, ,

The truth is that the “experts” aren’t experts in what actually occurs because they haven’t personally experienced it nor been near enough to those that are experiencing it to talk with them when it is occurring. I have the advantage of both. There is no way that people who, however educated, can know what it is like to live with the decisions they make because they have money in the bank, they have the jobs, they have an income above average and their children are experiencing the same lifestyle place that they are (more or less).

That means, there is no real understanding of what it is like to be without that and without access to those things. And, for those experts whose opinions, educated guesses and policy choices are affecting all of us, they have no way to understand what it means in the actual living of it and applications of it.

They seem to not even be able to form the right questions about it nor to think through the logical outcomes based on some living experiences of their decisions and policies. I would say they have a kind of blinders on that prevents them from seeing what their choices are causing in real life and in real lives that they are affecting simply because they are no more than experts on what studies and books and other opinions say about it.

Statistics which do not include the whole picture fail to convey the accurate and actual picture that anyone affected by them, are living. Due to having experienced these things, I am an expert in what those decisions are doing when living under their requirements, their outcomes, their impact and their failures.

–          Cricketdiane, 03-22-10


At Cornell, there is an increase of suicides, after having established a comprehensive mental health initiative across the campus. The news broadcast reporters, anchors and producers don’t even know to ask the pertinent questions involved in this issue, specifically how many emotion police observations have yielded placing students on involuntary admission to mental health services on the campus and how many students have now been taking anti-depressants as a result with its known suicidal causing side-effects in that age group.

How would it feel to students to never be allowed to be sad or outraged or think through things they are being taught in other ways than what the school considers, “the standard” way of looking at it? How would they feel with every custodian, faculty member, cafeteria or student center employee, student union member, sorority or fraternity member, student association officer, groundskeeper, building and facilities staff member, administration and secretarial office employee and other students watching their every face change, body language, words and tone of voice, slam of a book, attitude, frustration and emotion with a requirement to report them to the mental health office or other health staff for remedial actions?

What would it be like to live as a college student taking drugs (specifically mental health / psychiatric drugs) known to make their hands shake, muscles twitch, causing nausea, dizziness and vertigo, with blurry vision unable to write their own names in their own handwriting, suffering nervousness and bowel difficulties, increased or decreased ability to urinate, with no ability to achieve an orgasm in a sexual relationship, and completely unable to follow a paragraph of text in a textbook or a discussion and put two sentences together to understand it? What experience is that while being required to take those drugs and when asking for help to either be removed from those drugs or having this fixed such that they can function, the typical answer from the psychiatric nurses, doctors, psychiatrists and other mental health professionals is to increase the dose of the same drug which over fairly short and immediate periods of time creates an overwhelming desire to commit suicide, homicide or aggression and agitation along with increasing the severity of all the side effects that were originally occurring?

And, what happens with other drugs being added that are supposed to fix the side effects which increase the number and severity of those side effects, insure greater damage to the liver and functioning abilities of the person who is ingesting them and insuring that person is less capable of learning or performing or thinking or walking without a shuffle or further destroying the person’s ability to fit in and succeed?

Why would Cornell University expect anything else from what they are doing? How could they possibly not know what the problem is that they have made worse and are now making even more difficult for the students paying to be there? How is it that they  would consider side effects of these anti-depressants to be nothing when that is the opposite of the known scientific evidence, and not to realize the nearly communistic dictatorship they’ve created to isolate undesirable emotions on the part of students? How is that possible?

Apparently these brilliant jackasses running Cornell University do not know that they are failing to offer good mental health to their students, are failing to help their students to process the emotions and psychological aspects of their age group and of participating in the high stress environment of this University, are failing to create an environment conducive to encouragement and strengthening internal tools of character and emotional well-being, are failing to provide self-esteem to students but are rather undermining it, and are serving as agents of sales for psychiatric pharmaceutical companies who have absolutely no concern for the well-being and success of any student, person, child, adult or human being generally. The Cornell University and others have become no more than a clearinghouse for the identifying and labeling of identity as mentally ill, and are acting as the sales arm of an immeasurably profit-driven industry  which includes pharmaceutical companies and their financially supported, psychiatric specialists, mental health industries and community mental health service providers. And, they are doing so at the expense of the lives, minds, opportunities and futures of the students they are forcing to endure it. There is hardly any wonder why they would kill themselves under those circumstances and conditions which have directly been caused by the Cornell University programs in the name of “preventing suicide.”

Not only do those anti-depressants and other psychiatric drugs cause suicides, they are – once ingested by anyone, known to have horrific adverse and permanent effects to the person taking them. The community at large, is intolerant of those individuals who have been diagnosed with any of these mental health “problems” and once indicated by any “specialist in mental health” is subjected to the most difficult of social stresses, discredit to their value, discredit to their opinions, discredit to their opportunities and reputations, and insistence that they answer to anyone and everyone for what they ate today, whether they took their meds – especially if they say something that someone doesn’t like, how much they slept, when they slept, whether they feel something they have a right to feel and on and on and on.

And, while this is going on, each person including students that are given these drugs will endure not only the side effects and permanent physical and mental damages the drugs directly cause, but will also suffer the increasing abuse of their self-esteem and social standing coming from every personal source and official authoritative source around them. It is not okay.

There is no good mental health in it and once it happens, any person has nothing else to look forward to for the duration of their life except for this and any future career or job they may have earned a right to participate in – will be effectively taken away from them and they know it. This is a pretty expensive price to pay for having been pissed off one day, or upset because of bad news, or frustrated in a few hours of one day one time, or having had a sad face set off a chain reaction of official events because everyone is watching for it to happen.

It is also a very expensive price for many, many individual lives to pay across the university system, across all children’s lives, across every adult’s life across the country – simply to give higher profits to pharmaceutical companies and mental health system providers.

It is an abomination to the human spirit, a denial of every human right guaranteed to people through the law, and a personal disaster which destroys every person who is forced to endure it.

–          Cricketdiane, 03-22-10

The biggest problem we have right now is that the decision-makers who claim to be experts in these matters are not those who are being subjected to it and if they were subjected to it and the money removed from them and their pet research / career projects / public speaking honorariums / etc, for supporting it – their decisions and their “expert” opinions would be different. If the pharmaceutical industry were not allowed to support subjective backing of their drugs being used, it would change to incorporate more of the facts in the balance.

The news staff should know to look further than a university administration or anyone else who says there are just no answers to why something is happening – especially in the case of the Cornell University suicides when they have established a program of mental health in the way that they have. When the sum total of the focus in any program is to identify and label any and every normal human emotion as mental illness, what do they expect to happen?

When any female student wants to be a great mathematician and that is not considered “normal” because those jobs are predominantly male oriented and much of those industries requiring skills of that level no longer exist in the United States, that woman will be treated as mentally ill, especially when constantly confronted with attitudes about women that are not based in realities of the twenty-first century but rather from those biases and prejudices left over from just after the second world war, the 1950’s and 1960’s.

There is no accurate concept of “normal” being used for comparison that incorporates the current information from our society including the facts that “gamers” of video games can make a living in excess of many CEO’s, women can be involved in a multitude of career choices besides nursing and some electricians make as much as the President of the United States, among many, many other changes in our society and how we think about reality.





Ithaca, New York (CNN) — Two suspected cases of suicide on the Cornell University campus have officially been confirmed by the Tompkins County chief medical examiner, bringing the total number of suicides for the academic year to six.

[ . . . ]

The most recent suicides came on successive days and prompted the university’s mental health initiatives director, Timothy Marchell, to declare a “public health crisis.”

David Skorton, who became president of Cornell in 2005, has been praised by counselors for encouraging openness on an issue that many schools try to cover up.

In an e-mail to students on Friday, he encouraged them to use available suicide-prevention resources.

Skorton placed full-page ads in the university newspaper, The Cornell Daily Sun, every day this week, which read, “If you learn anything at Cornell, please learn to ask for help. It is a sign of wisdom and strength.”

The message may be getting through. The first sentence of the quote has been written in chalk on one of the bridges where the suicides took place.

[ . . . ]

The cause of the wave of suicides is unclear, Marchell said.

The national average for school suicides is 7.29 per year for every 100,000 students, said Paula Clayton, medical director of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. That means Cornell, with 19,639 students, should average fewer than two suicides a year.

[ . . . ]

The school has been praised by psychologists such as Keith Anderson, chairman of the American College Health Association’s Mental Health Best Practices Task Force, for counseling and prevention programs that confront the issue of student suicide with comprehensive training and understanding.

Cornell responded to a cluster of suicides in the late 1990s with comprehensive training for members of the university community.

Everyone on campus, including janitors, administrators, residential advisers and professors, is trained to look for symptoms of depression. Freshmen are screened for indicators of psychological disorders, and multiple counseling services are available for students in need.


“I know that they’ve been doing a lot of outreach efforts to educate the community. Cornell is kind of a model in some ways,” said Anderson, a staff psychologist at the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, in Troy, New York.

In response to the current wave of suicides, Cornell will “strengthen the capacity of the community to know what to do,” Marchell said. “They will be showing nonmental health professionals what role they can play and help students and faculty get the kind of support that they need.”

The school also has posted guards to monitor the bridges over the gorges.

On Wednesday, campus clubs such as Cornell Minds Matters took part in a schoolwide event to promote mental health awareness



So, apparently they have God and everybody watching each other for signs of mental illness, which if anybody ever reads what the signs are according to the drug industry and psychiatrists – amounts to absolutely anything, including things that are not necessarily in any way out of the ordinary, nor abnormal nor indicative of anything inappropriate or unhealthy. However, these are now the excuses for subjecting anyone to psychiatric services and dangerous psychiatric pharmaceuticals – none of which help anyone to better handle the stresses of anything successfully, nor solve any problems that someone actually is facing, nor create internal solutions that would make living valuable and worthwhile. It is a nightmare.

– cricketdiane, my note




Milgram experiment

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The experimenter (E) orders the teacher (T), the subject of the experiment, to give what the latter believes are painful electric shocks to a learner (L), who is actually an actor and confederate. The subject believes that for each wrong answer, the learner was receiving actual electric shocks, though in reality there were no such punishments. Being separated from the subject, the confederate set up a tape recorder integrated with the electro-shock generator, which played pre-recorded sounds for each shock level etc.[1]

The Milgram experiment on obedience to authority figures was a series of social psychology experiments conducted by Yale University psychologist Stanley Milgram, which measured the willingness of study participants to obey an authority figure who instructed them to perform acts that conflicted with their personal conscience. Milgram first described his research in 1963 in an article published in the Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology,[1] and later discussed his findings in greater depth in his 1974 book, Obedience to Authority: An Experimental View.[2]

The experiments began in July 1961, three months after the start of the trial of German Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem. Milgram devised his psychological study to answer the question: “Was it that Eichmann and his accomplices in the Holocaust had mutual intent, in at least with regard to the goals of the Holocaust?” In other words, “Was there a mutual sense of morality among those involved?” Milgram’s testing suggested that it could have been that the millions of accomplices were merely following orders, despite violating their deepest moral beliefs.


