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August 4, 1993

Torture and Its Consequences: Current Treatment Approaches

Author Affiliations

University Medical Center New York, NY

JAMA. 1993;270(5):646-647. doi:10.1001/jama.1993.03510050112044

"The prison doctor was the interrogator's and executioner's right-hand man. The beaten prisoner would come on the floor only to hear the doctor's voice: 'You can continue, the pulse is normal.' After a prisoner's five days and five nights in a punishment cell, the doctor inspects the frozen, naked body and says 'You can continue.' "1 That one person can harm another so severely, whether mentally or physically, truly represents the "satanization" of man. There is something monstrously obscene that a book such as Torture and Its Consequences can be written about contemporary behavior. Perhaps it might have belonged to the flesh-scourging era of Cortés in Mexico or the Nazi Holocaust, but can it really apply to civilized people nearing the 21st century?

The definition of torture can be found in the United Nations declaration of December 9, 1975, and also the 1984 UN convention against torture, which, as described