Open Letter: The Solitary Confinement of PFC Bradley Manning

Psychologists for Social Responsibility is deeply concerned about the pretrial detention conditions of alleged Wikileaks source PFC Bradley Manning, including solitary confinement for over five months, a forced lack of exercise, and possible sleep deprivation. It has been reported by his attorney and a visitor that Manning’s mental health is suffering greatly from his treatment.

As a response, PsySR has issued the Open Letter below to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates expressing our concerns about this misuse of solitary confinement and alerting him to the psychological literature on its harmful effects. It has been sent to the Secretary and PsySR is now releasing it publicly, The text of the letter and a PDF version are also available on PsySR’s website at www.psysr.org/gates-manning-letter.

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A Commitment to Address Poverty and Inequality

Psychologists for Social Responsibility has issued the following statement, developed by PsySR’s Poverty and Inequality Project, in an effort to direct greater attention to these urgent issues from psychologists, other mental health professionals, policymakers, and the general public.

Poverty is the single greatest threat to individual human development and it simultaneously creates profound social disruption in the United States and around the world. Unless institutions and citizens take steps now to reduce and prevent poverty—and the growing inequality that deepens and widens its damaging repercussions—we will face a nightmarish future that can be measured in untold numbers of destroyed lives, communities, and institutions.

Poverty and inequality are responsible for adults often being too stressed to parent well; inadequate access to nourishing food, clean water, and sanitation; dilapidated housing, homelessness, and dangerous communities; schools unable to educate children to read, write, and think for themselves; conflict, crime, and violence; few work opportunities and low pay for jobs that do exist; daily struggles to manage personal, family, and financial chaos; and risks for premature birth and early death. All of these consequences contribute to the developmental damage that results from limited access to the basic resources that nurture us. Ultimately, poverty and inequality engender hopelessness, helplessness, and misery, and they tear at the social fabric of families and communities.

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Shocking New Report: The CIA Performed Human Experiments on Prisoners Under Bush

Stephen Soldz

Over the last year there have been an increasing number of accounts suggesting that, along with the CIA’s "enhanced interrogation" torture program, there was a related program experimenting with and researching the application of the torture.

For example, in the seven paragraphs released by a British court summarizing observations by British counterintelligence agents of the treatment of Binyan Mohamed by the CIA, the first two of these paragraphs stated:

    It was reported that a new series of interviews was conducted by the United States authorities prior to 17 May 2002 as part of a new strategy designed by an expert interviewer….

    BM had been intentionally subjected to continuous sleep deprivation. The effects of the sleep deprivation were carefully observed. [emphasis added]

The suggestion was that a new strategy was being tested and the results carefully examined. Several detainees have provided similar accounts, expressing their belief that their interrogations were being carefully studied, apparently so that the techniques could be modified based on the results. Such research would violate established laws and ethical rules governing research.

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PsySR Statement Opposing U.S. Military Escalation in Afghanistan

psysrbanner2In response to President Obama’s early December announcement, PsySR has issued the following statement opposing the proposed U.S. military escalation in Afghanistan. Highlighting key psychological and human rights considerations, we instead call for a heightened focus on development and diplomacy.

In Afghanistan, Escalate Development and Diplomacy, Not War

In a national address on December 1st, 2009, President Barack Obama detailed his strategy to send 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan and to thereby escalate the war.

As an organization committed to the application of psychological knowledge and expertise in promoting peace, social justice, human rights, and sustainability, Psychologists for Social Responsibility (PsySR) received this news with great concern. While acknowledging the President’s careful thought and deliberation, we believe that his decision is ill-advised and counter-productive because it fails to adequately recognize the following key considerations:

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PsySR Archives Established in Akron

Anne Anderson

ahap-akronI am pleased to report that this past summer, I delivered the first set of archived materials for Psychologists for Social Responsibility to the Archives of the History of American Psychology (AHAP) at the University of Akron in Akron, Ohio. Martha Mednick, who served as PsySR’s newsletter editor for several years, and I have spent the last 2 ½ years reviewing and sorting most of the some 150 boxes of records that cover the years 1982-2006. There are still about 30 boxes left to sort, and our plans are to submit the rest of the materials by the end of this year.

This project was actually begun in 1984, when I became PsySR’s Coordinator. I saved everything that came through the PsySR office, so it has been a fascinating process to refine the materials down to only 16 boxes of significant materials that tell the story of what PsySR has been doing since its birth in 1982.

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Psychology for Social Change: Strategies That Work — A New Brochure from PsySR

brochurecover

Psychology — the science of human behavior — offers a base of knowledge and practice for the development of policies that promote peace, social justice, human rights, and an ecologically sustainable future.

Psychologists for Social Responsibility is very pleased to announce that we have created a new brochure — Psychology for Social Change: Strategies That Work. The brochure provides important examples of the crucial role that psychological knowledge and best practices can play in addressing today’s urgent social and environmental challenges. It is intended for a broad audience, including policymakers, activists, educators, students, news media, and the general public.

A free PDF version of this full-color brochure (8.5” x 14” with double-parallel fold) can be downloaded at www.psysr.org/brochure. In addition, up to 50 copies of the brochure are available from PsySR for a minimum donation of $25 (please make your check payable to PsySR, write “brochure” in the memo line, mail to PsySR, 208 “I” Street NE, Washington DC 20002, and be sure to include your mailing address). If you are interested in more than 50 copies, please email your request to brochure@psysr.org.

Activism in A New Era

Huge financial challenges are sweeping the world, reducing the affluence of the wealthy and deepening poverty for far too many others. Lives are lost daily in wars and sectarian conflicts with no apparent end in sight, while environmental crises loom. Yet with a new Administration and Congress, progressive forces in the United States also stand at the threshold of fresh opportunities for positive social change.

On Sunday, February 15th at Georgetown University, Psychologists for Social Responsibility (PsySR) sponsored an engaging program entitled “Activism in a New Era” for the Washington D.C. peace, social justice, and human rights community. Speakers included PsySR members Fathali Moghaddam, Tony Marsella, and Jancis Long. The video below provides brief excerpts from their presentations.

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