Center on Sentencing and Corrections

The Worst Scars Are in the Mind

Psychological Torture

The Worst Scars Are in the Mind

Reyes, Hernan. “The Worst Scars Are in the Mind: Psychological Torture,” International Review of the Red Cross 89, no. 867, (September 2007)


Torture during interrogation often includes methods that do not physically assault the body or cause actual physical pain and yet entail severe psychological pain and suffering and profoundly disrupt the senses and personality. Solitary confinement and prolonged sleep deprivation are just two examples of these psychological torture methods. This article describes how psychological methods which do not amount to ill-treatment when considered in isolation can amount to torture through their accumulation over time and their integration into the whole torture process.  


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Keywords: disciplinary segregation, administrative segregation, restrictive housing, restricted housing, segregation, segregated housing, isolation, torture, discrimination, segregated housing and mental health