Three Types of Torture You Probably Haven’t Heard About

Photo Credit: Dark Messages by Nic McPhee

You’ve probably heard of the pear of anguish, rat torture (thank you, Game of Thrones, for that particular nightmare), and thumbscrews. I bet you’ve seen them used in countless films. I sincerely hope you’ve never seen them in real life.

The following torture methods do not result in a victim’s death. They don’t necessarily cause permanent damage. But in many ways, they stay with you forever.

The Picquet

What do you value more: thumb or toe? Or, what do you think would hurt the worst?


Photo Credit: Big Toe by Dan Thibodeaux

The Picquet involves a victim being hung from the thumb with a sharp stake beneath one toe or foot. To relieve pressure from the toe, you hang your weight from your thumb. To relieve the pain in your thumb (or dislocation of the thumb) you stand back on the stake. I’d say that’s a whopping dose of psychological torture. You have to choose yourself where you’re going to hurt next. Yikes.

Originally used by medieval military commanders to discipline soldiers due to its terrifying show and the practicality of causing no lasting damage (usually), the Picquet has seen a recent revival by religious extremists in the Middle East.

The Tucker Telephone

Prisoners like receiving phone calls, usually. But for inmates of the Tucker State Prison Farm in Arkansas during the 1960’s a “phone call” had a whole different meaning.

Wall phone in the kitchen

Photo Credit: Robert Frost Farm 15 by Chris

A ground wire was connected from an old-fashioned telephone to a hot wire around a prisoner’s testicles and another around their big toe. The telephone was cranked to force electricity through their body. You can imagine the result. I can imagine the smell.

Bet they jumped any time they heard a telephone for the rest of their life.

White Torture

This form of torture doesn’t harm the body but it destroys the identity and the mind.

Reportedly used by the Iranian government in recent times, white torture is complete sensory deprivation. The victim is held in a white room, lit 24 hours a day. They live on white rice served on white paper. The guards walk silently and do not speak to or acknowledge the victims.


Photo Credit: white 03 by advak

As a mother of two kids under age four, that sounds pretty wonderful–for a day. How long could you stay sane?


Humans are cruel. While very few individuals would find enjoyment in watching or administering violence against another human being, get a bunch of humans together and watch the number of willing sadists soar.


Photo Credit: crowd by allenran917

The pleasure that certain oppressed groups feel upon seeing the torture and executions of those who oppress them is understandable. Think of the French Revolution or the finding of Muammar Gaddafi–it was a lasting joke in the military to come up behind someone, jab them in the butt, and yell “Gaddafi!” For those of us who served and saw the evil that he perpetrated, the joke was a celebration of his demise (though unsettling to be on the receiving end).

Yet, these victims (good or evil) are human beings. In different circumstances, you might be inclined to speak to them, hold the door for them, maybe sit down to a good meal cooked by them.

Why did so many turn up to the burnings of witches? Why do so many still turn up to Middle Eastern stonings? Why does so much pornography focus on rape and humiliation?

Because humans are cruel.

I like to think if I were witness to disgusting acts of torture that it would be painful and torturous for me. But would it?

That’s what tortures me.


What tortures you? Tell me in the comments.

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