The experiment

Milgram Experiment advertisement

Three people take part in the experiment: “experimenter”; “learner” (“victim”); and “teacher” (participant). Only the “teacher” is an actual participant, i.e., unaware about the actual setup, while the “learner” is a confederate of the experimenter. The role of the experimenter was played by a stern, impassive biology teacher dressed in a grey technician’s coat, and the victim (learner) was played by a 47-year-old Irish-American accountant trained to act for the role. The “teacher” and the “learner” were told by the experimenter that they would be participating in an experiment helping his study of memory and learning in different situations.[1]

The subject was given the title teacher, and the confederate, learner. The participants drew lots to ‘determine’ their roles. Unknown to them, both slips said “teacher”, and the actor claimed to have the slip that read “learner”, thus guaranteeing that the participant would always be the “teacher”. At this point, the “teacher” and “learner” were separated into different rooms where they could communicate but not see each other. In one version of the experiment, the confederate was sure to mention to the participant that he had a heart condition.[1]

The “teacher” was given an electric shock from the electro-shock generator as a sample of the shock that the “learner” would supposedly receive during the experiment. The “teacher” was then given a list of word pairs which he was to teach the learner. The teacher began by reading the list of word pairs to the learner. The teacher would then read the first word of each pair and read four possible answers. The learner would press a button to indicate his response. If the answer was incorrect, the teacher would administer a shock to the learner, with the voltage increasing in 15-volt increments for each wrong answer. If correct, the teacher would read the next word pair.[1]

The subjects believed that for each wrong answer, the learner was receiving actual shocks. In reality, there were no shocks. After the confederate was separated from the subject, the confederate set up a tape recorder integrated with the electro-shock generator, which played pre-recorded sounds for each shock level. After a number of voltage level increases, the actor started to bang on the wall that separated him from the subject. After several times banging on the wall and complaining about his heart condition, all responses by the learner would cease.[1]

At this point, many people indicated their desire to stop the experiment and check on the learner. Some test subjects paused at 135 volts and began to question the purpose of the experiment. Most continued after being assured that they would not be held responsible. A few subjects began to laugh nervously or exhibit other signs of extreme stress once they heard the screams of pain coming from the learner.[1]

If at any time the subject indicated his desire to halt the experiment, he was given a succession of verbal prods by the experimenter, in this order:[1]

  1. Please continue.
  2. The experiment requires that you continue.
  3. It is absolutely essential that you continue.
  4. You have no other choice, you must go on.

If the subject still wished to stop after all four successive verbal prods, the experiment was halted. Otherwise, it was halted after the subject had given the maximum 450-volt shock three times in succession.[1]


Before conducting the experiment, Milgram polled fourteen Yale University senior-year psychology majors as to what they thought would be the results. All of the poll respondents believed that only a few (average 1.2%) would be prepared to inflict the maximum voltage. Milgram also informally polled his colleagues and found that they, too, believed very few subjects would progress beyond a very strong shock.[1]

In Milgram’s first set of experiments, 65 percent (26 of 40)[1] of experiment participants administered the experiment’s final massive 450-volt shock, though many were very uncomfortable doing so; at some point, every participant paused and questioned the experiment, some said they would refund the money they were paid for participating in the experiment. Only one participant steadfastly refused to administer shocks below the 300-volt level.[1]

Milgram summarized the experiment in his 1974 article, “The Perils of Obedience”, writing:

The legal and philosophic aspects of obedience are of enormous importance, but they say very little about how most people behave in concrete situations. I set up a simple experiment at Yale University to test how much pain an ordinary citizen would inflict on another person simply because he was ordered to by an experimental scientist. Stark authority was pitted against the subjects’ [participants’] strongest moral imperatives against hurting others, and, with the subjects’ [participants’] ears ringing with the screams of the victims, authority won more often than not. The extreme willingness of adults to go to almost any lengths on the command of an authority constitutes the chief finding of the study and the fact most urgently demanding explanation.

Ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process. Moreover, even when the destructive effects of their work become patently clear, and they are asked to carry out actions incompatible with fundamental standards of morality, relatively few people have the resources needed to resist authority.[3]

The original Simulated Shock Generator and Event Recorder, or shock box, is located in the Archives of the History of American Psychology.

Later, Prof. Milgram and other psychologists performed variations of the experiment throughout the world, with similar results[4] although unlike the Yale experiment,[dubiousdiscuss] resistance to the experimenter was reported anecdotally elsewhere.[5] Milgram later investigated the effect of the experiment’s locale on obedience levels by holding an experiment in an unregistered, backstreet office in a bustling city, as opposed to at Yale, a respectable university. The level of obedience, “although somewhat reduced, was not significantly lower.” What made more of a difference was the proximity of the “learner” and the experimenter. There were also variations tested involving groups.

Dr. Thomas Blass of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County performed a meta-analysis on the results of repeated performances of the experiment. He found that the percentage of participants who are prepared to inflict fatal voltages remains remarkably constant, 61–66 percent, regardless of time or place.[6][7][verification needed]

There is a little-known coda to the Milgram Experiment, reported by Philip Zimbardo: none of the participants who refused to administer the final shocks insisted that the experiment itself be terminated, nor left the room to check the health of the victim without requesting permission to leave, as per Milgram’s notes and recollections, when Zimbardo asked him about that point.[8]

Milgram created a documentary film titled Obedience showing the experiment and its results. He also produced a series of five social psychology films, some of which dealt with his experiments.[9]

In 1981, Tom Peters and Robert H. Waterman, Jr wrote that The Milgram Experiment and the later Stanford prison experiment led by Zimbardo at Stanford University were frightening in their implications about the danger lurking in human nature’s dark side.[10]


The Milgram Experiment raised questions about the ethics of scientific experimentation because of the extreme emotional stress suffered by the participants. In Milgram’s defense, 84 percent of former participants surveyed later said they were “glad” or “very glad” to have participated, 15 percent chose neutral responses (92% of all former participants responding).[11] Many later wrote expressing thanks. Milgram repeatedly received offers of assistance and requests to join his staff from former participants. Six years later (at the height of the Vietnam War), one of the participants in the experiment sent correspondence to Milgram, explaining why he was glad to have participated despite the stress:

While I was a subject in 1964, though I believed that I was hurting someone, I was totally unaware of why I was doing so. Few people ever realize when they are acting according to their own beliefs and when they are meekly submitting to authority… To permit myself to be drafted with the understanding that I am submitting to authority’s demand to do something very wrong would make me frightened of myself… I am fully prepared to go to jail if I am not granted Conscientious Objector status. Indeed, it is the only course I could take to be faithful to what I believe. My only hope is that members of my board act equally according to their conscience…[citation needed]

The experiments provoked emotional criticism more about the experiment’s implications than with experimental ethics. In the journal Jewish Currents, Joseph Dimow, a participant in the 1961 experiment at Yale University, wrote about his early withdrawal as a “teacher,” suspicious “that the whole experiment was designed to see if ordinary Americans would obey immoral orders, as many Germans had done during the Nazi period.”[12] Indeed, that was one of the explicitly-stated goals of the experiments. Quoting from the preface of Milgram’s book, Obedience to Authority: “The question arises as to whether there is any connection between what we have studied in the laboratory and the forms of obedience we so deplored in the Nazi epoch.”


Professor Milgram elaborated two theories explaining his results:

  • The first is the theory of conformism, based on Solomon Asch‘s work, describing the fundamental relationship between the group of reference and the individual person. A subject who has neither ability nor expertise to make decisions, especially in a crisis, will leave decision making to the group and its hierarchy. The group is the person’s behavioral model.
  • The second is the agentic state theory, wherein, per Milgram, the essence of obedience consists in the fact that a person comes to view himself as the instrument for carrying out another person’s wishes, and he therefore no longer sees himself as responsible for his actions. Once this critical shift of viewpoint has occurred in the person, all of the essential features of obedience follow.[13]

Alternative interpretations

In his book Irrational Exuberance, Yale Finance Professor Robert Shiller argues that other factors might be partially able to explain the Milgram Experiments:

“[People] have learned that when experts tell them something is all right, it probably is, even if it does not seem so. (In fact, it is worth noting that in this case the experimenter was indeed correct: it was all right to continue giving the ‘shocks’ — even though most of the subjects did not suspect the reason.)”[14]

Milgram himself provides some anecdotal evidence to support this position. In his book, he quotes an exchange between a subject (Mr. Rensaleer) and the experimenter. The subject had just stopped at 255 V, and the experimenter tried to prod him on by saying: “There is no permanent tissue damage.” Mr. Rensaleer answers:

“Yes, but I know what shocks do to you. I’m an electrical engineer, and I have had shocks … and you get real shook up by them — especially if you know the next one is coming. I’m sorry.”[15][16]

Recent variations on Milgram’s experiment suggest an interpretation requiring neither obedience nor authority, but suggest that participants suffer learned helplessness, where they feel powerless to control the outcome, and so abdicate their personal responsibility. In a recent experiment using a computer simulation in place of the learner receiving electrical shocks, the participants administering the shocks were aware that the learner was unreal, but still showed the same results.[17]

Replications and variations

Milgram’s variations

In Obedience to Authority: An Experimental View (1974), Milgram describes 19 variations of his experiment, some of which had not been previously reported.

Several experiments varied the immediacy of the teacher and learner. Generally, when the victim’s physical immediacy was increased, the participant’s compliance decreased. The participant’s compliance also decreased when the authority’s physical immediacy decreased (Experiments 1–4). For example, in Experiment 2, where participants received telephonic instructions from the experimenter, compliance decreased to 21 percent. Interestingly, some participants deceived the experimenter by pretending to continue the experiment. In the variation where the “learner’s” physical immediacy was closest, where participants had to physically hold the “learner’s” arm onto a shock plate, compliance decreased. Under that condition, 30 percent of participants completed the experiment.

In Experiment 8, women were the participants; previously, all participants had been men. Obedience did not significantly differ, though the women communicated experiencing higher levels of stress.

