10 most brutal psychological experiments

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10 most brutal psychological experiments
10 most brutal psychological experiments

Psychology became popular at the beginning of the 20th century. Many were very attracted by her goal - to learn more about the intricacies of human behavior, emotional state and perception. But, unfortunately, the methods of achieving this goal were not always humane. Some psychiatrists and psychologists have conducted cruel experiments on animals and humans. Here are some of these experiences. 1. Raising a boy as a girl …


Psychology became popular at the beginning of the 20th century. Many were very attracted by her goal - to learn more about the intricacies of human behavior, emotional state and perception. But, unfortunately, the methods of achieving this goal were not always humane. Some psychiatrists and psychologists have conducted cruel experiments on animals and humans. Here are some of these experiences.

1. Raising a boy as a girl (1965-2004)

In 1965, 8-month-old boy Bruce Reimer was circumcised on the advice of doctors. But the surgeon who performed the operation made a mistake, and the boy's penis was completely damaged. The child's parents turned their problem to psychologist John Money from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore (USA). He advised them "simple", in his opinion, a way out of the situation - to change the sex of the child and in the future to raise him as a girl.

And so it was done. Very soon Bruce became Brenda, and the unhappy parents did not even realize that their child was the victim of a very cruel experiment. Psychologist John Money has long been looking for an opportunity to prove that a person's gender is not determined by nature, but by upbringing, so Bruce became a suitable subject for such observation.

Bruce had his testicles removed, and then Dr. Mani published reports on the "successful" development of his subject for several years in scientific journals. He argued that the child behaves like an active little girl and that her behavior is very different from that of her twin brother. But both the home and the teachers at school observed the typical behavior of a boy in the child.

In addition, parents who hid the cruel truth from their son-daughter themselves experienced very strong emotional stress, as a result of which the mother developed suicidal tendencies, and the father began to drink heavily.

While Bruce-Brenda was already a teenager, they began to give him estrogen to activate breast growth. Soon, Dr. Mani began to insist on another operation, as a result of which Brenda had to form the female genitals. But suddenly Bruce-Brenda rebelled and categorically refused to do the operation. Then the boy stopped coming to Mani's receptions altogether.

Bruce's life was crippled. One after another, he made three suicide attempts, the last of which ended in a coma. But Bruce recovered and began to struggle to return to normal human life. He cut his hair, started wearing men's clothing and changed his name to David.

In 1997, he underwent a series of surgeries to regain physical signs of sex. He soon even married a woman and adopted her three children. But the happy end never came: after a divorce from his wife in May 2004, David Reimer committed suicide. At that time he was 38 years old.

2. "The Source of Despair" (1960)

Dr. Harry Harlow conducted cruel experiments on monkeys. He investigated the issue of social isolation of the individual and methods of protection from it. Harlow took the baby monkey from its mother and placed it in a cage all alone. Moreover, he chose those babies who had the strongest bond with their mother.

The monkey sat in a cage for a whole year, and then they let her go.Subsequently, it was found that most individuals show various mental abnormalities. The scientist concluded: even a happy childhood is not a prevention of depression. However, such a simple conclusion could be reached without cruel experiments. By the way, the movement for the protection of animal rights began precisely after the publicity of the results of this terrible study.

3. The Milgram Experiment (1974)

The experiment involved an experimenter, a subject, and an actor who played the role of another subject. Before the start of the experiment, the roles of “teacher” and “student” were distributed between the subject and the actor by the “drawing of lots”. In fact, the subject was always given the role of the "teacher," and the actor who was hired was always the "student."

Before starting the experiment, the "teacher" was explained that the main goal

experience - to discover new methods of memorizing information, and in fact the experimenter investigated the behavior of a person who receives instructions from an authoritative source that are at odds with his own understanding of the norms of behavior.

The experiment went like this: the "student" was tied to a chair with a stun gun. The "student" and "teacher" received a general "demonstration" electric shock of 45 volts. Then the “teacher” went to another room and from there had to give the “student” simple memorization tasks via voice communication. For every mistake, the "student" received an electric shock of 45 volts. In fact, the actor was just pretending to be hit. Soon after each mistake, the "teacher" had to increase the voltage by 15 volts.

As planned, at a certain moment the actor began to demand that the experiment be stopped. At this time, the “teachers” were tormented by doubts, but the experimenter confidently said: “The experiment requires continuation. Please continue. " As the voltage increased, the actor showed more and more agony. Then he howled and screamed.

