And now for a disturbing question

I have reached new heights — or possibly depths — in asking for research recommendations.

Because I need stuff to read on the subject of torture.

(Consider that a trigger warning for the rest of this post, because yeah. It’s gonna be like that.)

For the purposes of the story I’m working on, what I need to look into are a) methods used and b) the short- and long-term effects of those methods. Discussions of the intel value or lack thereof are irrelevant for this project; the torture is being carried out for reasons other than the gathering of information. Ditto anything about the legality of such things, because this isn’t taking place in the real world. I’m focused on what the bad guys would be doing to the character (including considerations like “if they don’t want their victim to die from shock, how should they pace their actions”), how the character would plausibly respond to what’s happening (i.e. offering information they don’t care about, going catatonic, etc), and what kind of physical and emotional scars the victim would be left with afterward.

This is one of those cases where I almost certainly will not get graphic within the story itself about what’s being done, but I very much need to work out the graphic details so that I’ll know how to write everything around it. If you can recommend a book or web resource to me that will help me do this right, I’d be very grateful. My knowledge of the subject all derives from early modern witchcraft trials, which is long on ways of maiming people for life but short on the details of how it affected the victims during and after. I’m sure people have written about this in recent times; I just don’t know how to find what I need.

7 Responses to “And now for a disturbing question”

  1. Chris

    Not torture-specific, but Trauma and Recovery (Herman) has a chapter on captivity and its short and long term effects that may be useful.

  2. Adrian

    A disturbing, but possibly useful, look from the bad guys perspective is “Ordinary People, Unspeakable Acts.”

    • swantower

      Seeing it from the other perspective is probably necessary — thanks.

  3. Mom

    The novel Manchurian Candidate is sort of a classic on this subject.

  4. Michael

    Robin Hobb’s Farseer series has a lot in the story about the emotional scars left by torture

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