Experiment 10 took place in a modest office in Bridgeport, Connecticut, purporting to be the commercial entity “Research Associates of Bridgeport” without apparent connection to Yale University, to eliminate the university’s possible prestige as a factor influencing the participants’ behavior. In those conditions, obedience dropped to 47.5 percent, though the difference was not statistically significant.

Milgram also combined the effect of authority with that of conformity. In those experiments, the participant was joined by one or two additional “teachers” (also actors, like the “learner”). The behavior of the participants’ peers strongly affected the results. In Experiment 17, when two additional teachers refused to comply, only 4 of 40 participants continued in the experiment. In Experiment 18, the participant performed a subsidiary task (reading the questions via microphone or recording the learner’s answers) with another “teacher” who complied fully. In that variation, 37 of 40 continued with the experiment.[18]

[edit] Replications

In 2002 the British artist Rod Dickinson created The Milgram Re-enactment, an exact reconstruction of parts of the original experiment, including the rooms used, lighting and uniforms. An audience watched the four-hour performance through one-way glass windows.[19][20] A video of this performance was first shown at the CCA Gallery in Glasgow in 2002.

A partial replication of the Milgram experiment was conducted by British psychological illusionist Derren Brown and broadcast on Channel 4 in the UK in The Heist (2006).[21]

Another partial replication of the Milgram experiment was conducted by Jerry M. Burger in 2006 and broadcast on the Primetime series Basic Instincts. Burger noted that, “current standards for the ethical treatment of participants clearly place Milgram’s studies out of bounds.” In 2009 Burger was able to receive approval from the institutional review board by modifying several of the experimental protocols.[22] Burger found obedience rates virtually identical to what Milgram found in 1961-1962, even while meeting current ethical regulations of informing participants. In addition, half the replication participants were female, and their rate of obedience was virtually identical to that of the male participants. Burger also included a condition in which participants first saw another participant refuse to continue. However, participants in this condition obeyed at the same rate as participants in the base condition.[23]

The experiment was again repeated as part of the BBC documentary How Violent Are You?[24] first shown in May 2009 as part of the long running Horizon series. Of the 12 participants, only 3 refused to continue to the end of the experiment.

A French documentary filmcrew recreated the Milgram experiment in March 2010, redressing the scenario as gameshow The Game of Death (French: Le Jeu de la mort). Only 16 of 80 “contestants” (teachers) chose to walk out instead of continuing the tests. Significantly, one of the teachers who did not walk out was the granddaughter of Jews that had been persecuted by the Nazis during World War II, presenting a unique proof of Milgram’s original thesis.[25][26]

Due to increasingly widespread knowledge of the experiment, recent replications of Milgram’s procedure had to ensure that the participants were not previously aware of it.

Other variations

Charles Sheridan and Richard King hypothesized that some of Milgram’s subjects may have suspected that the victim was faking, so they repeated the experiment with a real victim: a puppy who was given real electric shocks. They found that 20 out of the 26 participants complied to the end. The six that had refused to comply were all male (54% of males were obedient[27]); all 13 of the women obeyed to the end, although many were highly disturbed and some openly wept.[28]

Alleged real-life examples

From April 1995 until June 30, 2004, there was a series of hoaxes, known as the strip search prank call scam, upon fast food workers in popular fast food chains in America in which a phone caller, claiming to be a police officer, persuaded authority figures to strip and sexually abuse workers. The perpetrator achieved a high level of success in persuading workers to perform acts which they would not have done under normal circumstances.[29] (The chief suspect, David R. Stewart, was found not guilty in the only case that has gone to trial so far.[30])

Several prank calls have been made to hotel rooms, in which the caller instructs the occupant to commit increasingly severe acts of vandalism. In one particular case, a hotel employee and customer set off the fire alarm, broke lobby windows, activated the sprinkler system and shut down the main power, causing a total of over $50,000 worth of damages.[31]

Media depictions

  • Obedience is a black-and-white film of the experiment, shot by Milgram himself. It is distributed by The Pennsylvania State University.[32] It is available on DVD in the UK from the BUFVC [1].
  • The Tenth Level was a 1975 CBS television film about the experiment, featuring William Shatner, Ossie Davis, and John Travolta.[33][34]
  • I as in Icarus is a 1979 French conspiracy thriller with Yves Montand as an attorney investigating the assassination of the President. The movie is inspired by the Kennedy assassination and the subsequent Warren Commission investigation. Digging into the psychology of the Lee Harvey Oswald type character, the attorney finds out the “decoy shooter” participated in the Milgram experiment. The ongoing experiment is presented to the unsuspecting attorney.
  • Atrocity is a 2005 film re-enactment of the Milgram Experiment.[35]
  • The Human Behavior Experiments is a 2006 documentary by Alex Gibney about major experiments in social psychology, shown along with modern incidents highlighting the principles discussed. Along with Stanley Milgram‘s study in obedience, the documentary shows the ‘diffusion of responsibility‘ study of John Darley and Bibb Latané and the Stanford Prison Experiment of Philip Zimbardo.
  • Chip Kidd‘s 2008 novel The Learners is about the Milgram experiment and features Stanley Milgram as a character.
  • The Milgram Experiment is a 2009 film by the Brothers Gibbs which chronicles the story of Stanley Milgram’s experiments.
  • The conflict between obedience to authority and doing what is right is a theme of “Love, Honor, Obey”, the September 13, 2009, episode of the ABC TV drama Defying Gravity, in which the crew’s obedience to authority is tested in flashback scenes showing their training, and in which the chain of command is threatened when a crisis develops on the Antares. The Milgram Experiment is mentioned during the flashback scenes, in which crew candidates are made to give each other electrical shocks.
  • An episode of Law & Order: SVU entitled “Authority” had a suspect (played by Robin Williams) using the Milgram experiment on Stabler as he held Benson hostage to see how he would respond. The suspect also prank-called a fast food restaurant mimicking the actual crime that took place in similar fashion.
  • The track “We Do What We’re Told (Milgram’s 37)” on Peter Gabriel‘s album So is a reference to Milgram’s Experiment 18, in which 37 of 40 people were prepared to administer the highest level of shock.
  • The Dar Williams song “Buzzer” is about the experiment. “I’m feeling sorry for this guy that I pressed to shock/ He gets the answers wrong I have to up the watts/ And he begged me to stop but they told me to go/ I pressed the buzzer.”

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Milgram, Stanley (1963). “Behavioral Study of Obedience”. Journal of Abnormal and Social Psychology 67: 371–378. doi:10.1037/h0040525. PMID 14049516. http://content.apa.org/journals/abn/67/4/371Full-text PDF.
  2. ^ Milgram, Stanley. (1974), Obedience to Authority; An Experimental View. Harpercollins (ISBN 0-06-131983-X).
  3. ^ Milgram, Stanley. (1974), “The Perils of Obedience.” Harper’s Magazine. Abridged and adapted from Obedience to Authority.
  4. ^ Milgram(1974)
  5. ^ Melbourne(1972) A version of the experiment was conducted in the Psychology Department of La Trobe University by Dr Robert Montgomery. One 19-year old female student subject (KG), upon having the experiment explained to her, objected to participating. When asked to reconsider she swore at the experimenter and left the laboratory, despite believing that she had “failed” the project
  6. ^ Blass, Thomas. “The Milgram paradigm after 35 years: Some things we now know about obedience to authority,” Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 1999, vol. 29 no. 5, pp. 955-978.
  7. ^ Blass, Thomas. (2002), “The Man Who Shocked the World,”Psychology Today, 35:(2), Mar/Apr 2002.
  8. ^ Discovering Psychology with Philip Zimbardo Ph.D. Updated Edition, “Power of the Situation,” http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-6059627757980071729, reference starts at 10min 59 seconds into video.
  9. ^ Milgram films. Accessed 4 October 2006.
  10. ^ Peters, Thomas, J., Waterman, Robert. H., “In Search of Excellence,” 1981. Cf. p.78 and onward.
  11. ^ See Milgram (1974), p. 195
  12. ^ Dimow, Joseph. “Resisting Authority: A Personal Account of the Milgram Obedience Experiments”, Jewish Currents, January 2004.
  13. ^ The Milgram Experiment | A lesson in depravity, the power of authority, and peer pressure
  14. ^ Shiller, Robert. (2005) Irrational Exuberance: Second Edition. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press. p 158
  15. ^ Milgram, 1974a, p. 51
  16. ^ Blass, Thomas (1999)The Milgram Paradigm After 35 Years: Some Things We Now Know About Obedience to Authority Journal of Applied Social Psychology. (Volume 29 Issue 5 pages 955-978) p. 960
  17. ^ Slater M, Antley A, Davison A, et al. (2006). “A virtual reprise of the Stanley Milgram obedience experiments”. PLoS ONE 1: e39. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0000039. PMID 17183667.
  18. ^ Milgram, old answers. Accessed 4 October 2006.
  19. ^ History Will Repeat Itself: Strategies of Re-enactment in Contemporary (Media) Art and Performance, ed. Inke Arns, Gabriele Horn, Frankfurt: Verlag, 2007
  20. ^ “The Milgram Re-enactment”. http://www.milgramreenactment.org. Retrieved 2008-06-10.
  21. ^ “The Milgram Experiment on YouTube”. http://uk.youtube.com/watch?v=y6GxIuljT3w. Retrieved 2008-12-21.
  22. ^ Burger, Jerry M. (2008), “Replicating Milgram: Would People Still Obey Today?”, American Psychologist
  23. ^ “The Science of Evil”. http://abcnews.go.com/Primetime/story?id=2765416&page=1. Retrieved 2007-01-04.
  24. ^ “BBC Two Programmes – How Violent are you?”. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00kk4bz. Retrieved 2009-07-09. “Horizon – How Violent Are You (torrent)”.
  25. ^ “Contestants turn torturers in French TV experiment”. http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20100316/ts_afp/francetelevisionpsychologyentertainment. Retrieved 2010-03-16.
  26. ^ “Fake torture TV ‘game show’ reveals willingness to obey”. 2010-03-17. http://www.france24.com/en/20100317-disturbing-tv-docu-game-tests-limits-small-screen-power-france-game-of-death. Retrieved 2010-03-18.
  27. ^ Blass, Thomas (1999)The Milgram Paradigm After 35 Years: Some Things We Now Know About Obedience to Authority’ Journal of Applied Social Psychology. (Volume 29 Issue 5 pages 955-978) p. 968
  28. ^ Sheridan, C.L. and King, K.G. (1972) Obedience to authority with an authentic victim, Proceedings of the 80th Annual Convention of the American Psychological Association 7: 165-6.
  29. ^ Wolfson, Andrew. A hoax most cruel. The Courier-Journal. October 9, 2005.
  30. ^ Acquittal in hoax call that led to sex assault
  31. ^ Police Incident Report
  32. ^ WPSU TV/FM – Penn State Public Broadcasting
  33. ^ Thomas Blass (March/April 2002). “The Man who Shocked the World”. Psychology Today. http://psychologytoday.com/articles/index.php?term=pto-20020301-000037&page=4.
  34. ^ The Tenth Level at the Internet Movie Database. Accessed 4 October 2006.
  35. ^ “Atrocity.”. http://www.movingimage.us/science/sloan.php?film_id=214. Retrieved 2007-03-20.


