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Mental Health in the War on TerrorCulture, Science, and Statecraft$
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Neil Aggarwal

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780231166645

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231166645.001.0001

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The Meanings of Symptoms and Services for Guantánamo Detainees

The Meanings of Symptoms and Services for Guantánamo Detainees

(p.53) 3 The Meanings of Symptoms and Services for Guantánamo Detainees
Mental Health in the War on Terror

Neil Krishan Aggarwal

Columbia University Press

This chapter focuses on the varying interpretations of the “violent” behaviors of detainees in the Guantánamo Bay detention facility. Such behaviors include suicide attempts, self-smearing with feces, and hunger strikes. Government officials regarded these acts as conducts of “fanatical madmen,” whereas human rights organizations construe these as evidence of “psychological deterioration.” Symptom interpretations also vary according to prison setting, with segregation units and prison cells leading to more personality disorder diagnoses as compared to office visits. Meanwhile, attorneys worry that officials view detainee actions as “disciplinary problems” rather than as signs of mental illness, thereby limiting access to treatment.

Keywords:   Guantánamo Bay, talk therapy, prisoners, psychological deterioration, human rights organizations

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