


The Law Project for Psychiatric Rights


MindFreedom International


The Opal Project

History is going to keep repeating on us until we do something about it.  

Sign on to this ban and help us build power! 



Lauren Tenney


Mental Health Empowerment Project, Inc.


The Empowerment Center


Dally M. Sanchez 

This is phenomenal! Finally something being done to end the atrocity of electricity being purposefully shot through the human brain in an effort to subdue people. the fact that it is even allowed to be done on children and the elderly is such an affront to the human experience as to be called Inhumane! 



Coalition Against Psychiatric Assault 

The Coalition Against Psychiatric Assault supports this bill that will protect children, and in some cases the elderly, from this brain-damaging procedure. However, this is an ineffective and dangerous procedure across the board, and NO individual should be subjected to it. ECT should be banned for everybody. For more information about electroshock, please visit: 



Shaindl Diamond 

 I hope that this bill goes through so that children in New York are protected from this procedure. I look forward to the day when all people are spared the devastating effects of ECT. Let's continue to work together for a universal ban! In solidarity.. 



 Daniel Hazen



Marian Merlino



Ted ChabasinskI



Aaron Frishberg



Isaac S. Brown

stop this inhumane treatment 




Kathryn Cascio

We need to get this ECT Ban Bill out of committee this time! 



Judith Kubran



Amy Bookbinder



Leah Harris



Mary Ellen Maddock

Electroshock causes much more harm than good therefore it should be abolished as a form of 'therapy'.  It is still forced on many people esp. women. This is torture. It is outrageous to use it on defenseless children.  


Aaron Joshua Bellve

 I fully support a ban on ECT performed on minors and adults without properly informed consent--a procedure that is not properly regulated by our already lax FDA by way of its being grandfathered in, a procedure that causes brain damage without exception, a procedure that carries only risks long term and has only temporarily perceived benefits. 


Dennis Whetsel

 ECT is the greatest form of human cruelty. Many a psychiatrist will self prescribe "fun" medications but I  don't know of one who willingly stuck a tongue in light socket. Stop this travesty!




US Network of Users and Survivors of Psychiatry


Chrys Ballerano

 Please end this practice now!



Parents in Action



John O'Donoghue



Stephanie Troia

ECT should definitely not be given to minors, and shouldonly be given to adults with their full consent and total understanding. 




John M. Donnelly Jr.




Eva Dech



Stephanie Lotto



Michael Kerins




Abdulle Ahmed



Felice Debra Eliscu

 I can't believe we are having to ban this harmful procedure in 2009. It is torture that causes permanent damage. Stop shocking kids! 



Darby Penney


Jack Freedman



Michael G. Spennato



Kent Reedy

 Forced ECT should not be a legal option because, no matter what the experts may claim, it will always be used for financial reasons as long as it is available.  All the personal motivations of mental health professionals will always be a factor in deciding whether or not someone is forced to have ECT treatments as long as they are legally permitted.  The mental health system should be required to use more humane, less drastic alternatives - but it never will as long as the law allows it to force these more extreme procedures on people.  This is especially true of lucrative procedures like ECT.



Mary Ellen Copeland

I cannot attend. But I wish I could. It is horrific. ECT on kids under 16 disgusting.





Stephanie Orlando


Kristina Yates

You have my support from afar!

East Bay, CA 



Tom Olin

Wish I could be at another Bastile Day. Lead on!

Milwaukee, WI 



Kevin Patrick Smith

Electroconvulsive therapy An electric current passes through your brain to make you HAPPY. (just stand outside in a storm with some tinfoil wrapped around your head) Jimmy was going to kill himself, instead he had ect, he's more fucked up than ever


Jessica Arenella

UGH! I didn't even know they did ECT on kids. I doubt that I will be able to make it in person, but I will be there in spirit.



Aubrey Ellen Shomo

 I am with you in spirit rom Colorado 



Dorothy W. Dundas

All ECT should be banned! 


