Monday, October 18, 2010

Torture for fun *and* profit

We've often had occasion to report on the doings of James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen, the architects of the American torture program. Their theory of "learned helplessness" derived in some part from the teachings of the respected psychologist Martin Seligman, a former APA president, who has "denied any involvement in the program, insisting that his contacts with Mitchell and Jessen were innocent."

Thus Scott Horton, who picks up on some news about Seligman: He's had a $31 million Pentagon contract dropped in his lap.
Army contracting documents show that nobody else was allowed to bid on the resilience-training contract because “there is only one responsible source due to a unique capability provided, and no other supplies or services will satisfy agency requirements.” And yet, Salon was able to identify resilience training experts at other institutions around the country, including the University of Maryland and the Mayo Clinic. In fact, in 2008 the Marine Corps launched a project with UCLA to conduct resilience training for Marines and their families at nine military bases across the United States and in Okinawa, Japan.
As Horton says, "it is becoming easier to understand APA’s awkward silence and inaction on the issue of psychologists involved in torture and acts of official cruelty."

Meanwhile, Dr. Seligman's most recent books appear to be Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology to Realize Your Potential for Lasting Fulfillment and (with a co-author) Character Strengths and Virtues.

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