Drs Pope and Gutheil correctly admonish psychologists who partake in detainee interrogations (Psychiatric Times, “The American Psychological Association and Detainee Interrogations: Unanswered Questions,” July 2008, page 16). However, one could temper criticism of the American Psychological Association’s (APA) position by noting that the earlier record of the APA and of the World Psychiatric Association showed the same transgressions that lead to individual harm. In the 1950s, the CIA was deeply concerned with brainwashing and assassins—otherwise known as “Manchurian Candidates.” The APA’s leadership patriotically leapt at the opportunity to use various experimental practices used by the CIA’s secret MK-Ultra program; those practices were subsequently seen as unethical. However, it took another decade for MK-Ultra to become public knowledge.
Leonard R. Friedman, MD