25 Disturbing Modern Torture Methods

Posted by , Updated on October 16, 2022

Torture has been around for a long time, but unfortunately it hasn’t gone away. There are numerous modern torture methods and devices. Hopefully one day torture will be a thing of the past, but until then we should all be aware of modern torture cases, at the very least to raise awareness. These are 25 Disturbing Modern Torture Methods.



Water Dungeon

waterSource: chinaview.wordpress.com

Allegedly used against Falun Gong practitioners in China, this torture method involves placing the victim in a cage (sometimes lined with spikes) and then partially submerging the cage in filthy water that comes up to the prisoner’s neck.


Cold Cell

air conditioningSource: abcnews.go.com

This is one of the few “enhanced” interrogation techniques that the CIA is actually authorized to use. The cold cell involves placing the prisoner in front of an air conditioning unit running on full blast…sometimes for years at a time (allegedly).



PillorySource: howstuffworks.com

This is the classic medieval prisoner treatment (sometimes confused with the stocks). Although it has been banned in most countries, it is still used in some regions of the world as a form of public humiliation.



PicanaSource: stoptorture.blogspot.com

Adopted from the cattle prod, this device is designed to give electric shocks during torture.


The Squat

squatSource: chinaview.wordpress.com

It may seem benign, but imagine squatting for weeks on end. Sometimes nails are placed beneath the victims heels so they have to keep their heels off the ground as well.



taserSource: cbsnews.com

Although they are often used by police forces around the world, several international organizations, including the UN, have considered them to be a form of torture.



StrappadoSource: howstuffworks.com

This method was employed quite often during the Renaissance, but in the modern era, it has come to be known as Palestinian hanging. The prisoner is hung with their arms behind their head which causes the arms to dislocate from their sockets. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this makes it very difficult to breathe.


White Torture

white roomSource: cnn.com

Possibly one of the strangest forms of torture on our list, white torture involves…you guessed it…whiteness. And lots of it. In fact, the prisoner’s entire room is white. Their food is white (rice). And their is no noise whatsoever. No human contact. Nothing. It’s the ultimate form of sensory deprivation.


The Tucker Telephone

electricitySource: encyclopediaofarkansas.net

This electric shock device was used on prisoners at Tucker State Prison Farm in Arkansas during the 60’s. The device (and we’re not joking) shocked the victim in the genitals. Getting a long distance phone call meant you were shocked repeatedly.


The Syrian Box

boxSource: independent.co.uk

This one has also been also called the “torture chamber.” The concept is horrifying but also quite simple. The prisoner is placed into a box in which there is barely enough room and left alone for days on end.


Music Torture

musicSource: telegraph.co.uk

It might sound crazy, but various governments have been known to use something called music torture. And it is exactly what is sounds like…they blast songs at their targets (allegedly everything from Metallica to Britney Spears). It just sounds so cruel.


Live Burial

diggingSource: cnn.com

There isn’t much to be said about this one. Prisoners are buried alive (and sometimes given straws to breathe through). They may or may not be left in the ground.


Hell Confinement

cuffsSource: chinaview.wordpress.com

This technique is popular among police forces in China. It basically involves putting the prisoners hands and feet through one big handcuff.


Cat O’ Nine Tails

cat o nine tailsSource: theguardian.com

The same whipping device that was used on Jesus of Nazareth is still being used today. Although the Inter-American Court of Human Rights has pressured Trinidad and Tobago to put a stop to the practice, it is still being used from time to time.

Note: the worst part about the Cat is that it has metal claws on the end. These dig into the skin when the victim is whipped and are then forcibly ripped out.


The Thumbscrew

thumbscrewSource: howstuffworks.com

A device that was used to crush the prisoner’s fingers, thumbscrews have been used since medieval times. There have been reports of various gangs and rebel groups still using this method.


Fingernail Pulling

pliersSource: mentalfloss.com

As benign as this sounds, having your fingernails ripped off is excruciatingly painful. This technique has been used since the beginning of recorded history by both state and non-state actors (gangs, mafia, etc). It has also been called “denailing.”



jailSource: theglobeandmail.com

This is the term used to describe internal discipline by the Chinese Communist Party. What it exactly entails is shrouded in mystery because its victims typically disappear and are tortured. What little has been described includes the deprivation of basic human needs and contact as well as physical abuse. Sometimes they don’t come back.


Dog Rape

dogSource: thecrimson.com

Allegations of this torture method have arisen around the world in the last century at various times. The name of the method doesn’t leave much to the imagination and to be honest…it’s exactly what it sounds like. Dogs are released on the prisoner. We won’t go into detail.


Tiger Bench

bricksSource: chinaview.wordpress.com

China likes using this method on political dissidents. Basically, the victim is strapped to a board while bricks are placed under their feet. Bricks are added until either the straps break…or their feet break.


Force Feeding

force feedingSource: nytimes.com

Quite often hunger striking prisoners are force fed in order to keep them alive (to be further tortured). The World Medical Association holds that it is unethical for a doctor to participate in force feeding. Basically, it violates international law.



water hoseSource: bbc.com

This is another “enhanced” interrogation technique that most likely needs no introduction. Prisoners would have water poured over their face to simulate drowning. The practice was banned in 2006 by the Bush Administration.


Branding Iron

BrandedSource: listverse.com

Another torture device that has been adopted from the world of cattle farming, branding humans has been around for centuries.


The German Chair

chairSource: ibtimes.co.uk

This is one of the preferred torture techniques used by ISIS. The prisoner is strapped into a chair and the back of the chair is pulled backwards and down towards the ground. As you can imagine, the human spine is not meant to take such pressure. Apparently, this technique was adopted from the Syrian government.


Sleep Deprivation

eyeSource: psychologytoday.com

You think college was bad? Imagine not being allowed to sleep. Like…ever.


Death Bed

knotSource: chinaview.wordpress.com

Allegedly used in some regions of Asia, prisoners are typically tied to a board and left alone for days on end. This usually leads to muscular atrophy and was used for political prisoners prior to their sentencing (usually death). Because their muscles had become so weak, the prisoners would typically appear very weak before the almighty government, thus sending a signal to other dissidents.

Photos: Featured Image: shutterstock, 25-23. pixabay (public domain), 22. wikimedia commons (public domain), 21. pixabay (public domain), 20. Junglecat, Police issue X26 TASER, CC BY-SA 3.0, 19. wikimedia commons (public domain), 18-17. pixabay (public domain), 16. Max Pixel (public domain), 15-13. pixabay (public domain), 12. wikimedia commons (public domain), 11. Anagoria, 16XX Thumbscrew anagoria, CC BY 3.0, 10-9. pixabay (public domain), 8. wikimedia commons (public domain), 7. Thegreenj, Brick pile, CC BY-SA 3.0, 6. wikimedia commons (public domain), 5. pixabay (public domain), 4. Derek Gavey from Medicine Hat, Canada, Branded, CC BY 2.0, 3-1. pixabay (public domain)

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