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The Code Not Taken:
The Path From Guild Ethics to Torture and Our Continuing Choices

Canadian Psychological Association John C. Service Member of the Year Award Address

Kenneth S. Pope, Ph.D. ABPP

Abstract: Psychology's controversial role in torture in settings like Abu Ghraib, Bagram, and Guantánamo fractured a comforting façade and raised questions about how we can best serve the profession. The controversy confronts us with choices about what our profession is, what it means, what it does—who we are, what we mean, what we do. It asks whether our lives and organizations reflect professional ethics or guild ethics. Professional ethics protect the public against abuse of professional power, expertise, and practice, and hold members accountable to values beyond self-interest. Guild ethics place members' interests above public interest, edge away from accountability, and tend to masquerade as professional ethics. Psychology's path to involvement in torture began before 9/11 and the "war on terror" with a move from professional ethics to guild ethics. In sharp contrast to its previous codes, APA's 1992 ethics code reflected guild ethics, as did the subsequent 2002 code (APA, 2002). Guild ethics are reflected in the questionable nature of APA's, 2006, 2007a, 2008a, and 2015 policies on interrogation and torture. This article examines tactics used to maintain the façade of professional ethics despite over a decade of publicized reportsin newspapers, professional journals, books, reports published by human rights organizations, and other widely available sourcesof documentary evidence of psychology's organizational involvement in what came to be called "enhanced interrogations." It asks if we use versions of these tactics in our individual lives. If a credible identity, integrity, and professional ethics are not reflected in our individual lives, it is unlikely they will thrive in our profession and organizations.

Citation & Copyright: This is an uncorrected prepublication version of the Canadian Psychological Association John C. Service Member of the Year Award Address, which will be published in Canadian Psychology / Psychologie canadienne. The Canadian Psychological Association owns the copyright. © 2016 Canadian Psychological Association

Acknowledgements: Special thanks to Katherine Arbuthnott, Raymond Arsenault, Thomas G. Gutheil, Kate F. Hays, Judith L. Herman, Loralie Lawson, Karen A. Olio, Henry Simpson, and Edison J. Trickett, who provided helpful comments on a previous draft of this award address.

I wish to thank the Canadian Psychological Association for the John C. Service Award and Martin Drapeau, Editor of Canadian Psychology/Psychologie Canadienne, for inviting me to publish this award address in CPA's flagship journal. I am humbled to be associated with the previous award recipients and particularly with the remarkable psychologist for whom it was named.

The controversy over psychologists' role in detainee interrogation and torture broke open a comforting facade. It triggered investigations by newspaper reporters, congressional committees, human rights organizations, and a former federal prosecutor hired by the American Psychological Association (APA). They uncovered documents revealing a more complex, confused, and conflicted professional identity than we often present to students, clients, and the public.

The controversy confronts us with questions of how we can best serve our profession. It challenges us with choices about what our profession is, what it means, what it doeswho we are, what we mean, what we do. It asks whether our individual lives and the lives of our organizations reflect guild ethics or professional ethics.

Looking at the choices that marked the path leading up to and into the controversy can help us respond to those questions and challenges. We can try to learn what they have to teach about our individual lives. If a credible identity, integrity, and professional ethics are not reflected in our individual lives, it is unlikely they will thrive in our profession and organizations

I'll discuss the controversy, the path leading up to it, and some major choices we face, but I'll begin with the following self disclosure and context. After almost 30 years of active involvement with APA, I finally resigned in 2008 over changes APA had been making in its ethics, changes that the Hoffman report discusses. I wrote that "I respectfully disagree with these changes; I am skeptical that they will work as intended; and I believe that they may lead to far-reaching unintended consequences." Both my letter of resignation (online at http://kspope.com/apa/index.php) and my articles (Pope, 2011a, 2011b, 2014, 2016; Pope & Gutheil, 2009a) present my beliefs along with the evidence and reasoning that in my opinion support them.

