Torture and Task-oriented Frame

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Ronald D. Cretlinsten contends that torturers acquire the ability to cope with the moral dilemmas of inflicting pain upon and murdering their fellow humans primarily through the processes of "routinization" and "dehumanization", and also through the notion of "authorization" (191). With such as the case, an individual adept in the art of torture would necessarily have learned to be cruel, however, that argument neglects the very reality that many engaged in such activities are intrinsically perverse, and in fact willingly and happily do harm to others.

The prevalence of torture throughout the world can be accounted for in part by the process of "routinization" in which a regime, in essence, desensitizes a given torturer to the atrocities that he is committing in its name. In such a process "what is being done to someone transforms into what is being done: information gathering" (191). The task of amassing information and confessions eclipses the reality in which the torturer lives; this is achieved through peer pressure from fellow torturers "to be a man", by intense physical and emotional training, and through the employment of propaganda claiming that the torturer is fulfilling his duty and doing the right thing as his victims are immoral enemies of the state (192). In short, the torturer becomes disoriented and unable to decipher the actuality of his existence. This disorientation is caused by repetition, or "habituation", in addition to the development of the "task-oriented frame of mind"; according to one Chilean ex-torturer ". . . after . . . not wanting to . . . but wanting to, you start getting used to it [and there] definitely . . . comes a moment when you [no longer] feel [anything] about what you are doing" (191).

The "dehumanization" of one's victims does wonders to calm any qualms or misgivings an individual may experience about injuring another man. By evoking fear in the torturer and therefore, a sense of being threatened by a...
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