The experiment continued up to 450 volts. If the “teacher” began to doubt, the experimenter assured him that he fully assumed all responsibility for the results of the experiment and safety for the “student”.

The results were shocking: 65% of the "teachers" gave a 450 volt discharge, knowing that the "student" was in terrible pain. Most of the test subjects obeyed the experimenter's instructions and punished the "student" with an electric shock. Interestingly, out of 40 test subjects, none stopped at 300 volts, only five refused to obey after this level, and 26 out of 40 “teachers” reached the end of the scale.

Critics stated that the subjects were "hypnotized" by the authority of Yale University. In response, Dr. Milgrem repeated the experiment, renting an unsightly space in the town of Bridgeport, Connecticut, under the banner of the Bridgeport Research Association. The results did not change: 48% of the subjects agreed to reach the end of the scale. In 2002, the general results of all such experiments showed that 61-66% of “teachers” reach the end of the scale, and this does not depend on the time and place of the experiment.

The conclusion was terrible: a person really has a dark side of nature, which is inclined not only to mindlessly obey authority and follow unthinkable instructions, but also finds itself justified in the form of an order received. Many participants in the experiment, pressing the button, experienced dominance over the "student" and were sure that he was getting what he deserved.

4. Acquired helplessness (1966)

Psychologists Mark Seligman and Steve Meyer conducted a series of experiments on dogs in their practice. The animals were preliminarily divided into three groups and then placed in cages. The control group was soon released without causing it any harm, the second group of dogs was subjected to repeated shocks that could be stopped by pressing the lever from the inside, and the animals of the third group were the least fortunate: they were subjected to sudden shocks that could not be stopped.

As a result, the dogs developed "acquired helplessness" - a reaction to unpleasant stimuli. The animals became convinced of helplessness in front of the outside world, and soon the unfortunate animals began to show signs of clinical depression.

After a while, the dogs from the third group were released from their cages and placed in open enclosures, from which it was easy to escape.

The dogs were then electrocuted again, but none of them escaped. Animals simply reacted passively to pain, perceiving it as something inevitable. From previous experience, the dogs had firmly learned that escape was impossible for them, and therefore no further attempts were made to free themselves.

From the results of this experiment, scientists suggested that a person's response to stress is similar to a dog's: people also become helpless after several failures in succession. But was such a predictable and banal conclusion worth the cruel suffering of the unfortunate animals ?!

5. Little Albert (1920)

Doctor of Psychology John Watson has been researching the nature of various phobias. The scientist decided to test the possibility of the formation of a fear reaction in front of a white rat in a 9-month-old orphan boy Albert, who had not been afraid of rats before and even liked to play with them.

For two months, Albert was shown a tame white rat, cotton wool, a Santa Claus mask with a beard, a white rabbit, etc. Two months later, the boy was put on a rug and allowed to play with a rat. At first, the child did not feel any fear at all and played calmly. But then Watson, behind the child's back, began hitting the metal plate with an iron hammer every time the boy touched the rat. It became noticeable that after repeating the blows, Albert began to avoid contact with the rat. A week later, the experiment was repeated - this time the plate was hit five times when the rat was launched into the cradle. Seeing the rat, the child began to cry.

A few days later, Watson decided to test whether the child would be afraid of similar objects. As a result, it turned out that the boy was afraid of a white rabbit, cotton wool, a Santa Claus mask, although the scientist did not make any sounds when showing these objects. Watson concluded about the transference of fear reactions. The scientist suggested that most of the fears, antipathies and anxieties of adults are actually formed in deep childhood. Alas, Watson did not manage to deprive Albert of the acquired phobia: it stuck with him for life.

6. The Landis Experiments (1924)

Karin Landis of the University of Minnesota began studying facial expressions in 1924. The purpose of his experiment was to discover the general patterns of the work of groups of facial muscles that are responsible for the expression of certain emotional states, namely, to find facial expressions that are typical of fear, confusion and other similar emotions.

He identified his students as test subjects. The scientist drew lines with cork soot on the faces of his subjects to make their facial expressions more expressive. After that, Landis showed them something that could evoke strong emotions: he made young people sniff ammonia, listen to jazz, watch pornographic films, and stick their hands in buckets of frogs. At the moment when emotions appeared on the faces of the students, the scientist photographed them.

