What do you think is the worst form of torture? The iron maiden? The rack? Waterboarding? Being forced to listen to Nickelback’s Greatest Hits on a continuous loop? I joke; but ever since civilisation began we’ve been busy applying ourselves to the gruesome question of how to inflict as much pain as possible on our fellow man.
As a technique for extracting usable intelligence, the effectiveness of torture varies wildly – some people will tell the truth, others will lie just to spite their torturers, others will clam up from abuse, and others will say anything just to make the torture stop. It’s a a well-known means to extract false confessions and most information gathered this way is probably unreliable or spurious.
The solution to this conundrum is for interrogators to make their torture more about psychological agony rather than physical, as a way of getting inside their prisoner’s heads. So what’s the worst way to torture someone? I’ll tell you: you do nothing to them.
When I say nothing, I literally mean nothing. You might have heard the expression “hell is other people.” Yeah, well it turns out that it couldn’t be more wrong.
For more disturbing details on the chilling “White Room Technique” shoot over to page two. One of the worst torture methods known to man is a lot less bloody than you might think… in fact, it’s almost completely colourless.
The White Room Technique or White Torture is a form of psychological abuse in which the victim is exposed to extreme sensory deprivation over an extended period of time. Carrying out this type of torture makes the detainee lose personal identity through long periods of isolation. This could involve leaving the victim in a blindingly white, featureless room, or in total darkness, or by obscuring their senses with masks, gags and blindfolds.
Because of the lack of visual and aural stimuli, carrying out this type of torture will eventually make the unfortunate detainee lose their sanity and personal identity after a protracted periods of isolation. Pretty terrifying to think that madness can be found in an empty room.
White room torture has been utilised by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard in a detention centre. The prisoners who questioned the regime were clothed in white and fed only white rice in windowless cells.
One of the prisoners was Amir Fakhravar, who stated: “I was there for eight months and after those months I couldn’t remember my father and my mother’s face. When they released me from that prison I was not a normal person.”
Fellow journalist Ebrahim Nabavi also stated “The loneliness never leaves you, long after you are ‘free.’ They get what they want without having to hit you. They know enough about you to control the information that you get: they can make you believe that the president has resigned, that they have your wife, that someone you trust has told them lies about you. You begin to break. And once you break, they have control.”
However the Middle East isn’t the only region guilty of this form of torture. The British government performed White Torture techniques on Irish prisoners during The Troubles, Guantanamo Bay uses similar methods of suppression, and recently leaked footage from an Australian juvenile prison has shown guards using sensory deprivation on young men.