Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Torture: The suppression of the imagination
by Coffey, Diane P., Ph.D., Pacifica Graduate Institute, 2011, 235; 3500721
Abstract (Summary)

The nature of torture presupposes and negates the human capacity to imagine the suffering of the other. It demands that the victim be placed outside and beyond any form of compassion or empathy. Torture cannot be defined like intellectual property with exclusive rights to intangible assets; nor brokered, traded, or leveraged based on Western business models. Imprisoned in an asymmetrical maze of darkness and light, torture slips between the collective boundaries of nations, communities, and individual psyches.

The research illustrates torture as an archetypal pattern is similar to a model of a psychological neurosis. Torture in a mythic mode reveals struggles with wrathful monsters and the mystery of the human world wrestling the divine. A symbol of the repressed imagination, torture is an aesthetic art that passes from the realm of the profane to that of the sacred. This dissertation advances the study of the complexities of torture and validates its world destructiveness.

The "war on terror" presents torture in the military Grand Theater where omnipotent interrogators perform perverse acts to shackled audiences. An autonomous production conceived in secret dark places where the interrogator's monologue is riddled with secret agendas, metaphors with twisted meanings, and perplexing conundrums. The images of torture, the trophy photographs, iconographic symbols of post 9/11 enhanced interrogations confront our sensibilities through varied ideologies, the polemics of politics, and polyvalent mythologies. This dissertation argues that legal definitions do not define or exhaust the meaning of torture, or how it operates. The study is historically situated in the post 9/11 American culture and applies a hermeneutic method that emphasizes paradox, subtle ambiguity, and clarifies by description rather than narrow literal definitions. The etymological research amplifies misunderstandings in transliteration and translation misinterpretations.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Stanizai, Zaman
Commitee:
School: Pacifica Graduate Institute
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 73/06, Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Comparative literature, American history, Military studies
Keywords: Abu Ghraib, Enhanced interrogation, Guantanamo Prison, Iraq, Rendition, Torture, War on Terror
Publication Number: 3500721
ISBN: 9781267220332
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