Lies and Coercion: Why Psychiatrists Should Not Participate in Police and Intelligence Interrogations

J Am Acad Psychiatry Law. 2006;34(4):472-8.


Police interrogators routinely use deceptive techniques to obtain confessions from criminal suspects. The United States Executive Branch has attempted to justify coercive interrogation techniques in which physical or mental pain and suffering may be used during intelligence interrogations of persons labeled unlawful combatants. It may be appropriate for law enforcement, military, or intelligence personnel who are not physicians to use such techniques. However, forensic psychiatry ethical practice requires honesty, striving for objectivity, and respect for persons. Deceptive and coercive interrogation techniques violate these moral values. When a psychiatrist directly uses, works with others who use, or trains others to use deceptive or coercive techniques to obtain information in police, military, or intelligence interrogations, the psychiatrist breaches basic principles of ethics.

MeSH terms

  • Coercion*
  • Crime / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Crime / psychology
  • Crime Victims / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Crime Victims / psychology
  • Deception*
  • Ethics, Medical*
  • Forensic Psychiatry / ethics*
  • Hostility
  • Human Rights / legislation & jurisprudence*
  • Humans
  • Morals*
  • Physician's Role*
  • Police / ethics*
  • Police / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Politics
  • Power, Psychological
  • Self Disclosure
  • United States
  • Violence / legislation & jurisprudence
  • Violence / psychology