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Cruel and inhuman treatment causes more mental damage than physical torture
Date:6/2/2009

New research findings published today by Dr Metin Başoğlu, Head of Section of Trauma Studies at King's College London and the Istanbul Centre for Behaviour Research and Therapy, examines the psychological impact of war captivity, 'cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment' (CIDT) and physical torture. Findings revealed that being held captive in a hostile and life-threatening environment, deprivation of basic needs, sexual torture, psychological manipulations, humiliation, exposure to extreme temperatures, isolation, and forced stress positions appear to cause more psychological damage than physical torture.

This study at its essence concerns the question of what constitutes torture, is published on line in the April issue of the American Journal of Orthopsychiatry. Başoğlu writes that a priori assumptions of a distinction between torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatments have led some to argue that the latter are associated with less mental suffering than torture and therefore more acceptable in exceptional circumstances.

The research looks at the different risk factors associated with PTSD in former detainees, reporting that captivity experience in a war setting was associated with 2.8 times greater risk of PTSD in comparison to being detained by state authorities in someone's own country, possibly due to the greater perceived threat to life in a war setting. Additionally, being held captive by an enemy was a stronger risk factor for posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) than the actual experience of torture itself. PTSD was also associated with CIDT and sexual abuse but not with physical torture.

Background on the study

Dr Başoğlu has examined the psychological impact of the captivity experience in 432 individuals who were held captive and tortured in two different contexts. The group included 230 survivors in former Yugoslavia countries who were tortured during the war
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Contact: Dr. Metin Basoglu
mbasoglu@dabatem.org
90-212-251-0084
King's College London
Source:Eurekalert

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