Psychology's Support for the Interrogations and Psychologist Involvement

The attacks on U.S. civilians on 9/11 forced U.S. citizens and their leaders to make hard choices without knowing what threats lay ahead. To find out more about those threats, the government interrogated detainees at Camps Delta, Iguana, and X-Ray at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, the Detention Centre at Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan, Abu Ghraib Prison in Iraq, and similar settings.

Psychology's Support for the Interrogations and Psychologist Involvement

APA strongly supported the value of the interrogations and psychologists' involvement. They explained to the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Intelligence that "conducting an interrogation is inherently a psychological endeavor. . . . Psychology is central to this process. . . . Psychologists have valuable contributions to make toward . . . protecting our nation's security through interrogation processes" (American Psychological Association, 2007b). Psychologists would not only ensure that interrogations were effective in getting accurate and actionable intelligence but also ensure that all interrogations they were involved in were safe, legal, and ethical. An APA Ethics Office statement in Psychology Today underscored what psychologists would achieve in all interrogations: "The ability to spot conditions that make abuse more likely uniquely prepares psychologists for this task. Adding a trained professional ensures that all interrogations are conducted in a safe, legal, ethical, and effective manner that protects the individual and helps to elicit information that will prevent future acts of violence" (Hutson, 2008; italics added).

APA's claim that psychologists were uniquely qualified—in contrast to statements from other professional organizations reluctant to play a role in these interrogations—convinced military leaders.

Pentagon officials said they would try to use only psychologists, not psychiatrists, to help interrogators devise strategies to get information from detainees at places like Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The new policy follows by little more than two weeks an overwhelming vote by the American Psychiatric Association discouraging its members from participating in those efforts (Lewis, 2006).

APA asserted that it was psychologists' unique qualifications for the interrogations at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and Bagram that set them apart from other professionals. Other professions did not see a difference in qualifications. They saw it as a difference in ethics. In "Advocacy As Leadership," the American Psychiatric Association president wrote: 

I told the generals that psychiatrists will not participate in the interrogation of persons held in custody. Psychologists, by contrast, had issued a position statement allowing consultations in interrogations. If you were ever wondering what makes us different from psychologists, here it is. This is a paramount challenge to our ethics.... Our profession is lost if we play any role in inflicting these wounds (Sharfstein, 2006, p. 1713).   

Controversial Claims About What Psychologists Were Doing

APA's claims that psychologists' involvement ensured that all interrogations were—in a frequently repeated phrase—"safe, legal, ethical, and effective" kindled growing controversy. Newspaper reporters, congressional committees, human rights organizations, and others looked at the evidence and saw a different picture. They raised pointed questions about whether an array of psychologists played key roles in what the government termed "enhanced interrogations" and about whether APA, despite its policies and public statements, worked behind-the-scenes with the Department of Defense to make sure APA's ethics did not interfere with the interrogations at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, Bagram, and other sites. The controversy grew over the years as articles from many sources discussed evidence answering those questions and challenging APA's claims. Examples include:

APA Commissions "A Definitive, Independent, and Objective Review of...All Relevant Evidence"

After years of revelations and criticism, a new book appeared that almost no one recognized as the turning point. Pay Any Price, by Pulitzer Prize winning investigative reporter James Risen, reviewed extensive primary source documents including emails that a CIA-connected researcher had collected. The book showed how APA's actions contrasted with their policies prohibiting torture and their public statements about working to prevent torture: "The emails reveal how the American Psychological Association (APA), the nation's largest professional group for psychologists, put its seal of approval on those close ties [among leading psychologists and CIA and Pentagon officials]—and thus indirectly on torture" (Risen, 2014, p. 178).

Pay Any Price used the CIA-connected researcher's collection of emails along with other primary source documents to expose how APA's public statements about ethics and torture were not just empty but misleading: "America's psychologists, who also knew the truth, also remained silent....  Worse, they participated, and quietly changed their profession's ethics code to allow torture to continue. In return, the psychologists were showered with government money and benefits" (Risen, 2014, p. 177).

