The Psychology of Terrorism: Clinical Aspects and Responses - Vol. 2

By Chris E. Stout | Go to book overview

4

The Terror of Torture: A Continuum of Evil

J. E. (Hans) Hovens and Boris Drozdek


INTRODUCTION

It may be in the genes of humans that hate and pain are more prominent in our history than love. It may also be understandable in the struggle for life that it is more likely to conquer one’s perceived opponent than trying to cooperate. In any event, since humans first roamed the world they have inflicted pain on each other, and only sociological and cultural refinements over hundreds of years have led to a lessening of harsh methods and the adoption of sublimated acts, such as the games of football and soccer.

Instruments and techniques for torture have been described since ancient times. In Chinese history, wooden instruments were used to restrict prisoners. Ropes, twigs, and sticks were frequently employed. The most important physical punishment was carving prisoners in the face or body with a knife and putting ink in the wounds. Cutting off a nose, a foot, or the penis was not uncommon. Other methods included breaking ribs, suspension by the hair or the back, starvation, sleep deprivation, being forced to sit on a bed of nails, nailing the fingers, and filling the nose with water. Capital punishments included Hai, in which the victim was pulped into a sort of human jam; Fu, slicing the victim into small pieces of meat; Heng, boiling or frying the prisoner; and Huan, tying the prisoner to five horses that were forced to run in different directions (Li & Hu, 1994).

Kerrigan (2001) distinguishes a number of broad categories in torture techniques. He cites locking prisoners up in (extremely small) cells; chaining them in different ways; methods of stretching, such as the rack; suspensions; applying pres-

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