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·  French polemic over fake game show electrocutions – Yahoo! News

Mar 17, 2010 French polemic over fake game show electrocutions AP – Christophe Nick, TV producer of ‘The Game of Death,’ which is set to air and the striking human willingness to obey orders. …. A study worth noting…from the FRENCH! the same kinds of behavior, but now it hits mainstream media!
news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100317/ap_en…/eu_france_executioner_tv – Cached

·  French polemic over fake game show electrocutions – Yahoo! News

Mar 17, 2010 French polemic over fake game show electrocutions and the striking human willingness to obey orders. While “Le Jeu de la Mort” (The Game of Death) is mainly an indictment of …. A study worth noting…from the FRENCH! showed the same kinds of behavior, but now it hits mainstream media!
news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100317/…/eu_france_executioner_tv_6 – Cached

Show more results from news.yahoo.com

·  The People Group — The Game of Death Reveals Human Behavior onmouseover=”pocpop(“1d68323″,event,2)”>

The Game of Death Reveals Human Behavior. March 18th, 2010 French documentary-makers set up a fake game show in which contestants believed they were
thepeoplegroupllc.com/…/the-game-of-death-reveals-humanbehavior/ – Cached

·  Game of Death: French TV Shocks with Torture Experiment – TIME

Mar 17, 2010 In the French documentary ‘The Game of Death,’ contestants on a fake him that Milgram’s findings about the human submission to authority figures in the project make it obvious that the show is a behavioral study,

·  Milgram Obedience Experiment French reality TV show Game of Death

Mar 17, 2010 [Milgram experiment study obedience French reality TV show game of death] gain — convinced him that Milgram’s findings about the human submission to authority first through whimpers, then pleas to stop the electrocutions. the context of the experiment was responsible for their behaviour.
http://www.age-of-the-sage.org/…/milgram_french_reality_show.html – Cached

·  American Renaissance News: The Game of Death: France’s Shocking TV …

Mar 17, 2010 The Game of Death [a French documentary] is an adaptation of an Only 16 of the 80 subjects recruited for the fake game show in the project make it obvious that the show is a behavioral study, …. How many Catholics withdrew themselves and their children because of this disgusting behavior?
http://www.amren.com/mtnews/archives/2010/03/the_game_of_dea.php – Cached

·  Milgram experiment – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

A French documentary filmcrew recreated the Milgram experiment in March 2010, redressing the scenario as gameshow “The Game of Death. The Human Behavior Experiments is a 2006 documentary by Alex Gibney about major Along with Stanley Milgram’s study in obedience, the documentary shows the ‘diffusion of
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milgram_experiment – CachedSimilar

·  Reality TV mocked in French ‘torture’ game show | Mail Online onmouseover=”pocpop(“1d68323″,event,7)”>

Mar 18, 2010 Game show contestants laugh as they ‘kill’ a man in bizarre French TV torture experiment Milgram’s study began a few months after the start of the Israeli and the powerful influence it can have on human behaviour when abused. …. Thug who stabbed to death headteacher Philip Lawrence ‘to be

·  Columnist: Darker side of human nature revealed in French reality …

Mar 22, 2010 It was a brand-new game show with a simple set of rules: If your partner If the participant tried to stop, the head of the study would give On “The Game of Death,” in which this experiment was replicated with a
mainecampus.com/…/columnist-darker-side-of-human-nature-revealed-in-french-reality-show-darkr/ – 8 hours ago

·  French Polemic Over Fake Game Show Electrocutions | Fancast News

Mar 17, 2010 French Polemic Over Fake Game Show Electrocutions The producers of ‘The Game of Death,’ set to air Wednesday night, wanted to examine both to suspend morality, and the striking human willingness to obey orders.


The Game of Death: France’s Shocking TV Experiment

By Bruce Crumley / Paris Wednesday, Mar. 17, 2010


Christophe Nick, producer of The Game of Death

Christophe Ena / AP

Is a crusading French documentary maker striking a blow at the abusive powers of television — or simply taking reality TV to a new low of cynicism and bad taste? That’s the question viewers across France are asking in light of Christophe Nick’s new film, The Game of Death, which airs on French television on Wednesday night. The documentary has generated a massive amount of attention — and naturally, courted controversy — because of the dilemma that the film’s contestants face on a fake game show: Will they allow themselves to be cajoled into delivering near lethal electrical charges to fellow players, or follow their better instincts and refuse?

The Game of Death is an adaptation of an infamous experiment conducted by a team led by Yale University psychologist Stanley Milgram in the 1960s. In order to test people’s obedience to authority figures, the scientists demanded that subjects administer increasingly strong electric shocks to other participants if they answered questions incorrectly. The people delivering the shocks, however, didn’t know that the charges were fake — the volunteers on the other end of the room were actors pretending to suffer agonizing pain. The point was to see how many people would continue following orders to mete out torture. (See the world’s most popular TV shows.)

Milgram found that 62.5% of his subjects could be encouraged, browbeaten or intimidated into seeing the test through to its conclusion by delivering scores of shocks of increasing intensity to the maximum of 450 volts. In The Game of Death, 81% of contestants go all the way by administering more than 20 shocks of up to a maximum of 460 volts. Only 16 of the 80 subjects recruited for the fake game show refuse the verbal prodding from the host — and pressure from the audience to keep dishing out the torture like a good sport — though most express misgivings or try to pull out before being persuaded otherwise.

Nick says he got the idea for the project after stumbling across an episode of the French version of The Weakest Link. The willingness of the adult contestants to allow the hostess to belittle them — and their own eagerness to backstab fellow participants for their own gain — convinced him that Milgram’s findings about the human submission to authority figures were particularly applicable to TV. “Television is a power — we know that, but it remained theoretical,” Nick told the daily Le Parisien on Wednesday. “I asked myself, Is it so strong that it can turn us into potential torturers?” (See the 100 best TV shows of all time.)

The results of Nick’s documentary indicate the answer to that question is yes — a conclusion reinforced by the program’s editors and his sobering voice-overs. Indeed, while most critics have applauded Nick’s effort to reveal the manipulative powers of television, some commentators suggest he nonetheless errs by leaving no room to contest the documentary’s conclusions. “Its excessive dramatization and commentary that’s too often willing to cut corners and blur issues can be irritating,” writes Hélène Marzolf, a television critic for the culture magazine Télérama. (Comment on this story.)

Despite that, Marzolf and others say the documentary demonstrates how a television-studio setting — with cameras, a pushy host and an audience that erupts at times with shouts of “Punishment!” — may be ideal for robbing individuals of their will. “For the past 10 years, most commercial channels have used humiliation, violence and cruelty to create increasingly extreme programs,” Nick says in one of his voice-overs. “[Future] television can — without possible opposition — organize the death of a person as entertainment, and 8 out of 10 people will submit to that.” (See “Reality TV at 10: How It’s Changed Television — and Us.”)

Perhaps, but some could argue that Nick’s documentary relies on the same reality-TV techniques it is denouncing. Though staged, the game show features unsuspecting volunteers whose reactions and emotions are scrutinized. Although the voice-overs and cuts to sociologists involved in the project make it obvious that the show is a behavioral study, viewers are still required to buy into the “reality” that participants have been lured there in order to be horrified when they continue applying the electric shocks.

But media critic Daniel Schneidermann says it would be wrong to limit any conclusions drawn from the show to the impact of television alone. “The Milgram experiment showed that people will submit to authority no matter what its form: military, political, medical, a boss — or now a television host,” he says, while noting that he has not yet seen the documentary. “The suggestion that television is the unique or most powerful offender in this manner is just wrong.”

See the top 10 reality-TV shows.

See “Halal Ads Hit French TV.”
Read more: http://www.time.com/time/arts/article/0,8599,1972981,00.html#ixzz0iwhOsHUV

Jonathan Pancost
The saddest part of this social commentary is that people do not even seem to excercise their authority over the on off switch on the TV. Turn that infernal thing off get off your fat a#% and read a book, grow some food or do something productive instead of abdicating your own responsibility and doing the bidding of the corporate authorities. We have become a culture of lazy mindless consumer twits addicted to TV.
Read more: http://www.time.com/time/arts/article/0,8599,1972981,00.html#ixzz0iwhtKTJV


The Milgram Obedience Experiment
French reality TV show – The Game of Death

This TV show was entitled
Jusqu’ou va la tele, Le Jeu de mort
or – in English
How far will television go? The Game of Death

This French reality TV show was originally structured as a documentary about the negative effects of reality TV worldwide. It featured a significant French TV generated component which – in the opinion of its naive participants (as contestants) – was a pilot programme for a so-called – “La Zone Xtrême”, or “The Xtreme Zone” – TV series.
The participants had signed contracts agreeing to inflict electric shocks on other contestants, were advised that they could not expect to ‘win’ anything but were to receive a standard €40 fee (held to be equivalent to the $4.00 that a researcher named Stanley Milgram gave to volunteers in his famous Obedience Experiments in 1963) for their co-operation.
The contestants knew they would gain nothing. They were just happy and eager to participate in the development of a pilot game show


As first aired on the France 2 channel on 17th March 2010, it effectively featured a repeat of the Milgram Obedience Experiment, and indeed, had been intended by its main organiser, Christophe Nick, to be a reality TV recreation of that experiment.

Nick says he got the idea for the project after stumbling across an episode of the French version of The Weakest Link. The willingness of the adult contestants to allow the hostess to belittle them — and their own eagerness to backstab fellow participants for their own gain — convinced him that Milgram’s findings about the human submission to authority figures were particularly applicable to TV.

In a TV studio setting it appeared that a male TV show contestant was strapped and even padlocked into a chair by a glamourous assistant under the overall supervision of a well-known and respected TV presenter.





