In the News: Torture and Pain

There has been extensive debate in political circles about whether torture of prisoners should be allowed and the ethics behind using torture to obtain confessions. The pain of the interrogation process is said to force the prisoner to give out reasonable, actionable information. Furthermore, the “horrible” acts of these prisoners justify the means to obtain the information. We also know that this type of pain is temporary.

In the United States, about 40% of the population suffers from chronic pain. On a daily basis, many people live with trying to manage their pain. The hope is that pain does not interfere in their activity and they can continue to enjoy life. For many, pain is torture, and the problem haunts every aspect of their lives. It often is a 24-hour problem, affecting daytime activities and interrupting nighttime sleep. Medicine does not have an answer or cure for many things that cause ongoing pain. No one wishes pain on another, and we all want to develop a better treatment so others do not have to suffer.

Pain and Torture

The Correlation Between Chronic Pain and Torture

So if pain is something that we do not wish on anyone, how can we as a society ever say it is okay? If we believe that it is not okay to inflict pain on others willfully, than torturing another is clearly wrong. The end does not justify the means. Those in power who feel torture and inflicting pain on others is worthwhile seem to lack a moral compass. A society that tries to improve the world cannot move forward by inflicting physical pain on others. Watching anyone who has chronic pain try to meet the challenges of life on a daily basis, it is clear that causing more pain is not okay. It is heartbreaking to tell someone that there is not a cure for their pain, and it is immoral to purposefully inflict unnecessary pain on anyone for political reasons.

Those in power in our country need to remember that we are a nation of freedom. We are a nation that has become the power and the standard of law by respecting the rights of the individual. Many in our country have suffered from the problems of life in other countries and have come to this country due to the higher standards we place on the importance of life.

From those who suffer from pain every day, to those whose mission in life is to treat the problems that cause pain in life, causing pain by inflicting harm on political or war prisoner is not okay. There is no such thing as justified torture, no such thing as enhanced interrogations being morally acceptable. 40% of the population deals with pain on a daily basis. We are always trying to find solutions for the problem. It is not right for our government to be actively trying to cause intense physical pain on individuals in our captivity. We need to be spending our efforts in helping those in our country to live better lives.

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Thomas Cohn, MD

Interventional pain doctor helping Minnesotans manage back, neck, foot, and other pain. Board-certified in physical medicine and rehabilitation with additional board-certification in pain management from the American Board of Anesthesiology (ABA), the American Board of Interventional Pain Physicians (ABIPP) and the American Board of Pain Medicine (ABPM).

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