Mary Blake



Frank Blankenship

Shock treatment should not be given to adults, much less children. I support a ban on ECT for children. 



leni magali whitehead

 please stop electroshocks on kids



karen s.

 ect on children is inhumane and animal torcher.
children are human beings. there not a cat or dog or any animal that you can just hunt down to slaughter, a child is not some object
that you use an electric drill to drill nails through.
they are human beings of human flesh the human that you are. children were brought in to this world from GOD. the same GOD that brought your [sorry] [asses] here, not by some imaginary god but by the one and only GOD that brought US ll here.
CHILDREN do not belong in mental health but rather in the home of there parents being a normal child going to school and leading a fulfilled life.



Alysa Solomon, PhD

I support a ban on ECT; there is no such thing as voluntary ECT, no one who was fully informed of the risks and consequences of ECT would voluntarily consent.  Research consistently consludes inconsistent findings-no consistent empirical data suggests long-term positive effects, depressive symptoms are evident within a year of ECT'treatment.' What is consistent is long-term declaritive, episodic, and semantic memory deficits and short-term procedural memory deficits.  We know better now! 


Edith C. Scheie



Guinevere Engel

I think it's a disgustingly barbaric prctice to administer a treatment that has been clearly shown to have enormously damaging and LASTING effects on ANY brain.How we can sit by as a society and allow this "treatment",ECT(SHOCK TREAMENT) to be given to our children is almost astonishing.How can we possibly sit by and allow this to happen-under ANY circumstances?!It's essentially taking a young life-forever-WITHOUT THEIR CONSENT,because a child of that age doesn't obviously have the ability to make a decision of that magnitude.They're not even legally allowed to make the decision to drink until they're 21.I think that instead of damaging the brain to elicit "better behavior",we need to focus more on some of the treatments that allow the brain to thrive & grow(oh,they're out there).Highly unlikely,or difficult at best,after having electricity surging through your brain.I think we can do better.And to me,pharmaceuticals aren't the answer,either(especially in a develop!
ing mind&soul),but I guess that's another sad story.I pray we come to our senses about these very crucial issues and learn,as individuals,to think for ourselves-maybe we would be smart enough to think twice about the B.S. we're being "fed"-on a daily basis-and it would seem to be mostly for the almighty $$$.Sad.


Ashley McNamara



Erick Fabris

 so many people think electroshock was banned long ago. let's make that belief a reality.


Jon Forster




Mark Caligiuri

 ECT is a barbaric form of mental "treatment" and should be banned, it causes brain damage and it absolutely has no benefit,it is destructive and inhumane and it is something you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy!!! Please ban this practice if you care for our children!!






Anita Cameron

I wish there were no ECT, especially forced ECT. I TOTALLY support a BAN on ECT on kids under 16! 


Mindy Lewis

I support this ban on ECT on children. 


Vince Boehm



Harry Bentivegna Lichtenstein



Thomas M. Morley

I support the ban on the use of ECT on people under 16. 




New York Association of Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services




Margaret van Rhyn

Damaging anybody's brain is one of the worst crimes! Brain damage renders the poor victim LESS able to survive and enjoy life! 



Birgit Springl



Mary Jane Dean


Sarah Launderville



Lynn McMahon

Please ban ECT on young, still developing brains & bodies. Let ALL people give consent only & not EVER be forced to undergo ECT against their free will. 


 Rolando Bini

Please outlaw this savage and barbaric form of torture that has no therapeutic value and rather cuases great harm 


Timothy J Harris

If America promotes basic human right in other countries then we must first have basic human rights in America. Every day we do not is historic tragic shame. 


George Ebert

 End the use of electroconvulsive treatment (ECT) - shock treatment - on children in New York State 






Oliver Lu

 It's medieval and shouldn't be performed on *anyone*. 


Diana Gonzalez




Vicki Siedow

 This is child abuse of the worst kind.


Dr. Jeffrey C. Danco

The time has come to protect children--and adults--from this "treatment" which is far worse than any disease it is purported to treat. 




Nico Vegt

I am a psychiatric drugged abused survivor and I was drugged for 23 years and I want this stopped permanantly, I have a story of abuse and friends that have been shocked against their will 




Jim Simbeck

I am totally against ECT for adults I am damn set against the brain frying of children 




Gerald L. "Moss" Bliss

Asheville Homeless Network


Asheville Homeless Network, the nation's only membership organization for homeless people, is solidly against all labeling and "treatment" involving electric or insulin shock "therapy" or long-term use of dangerous psychiatric drugs (which includes all of them).  All case studies show that these "therapies" damage the individual much more than psychiatry will admit or wants known.  We support the ban of these "therapies" on children as well as adults. All people should have basic civil rights, which includes control over what is done to their bodies, and we should be protecting, not harming, children. 