At first APA denied Risen's claims and tried to discredit his book, as it had tried to deny and discredit prior investigative reports. They attacked Risen's methods and conclusions. The prestige and influence that APA had gained during a history stretching back well over a century, along with the sheer size of the membership backing its claims, gave the organization great credibility and authority. APA (2014a)issued a press release describing the book's claims as "absurd," "inaccurate," "one-sided reporting," "mischaracterization," and "innuendo," while asserting that APA fosters "the highest ethical standards." APA again stressed its "longstanding position against torture," its "no-exceptions prohibition against the use of specific abusive techniques," its new "Reaffirmation of the APA Position Against Torture," and its policy "that prohibits psychologists from working in unlawful national security detention settings unless they are working directly for the detainee or for a third party to protect human rights or they are providing treatment to military personnel." APA stated that they communicated this policy "to the president, the attorney general, heads of CIA and the Defense Department, and the chairs and ranking members of all congressional committees with jurisdiction."

Despite APA's vigorous refutation, Pay Any Price brought the controversy to the tipping point. APA (2014b) issued a second press release that began:

The American Psychological Association (APA) Board of Directors has reviewed the allegation in James Risen's book, Pay Any Price: Greed, Power and Endless War, that APA colluded with the Bush administration to support torture during the war on terror. Specifically, Risen alleges that APA supported the development and implementation of "enhanced" interrogation techniques that constituted torture, and was complicit with the CIA and U.S. military to this end. We believe that APA's October 16th statement refuting Risen's assertion was a fair and accurate response. How- ever, the allegation made by Mr. Risen is highly charged and very serious. His book has created confusion for the public and APA members. This confusion, coupled with the seriousness of the allegation, requires a definitive, independent and objective review of the allegation and all relevant evidence. Toward that end, and to fulfill its values of transparency and integrity, the APA Board has authorized the engagement of David Hoffman of the law firm Sidley Austin to conduct an independent review of whether there is any factual support for the assertion that APA engaged in activity that would constitute collusion with the Bush administration to promote, support or facilitate the use of "enhanced" interrogation techniques by the United States in the war on terror (APA, 2014b).

This Independent Review Report, commonly known as the Hoffman report (Hoffman, Carter, Lopez et al., 2015a, 2015b), uncovered additional emails and other documents that both supported and extended the reporting in Risen's book. It also validated works by investigative reporters, human rights organizations, and others who examined evidence contrasting APA's public policies and statements in the area of ethics with its behavior behind the scenes.

Reporting from APA's annual convention the following month, the Chronicle of Higher Education summarized the report's immediate aftermath:

The association has faced withering scrutiny since the publication of a report that found that it had colluded with the military to establish loose ethics guidelines regarding interrogations of terrorism suspects.... Essentially, the report says, the group turned a blind eye to psychologists involved in what many now call torture. The report . . . also detailed a dysfunctional culture among the group's leadership..., with examples of bullying of critics (Wilhelm, 2015; see also Ackerman, 2015).

The report's revelations drew comment from other organizations The Canadian Psychological Association (CPA, 2015) issued a bulletin emphasizing human rights, international humanitarian law, and accountability:

The Canadian Psychological Association (CPA) was saddened to learn of the findings of the Hoffman report.... The CPA holds itself and the discipline and profession of psychology to standards of international humanitarian law....  It is CPA's opinion and practice that the discipline and profession of psychology hold itself accountable in all matters of policy, education, research, and practice regarding human rights and the health and welfare of individuals and societies (see also statements from the European Federation of Psychologists' Associations, 2015; British Psychological Society, 2015).

The Association for Psychological Science (APS) Executive Director said: "The American Psychological Association has abused its privileged position and failed miserably in its responsibility to protect the public" (quoted by Marklein, 2015).

