Brehm's Bedlam: Brehm's Bedlam: Clinical Director of Survivors International SF, Uwe Jacobs, Says Farewell to American Psychological Association aka Koochers K00KS & Killers

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Dec 9, 2007, 6:16:49 PM12/9/07

Thursday, December 6, 2007
A Real Mensch Leaves APA

Uwe Jacobs is the clinical director of Survivors International in San
Francisco, California. SI is regional torture treatment center, and one of
the best in the country. A typical non-profit struggling to survive itself
in a hostile political and economic environment, Dr. Jacobs work and
dedication is one of the main reasons it still exists and thrives.

Dr. Jacobs is a clinical psychologist, and an eminent member of the
profession. He has been prominent in the struggle against torture, and in
particular against participation by medical and mental health professionals
in U.S. coercive interrogations at Guantanamo and elsewhere.
He's done more than speak. Dr. Jacobs assisted in the preparation of the
currently existing international guidelines for the examination of torture,
the "Istanbul Protocol," published by the UN High Commissioner. He also took
a major role in helping write the handbook on assessment of asylum seekers
for Physicians for Human Rights. He has spoken on the torture issue from
both a political and a treatment perspective. A really unique individual.

You would think any psychological organization worth its salt would be proud
to have him as an exemplary member. But the tawdry organizational and
political activities of the American Psychological Association around the
torture issue have driven many to withhold their dues from that
organization, or to quit. Now Dr. Jacobs joins those who have left the

What follows is his letter of resignation to APA, posted here with
permission, as originally posted at Psyche, Science and Society.

Farewell to the APA

After a couple of years of struggling with the leadership of the American
Psychological Association over the issue of its complicity with the
government s torture politics, I have decided to leave the APA for now. As
the latest resolution against torture was passed by the APA Council this
summer, there was on one side the appearance of a compromise between
different factions within the organization and an outcome that received
sufficient praise for it to pass as an honest human rights effort in public
opinion. On the other side, there was my private sense of resignation and
queasiness over the dirty pool that had been played. Much could be said
about all that but suffice it to summarize the deciding moment, which came
when I learned from an article in Salon that Dr. Stephen Behnke, the
Director of the Ethics Office, "insisted on Saturday that Physicians for
Human Rights had suggested some qualifying language with respect to sleep
and sensory deprivation."

Since those of us who were involved in the process knew that Len Rubenstein
of PHR had, in fact, pleaded with Behnke in a series of letters to drop the
language in question, not to retain it, I asked for clarification. Rather
than making a claim of misunderstanding, Dr. Behnke did not even deny having
made that statement to Salon. However, nobody missed a beat in the aftermath
and everyone prepared for their next statement or press release. The show,
or as Robin Williams would have it, the hoe, must go on.

I conclude, at least for now, that the APA (and yes, I still think we ought
to use an article in front of saying or writing "APA") is not a club I care
to belong to, not because any majority of it, or even some of its obnoxious
leadership, would actively push the use of torture but because its essential
character as a careerist, corporate structure does not seem to promote
telling the truth and carrying forward an upright posture. I have never
shared the belief of some members that APA leaders had a primary interest in
promulgating either torture or lesser forms of prisoner oppression. Being
blissfully ignorant of how many APA functionaries are involved with the CIA
and how many psychologists actively implement and support a regime of
sensory deprivation and other forms of cruelty, I have felt that the primary
motivation has been to appear as stalwart supporters of the military
apparatus, as long as it would curry favor with the regime that might or
might not trade a good horse for it. I am allowing for the possibility that
it may be worse than that but I simply do not know.

Be that as it may, the APA's alignment with Washington politics is quite
likely preparing for the end of the Bush era and getting ready to become
more pleasing to its liberal wing before long. The many excellent people I
had the privilege of working with during this time certainly deserve that
and I salute them all, as it were, for staying on and keeping the faith. I
am not excluding the possibility of re-joining them if things change more
than I expect they will. I could withhold my APA dues, along with others,
but I do not honestly see the precise conditions under which I would
subsequently release them. I simply will not let the APA have any more of my
money. In the interest of full disclosure, I might not even care quite that
much if the dues weren't so high and if top APA employees weren't being paid
corporate-style salaries. Given that fact, however, I am past due in firing
them for their performance. For this year, I will donate the amount of my
APA dues to PHR, an organization I have been proudly associated with for
long time (but, unlike SI, does not issue my paycheck), and I will do that
with pleasure, rather than regrets.

Uwe Jacobs, Ph.D.
San Francisco, December 4, 2007

Uwe, whom I consider both a friend and a colleague, will go on, I know,
continuing to do his important work, and fighting against the attitudes and
institutions that support or try to minimize the use of torture and inhumane
treatment. That he will do so from the outside of an organization like APA
is no loss to him, but only to APA, and a reflection on its moral and
political bankruptcy.

Posted by Valtin at 12:26 PM
Labels: American Psychological Association, Stephen Behnke, Survivors
International, Torture, Uwe Jacobs

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