Top 10 cruel torture methods

If you think that torture was something that existed only in the so-called Middle or Dark Ages, you would have to think again. Torture is still very much a part of the repertoire of law-abiding as well as lawless institutions and unscrupulous organizations. Every once in a while, the media unveils instances of torture.

A recent well-reported case is the torture of the members of the Iraqi football team by Saddam Hussein’s eldest son, Uday Hussein, when they lost a match. Torturers caned the soles of the players’ feet, or made them kick a ball made of concrete. Cases of torturing prisoners have also been reported in the United States, showing that this method of interrogation is not limited to a particular period or country.

In this list, only torture methods that do not require any special device built purposively for inflicting pain have been considered. Specially made torture devices will be in another list.

10. Boiling


Boiling was considered one of the top methods of torture in the medieval times.  The person would basically be put head down in boiling water, or for more serious criminals, in boiling oil. Should they survive, the victims would be disfigured for the rest of their lives! This was more of a way of execution rather than a means to take confessions.

Boiling a person has been quite a famous type of torture, as it is even found in the ancient Bible manuscripts, where it is said that boiling is one of the tortures in Hell.

If boiling water or boiling oil seems quite tame compared to the other torture methods in here, keep in mind that hot tea, hot water, or hot food scalds the tongue when you try to drink or eat too quickly. Look at any cook and you will see scars on the hands and arms, and maybe even on the face, from splashes of hot oil during cooking. These are badges of honor that they accrued due to their work. What more if they had been purposefully dipped in the boiling stuff?

9. Picquet


When we look at the various torture methods and techniques, one thing that comes to mind is the simplicity of the devices, or the simple non-existence of any contraptions that brings such pain. This raises the possibility that perhaps it is the human mind that is capable of perceiving such pain. If you do not think it is painful, then it probably would not hurt! Maybe.

Consider the picquet, which is basically just sharpened stake struck into the ground. The person taking the punishment has to rest a naked toe on the stake, and is then tied up to a tree with his thumb or wrist. If the victim rests solely on the thumb or wrist, that body part will be blood starved, leading to numbness and gangrene. On the other hand, if he rests completely on the stake with his toe, the pain will be excruciating. The victim then has to balance himself between tree and stake, unless he chooses which body part he can afford to lose!

8. Sleep deprivation


Sleep deprivation is the only psychological torture method in this list, but it surely is entitled to its spot. Somebody who has been awake for more than two or three days straight should know that not even hunger and thirst are comparable to the desire of sleeping after a long alert period. Your mind is hazed; your spirit is exhausted, and your body trembles and shivers due to nervous numbness. All you feel is the desire to go to sleep.

The victims of this torture are usually kept awake for several days through some means. They are allowed to fall asleep, only to be awakened seconds later and interrogated. This can go on and on, until the victim either says what the interrogators want, or in extreme cases, die from exhaustion. This is still a common torture practice in modern days mainly for the effectiveness in obtaining information and for the lack of evidence of torture on the victim’s body.

7. De-nailing


De-nailing is a form of torture that has been made famous in some of the popular spy movies. It consists of the finger and toenails being removed with the help of pliers. This type of torture is very painful but does not have lasting effects, except if the nail is completely removed from its roots. Another way of de-nailing is to add wood skewers dipped with sulfur under the fingernails. When the skewers are hot enough, they would be pulled up, and with them would come out the prisoner’s fingernail. Just thinking about it is enough for anyone to immediately give in to whatever the torturers want!

6. Flaying


Simply put, flaying is the process of taking the skin off a person’s body, either by whipping or most commonly by cutting with a knife. Flaying has been quite a popular way of torture back in the medieval times, yet there are still documented cases of this practice in the 21st century. The most recently reported incident of flaying was in 2000 in the Union of Myanmar, where the male inhabitants of an entire village where flayed by government troops.  Flaying is not only a type of torture; it is an execution method as well. Whether the victim lives or dies depends on the percentage of skin flayed. If a person is flayed alive completely, it most certainly means death.

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