The Executive Director of Physicians for Human Rights wrote that APA "must take stock of the pain and suffering it caused by contributing to the torture program. It must...recognise the corruption that fueled an unconscionable dismantling of ethical standards aimed at ensuring that psychologists do no harm" (McKay, 2015).

The Hoffman report also brought the promise of change. The incoming APA president told APA's Council of Representatives: "We're here today to reset our moral compass" (quoted by Aldhaus, 2015; see also Wilhelm, 2015).

The Path From Professional Ethics to Guild Ethics

APA had become so morally lost that it needed to reset its compass. It had stepped onto the path that would lead to its current crisis long before 9/11 and the "war on terror." Almost a quarter century earlier, APA began to move from professional ethics to guild ethics. Professional ethics protect the public against abuse of professional power, expertise, and practice, and hold members accountable to values beyond self-interest. Guild ethics place members' interests above public interest, edge away from account- ability, and tend to masquerade as professional ethics.

None of us can escape this choice between professional and guild ethics: Does what we do reflect values beyond self interest and do we hold ourselves accountable to those values? Our lives reveal these choices. The lives of organizations also reveal these choices. Psychology's interrogation and torture controversy reveals the effects of APA moving to guild ethics. APA's 1992 Ethics Code APA took a bold step onto the path of guild ethics when it adopted the landmark 1992 APA ethics code. Carolyn Payton, who had served on both the APA Policy and Planning Board and the Public Policy Committee, wrote that "all previous codes seemed to have been formulated from a perspective of protecting consumers. The new code appears to be driven by a need to protect psychologists. It reads as though the final draft was edited by lawyers...." (1994, p. 317). She discussed the "many instances of exceptions to the rule" that would prevent accountability or enforcement: "The forcefulness of the proscriptions on harassment, e.g., is diminished in...Standard 1.12, which brings up the qualifier 'knowingly'..., as in psychologists do not knowingly engage in harassment. Try using the argument of ignorance with the Internal Revenue Service" (p. 320).

Gerry Koocher, who would later serve as APA president, took a similar view: "The code of conduct is disappointing. It is largely reflective of the style of lawyers rather than psychologists and seems more intended to narrow one's liability than to stir one to the highest plane of ethical functioning" (Koocher, 1994, p. 361).

Don Bersoff, who had served as APA's legal council and would later serve as its president, wrote that "as almost all the reviewers pointed out, the code is full of such lawyer-driven 'weasel words' as reasonable and feasible." (Bersoff, 1994, p. 384). He summarized a major theme of the reviewers' criticism: "it is a document designed more to protect psychologists than to protect the public" (Bersoff, 1994, p. 383).

APA did not just change its ethics code from protecting the public to protecting psychologists. APA ' s Ethics Office— which oversees promoting and enforcing APA ethics—no longer concerned itself, as its director has stated clearly, with protecting the public. For example, the Director of the Ethics Office from 2000–2015 summarized this policy: "During his interview, he told Sidley that the role of the Ethics Office is not protection of the public and that protection of the public is a function for state licensing boards" (Hoffman et al., 2015b, p. 474; see also pp. 11, 63).

APA's 2002 Ethics Code 

Ten years later, APA revised its ethics code to reflect an even greater commitment to guild ethics. The organization took a step unprecedented in its over 100-year history, one that was extreme even for guild ethics in protecting members against responsibility or accountability for violating ethics. APA adopted an ethics code (APA, 2002) that abandoned its long-held commitment to the Nuremberg Ethic. The Nuremberg Ethic had seized worldwide attention in the aftermath of World War II. Using what became known as the "Nuremberg Defense," Nazi defendants claimed they held no responsibility for what they had done because they were just "following the law" or "just following orders." The Nuremberg Court and world opinion condemned this excuse for unethical behavior. The court was clear in affirming the Nuremberg Ethic: Those who chose to violate basic ethics could not escape responsibility and accountability by blaming laws, orders, or regulations.

