Introduction The purpose of this paper is to outline some of the psychological processes at work during the interrogation of terrorist suspects and to try and improve our understanding of what it is that is taking place in the confines of the interrogation arena. For example, what can the psychological literature tell us about the transformation in behaviour from ‘normal’ human beings to violent and aggressive prison guards administering beatings and forcing detainees to perform humiliating and gross acts? Is it possible to categorise the many tactics reported in the literature, especially those reports of abuse and torture emanating from the Abu Ghraib prison compound in Iraq and from Guantanamo Bay in Cuba? Is there a difference in the impact, on a detained person, between the use of physical violence and threats of such violence compared to a quieter, more subtle approach?