Commentary

How to survive torture

Understanding the purpose of torture is already half of surviving it. Always remember that the goal of the torturer is not to kill you, but to compel you to disclose information. Corrorarily, it is in the interest of the torturer to keep you alive until at least information is extracted from you. For most of you who are reading this, this would clearly be a mistake, as you would not have vital information which could be the basis of actionable intelligence. The urge to provide fake information or to “just give” what the torturer wants would be great. But remember, once you “provide information”, the torturer does not have any further use for you. While most experienced interrogators and intelligence experts do not consider torture and abuse in interrogations as an effective method to elicit truthful information, there is a very distinct possibility that by the time the information you provided was determined to be wrong, you would already have been taken care of.
The way to survive physical torture, according to most survivors, is to bring your mind outside of your current state, and focus on some meaningless concept while the beatings are being applied. According to them, only the first few sets of beatings would be painful; afterwards somehow the body seems to shut down. For the scientifically inclined, this is known as dissociation. It is a primitive evolutionary psycho-biological reaction: the brain releases natural opioids to deaden the senses, blood is directed away from the limbs to lower blood loss, and psychologically you are removed from the current threat. Reportedly, one can increase the length of this psychological dissociation by repeating some phrase meaningful to him or her, e.g. a lawyer’s roll number or the Hail Mary.
Torture is criminalized in the Philippines under Republic Act No. 9745, but according to rights groups, torture is still continued to be practiced by state security forces.

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