A Critical Outlook at Torture Definition, Structure, Dynamics, and Interventions

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Abstract

The article critically reviews our knowledge about torture definition, structure, and its physical, mental, and societal effects on the tortured and torturer. Current perspective that focuses on torture as a single interpersonal trauma lacks a convincing conceptual framework and is untenable. Torture is complex intergroup and institutional traumas that negatively affect torture survivor and individual perpetrator. Further, current research should consider more focused and advanced analysis of the consequences of torture beyond posttraumatic stress disorder and the dominant linear perspective. To fill some gaps in the literature, the article provided reanalysis of a data set to demonstrate the usefulness of the new approaches in delineating the structure of torture as a cumulative trauma that consists of several trauma types. It also reanalyzed the same data to explore the nonlinear effects of torture. Additionally, the proposed reconceptualization of torture and the new findings should help develop more effective intervention strategies with torture survivors.

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