In a game of word associations, the contestant, identified as “Jean-Paul,” was told that any wrong answers would merit punishment in the form of electric shocks and was subsequently asked questions.


The studio audience were involved in requesting “punishments” to be imposed on this man where he gave wrong answers. The well known and respected TV presenter was often involved in adding her own endorsement to the infliction of electric shocks for wrong answers despite the evident discomfort voiced by Jean-Paul.

The “contestant”, Jean-Paul, (who was actually an actor), who remained out of sight of the interrogators, communicated his pain progressively: first through whimpers, then pleas to stop the electrocutions. These whimpers and pleas seemed to vary in line with the varying levels of electric shocks which were administered by participants in the game show as encouraged and “authorised” by the TV presenters in line with the studio audience requests for punishment for giving wrong answers.

Several times Jean-Paul explicitly refuses to give an answer – he also demanded that he should be allowed to leave – nevertheless the procedure typically continued with increasing electric shocks being inflicted by contestants who were often themselves increasingly distressed at the studio audience and show presenter insisting that they carry out the ‘punishments’ for incorrect answering.

In point of fact no electric shocks were actually administered although the other contestants and the studio audience were given reason – including the apparent discomfort of Jean-Paul – to believe that they were!

With no financial incentive on the table participants were typically put through a sequence where they would impose, (against this background of studio audience and TV presenter endorsement), a range of electric shocks.



This electric shock is in the “choc fort” or “strong shock” range which had been preceded by several levels of chocs légers or light shock, and chocs modérés or moderate impact.


Further electric shocks moved through increasingly severe sounding shock ranges,
eventually into a choc dangereux or dangerous shock range – and beyond to XXX!


As electric shocks were apparently applied the shock level was flashed up on screen


Jean-Paul is seen by viewers but not by the players, who only
hear his agonised screams as he ‘receives’ increasingly severe shocks.

The procedure followed that of the Milgram Obedience Experiment, the task is the same type (recognition of a word from four), with ‘punishments’ for incorrect answering being applicable through the simulator of electric shocks from 20 to 460 volts the levers being grouped together and successively labeled:-

Milgram Obedience Experiment The Game of Death Electric Shocks simulated
on French reality TV show
slight shock chocs légers 20, 40, 60 volts
moderate shock chocs modérés 80, 100, 120 volts
strong shock chocs forts 140, 160, 180 volts
very strong shock chocs très forts 200, 220, 240 volts
intense shock chocs intenses 260, 280, 300 volts
extreme intensity shock chocs très intenses 320, 340, 360 volts
danger: severe shock chocs dangereux 380, 400, 420 volts
and finally – XXX et, enfin – XXX 440, 460 volts

Not knowing that the screaming victim is really an actor, the apparently reluctant contestants typically yielded to the encouragements of the presenter and chants of “Punishment!” from a studio audience who also believed the game was real – punishing Jean-Paul with up to 460 volts of electricity when he got answers wrong – even beyond the point where his cries of “Let me go!” and “I refuse to respond” had fallen silent and he appeared to have passed out or even, perhaps, died.

Most interrogators showed signs of their hating making Jean-Paul suffer, expressed their desire to stop the game, but, apart from 16 participants, they never managed to resist authority.



The 16 interrogators who walked out were actually a fraction of the overall 80 persons who participated as interrogators.

“We were amazed to find that 81 percent of the participants obeyed” the sadistic orders of the television presenter, said Christophe Nick, the maker of the documentary for the state-owned France 2 channel.

One contestant interviewed afterwards said she went along with the game despite knowing that her own grandparents were Jews who had been tortured by the Nazis.
The woman, named as Sophie, said: “Since I was a little girl, I have always asked myself why they (the Nazis) did it. How could they obey such orders? And there I was, obeying them myself.”

Another contestant added: “I was worried. But at the same time, I was afraid to spoil the programme.”

To minimize participant trauma and adverse criticism generally, as soon as production ended, the volunteers were notified that they had in fact participated in an experiment, and were asked for their permission to be shown on the programme. Only three refused.
Those who agreed were informed that they were normal, and that the context of the experiment was responsible for their behaviour.
“Most of them are thrilled to have participated in an experiment that could be useful for something,” director Christophe Nick noted. “And some of them are ready to do it all over again!”

The programme draw parallels with an experiment carried out by Yale University psychologist Stanley Milgram.

His experiment measured the willingness of study participants to obey an authority figure who instructed them to perform acts that conflicted with their personal conscience.

The study began in July 1961, three months after the start of the trial of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann in Jerusalem.

Milgram devised the experiments to answer this question: “Could it be that Eichmann and his million accomplices in the Holocaust were just following orders? Could we call them all accomplices?” Show producer Christophe Nick said: “In Milgram’s case, 62% of participants obeyed abject orders; with television it’s 81%. Therefore you have to ask yourself a question which is more than about submission to an authority, but about the power of a system, a global system, which is television.”

As Milgram wrote in a 1974 article for Harper’s Magazine (”The Perils of Obedience“) based on his experiment:

[The] most fundamental lesson of our study: ordinary people, simply doing their jobs, and without any particular hostility on their part, can become agents in a terrible destructive process. Moreover, even when the destructive effects of their work become patently clear, and they are asked to carry out actions incompatible with fundamental standards of morality, relatively few people have the resources needed to resist authority.

Speaking about his reality TV show context repetition of Milgram’s Obedience Experiments:- “They are not equipped to disobey,” said Nick. “They don’t want to do it, they try to convince the authority figure that they should stop, but they don’t manage to.”

“When it decides to abuse its power, television can do anything to anybody,” he added. “It has an absolutely terrifying power.”

Christophe Nick is the co-author of a french language book about this perplexing game show simulation :- L’Expérience Extrême, published by Editions Don Quichotte.


In the original Milgram Obedience Experiments the simulated electric shocks were given as being from 15 volts to 450 volts in 15 volt intervals across thirty switches.


The Original Milgram Obedience Experiment

Human Psychology

It is widely known that Plato, pupil of and close friend to Socrates, accepted that Human Beings have a ” Tripartite Soul ” where individual Human Psychology is composed of three aspects – Wisdom-Rationality, Spirited-Will and Appetite-Desire.

What is less widely appreciated is that such major World Faiths as Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism see “Spirituality” as being relative to “Desire” and to “Wrath”.

Start of
The Milgram Obedience Experiment as
repeated on a French reality TV show





Differential Perceptions of Authority in Hospitals, by Frederick L. Bates and Rodney F. White © 1961 American Sociological Association.


It is argued that (a) social identification is a perception of oneness with a group of persons; (b) social identification stems from the categorization of individuals, the distinctiveness and prestige of the group, the salience of outgroups, and the …

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Case studies in nursing ethics

By Sara T. Fry, Robert M. Veatch

Chapter 11

Psychiatry and the Control of Human Behavior

Key Terms

Behavior Control



Objectives –

  1. To identify ethical issues associated with the control of human behavior.
  2. To describe one ethical conflict between the principles of autonomy and beneficence in caring for a patient with mental illness.
  3. To apply ethical principles in the nursing care of mentally ill patients.

A third area of health practice presenting ethical problems for the nurse is that of psychiatric nursing and the control of human behavior.1 The problem of the meaning and justification of ethical claims – such as an argument over whether homosexuality or aggressive violence is an immoral behavior or a manifestation of an illness – arise here with great regularity. Serious conceptual problems are at stake in deciding whether a generally unacceptable behavior should be considered the result of mental illness rather than some moral deviance. The second problem raised in Part 1 of this book – who or what is the authority in making these moral judgments – also arises in cases involving psychiatry and other forms of behavior control. Should experts, for example, be the ones who decide for society whether a behavior such as drug addiction is a crime, an immorality, a disease, or acceptable behavior? If so, which experts? What should happen if psychiatrists claim that aggressive violence is a mental illness, whereas prosecuting attorneys claim it is a crime, moral philosophers claim it is unethical voluntary behavior, and the clergy claim it is a sin? Just as intriguing, what should happen if each of these groups of experts insist  that, however they characterize a particular act of aggressive violence, it is not a manifestation of the type of behavior about which they claim expertise – psychiatrists saying it is not a mental illness, prosecutors saying it is not a crime, and so forth? The cases in this chapter provide an opportunity to examine these issues.

These cases also raise some of the most basic conflicts among the ethical principles introduced in Part II of this volume. Often the initial problem in cases involving psychiatry and other forms of behavior control is not an ethical one at all. It is one of determining the extent to which the behavior in question should be thought of as voluntary or autonomous. As we saw in the cases in Chapter 5, whether the client is considered autonomous may make a great deal of difference in determining whether a particular ethical principle applies. For example, it is often argued that the principle of autonomy should dominate in evaluating behaviors that may involve harm to the individual but no risk to other parties. This is so especially when the person engaging in the behavior is thought to be substantially autonomous. If the client engaging in the behavior is not substantially autonomous, then the principle of beneficence – benefitting the client – should prevail in some way. Nurses dealing with suicidal patients face these problems in a particularly dramatic way.

After looking at several cases involving psychiatry and psychology, we look at a case involving another mental health intervention – psychosurgery. The same range of ethical principles applies to this case, but several new conceptual issues basic to the ethics of behavior control are presented as well. The case involves questions such as whether a physical intervention – surgery – is more controversial than “merely talking with the patient.” It asks whether the fact that an intervention is presumably permanent (as psychosurgery may be, lobotomizing patients, etc., my note) makes it more suspect than one that is reversible (or semi-reversible, my note) such as a pharmacological intervention).  If the factor of permanency is morally relevant, the next question is an empirical one: just how reversible are various interventions? Some have argued that psychological interventions, particularly those experienced at an early age, may leave impressions that are just as irreversible as psychosurgery.

Still another question raised by the use of behavior-controlling interventions is whether finding identifiable physical evidence of pathology – a lesion or an abnormal electroencephalogram (EEG) pattern, for example – makes intervention more justifiable. Is it more acceptable to do pinpoint destruction of brain tissue when it is known that the tissue is generating abnormal EEG patterns than when there is documented evidence of a positive behavioral change with such ablation but no evidence of abnormal electrical activity? The case in the last section of the chapter provides a chance for the nurse to struggle with patient care involving behavior-controlling interventions and his or her role in these interventions.


pp. 287

Mental Illness and Autonomous Behavior

Even if the nurse successfully determines that the problem presented is in the health care sphere and is amenable to nursing intervention, problems still remain. One is determining if the patient is autonomous and, if so, whether the therapeutic strategy for reducing the problem comes at the expense of overriding that autonomy. The ethical tension is between the principles of autonomy and patient welfare. The next two cases illustrate this tension.