Rejecting the historic Nuremberg Ethic, Section 1.02 of APA's new ethics code stated that when facing an irreconcilable conflict between their "ethical responsibilities" and the state's authority, "psychologists may adhere to the requirements of the law, regulations, or other governing legal authority" (2002). APA discussed and drafted Section 1.02 in the fall of 2000 before 9/11 and the "war on terror" (Pope, 2011b; Pope & Gutheil, 2008). However, the military would later emphasize APA's new stance in its policies for psychologists involved in "detention operations, intelligence interrogations, and detainee debriefings" (U.S. Department of the Army, 2006, p. 152). Citing Section 1.02, the army policy stated: "A process for maintaining adherence to the Code when it conflicts with applicable law, regulation, and policy is outlined below" (p. 154). The policy states that after addressing and attempting to resolve the issue, and after appropriate consultation, "If the issue continues to elude resolution, adhere to law, regulations, and policy in a responsible manner."

APA taught and promoted giving greater weight to the U.S government's power and authority—as expressed through laws, orders, or regulations—than to ethics for the next 8 years. For example, the Director of the APA Ethics Office emphasized on a TV/radio news program that "the ethical standards are that psychologists obey the law. Psychologists do not violate the law.... The task force states that psychologists have an absolute ethical obligation never to violate any United States law" ("Psychological Warfare?," 2005).

Section 1.02 continued to attract strong criticism even after it had been formal policy for years (e.g., Burton & Kagan, 2007; Godlee, 2009; Kaye, 2008; Levine, 2007; Mausfeld, 2009; Pope & Gutheil, 2009a, 2009b; Soldz, 2009; Tolin & Lohr, 2009; Triskel, 2009), and finally in 2010 APA removed it from the code (APA, 2010). 

APA's Policies on Interrogation and Torture: 2006, 2007, 2008, 2015 

In the midst of the interrogation and torture controversy, APA adopted and publicized various policies against not only torture (e.g., APA, 2006, 2007a, 2008a) but also psychologists working with detainees in violation of international law (APA, 2008b). Questions arose not only about APA's lack of enforcement of these policies but also about whether the policies themselves were enforceable. For example, the ballot sent to APA members, through which they banned work with detainees that violated international law (APA, 2008b) included a statement from a former APA president emphasizing APA's stance: "APA is clear that the petition, if adopted, is not enforceable" (Resnick, 2008; see also Pope, 2011a, 2011b).

The policy NBI 23B banning psychologists' involvement in detainee interrogations, adopted with only one "no" vote at APA's, 2015 annual convention in the aftermath of the Hoffman report, raises similar enforceability issues. Although many have expressed differing views on whether the new policy (NBI 23B) is enforceable, APA's Associate General Counsel wrote:

A policy passed by CoR [Council of Representatives] does not become part of the Ethics Code no matter what the policy says. Only the Ethics Committee can make changes to the Ethics code under the Bylaws and Rules. So when CoR acts to pass a policy that says that psychologists cannot do X, there is no enforcement mechanism through the Ethics Committee and an enforcement mechanism cannot be built in to it unilaterally as this violates the bylaws. With regards to 23B (and therefore with the 2008 resolution) while this new Council resolution invokes Ethical Principle A to "take care to do no harm," it does not amend the Ethics Code and is not enforceable as a result. (J. Raben, personal communication, August 17, 2015; see also Grohol, 2015)

Implications for Each of Us as Individuals 

The interrogation and torture controversy holds hard lessons for the profession, for psychology organizations, and for each of us. We can start by thinking about what it has to say about our own lives and our choices, both what we've done and what we've failed to do. If our lives reflect ethical awareness, action, and accountability, we stand a better chance of shaping a profession and professional organizations where ethics thrive and where ethics policies and public pronouncements are matched by ethical action.