Margaret A Parry

 I look forward to the day when this barbaric treatment is banned for ever in all our countries


Sue Clark-Wittenberg

I was brain damaged by ECT

Ban ECT now!

Sue Clark-Wittenberg
Director, International
Campaign to Ban Electroshock
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada



Mara Heppen

I support the ban on ECT on children under 16 years of age. 



Rachel Klein

 I believe that for some people ECT is an effective treatment. However, it must never be used forcibly or in a coerced situation. It ought never be used on minors, who are by definition, unable to give consent. I have seen the effects of ECT on people during the over 50 times I have been hospitalized for depression. Once used, a person never recovers the full use of their memory and are changed. For some, the choice to try ECT is a last desperate decision to reduce symptoms. However, I challenge you to provide an example in which use on a minor would be acceptable. Many mental illnesses resolve or disappear entirely later in life. ECT in some situations is being used as a punitive or behavior controlling measure for adolescents. ECT has only been shown to be effective for severe, long term treatment-resistant depression. Surely no minor would meet these criteria!

As for forced ECT, the above applies as well. Use of threat or application of ECT to control a person's behavior or other sypmtoms is unacceptable and a violation of the self. I would consider it worse than my experience of being raped by a psychiatrist who was angry and frustrated by my multiple hospitalizations at the unit he ran. The expereince was an extreme violation of my body
but my self and mind could recover. Forced ECT is a more severe violation because it permanently affects the brain itself, the seat of consciousness and the self. Please pass this legislation NOW, saving many people from the oppressive threat and reality of forced ECT.
Rachel Klein
Person with Lived Expereince of Recovery from Severe Mental Illness who went through Hell and Came Back to Speak Truth to Power



Hans Jorgen Munch-Holbek


Arnold Woodruff

It is unbelievable that ECT is being forced on children under 16. There is no literature to support effectiveness and plenty of evidence of the brain damage that is caused by ECT. Please stop in the name of humaneness. 



Rick S. Hill

  stop psychiatric child abuse now




Janice Moreno

I support a ban on ECT for children under 16. 




Deb J. Damone

This is an outrage!!! 


Amanda Jongeneel



Nick & Ety Willemse

barbaric treatment, should be outlawed.  



Emilia Rainwalker



Laurie O'Reilly

 I can't believe this is still happening. 


Godly Mathew

I support a complete ban on ECT let alone a ban on young people. Thanks Assemblyman Orits for sponsoring this bill. I hope it gets passed.  



Sara Goodman

this is an important issue and requires our full support... sign on now!  


Ann-Louise S. Silver, MD

  I can think of no indication for ECT in someone under 16 years of age.  Anyone who is being considered for this should have intensive psychotherapy instead.



Pastor Willie D. Bacote

 I will stand with you and demand that they stop using this type of treatment on our kids, unless we stand firm for the rights of our children this is just another ploy of the devil to rob our kids of thier hope, future and happiness, we will see you on the 14th@ the Capitol!!!!!! Pastor Willie


Mark P. Radz

 a history of three courses of "treatments" dating back to bi-lateral at high voltages in 1981, unheard of today, i know the damaging after effects very well. power to the people! the civil rights movement has only just begun!..mark


 Anna de Jonge

Electro Convulsive Shock should be outlawed, it is a degrading inhumane practice to disable people. Doctors should not do that! 


For the sake of human beings, lets treat our people well.

It is unacceptable that a code intended by Parliament to give effect to the humane  principle of the 1992 Mental Health Act,  should allow humans to be forcefully contained and electrocuted through the brain, under the name of treatment  for months at a time.

The absurd state of the law on this issue is the result of, in effect, allowing the Mental Health Industry itself to write the Welfare law for human beings, in the face of doubts and criticisms from the Patients Rights Advocacy Group.