Case 11-2

Force Feeding the Psychiatric Patient

Rosalind Jacuzek was newly employed on the psychiatric ward of a large county hospital. One of her patients was Daniel Forester, a 47-year old man admitted for severe depression. A once successful owner of a small business, Mr. Forester had become depressed following the failure of his business and a messy divorce from his wife of 18 years. His wife and children now lived in another city. His only visitor was a younger sister, who seemed concerned about her brother’s condition out of a sense of family obligation rather than genuine concern for him. His depression was complicated by the recent diagnosis of a rare form of leukemia for which there was only palliative treatment and no demonstrated cure. Burdened by the failure of his business, the loss of his family, and his illness, Mr. Forester’s depression had progressed to the point where he was refusing all medications, food, and water in hopes that he would die.

Intravenous (IV) therapy had been instituted, and he was receiving electroconvulsive therapy (ECT). It was hoped that Mr. Forester’s nutrition could be maintained by forced feedings and his hydration maintained by the IV until the ECT treatments began to effect some change in his alarming state of depression and his desire to die.

Force feeding Mr. Forester, however, was distasteful to Ms. Jacuzek. Whenever she attempted to put food into Mr. Forester’s mouth, he spit it out and moved his head away from the food offered on a spoon. A nasogastric (NG) tube was finally passed and a liquid supplement given to Mr. Forester. Despite the fact that his hands were tied and he was restrained in bed, he always managed to dislodge the NG tube, necessitating that the tube be passed anew each time he was fed. This procedure was a real nuisance to the nurses and required additional sedating of the patient. Each time she offered food to him, Ms. Jacuzek tried to force it into his mouth but eventually wound up passing the NG tube in order to get some nutrition into his body. The ordeal usually required the assistance of three or four individuals to hold Mr. Forester while the NG tube was passed and he was fed. After a few days of this procedure, Ms. Jacuzek noticed that Mr. Forester’s face, jaw, neck, and arms were bruised from the manner in which the nurses were gripping him while trying to force feed him.

Sickened by the treatment of Mr. Forester and the marks on his body, Ms. Jacuzek discussed the situation with her supervisor. An experienced psychiatric nurse, the nurse supervisor acknowledged the difficulty of feeding a severely depressed patient like Mr. Forester. But she urged Ms. Jacuzek to cooperate in the temporary feeding plan developed by the nurses. She assured the younger nurse that Mr. Forester would thank her and the other nurses when he got over his depression. The bruises (and inhumane cruelty, physical and mental torture, along with shredding the man’s esophagus, sinuses, throat and nasal passages – my note) were inconsequential considering the necessary nutrition that was being supplied. Ms. Jacuzek wasn’t sure this was adequate moral justification for physical coercion of a very sick psychiatric patient.

Case 11-3

Must Suicide Always Be Stopped?

Cynthia Morgan was an attractive, 26-year old woman admitted to a psychiatric unit following an unsuccessful attempt at suicide. She had made the attempt several weeks after radical neck surgery to remove a highly malignant tumor from her lower jaw. Disfigured and faced with months of therapy and reconstructive surgery, she had decided that her life was no longer meaningful or worth living. Unmarried and with no living family members that seemed to care about her, she was extremely depressed about her future, the cost of her medical bills, and her ability to become gainfully employed again. She had been an advertising agent for a growing cosmetic company. Given the results of the disfiguring surgery, she would not be able to return to employment that placed her in the public eye. She simply felt that it was better to die than live with her disabilities.

One of her nurses, Beth Amos, tended to sympathize with Ms. Morgan. Although Ms. Amos was obligated to prevent the patient from attempting to commit suicide again, she thought that Ms. Morgan was making a rational choice and that it was wrong to interfere in this choice. Yet, Ms. Amos did interfere in the choice by searching Ms. Morgan for any implements by which she could harm herself and by not allowing her to wear a belt, stockings, a bra or a slip. She also made Ms. Morgan open her mouth following the administration of each medication, limited the types of objects that could be taken into her room, and forced her to take tranquilizing medications that she did not want to take. Yet she wondered why it was “wrong” for a patient to end his or her life when no other parties would be affected and the patient would avoid the unpleasantness and pain that continued life created. Why can’t a patient make this choice?


One solution to both these cases would be to find each of the patients incompetent or lacking in autonomy to make choices about his or her own care. Both are suffering from conditions that are traditionally associated with incompetency: depression in the case of Daniel Forester and suicidal behavior in the case of Cynthia Morgan. If they are not substantially autonomous agents, then there can be no conflict between patient autonomy and doing what is in the interest of the patient (serving that in the way they see fit, however inhumane, indecent, cruel, sadistic, immoral and torturous that may be regardless of whether it provides any good to the patient or to their health, mental health and well-being  – my note). The problem would seem to disappear.

Even if Mr. Forester and Ms. Morgan are not autonomous, the nurses in these cases (or the patients’ physicians) do not necessarily have the right to treat these patients in ways that they perceive as beneficial to the patients.  (How could their perceptions be so distorted as to see and to believe that these things are beneficial to the patients when clearly they are horrific and sadistic? – my note). If the patients are believed to be incompetent, then someone ought to be designated as their agents for purposes of accepting or refusing treatment. The problems that can arise if guardians make what appear to be unreasonable choices will be discussed in the cases in Chapters 13 and 14. The judgment that these patients are incompetent, however, may simply put the nurses in the position of having to get someone else to make decisions for them. (when in fact, they should be even less willing to be cruel and engage in torturing methods of “medicine” and “accepted medical practices” – my note).

The other alternative is that Ms. Jacuzek and Ms. Amos conclude that Mr. Forester and Ms. Morgan really are substantially autonomous. Especially in Ms. Morgan’s case, she seems to understand the nature of the situation and to have made a choice about whether it is worth continuing life. Her nurse, Ms. Amos, seems to believe that Ms. Morgan’s judgment is quite rational. Then the ethical problem reduces to how the principle of autonomy should relate to promotion of the patient’s welfare.

There are other differences between the two patients besides the fact that Ms. Morgan’s judgment seems more rational than Mr. Forester’s (in their opinion, my note). For one, Ms. Morgan’s condition is not necessary terminal, whereas Mr. Forester’s is apparently irreversible. For another, the interventions in Ms. Morgan’s case (forced tranquilization and constraints placed on normal living, dressing, and privacy) seem less invasive than the physical restraints, forced feeding, and bruising in Mr. Forester’s case. Are these differences adequate to justify a different moral judgment about the interventions in the two cases, assuming that both patients are substantially autonomous?

In the past decade or two it has become more common to recognize that patients cannot automatically be presumed to be incompetent just because they make judgments that most other people would not make. To the contrary, adults are presumed competent until found otherwise by a court. Because both these patients are adults who have never been found incompetent, they have the same rights as other adults. Forcing treatment against their consent is a legal violation, and many would consider the overriding of autonomy morally unacceptable as well. Unless the nurses or others at these institutions are prepared to seek to have the patients declared incompetent, they will face severe moral and legal difficulties if they treat against the patients’ consent.

Critical Thinking Question

If you were the nurse caring for Ms. Morgan or Mr. Forester, which nursing interventions would you have recommended? Why?

Mental Illness and Third-Party Interests

Sometimes patients with psychiatric illness pose not only conflict between the principles of autonomy and patient welfare but also conflict between the welfare of patients and the welfare of third parties. The next two cases pose these problems.

Case 11-4

Sedating and Restraining the Disturbed Patient

Percival Guthrie was a 58-year old man with a history of organic brain syndrome. In good physical health, Mr. Guthrie had been admitted to a nursing home by his family. Because of his forgetfulness, wandering behavior, sleep pattern disturbances, and inability to care for himself (according to his family’s opinions – my note), his family wanted him to be in a care center that would meet his growing needs for supervision and personal care. Family members had tried to care for him themselves during the past year, but they were exhausted from all the supervision that Mr. Guthrie needed. Despite the expense, they hoped that their relative would be happy in the nursing home and that he would receive the care that they could no longer give him.

Sandra Mooney was the day nursing supervisor of the nursing home. Recognizing the extent of the care that Mr. Guthrie would need, she agreed to place him in a room near the nurses’ station and to observe him while he adjusted to the routine of the nursing home. Adjustment, however, seemed an impossibility for Mr. Guthrie. It soon became apparent that his wandering into other patients’ rooms was disturbing to them. During meals, he talked loudly and frequently called for his relatives. When sedated with a mild tranquilizer, Mr. Guthrie became more agitated and spent all night roaming the halls, wandering into the rooms of sleeping patients, and generally exhibiting loud and boisterous behavior, much to the dismay of the nursing staff. Within a few days, it became apparent that mild medication was not going to affect Mr. Guthrie’s behavior. He was also becoming very dirty and refused to change his clothes. Once, he sat in his armchair all night and failed to use the bathroom to urinate. His clothes and the chair were soaked with urine, and this became a daily occurrence.

Missing next page in google book


Percival Guthrie, the man with organic brain syndrome who was sedated and confined to his room by nurse Sandra Mooney, is in some ways like the patients in the previous section. Like them, Mr. Guthrie’s autonomy is in question. In such situations, nurses often decide to confine patients – in possible violation of their autonomy but for what appears to be the production of the greater good. Mr. Guthrie may well be less autonomous (not true, my note) than the earlier patients. That is one possible difference in the cases. But there is another . . .

Missing pp. 293

pp. 295 from block print –  (the rest of this block is available on the google books entry – but this part is the most interesting)

Implications:  The lack of family care in psychiatric settings is a multi-faceted problem. Current health policies do not show endorsement of a family care approach. Responses from families and health professionals reported that health professionals often lacked training and resources to deal with complex family issues. Families believed that lengthy and intensive interventions were neither necessary nor desired to address their concerns. Family care can be improved by focusing on building rapport, and communicating problems and concerns, between families and health professionals. Further research is needed to identify the experiences of African-American (and all other races of, my note) families regarding their access to (abuse of, use of, and intentional misuse of, my note) mental health care services. (while not participating in changing themselves or changing the internal family dynamics partly responsible for the problems and mental health issues, my note.)

Other Behavior-Controlling Therapies

Whereas many of the ethical issues the nurse faces in the area of psychiatry and the control of behavior arise around psychotherapy and psychoactive drug interventions, other emergent technologies may raise somewhat different issues. These involve surgical interventions, electroshock, electrical stimulation of the brain, and unconventional therapies. A nurse dealing with these therapies faces such questions as whether physical interventions into the brain are morally any different than psychotherapeutic interventions and whether irreversible procedures are more controversial than reversible ones. The following case involves possible psychosurgical intervention.