The controversy and the choices leading up to it create a useful mirror for each of us. Do we outsource ethical responsibility and decision-making to laws, regulations, and people in authority (e.g., our employer, administrator, or supervisor) so that we can do something we know is wrong but justify it? Do our ethics come with our own personal versions of, in Bersoff's term, "weasel words" that seem to place self-interest over ethical responsibility and accountability?

What happens when we feel pressured or tempted to do something we know is wrong? Do we look for ways to enforce our strong, sturdy internal standards, but find only flexible guidelines that, upon closer inspection, turn into "suggestions" or "just one way to look at things"? Would an independent consultant who knew our deepest secrets agree with our answers to these questions? Would our colleagues? Is it just me, or is anyone else getting a little uncomfortable?

If we suspect that we do not see ourselves in this ethical mirror as others see us, that our colleagues and that omniscient consultant might see ethical shortcomings that we do not see, perhaps we are keeping ourselves in the dark. But how?

The torture controversy provides possible answers. For over a decade, troubling revelations from fact-finding investigations by newspaper reporters, congressional committees, and human rights organizations ran into APA's vigorous denials. How could such a prominent, respected, and influential organization, backed by a membership of over 100,000, continue to deny so many well-documented revelations from so many diverse sources for so many years? The e-mails and other documents uncovered by Risen, Hoffman, and others show the tools of resisting unwanted information at work.

Sealing Ourselves Off From What We Do Not Want To Know 

The Hoffman report highlighted one approach to remaining unaware, one that combines avoiding questions and hiding from facts: "Based on strategic goals, APA intentionally decided not to make inquiries into or express concern regarding abuses that were occurring, thus effectively hiding its head in the sand. APA remained deliberately ignorant even in light of obvious countervailing concerns..." (Hoffman et al., 2015b, p. 11; see also Boulanger, 2009; Star-Ledger Editorial Board, 2015).

As individuals, we share this very human and understandable temptation or tendency to protect ourselves from what we do not want to know. We duck into a protective bunker of deliberate disregard and denial, insulating ourselves from responsibility and accountability. When scandals or atrocities, especially those involving human rights, erupt in a business, organization, or country, it is common to hear "I saw nothing! I knew nothing! We never suspected!" (Pope, 2016). The Hoffman report' s aftermath has included statements from some AP A leaders that no one knew at the time what was going on in the interrogations (see, e.g., Li, 2015).

The history of psychology overflows with an almost endless catalog of our shared human tendencies—confirmation bias, cognitive dissonance, premature cognitive commitment, the WYSIATI [What You See Is All There Is] fallacy, false consensus, groupthink, and on and on—to overlook, avoid, or ignore whatever fails to fit our beliefs and loyalties (see, e.g., Festinger, 1964; Goleman, 1996; Janis, 1972; Kahneman, 2011; Langer, 2014; Pinker, 2007; Zerubavel, 2006).

Denying Disturbing Facts

Most of us would not have made it far in the world of psychology—writing a thesis, doing talk therapy, testifying as experts, getting grants, arguing with health insurers over late and denied payments, and so on—without being good with words. Governments, companies, and other organizations can use language in ways designed to deceive and make facts disappear.

Words can conceal, misdirect, and create the verbal equivalent of optical illusions (see the chapters "Using and Misusing Words to Reveal and Conceal" and "Ethics Placebos, Cons, and Creative Cheating: A User's Guide" in Pope & Vasquez, 2016). Companies in crisis never fire a large group of front-line workers because company executives blundered decision after decision; instead, a press release uses a spray of words aimed at readers to announce that leadership deems it wise to undertake a course correction of lessened overhead, due to unforeseeable circumstances and the complexity of a challenging business climate, through a temporary reduction in force. Successful leaders dealing with disasters are quick to concede that "mistakes were made," although just who made them remains a mystery...unless, of course, it is those few bad apples who are quickly pushed out the door. Waterboarding disappears as "torture" and reappears as "enhanced interrogation."