Given the obvious public disgust and disbelief that resulted from the article in  The Uncensored Magazine: The Utter Travesty of Mental Health in New Zealand, March, 2009,  it is hoped that the Minister of Health opts for substantial changes to the Mental Health Act 1992, when its schedules review takes place as soon as possible.

We trust the minister will avoid being swayed by claims that Electro Convulsive Shock are good for peoples welfare and essential to our mental health industrys viability.

No forced treatment such as barbaric Electro Convulsive Shock is beneficial to human beings.

If the minister takes the sensible and humane step of banning electro convulsive shocks to human beings, there will be an inevitable lapse of time before we are rid of it.

In the mean time the Mental Health Industry needs to make considerable efforts to regain the publics confidence.

Consumers deserve some assurance that they will be treated with respect and dignity.   Unfortunately,  labeling is beset with absurdities.

As an independent organization we need to stand up and demand informed consent, humane treatment for all our members.

Anna de Jonge
Patients Rights Advocate.
Non Government Organization (NGO)
65 Tawa Street
New Zealand
Ph: 07 8435 837




Pilot Tansy

We need to end this practice now.  



Tina Bonneau



Justine Tenney



Jim Maddock

-MindFreedom Ireland

In solidarity and support. 


Paula Spart

Children's brains are still developing-even in adolescence. This growth shouldn't be stunted by shock treatment or other means-especially since there are other modes of treatment for psychiatric problems. 



Ruthie Poole


Kathleen Dearinger

  ban stealing kids to shock. STOP CPS!


Your name here ...

use the comment box above! 


Please see below for what OMH has done.

Please join on with your support - every voice does count!


ban.html to sign on.

July 13, 2009

Dear Colleague:

This OMH Practice Advisory addresses the use of Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) for individuals under the age of 18 years. The Office of Mental Health is distributing it as a directive for all State-operated psychiatric facilities, and as a practice advisory to other mental health care providers in New York State.

The New York State Office of Mental Health is issuing this practice advisory to provide proper safeguards on the use of ECT for youth, while recognizing its use in those rare instances where other treatments have proven ineffective. More information about the use of ECT in youth is contained in the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry's Practice Parameter on the Use of ECT in Youth.

We hope this guidance proves clinically useful and we welcome your distributing this advisory to your colleagues.


Michael F. Hogan, Ph.D. Lloyd I. Sederer M.D.
Commissioner OMH Medical Director

Stewart Gabel, M.D. John B. Allen Jr.
Medical Director, OMH Div. Special Assistant to the
of Children and Family Services Commissioner

NYS Office of Mental Health
Guidance on Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT)
When Considered for Individuals under the Age of 18
July 13, 2009

Background: Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) is a vital yet controversial treatment - especially when provided by court order and over objection - which has evoked considerable and important discussion among a broad constituency in New York State. In light of the ongoing debate regarding the use of ECT for individuals under the age of 18, OMH offers this document to clarify its clinical and administrative thinking.

Current medical guidance finds ECT to be a relatively safe and effective intervention, especially when other treatments have proven ineffective for treatment of serious mood and psychotic disorders. Detractors emphasize there are negative side effects of ECT which include memory loss which may not be well reported in the research literature. From a consumer perspective, court-ordered ECT may serve to worsen a long standing concern that mental health care is intrusive and paternalistic, and thus is not person-centered.

Although ECT is recognized as an effective treatment in adults, controversy remains about its use in children and adolescents. Concerns involving efficacy, safety, and acceptability on the part of the youth, the parents, and society have been raised. Issues of consent/assent for youth have also been noted.

Studying efficacy for ECT in children and adolescents has been difficult, principally because of the difficulty in obtaining informed consent/assent and in conducting research with young and vulnerable populations. Therefore, there is relatively limited research that has addressed the issue of ECT in adolescence, and even less has addressed this question in younger children. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry (AACAP) has issued a Practice Parameter for the use of ECT in adolescents that summarizes the research and expert opinion available.

ECT may be beneficial to adolescents with psychiatric disorders, most notably those with unipolar or bipolar mood disorders. Research studies, however, are limited in number and methodological rigor. There are no placebo controlled or non-treatment studies in adolescents. One study found that a small group of youth with bipolar disorder who accepted ECT had improved outcomes compared to youth with bipolar disorder who did not accept ECT.