Case 11-6

Psychosurgery for the Wealthy Demented Patient

Gail Conover was a staff nurse on a surgical unit of a small private hospital in the South. One of her patients was Regina Dinsworth, a 49-year old woman admitted for treatment of minor injuries sustained in a fall. Miss Dinsworth was the sister of Rex Dinsworth, a wealthy philanthropist in the city and the president of the Dinsworth Foundation. The Dinsworth Foundation had contributed a great deal of money to develop social and cultural resources in the city over the years, and many of the results of its investments bore the Dinsworth family name:  Dinsworth Park, the Dinsworth Museum of Modern Art, Frances Dinsworth High School, and so on.

Regina Dinsworth, however, was apparently sheltered by the family because of mental illness and many previous hospitalizations. She lived in the Dinsworths’ spacious family home in the middle of the city and was cared for at home by a private nurse. In recent months, however, she had become very difficult to care for at home. She wandered away from the house on several occasions, was in constant physical activity, and rarely slept. Her family was becoming exhausted by her level of activity and was increasingly embarrassed by her escapes from the house to other areas of the city. During her latest escape, she had apparently wandered into a high-crime neighborhood of the city and had been attacked by two men. She was saved from more serious injury by an off-duty policeman, but she did sustain several broken ribs, cuts, and bruises.

The Dinsworths were considering psychosurgery for their relative as an alternative to permanent hospitalization. It seemed to be the easiest way for them to control Regina Dinsworth and would lessen the burden of caring for her. The family realized that the psychosurgery would alter her personality, produce irreversible physical changes, and probably make her dependent on the family for the rest of her life. But this seemed a small price to pay for alleviating the constant worry and embarrassment that her mental illness caused the family. Mrs. Conover, however, did not agree that this might be the best alternative for Miss Dinsworth. Surely there were important considerations here other than the family’s reputation and ease of custodianship.


The proposed treatment of Regina Dinsworth is controversial on several grounds. It is no wonder that the nurse, Gail Conover, would have doubts. The case report, however, does not tell us why she has concluded that psychosurgical intervention is not the best treatment for Miss Dinsworth.

One major problem in this case is the apparent motivation of the family. Its members appear to be more concerned about the disruption and embarrassment Miss Dinsworth is causing than about her welfare. On the other hand, Miss Dinsworth’s life does not appear to be very pleasant. Agitation, wandering, sleeplessness, and physical assault is not much to look forward to (so they believe it is rational to medically perform physical assault on her by performing a lobotomy and then she will no longer be agitated about being held prisoner by her family in their home, being forced to take medications against her will administered by a nurse they hired, and she won’t stay up all night listening to music and doing the things she wants to do during that time free of the nurse’s interference, and she will no longer have any clue where she is, therefore she will stop trying to get away from the family who is keeping her locked up in her room twenty-four hours a day, my note). Nor is permanent hospitalization (much to look forward to). Is it possible that, in spite of the family’s motivation, the surgical intervention is in Miss Dinsworth’s interest? (No, it obviously is not correcting any of the very real problems of wanting to experience life, get away from the family holding her hostage, and accomplishing something with her life that they are refusing to let her do and stopping the wrongs that she is enduring, my note). If so, should a nurse or any other caring professional object simply because the family is not well motivated?

If Mrs. Conover is not objecting solely on the basis of the family’s motivation – that is, if she really believes some other treatment is better for Miss Dinsworth – what is the basis of her belief? Does she believe that there are other techniques available that can relieve Miss Dinsworth’s symptoms more effectively? (or is it possible, that the symptoms and the behaviors her family finds difficult, are not the problems at all, my note.) Is that the sort of issue about which a nurse should appropriately object, or is that a technical question better left to other authorities? (Does this really impugn nurses for objecting as any rational, reasonable person would and suggest they defer to some other authority than their own ability to recognize reality for what it is where cruelty and sadistic measures are being applied to mental patients to suit their families’ desires or to suit some obtuse measure of what the outcomes are supposed to do even when clearly, those outcomes are horrific rather than beneficial? – my note.)

Possibly Mrs. Conover objects not so much on technical grounds as on moral grounds. Cutting into the human brain is an unusually controversial thing to do. It conjures up the prefrontal lobotomies of earlier decades. It suggests blunting (destroying) the human personality, irreversible physiological change, and dehumanization. Is it valid for Mrs. Conover to object on these grounds? Some people hold that physical interventions such as psychosurgery should be avoided, at least when psychotherapies such as counseling and behavior modification could be used. Is there a moral basis for such a preference?

One possible basis for this difference is that psychosurgery is believed to be irreversible whereas other psychotherapeutic interventions are not (other psychotherapeutic interventions, including electro-convulsive therapy (ECT), psychiatric psychotropic pharmaceuticals and other behavior modification techniques are also not reversible and their physical, psychological, mental and metabolic changes that result from them are also not reversible, my note.) That is an empirical claim worthy of exploration. Some counseling interventions may also turn out to be irreversible; surgery actually may be reversed in some cases, such as by having other brain tissues take on some of the functions originally performed by the excised tissue.

Critical Thinking Questions

  1. Is there any valid reason that reversible procedures are morally preferable to irreversible procedures? Is so, is it only because otherwise we may make mistakes that we want to reverse?
  2. If Miss Dinsworth’s behavior is as debilitating as it appears to be, would it not be preferable that the change was irrevocable? (Why don’t they just change her family’s concept about her and about what they find reprehensible and embarrassing about it with real solutions for her life, her opportunities, her mind, her talents and her time? How is it that those solutions are not sought by these mental health providers? Why don’t they free her from their entombment and protect her from their forced destruction of her personality and unique opportunities of her lifetime? – my note)

Mrs. Conover needs to be clear on why she objects to the proposed surgery, even if the procedure seems intuitively revolting to her. Obviously, there are a number of reasons why she might object, and different reasons may have different implications for her. If, after sorting out her reasons, she is still convinced that psychosurgery would not be in Miss Dinsworth’s interest, how should Mrs. Conover respond?

This case and the previous cases in this chapter reveal how the problems of conceptualizing rewards and punishments as well as disease and health shape how we judge people should be treated. Whether we are dealing with psychotherapy or other behavior-controlling therapies, labeling a condition a mental “disease” helps us attribute blame or lack thereof. If the patient with a mental condition is deemed not to be acting in a substantially autonomous manner, our moral assessment will reflect this status. These problems are among those face in caring for patients with HIV, to which we turn in Chapter 12.


  1. S. Bloch, P.Chodoff, & S.A. Green (Eds.). (1999). Psychiatric ethics (3rd ed.). New York:  Oxford University Press; American Psychiatric Association Ethics Committee. (2001). Ethics primer of the American Psychiatric Association. Washington, DC:  American Psychiatric Association;  Radden, J. (2002). Psychiatric ethics, Bioethics, 16(5), 397-411.
  2. Flew, A. (1973) etc.

From pp. 297 (endnote continue on page 298 which is not included in this google book preview)

Case Studies in Nursing Ethics, Third Edition

Sara T. Fry, PhD. RN and Robert M. Veatch, PhD

Limited preview – Edition: 3 – 2006 – 460 pages

As the healthcare professional in closest contact with both the patient and the physician, nurses face biomedical ethical problems in unique ways. Accordingly, Case Studies in Nursing Ethics presents basic ethical principles and specific guidance for applying these principles in nursing practice through analysis of over 150 actual case study conflicts that have occurred in nursing practice. Each case study allows readers to develop their own approaches to the resolution of ethical conflict and to reflect on how the traditions of ethical thought and professional guidelines apply to the situation.

In the updated Third Edition, all case studies and commentaries were changed to reflect current nursing practice. Likewise, the 2001 Code of Nursing Ethics and federal regulations influencing healthcare delivery and the conduct of research were also revised and updated. In addition, research briefs and summaries were added to demonstrate the types of ethics-related research done by nurses and other healthcare workers.

Jones and Barlett Publishers

40 Tall Pine Drive

Sudbury, MA  01776




(Excerpts found here – on google books preview of this text – )



Hofling hospital experiment

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In 1966, the psychiatrist Charles K. Hofling conducted a field experiment on obedience in the nurse-physician relationship.[1] In the natural hospital setting, nurses were ordered by unknown doctors to administer what could have been a dangerous dose of a (fictional) drug to their patients. In spite of official guidelines forbidding administration in such circumstances, Hofling found that 21 out of the 22 nurses would have given the patient an overdose of medicine.


A doctor unknown to a nurse would call her by telephone with orders to administer 20 mg of a fictional drug named “Astrofen” to a patient and that he/she will sign for the medication later. The bottle had been surreptitiously placed in the drug cabinet, but the “drug” was not on the approved list. It was clearly labelled that 10 mg was the maximum daily dose.

The experimental protocol was explained to a group of nurses and nursing students, who were asked to predict how many nurses would give the drug to the patient. Of the twelve nurses, ten said they would not do it. All twenty-one nursing students said they would refuse to administer the drug.

Hofling then selected 22 nurses at a hospital in the United States for the actual experiment. They were each called by an experimenter with the alias of Dr. Smith who said that he would be around to write up the paperwork as soon as he got to the hospital. The nurses were stopped at the door to the patient room before they could administer the “drug”.

There were several reasons that the nurses should have refused to obey the authority. 1.) The dosage they were instructed to administer was twice that of the recommended safe daily dosage. 2.) Hospital protocol stated that nurses should only take instructions from doctors known to them, therefore they should definitely not have followed instructions given by an unknown doctor over the phone. 3.) The drug was not on their list of drugs to be administered that day and the required paperwork to be filled before drug administration was not completed.


Hofling found that 21 out of the 22 nurses would have given the patient an overdose of medicine. None of the investigators, and only one experienced nurse who examined the protocol in advance, correctly guessed the experimental results. He also found that all 22 nurses whom he had given the questionnaire to had said they would not obey the orders of the doctor, and that 10 out of the 22 nurses had done this before, with a different drug.


The nurses were thought to have allowed themselves to be deceived because of their high opinions of the standards of the medical profession. The study revealed the danger to patients that existed because the nurses’ view of professional standards induced them to suppress their good judgement.


