Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Captivity, torture and PTSD

Cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment (CIDT) stops short of actual physical torture but can still be deeply distressing for those exposed to it and, according to new research, may actually cause more pyschological damage. CIDT includes: being held captive in a hostile and life-threatening environment, the deprivation of basic needs, sexual torture, psychological manipulation, humiliation, exposure to extreme temperatures, isolation and forced-stress positions. Dr Metin Basoglu from King's College London studied 432 people from former Yugoslavia and Turkey who had been held captive and tortured. The participants were asked about how distressing they had found various forms of torture, how distressing their overall experience of captivity had been and were assessed for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The survivors who rated CIDT as more distressing were also likely to report their overall torture experience as more stressful whereas the perceived severity of physical torture was not associated with the perceived severity of the overall torture experience. PTSD was associated with CIDT and sexual abuse but not with physical torture. Those who had been detained in a war setting were 2.8 times more likely to have PTSD than those detained by state authorities in their own country. Being held captive by an enemy was a stronger risk factor for PTSD than the actual experience of torture itself.

You can find out more about this research at

1 comment:

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