ECT is used infrequently in adolescents. This is probably due in part to the negative perceptions and emotional reactions that are present in many people when considering ECT, including many psychiatrists and other mental health professionals. Concerns about possible long term effects and the desire not to “experiment” or use “shock treatment” on vulnerable populations who often cannot speak effectively for themselves or give informed consent, complicate the use of ECT in youth. However, research on the perceptions of ECT among adolescent patients and their parents has found that most who underwent ECT and their parents found the treatment less aversive than their psychiatric illness itself, and most patients indicated they would recommend the treatment to others if it had been medically recommended.

States are highly variable in their acceptance of ECT in youth, and in their requirements for assessment prior to administration. Michigan, for example, requires the concurrence of 3 child psychiatrists before ECT is administered; other states require a different number of evaluations and/or have particular age cut offs. The FDA provides no specific regulations regarding the use of ECT in youth. The AACAP Practice Parameter recommends that an independent second opinion of a psychiatrist knowledgeable about ECT be obtained prior to administration. Written consent of the parent(s) should be obtained, with written consent or assent of the adolescent obtained when feasible - recognizing that cognitive immaturity or severity of psychiatric illness may make it difficult to obtain consent/assent from the adolescent.

In summary, ECT has been a last resort treatment that is infrequently used in adolescence because of the relatively limited scientific information about efficacy and safety, negative perceptions associated with its use, concerns around long term sequelae, and difficulty in obtaining informed consent/assent in this group. It is likely that ECT will continue to have very limited use in youth, although it may provide help to some adolescents whose psychiatric conditions, especially mood disorders, are particularly severe, life threatening, or intractable to more commonly used medications or psychotherapeutic interventions.

Due to the limits of current research, ongoing public concern and lack of practice guidelines, OMH has established the following guidance in implementing ECT in New York State.

Specific Guidance to all OMH Facilities:

Before being considered for ECT, an individual age 16-18 must receive a thorough psychiatric assessment by at least two independent board certified child and adolescent psychiatrists. Diagnosis, severity of symptoms and lack of adequate treatment response or adverse response to previous interventions, including medication, must be taken into account. Past history and family history should be reviewed. A medical examination must be performed to rule out medical conditions that are relative contraindications or that require additional medical intervention to address safety issues. A cognitive assessment that includes an assessment of memory must be performed prior to the ECT, shortly after its termination, and then again 3-6 months post treatment.

Although a small number of studies of ECT in the preadolescent age range also suggest clinical benefit, precise guidelines for use in this age range are not available. Because of limited studies of the effects of ECT on youth under age 16, all of the following should be addressed for individuals under the age of 16:

1. To be considered for ECT, young people under 16 years of age must receive a thorough psychiatric assessment by at least two independent board certified child and adolescent psychiatrists. One should have experience in administering ECT to youth and adolescents and one have experience with other treatment modalities.
2. Written consent of the parent(s) or legal guardian(s) must be obtained, with written consent or assent of the individual under age 16 obtained when feasible - recognizing that cognitive immaturity and severity of psychiatric illness may make it difficult to obtain consent/assent from the adolescent.
3. Documentation of adequate dose and duration of psychopharmaceutical trials, including augmentation trials, is present and there is no evidence of having achieved adequate therapeutic response.
4. A medical examination should be performed to rule out medical conditions that are relative contraindications or that require additional medical intervention to address safety issues.
5. The facility’s JACHO-approved Ethics Process shall review all documentation including:
a. adequate dose and duration of psychopharmaceutical trials, including augmentation, have been administered or are precluded by medication side effects;
b. the proposed treatment is in the patient’s best interest;
c. the patient’s stated preference should be considered, but because the individual is under age 16, advanced directive and health care proxy are not useful;
d. the family has been engaged in considering treatment alternatives;
e. appropriate attention has been paid to culturally appropriate interventions; and
f. concerns about the potential negative impact of ECT on the consumer’s/patient’s future recovery have been addressed, including possible cognitive side effects and, the potential to exacerbate traumatic symptoms, if applicable.
6 If the facility’s JACHO-approved Ethics Process approves the use of ECT for a specific individual under age 16, then a cognitive assessment that includes an assessment of memory should be performed prior to the ECT, shortly after its termination, and then again 3-6 months post-treatment.



