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Torture, Psychological Effects of

Torture comprises a class of events that are defined by severe physical or psychological abuse inflicted by actors in control of the setting in which the abuse occurs. Given that torture is by definition severe, these events almost always meet criteria for psychological trauma. Most forms of torture are forms of interpersonal assault trauma. However, unlike most interpersonal assaults, control of the setting of the abuse is in the hands of the abuser, which adds another layer of psychological complexity. The impact of torture is not determined by physical pain alone, but by (1) the uncontrollability and (2) unpredictability of the stressors—two factors that heighten fear responses at the time of trauma across stressors. Because of ethical concerns, the published literature on psychological outcomes of ...

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