A psychological punishment is a type of punishment that relies not or only in secondary order on the actual harm inflicted (such as corporal punishments or fines) but on psychological effects, mainly emotions, such as fear, shame and guilt. This can occasionally cause severe cardiac harm, even death, but those are not strictly intended, and in the case of torture accidental death would even defeat the purpose.[How to reference and link to summary or text] Psychological punishments that are particularly cruel or severe may be considered psychological torture.

Very common is the use of shame through private or, especially, public humiliation.

For example, publicly shaving a woman’s head not only humiliates her in front of those who witness her shearing, it also deprives her of her hair for as long as it takes to grow back, thus serving as a continual reminder of her punishment and her humiliation.

A strictly fear-inducing method is the mock execution, a form of 'virtual' torture. Various threats operate on the same fear-inducing principle. The use of blindfolds and the like also integrate such an element in other punishments.

Another is indirect torture, which preys on the victims affection for and loyalty to a partner, relative, friend, comrade in arms et cetera, whose real pain induces vicarious suffering in the targeted psychological victim, who is thus loaded with guilt but spared physical harm that might endanger his ability to comply.

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