Contact: Lauren Tenney (516) 319-4295




Tuesday, July 14, 2009 

On Bastille Day, Tuesday, July 14, survivors of electroshock and their allies speak out on the East Lawn of the Capitol Building (at State and Eagle Streets) from 9 AM - 2 PM and 5 PM - 9 AM.

We find it unacceptable that the New York State Office of Mental Health is "unwilling to ban" electroshock on children under 16 years old. We call on NEW YORK STATE and the NEW YORK STATE OFFICE OF MENTAL HEALTH to demand a ban the use of electroshock on children under 16 years old in New York State.

  • Electroshock, also known as electroconvulsive "treatment" (ECT) is an extremely controversial procedure.
  • Electroshock courses electricity through the brain to cause a seizure and brain convulsion.
  • Electroshock requires anesthesia, which carries an inherent risk of death.
  • Electroshock is known to cause brain damage, memory loss, bodily injury, apathy, and as reported by survivors of forced - coerced - court ordered - and - without-informed-consent-shock, destruction of life.
  • Electroshock is used in New York State on minors. Several states have banned shock on minors (including Texas, under 16 years of age).
  • Electroshock is often court-ordered and administered over objection on adults in New York State.

    "The use of ECT is increasing. More than 100,000 people in the United States are being electroshocked each year; half are 65 years of age and older, and two-thirds are women. Seventy percent of all ECT is insurance-covered. ECT specialists on average have incomes of more than $400,000 a year, twice that of other psychiatrists. The cost for inpatient ECT ranges from $50,000 to $75,000 per series (usually 8 to 12 individual sessions). Electroshock is a $5 billion a year industry. (All the above figures are approximate.)" -- Leonard Roy Frank, Editor, The Electroshock Quotationary --

Assemblyman Ortiz's proposed legislation, A8779 is a bill that would among other restrictions on the use of electroshock, ban electroshock on children under 16 years old in New York State.

We are helping to search for a Senator to sponsor this important and life-saving legislation - please contact us or Assemblyman Ortiz's office if you will help.

Join us on Tuesday, July 14, 2009 on the East Lawn of the New York State Capitol Building @ State Street and Eagle Street to BAN THE USE OF ELECTROSHOCK ON CHILDREN UNDER 16 YEARS OLD.



Human Rights Forums and activities are scheduled throughout the day (9 AM - 2 PM) and night (5 PM - 9 AM).



Book Forum and Signing with Linda Andre, author of

"Doctors of Deception: What They Don't Want You to Know about Shock Treatment" at 6 PM.



MIDNIGHT MADNESS and Movement Movies at Midnight.


Please see our website for more information.




Location: East Lawn of Capitol Building, Albany, New York, USA

More info:


Report from the UN Special Rapporteur on Torture CLICK HERE


APA Open Letter Re: TORTURE Click here

It is important to note that the Special Rapporteur's report  on torture (July, 2008), under the Convention Against Torture was not mentioned but should be discussed openly.  Ir discusses some of psychiatry's most controversial practices such as  ECT, forced drugging, restraint and seclusion as torture or inhumane and degrading treatment.  I have attached the Special Rapporteur's report for your information ...

I am organizing a protest against ECT and pending permit, it will be on July 14, 2009 (Bastille Day) in Albany calling for a ban on the use of ECT (electroconvulsive treatment, shock treatment) on children under 16.  (details to follow).

For decades advocates and activists world wide have tried to ban forced ECT.  We believe we are going to get it done - this year!

WE THE PEOPLE is currently in search of a Senate Sponsor for A8779, Felix Ortiz is the Assembly sponsor. 

A8779 would ban the use of  ECT on children under 16 years of age and add a host of other restrictions on the ability to coerce, not fully inform, or force someone into ECT.

This would drastically change practices of using ECT on children under 16 and court-ordering ECT on all others, particularly 16- 18 year olds and senior citizens, in New York State.