Do we make sharp use of words to cut ethical corners in our own work? Do we put words to work trimming the harsh reality of unethical behavior. into the more agreeable "just being practical," "not doing anything illegal," "anyone in my fix would have done the same thing," "I'm doing what I was told to do," "I've seen others doing the same thing," "it won't hurt anyone," "no one told me I shouldn't do it," "I'm sure the data would have come out this way if I'd had a better sample and I'd be depriving the field of my new discovery—and myself of tenure—if I didn't publish it this way," and "just doing what I need to do to hold on to this job." Have we written our personal ethics code with weasel words so that we can weasel our way out of our ethical responsibilities?

Discounting and Discrediting Critics

Some took a more active, combative approach to the troubling revelations documented year after year in newspapers, professional journals, books, reports published by human rights organizations, and other sources. Revelations running counter to APA's stance met with denial, discounting, and discrediting. The Hoffman report describes how many defenders of APA's ethics and actions in the area of national security dismissed criticism as "baseless" and the critics' statements "as false and defamatory." They made claims about the critics' "political and financial motivation" (Hoffman et al., 2015b, p. 2). For examples of statements discounting and discrediting the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), human rights organizations, the Department of Defense Inspector General, and other sources of documentary evidence running contrary to APA's stance, see Pope (2011a, 2011b). One of the psychologists chosen by APA to serve on the Psychological Ethics and National Security (PENS) task force and create ethics policy in this area stressed that APA's critics tend to lack the background to speak on this topic:

Anyone who wants to throw stones in this situation really needs to step back and figure out what they would do themselves in these situations, and not just kind of be ivory tower critics, but get down and either get in a situation or really keep their mouths shut. Most of the time, they have no idea what they're talking about ("Military Psychologist Says Harsh Tactics Justified," 2009).

Another author of APA's ethics policy in this area described an active approach to countering criticism: "At a meeting of the American Psychological Association in 2006, I confronted one of my critics and threatened to shut his mouth for him if he didn't do it himself. I'm told it was the most excitement at an APA meeting in about 20 years" (James, 2008, p. 251). Have any of us not been tempted to counter criticism in this way? Really?

What happens when organizations put their power, policies, and procedures to use discounting and discrediting those would blow the whistle? Research reveals common consequences of tactics to silence critics (for a review, see Pope, 2015). Whistleblowers tend to face retaliation. Those who keep their mouths shut and go along tend to fare better than those who speak up. A culture of silence can convey, convince, and assure that speaking up will come to nothing. Organizations differ in their structures and their titles for those in power, but the unspoken rules, as summarized by Jackall (1988), are hard to miss even for the newest arrivals:

(1) You never go around your boss. (2) You tell your boss what he wants to hear, even when your boss claims that he wants dissenting views. (3) If your boss wants something dropped, you drop it. (4) You are sensitive to your boss's wishes so that you anticipate what he wants; you do not force him, in other words, to act as boss. (5) Your job is not to report something that your boss does not want reported, but rather to cover it up. You do what your job requires, and you keep your mouth shut (p. 115).

Before closing this section on discounting and discrediting critics, it is worth noting that the Hoffman report has been increasingly targeted with the same kinds of attacks that had once been directed at reports by James Risen, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the Defense Department Inspector General, and human rights organizations that threatened APA's well-defended fašade.

For example, Bartlett (2015) chronicles how prominent psychologists have not only claimed that the report "turns the truth on its head," is "irresponsible in its methods," and "ignores or distorts key facts," but also accused Mr. Hoffman of "grandstanding" and "bias" with motives allegedly influenced by "past interest in holding public office." Eidelson (2015) documents and categorizes other attempts to discredit the Hoffman report and those who support it. His examples include "attack[ing] the patriotism of Hoffman and those who have criticized psychologists' participation in abusive detention and interrogation operations," denouncing the Hoffman report as a "classic attack of cowards," and stating that those involved in publishing and releasing the Hoffman report have become "a willing co-conspirator to the likes of al Qaeda and ISIS."