The last test that Landis prepared for his students simply outraged many psychologists. Landis ordered each subject to cut off a rat's head. At first, all the participants in the experiment categorically refused to do this, many even cried and shouted, but in the end most of them agreed. Many participants in the experiment did not even offend a fly in their lives and did not imagine how such an order should be carried out.

As a result, the animals were inflicted a lot of torment, and the experiment did not achieve its goal: the scientists did not manage to find any regularity in facial expression, but psychologists received proof that people can easily submit to authority and do even what they have never done in ordinary life. would.

7. Research on the effect of drugs on the body (1969)

One of the experiments was designed to help scientists understand the speed and degree of addiction of a person to various drugs. The experiment began to be carried out on rats and monkeys, because it is these animals that are physiologically closest to humans.

The experiment took place in such a way that the unfortunate animals were taught to inject themselves a dose of a certain drug: cocaine, morphine, codeine, amphetamine, etc. As soon as the animals were able to "inject" on their own, the experimenters began their observation.

Under the strong influence of drugs, the animals were greatly crippled and did not feel pain. Monkeys who took cocaine began to suffer from convulsions and hallucinations: the poor animals pulled out their phalanges of their fingers. Monkeys who "used" amphetamine pulled out all their fur. Animals exposed to cocaine and morphine died within 2 weeks of starting the lethal drugs.

8. Stanford Prison Experiment (1971)

This experiment with the so-called "artificial prison" was not initially conceived as something unethical or harmful to the psyche of the participants, but the results of the study simply amazed the public.

Psychologist Philip Zimbardo set himself the goal of studying the behavior and social norms of people who find themselves in atypical prison conditions, where they are forced to play the role of a prisoner and / or warden.

For this experiment, a very realistic imitation of a prison was created in the basement of the psychology department, and student volunteers (there were 24 of them) were divided into "prisoners" and "guards." It was assumed that the "prisoners" would be placed in situations in which they would experience personal disorientation and degradation, up to complete depersonalization, and the "guards" did not receive special instructions for their roles.

At first, the students had no idea how they should play their roles, but the second day of the experiment put everything in its place: the uprising of the "prisoners" was brutally suppressed by the "guards". That is, the behavior of both sides has changed dramatically. The "guards" developed a special system of privileges designed to separate the "prisoners" and sow distrust among them to each other - to make them weaker, because alone they are not as strong as together.

As a result, the control system became so stricter that the "prisoners" were not left alone even in the toilet. They began to develop emotional distress, depression, and helplessness. When the “prisoners” were asked what their names were, many of them gave their number. And the question of how they intend to get out of prison just baffled them.

As it turned out, the "prisoners" got used to their roles so much that they began to feel like prisoners of a real prison, and the students who got the role of "guards" felt real sadistic emotions and intentions towards people who a few days ago were good for them friends. Both sides seemed to have completely forgotten that this was all just an experiment.

This experiment was planned for two weeks, but it was stopped ahead of schedule - for ethical reasons.

9. Project "Aversia" (1970)

This is not an experiment, but real events that took place in the South African army from 1970 to 1989. They carried out a secret program of clearing the military ranks of military personnel of non-traditional sexual orientation. At that time, cruel means were used: both treatment with electroshock and chemical castration.

The exact number of victims is still unknown, but army doctors said that during the "purges" about 1000 people aged 16-24 were subjected to forbidden experiments on human nature.

On the instructions of the command, army psychiatrists with might and main "eradicated" homosexuals: they were sent to shock therapy, forced to take hormonal drugs and even undergo gender reassignment surgery.

10. "A terrible experiment" (1939)

Wendell Johnson from the University of Iowa (USA) with his graduate student Mary Tudor in 1939 conducted a shocking experiment involving 22 orphans from Davenport.

The children were divided into two groups: control and experimental. One half of the test subjects insisted that their speech was impeccable, and the speech of other children was ridiculed in every possible way, it was suggested to them that they were stutterers.

As a result, many children of the second group, who had not had any problems with speech before, developed stuttering, and it persisted for the rest of their lives. This experiment, which was later called monstrous, was hidden from the public for a very long time for fear of damaging Johnson's reputation. But later, similar experiments were still carried out on prisoners of concentration camps in Nazi Germany.

In 2001, the University of Iowa officially asked for forgiveness from all the victims of the experiment. But did it make it much easier for them ?!

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