torture and parenting


If parenting, even responsible parenting, made me feel like a torturer, it wasn’t exactly because I’m melodramatic or overwrought, but because the official torturers now conceive of themselves in the same terms as the parenting manuals. They, too, are technicians of the naked human personality. The “Human Resource Exploitation Manual,” a formerly classified government document used to instruct “anti-communist” Latin American security forces in the bad old 1980s, puts the theory of torture in terms that any reader of Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child can easily understand. The aim of torture, here called “questioning,” is “to induce regression in the subject,” i.e., to shatter that person’s identity by returning him to a state of infantile dependence on his captors. For this, violence itself is actually deemed inefficient and unnecessary (not to mention risky and unpopular once the news gets out). For some of us, the scandal of Abu Ghraib and the sadomasochistic sexual tortures of Guantanamo Bay (fake menstrual blood, simulated sex, et cetera) is less about our horror at torture than the broken taboos, the lack of restraint on display, in comparison to the refined techniques once taught in the School of the Americas.

more from Marco Roth at n+1 here.