As attempts to discount and discredit the report grow in number, variety, and scope, what was to have been the "definitive, independent, and objective review" may become increasingly sidelined as a collection of innuendo, inaccuracies, mischaracterizations, and one-sided reporting—the terms APA had put to work in its press releases and publications discrediting over a decade's worth of reports by Risen and others that ran counter to APA's narrative of fostering "the highest ethical standards"— and fade slowly into institutional amnesia.

Choosing Ethical Awareness

The torture controversy and the choices that led up to it provide a grim inventory of guild ethics, willful ignorance, denial, and discrediting critics. If we call up the courage to take an honest look, do we see those tactics in our own lives? Have we stopped listening to colleagues of certain disciplines, theoretical orientations, or political views because what, after all, do they know? Do we jump to discount, discredit, silence, or avoid certain kinds of criticism and words—both spoken and written—that call our beliefs, approaches, and actions into question? Do we have a safe stock of go-to consultants we count on to give us the answers we want to hear? Do we live our professional lives in the safety of "gated communities" of like-minded colleagues who read the same journals, see things as we do, and aim criticism at outsiders, never at those within the community?

If we see at least some forms of some of these tendencies in ourselves, as I'm pretty sure most of us will, and find they no longer fit who we want to be, what can we do? We can start to search out and listen to those who disagree sharply with us and are willing to challenge and critique our ethical assumptions, beliefs, choices, and actions. Luckily—or not—such folk are remarkably easy to find. We can read more widely, opening books and articles that challenge our outlook, our decision-making, and how we like to do things. We can go deeper with our self-criticism and self-questioning, not only questioning what we're unsure of but our deepest assumptions and most strongly held beliefs. We can follow that questioning wherever it leads, not only along paths that some would call "politically incorrect" but through territory that is much more threatening for most of us: views that are "psychologically incorrect" (Pope, Sonne, & Greene, 2006).

What we learn with this active awareness can confront us with hard choices. When we see a colleague, a group, an organization, or a government unjustly harming others, do we speak up or remain a silent bystander (see the chapter "Moral Injury and Moral Courage" in Pope & Vasquez, 2016)? Closer to home, we may look inward and learn things about ourselves and our behavior that we want to change.

Making the commitment to change and taking initial steps are often the easy part. Many of us do it each year with our New Year's resolutions. Staying with it over the long haul is the hard part. The Hoffman report led APA to resolve to reset its "moral compass," to use the words of the APA president cited earlier, and to take initial steps. It faces the hard work of staying with it, of not lumping the Hoffman report with over a decade's worth of prior investigative reports, books, and articles about APA, interrogations, and torture that it had denied, discounted, discredited, and dismissed; of not leaving its new policy on interrogations to languish with the 2008 interrogation policy and the various torture policies, with unanswered questions about the willingness to enforce them or whether they are enforceable; of changing the institutional culture, character, and dynamics that gave rise to this controversy. Trickett (2015), among others, has highlighted the tendency not only to identify the source of problems in their most peripheral aspects but also to overlook hidden barriers that prevent change.

APA also faces a more basic choice: of whether to set aside key aspects of its ethics code, its leaving the protection of the public to licensing boards, its approach to ethics enforcement and accountability, and the rest of its guild ethics. Resetting a moral compass will do little good if the organization uses the compass of self-interest, characteristic of guild ethics, to guide its actions.

Each of us faces our own version of these challenges: of learning these lessons by heart so that they do not fade with time, of staying with it as we make changes in our own lives that we want and need to make to do better, of choosing to live by professional ethics instead of guild ethics, of strengthening our ethical awareness, and of staying open to what we do not want to know, especially about our ethical wrong turns, blind spots, lapses, arrogance, and what an adversary might tell us "the trouble with you is..."

We serve our profession best when we take these lessons to heart and they become visible in our lives.

References   

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