An uppity woman rears her fair head

Ladies and gentlemen, put your hands together for Dr. Mary Pipher, author of Reviving Ophelia and winner of this week’s Buzzflash “Wings of Justice” award:


I am writing to inform you that I am returning my Presidential Citation dated 2/02/06 and awarded to me by then President of the American Psychological Association, Dr. Gerald Koocher. I have struggled for many months with this decision, and I make it with pain and sorrow. I was honored to receive this award and proud to be a member of APA. Over the years, I have spoken at national conventions many times and had enjoyed an excellent relationship with the APA and its staff. With this letter, I feel as if I am ostracizing a good friend.

I do not want an award from an organization that sanctions its members’ participation in the enhanced interrogations at CIA Black Sites and at Guantanamo. The presence of psychologists has both educated the interrogation teams in more skillful methods of breaking people down and legitimized the process of torture in defiance of the Geneva Conventions.

The behavior of psychologists on these enhanced interrogation teams violates our own Code of Ethics (2002) in which we pledge to respect the dignity and worth of all people, with special responsibility towards the most vulnerable. I consider prisoners in secret CIA-run facilities with no right of habeas corpus or access to attorneys, family or media to be highly vulnerable. I also believe that when any of us are degraded, all of human life is degraded. This letter is as much about us as it is about prisoners.

What was that all about? Well, Dr. Pipher was registering her protest against a serious ethical breach in the best way she knew: by returning an award given her by an organization tainted by its part in the torture scandals of BushCo.

As anyone who’s ever been scarred for life by it knows, mental torture is far worse than the physical kind. You can recover from physical injuries much sooner.

And kudos to Dr. Pipher for pointing that out!

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2 Responses to An uppity woman rears her fair head

  1. Wren says:

    I saw this story and the coverage of the APA convention on Democracy Now!
    Interesting that the APA banned its members from taking part in physical torture techniques, but left open techniques such as sensory deprivation and other psychological methods that their members specialize in.
    http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=07/08/20/1628230&mode=thread&tid=25
    The APA seems to be run by the Defense Department now as the APA task force given the job of ascessing the roll of psychologist in the interogations at GITMO was stacked with DOD inteligence officers.
    “Dr. Jean Maria Arrigo was one of three civilian members of an APA task force that concluded psychologists were playing a “valuable and ethical role” in assisting the military. It was later revealed that that six of nine voting members were from the military and intelligence agencies with direct connections to interrogations at Guantanamo and elsewhere.”
    http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=07/08/20/1628234&mode=thread&tid=25
    Democracy Now! has a great interview with Mary Pipher.
    http://www.democracynow.org/article.pl?sid=07/08/29/1514245&mode=thread&tid=25

  2. Slave Revolt says:

    Yes, Bina, I heard her speak on Democracy Now!
    She is a bright light in a sea of obsequity.

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