To sign on to a ban on the use of ECT on children under 16 years old in New York State:


Lauren Tenney
(516) 319 -4295


The APA Board of Directors met recently and among the issues discussed were psychologists’ involvement in national security interrogations and Ethics Code Standards 1.02 and 1.03, which relate to conflicts between ethics, law, and organizational demands. In light of the importance of these issues, the Board decided to communicate directly with the full APA membership regarding APA’s positions and actions. The petition resolution, “Psychologists and Unlawful Detention Settings with a Focus on National Security,” which was adopted by the membership last year, is central to this discussion. This new APA policy prohibits psychologists from working in national security detention settings that operate in violation of international law or the U.S. Constitution, with a few noted exceptions. In addition, APA prohibits psychologists from participating in torture or any cruel or inhuman interrogation procedure and emphasizes that there is no defense for such actions under APA’s Code of Ethics. An open letter from the Board to members follows.
June 22, 2009
An Open Letter from the Board of Directors
Dear Colleague,
As a psychologist and member of the American Psychological Association (APA), you no doubt share our serious concerns about reports regarding the involvement of psychologists in torture and abusive interrogations as part of the Bush administration’s “war on terror.” We recognize that the issue of psychologist involvement in national security-related investigations has been an extremely difficult and divisive one for our association. We also understand that some of our members continue to be disappointed and others angered by the association’s actions in this regard. Although APA has had a longstanding policy against psychologist involvement in torture, many members wanted the association to take a strong stand against any involvement of psychologists in national security interrogations during the Bush administration.
Information has emerged in the public record confirming that, as committed as some psychologists were to ensuring that interrogations were conducted in a safe and ethical manner, other psychologists were not. Although there are countless psychologists in the military and intelligence community who acted ethically and responsibly during the post-9/11 era, it is now clear that some psychologists did not abide by their ethical obligations to never engage in torture or other forms of cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment. The involvement of psychologists, no matter how small the number, in the torture of detainees is reprehensible and casts a shadow over our entire profession. APA expresses its profound regret that any psychologist has been involved in the abuse of detainees.

This has been a painful time for the association and one that offers an opportunity to reflect and learn from our experiences over the last five years. APA will continue to speak forcefully in further communicating our policies against torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment to our members, the Obama administration, Congress, and the general public. In so doing, we will continue to highlight our 2008 petition resolution policy, Psychologists and Unlawful Detention Settings with a Focus on National Security. APA will ensure that association communications convey clearly that the petition resolution is official association policy and must be central to psychologists’ assessment of the appropriateness of their roles in specific work settings related to national security. Our association’s governing body, the Council of Representatives, will soon be receiving guidance from various governance groups regarding further steps to implement this resolution. The history of APA positions and actions related to detainee welfare and professional ethics can be found at

On a closely related matter, the Ethics Committee and APA governance as a whole are focused intently on Ethics Code Standards 1.02 and 1.03, which address conflicts between ethics and law and between ethics and organizational demands, respectively. In light of Bush administration interrogation policies and uncertainty among our membership, the Ethics Committee has issued the attached statement, “No defense to torture under the APA Ethics Code.” Invoking language from the U.N. Convention Against Torture, this statement clarifies that the Ethics Committee “will not accept any defense to torture in its adjudication of ethics complaints.” APA will continue to monitor material in official reports related to psychologist mistreatment of national security detainees, will investigate reports of unethical conduct by APA members, and will adjudicate cases in keeping with our Code of Ethics. The association’s focus on these ethical standards is consistent with its position that no psychologist involved in detainee abuse should escape accountability.

In conclusion, as part of APA’s elected leadership, we have an obligation to protect and further psychology’s longstanding commitm ent to the highest standards of professional ethics—including, and especially, the protection of human welfare.

American Psychological Association 2009 Board of Directors
James H. Bray, PhD
Carol D. Goodheart, EdD
Alan E. Kazdin, Ph.D
Barry S. Anton, PhD
Paul L. Craig, PhD
Norman B. Anderson, PhD
Rosie Phillips Bingham, PhD
Jean A. Carter, PhD
Armand R. Cerbone, PhD
Suzanne Bennett Johnson, PhD
Melba J.T. Vasquez, PhD
Michael Wertheimer, PhD
Konjit V. Page, MS

Board of Directors
American Psychological Association
750 First Street, NE
Washington, DC 20002-4242