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I. Invitation to Cuba

II. The Psychology of Terrorists

III. Drexel University

IV. November 8, 2006

V. The Psychology of Captivity

VI. The Psychology of Prisons

VII. The Psychology of War

VIII. Preparations

IX. 1934

X. November 13, 2006

XI. Takeoff

XII. In The Air

XIII. Arrival at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba

XIV. Briefing at Headquarters of the Joint Task Force

XV. Lunch

XVI. Guard Duty

XVII. Camp Delta

XVIII. Medical Treatment

XIX. Behavioral Services

XX. Camp 5

XXI. Departure from Guantanamo Bay

The Legitimacy of GTMO: An Eyewitness Report, Page 19

A Travel Journal by Dr. Eric A. Zillmer
Pacifico Professor of Psychology at Drexel University

Behavioral Services

The Distinguished Visitors scrutinized the behavioral services more carefully. A Navy Lieutenant Commander and board certified psychologist, known only as Dr. K., provides the briefing. There are several types of behavioral and mental health specialists at GTMO she explains. These include psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurses and psychiatric technicians, who specifically are part of the medical program in support of detainee operations. The health care personnel are responsible for assuring the mental health of all detainees. As one can imagine this is a difficult job given the stress any human would experience under captivity that for some detainees has lasted almost five years.

Despite this, she reported, the detainees are quite healthy and the outpatient program at Guantanamo Bay, which was built upon lessons learned by past U.S. prisoners of war, has been highly successful in maintaining the mental health of the detainees. A combination of cognitive-behavioral techniques and supportive therapy, which are adapted to fit within the constraints of the culture, have been well received by the detainees, she explained. Research has shown that those who have strong religious faith and support network, and those who are able to maintain a sense of humor and focus on issues under their individual control, adapt best to captivity. Out of all of the detainees, roughly 12 percent are followed by the Behavioral Health Services, and of these only approximately 15% (that’s less than one percent of the entire detainee population) have a depressive diagnosis. The most common diagnosis is personality disorder, followed by psychotic disorders, anxiety disorders and mood disorders. The psychiatrist, known only as Dr. G. reported that only approximately 3% of the entire detainee population requires a psychotropic medication.

The mental health team was asked about their involvement with the Behavioral Science Consultants (BSC’s), who are psychologists and technicians who consult to interrogations. Dr. K. reported on a continuing and frustrating perception that providers with a duty to their detainee patients would violate their ethics and ethical codes by providing information, which could be used against a patient. Thus, we are informed that no medical information is shared with BSC members and that they do not have access to any medical records.

The most astonishing question during this briefing was offered by the President of the American Psychiatric Association, “How do you treat detainees with Electro Convulsive shock Therapy (ECT)?” Eyes rolled among the DV, but the JTF psychiatrist, Dr. G., answered dead pan, “Well sir, none of us are trained in this procedure,” eluding to the fact that ECT is not a routine treatment for depression and that a depressed detainee would never reach such a severe, almost catatonic stage, of depression at GTMO, because of the immediate level of medical and psychiatric care that is available. But the good doctor would not let it pass, “But what if someone needed ECT, what would you do?” he insisted. Obviously he was ignorant to the political repercussion that the JTF would face when it would be announced that detainees at GTMO are now being electro shocked! “We would fly the appropriately trained individuals to GTMO, who have training in this or any other medical procedure that seems medically relevant,” the Army Surgeon General answered.