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Bernstein, J.W. (2017). Skeletons in the Closet: The American Psychological Association under Scrutiny. Int. J. Appl. Psychoanal. Stud., 14(2):143-151.

(2017). International Journal of Applied Psychoanalytic Studies, 14(2):143-151

Skeletons in the Closet: The American Psychological Association under Scrutiny1

Jeanne Wolff Bernstein, Ph.D.

It is very hard to lie, if one doesn't know the truth. (Peter Esterhazy, Harmonia Caelestis, 2001)

It is humbling and gratifying to be asked to contribute a piece to this issue since I find myself among authors who have played a far bigger role than I in combatting the American Psychological Association (APA), and in paving the way for the truth to come out about the APA's unethical conduct and violations. I will only offer an account of the protests against the APA as I witnessed and experienced them unfolding in San Francisco in 2006 and 2007. I want to describe in particular the ways in which the most active supporters were often humiliated and shamed for the stance they took against the APA, not only by representatives of the APA, but, even more alarmingly, by their own colleagues who repeatedly minimized the threat the APA posed to the ethical practice of psychology.

I would like to draw attention in my paper upon the hesitant and sometimes reluctant beginnings of this movement, which had begun with a few psychologists, primarily psychoanalysts, and mostly from the East Coast, who had responded with shock and anger to news that psychologists were participating in the detention program at Guantanamo Bay. It had not taken long for a small group of psychologists and psychoanalysts in Berkeley/San Francisco to become active and engaged as they sensed, and were incensed by, the politics and the powerful and sinister forces of the highly political body of the APA.

When I had initially heard about the APA and the possibility that this large organization could actively and surreptitiously be helping the CIA and the Department of Defense (DoD) to create methods of torture that left no visible marks, I was frankly and, most probably, naively in utter disbelief and shock.

[This is a summary excerpt from the full text of the journal article. The full text of the document is available to journal subscribers on the publisher's website here.]

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