Because it was a field experiment, it had high ecological validity and experimental validity. However, in order to do the experiment truthfully, the nurses had to be denied informed consent. The nurses were accustomed to accepting advice from authority figures. Finally, the medicine used was fictional. When the experiment was repeated with diazepam, a drug with which the nurses were acquainted, none of the nurses obeyed. However, it should be noted that nurses are explicitly taught to recognize drug-seeking behavior and so would behave much more cautiously regarding diazepam or any other addictive or controlled substance.


  • Basic Psychiatric Concepts in Nursing (1960). Charles K. Hofling, Madeleine M. Leininger, Elizabeth Bregg. J. B. Lippencott, 2nd ed. 1967: ISBN 0-397-54062-0
  • Textbook of Psychiatry for Medical Practice edited by C. K. Hofling. J. B. Lippencott, 3rd ed. 1975: ISBN 0-397-52070-0
  • Aging: The Process and the People (1978). Usdin, Gene & Charles K. Hofling, editors. American College of Psychiatrists. New York: Brunner/Mazel Publishers
  • The Family: Evaluation and Treatment (1980). ed. C. K. Hofling and J. M. Lewis, New York: Brunner/Mazel Publishers
  • Law and Ethics in the Practice of Psychiatry (1981). New York: Brunner/Mazel Publishers, ISBN 0-87630-250-9
  • Custer and the Little Big Horn: A Psychobiographical Inquiry (1985). Wayne State University Press, ISBN 0-8143-1814-2

See also


  1. ^ Hofling CK et al. (1966) “An Experimental Study of Nurse-Physician Relationships”. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease 141:171-180.

External links

Retrieved from “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hofling_hospital_experiment

Categories: Group processes | Social psychology | Psychology experiments | Human experimentation in the United States | Medical ethics





Behavioral Psychologist

B.F. Skinner B.F. Skinner is a behavioral psychologist who became famous for his work with rats using his “Skinner Box”. He took the extreme liberty of transferring his experience and theories of rats directly to human beings. It should be kept in mind that rats and people are tremendously different creatures, yet Skinner had no problem with easily assuming what was true for rats, on a very simple scale, would be applicable to human beings in very different and complex situations.

Skinner had the “wonderful” idea to bring up his daughter in a Skinner Box (see picture below). How anyone could admire this man is beyond me. His book, Walden Two, is a utopian presentation of how he imagined the application of is theories would work out in real life. Of course, they never have worked out in real life despite his assertions and beliefs. In Beyond Freedom and

Dignity, Skinner put forth the notion that Man had no indwelling personality, nor will, intention, self-determinism or personal responsibility, and that modern concepts of freedom and dignity have to fall away so Man could be intelligently controlled to behave as he should. Despite the fact of the degree of implied human degradation involved,

the question always remained just who would decide what Man should
Mr. & Mrs., Skinner view daughter Debbie in a Skinner Box be, how he should act, and who would control the controllers? The book is a ludicrous dissertation on flimsy behavioral psycho-babble and shoddy science, where simple ideas pertaining to rats and animals are casually transposed to humans. It is good to read some of this stuff to see how ridiculous absurd theories can be and even more how so many people can readily accept them as valid and useful.

In a traditional behavioral approach, Skinner followed in the footsteps of Pavlov and Watson. This view postulates that the subject matter of human psychology is only the behavior of the human being. Behaviorism claims that consciousness is neither a definite nor a usable concept. The behaviorist holds, further, that belief in the existence of consciousness goes back to the ancient days of superstition and magic and is useless. The behaviorist asks: Why don’t we make what we can

observe the real field of psychology? Let us limit ourselves to things that can be observed, and formulate laws concerning only those things. Now what can we observe? We can observe behavior – what the organism does. This idea began with Wilhelm Wundt in the late 1800s, when the notion that psychology should forsake the human mind and inner personality. “Wundt asserted that man is devoid of spirit and self-determinism. He set out to prove that man is the summation of his experiences, of the stimuli which intrude upon his consciousness and unconsciousness. Realize, by definition, psychology means the “study of the mind or soul”. To be honest, these practitioners should have named their subject something else, such as “people control” or “manipulating organisms”, but instead they redefined the term psychology to no longer apply to the mind.

The rule, or measuring rod, which the behaviorist puts in front of him always is: Can I describe this bit of behavior I see in terms of “stimulus and response”? Per Watson, “By stimulus we mean any object in the general environment or any change in the tissues themselves due to the physiological condition of the animal, such as the change we get when we keep an animal from sex activity, when we keep it from feeding, when we keep it from building a nest. By response we mean anything the animal does – such as turning toward or away from a light, jumping at a sound, and more highly organized activities such as building a skyscraper, drawing plans, having babies, writing books, and the like.”

The interest of the behaviorist in man’s doings is more than the interest of the spectator – he wants to control man’s reactions as physical scientists want to control and manipulate other natural phenomena. It is the business of behaviorist psychology to be able to predict and to control human activity. Watson says, “Why do people behave as they do – how can I, as a behaviorist, working in the interests of science, get individuals to behave differently today from the way they acted yesterday? How far can we modify behavior by training (conditioning)? These are some of the major problems of behaviorist psychology.”

As should be obvious to the reader that “behavioral psychology” has nothing to do with psychology per se, and all to do with managing behavior. It denies the very thing which separates Man from the rest of the animal kingdom – the human mind. It is a soulless pursuit which sees Man as an animal who must adapt to the environment, that is, the social system and political regime, rather than adapting the environment to his own vision and will. In this regard the subject has embraced by governments all over the world, as hopefully it would supply them with an effective way to finally get the public to finally behave as they desire. It hasn’t exactly worked out that way, but that hasn’t stopped them from continuing to try.

Skinner uses the idea of global problems to justify research into and the attempt to manipulate people – pollution, food shortages, depletion of natural resources, overpopulation, war and crime. To him the question is how to induce Man to behave properly so as to use new forms of energy, eat less meat, form smaller families with fewer children, use birth control, and act decently to each other. A seemingly noble purpose with a devious means to achieving the end.

As with all behaviorists he assumes Man is incapable of responsibility, self-discipline, self-determined morality and even autonomous achievement because there is no self in the first place. To him you simple “react” and “behave” to external forces, and thought and awareness are nothing more than annoying, meaningless by-products. The result of this is that the concepts of consciousness, awareness, self-control, will, self-determinism, and personal responsibility cannot and do not exist within their ideological frameworks. These are considered minor things and of no meaningful significance. At best all internal subjective states, including feelings, are nothing more than chemical reactions in the brain or stimulus-response reactions to evolutionary and immediate environmental forces.

He states in Beyond Freedom and Dignity:

“. . . yet almost everyone attributes human behavior to intentions, purposes, aims and goals.”

“. . . as if they had wills, impulses, feelings, purposes, and other fragmentary attributes of an indwelling agent.”

“We shall not solve the problems of alcoholism and juvenile delinquency by increasing a sense of responsibility. It is the environment which is ‘responsible’ for the objectionable behavior, and it is the environment, not some attribute of the individual, which must be changed.”

“But as analysis of behavior adds further evidence, the achievements for which a person himself is to be given credit seem to approach zero.”

“If all else fails, punishable behavior may be made less likely by changing physiological conditions. Hormones may be used to change sexual behavior, surgery (as in lobotomy) to control violence, tranquilizers to control aggression, and appetite depressants to control overeating.”

It is interesting to note that modern psychology’s failure to impart decent morality and education actually causes much violence and aggression, but instead of addressing this at the source, psychiatry jumps in to handle the “real problem”, as they conceive it, which is really only a symptom of their own earlier failures, and prescribe oppressive treatments of drugs and lobotomy as solutions. They call their failures “learning disability”, “dyslexia”, “aggressive disorder”, “attention disorder”, and hundreds of other things. Skinner advocates complete environmental control of the individual (as a behavioral psychologist), but if that fails, then force the individual to conform through drugs and brain surgery (psychiatric methods).

The “modern” behavioral view sees you as only a “behaving biological organism”. From this view who needs responsibility or any personal morality based upon the concept of human causality? To them these concepts are meaningless and useless. Of course, this approach in itself causes all manner of other problems which they then purport to solve with their biochemical and physiological psychiatric interventions. They first themselves cause the problem by advocating and enforcing unworkable methods of learning and morality, and then they apply more crazy methods in their pretentious attempt to “cure” the “mental disorder” they themselves initially brought about through their wacky psychological theories. Notice this keeps them in business and in power.

The Skinner Box

Operant Conditioning
“Operant conditioning” describes one type of associative learning in which there is a contingency between the response and the presentation of the reinforcer. This situation resembles most closely the classic experiments from Skinner, where he trained rats and pigeons to press a lever in order to obtain a food reward. In such experiments, the subject is able to generate certain motor-output, (the response R, e.g. running around, cleaning, resting, pressing the lever). The experimentor chooses a suited output (e.g. pressing the lever) to pair it with an unconditioned stimulus (US, e.g. a food reward). Often a discriminative stimulus (SD, e.g. a light) is present, when the R-US contingency is true. After a training period, the subject will show the conditioned response (CS, e.g. touching the trigger) even in absence of the US, if the R-US association has been memorized.

A Skinner box typically contains one or more levers which an animal can press, one or more stimulus lights and one or more places in which reinforcers like food can be delivered. The animal’s presses on the levers can be detected and recorded and a contingency between these presses, the state of the stimulus lights and the delivery of reinforcement can be set up, all automatically. It is also possible to deliver other reinforcers such as water or to deliver punishers like electric shock through the floor of the chamber. Other types of response can be measured – nose-poking at a moving panel, or hopping on a treadle – both often used when testing birds rather than rats. And of course all kinds of discriminative stimuli may be used.

In principle, and sometimes in practice, it is possible for a rat to learn to press a bar in a Skinner-box by trial and error. If the box is programmed so that a single lever-press causes a pellet to be dispensed, followed by a period for the rat to eat the pellet when the discriminative-stimulus light is out and the lever inoperative, then the rat may learn to press the lever if left to his own devices for long enough. This can, however, often take a very long time. The methods used in practice illustrate how much the rat has to learn to tackle this simple instrumental learning situation. The first step is to expose the rat to the food pellets he will later be rewarded with in the Skinner box in his home cage when he is hungry. He has to learn that these pellets are food and hence are reinforcing when he is hungry. Now he can be introduced to the Skinner-box.

Initially there may be a few pellets in the hopper where reinforcers are delivered, plus a few scattered nearby, to allow the rat to discover that the hopper is a likely source of food. Once the rat is happy eating from the hopper he can be left in Skinner box and the pellet dispenser operated every now and then so the rat becomes accustomed to eating a pellet from the hopper each time the dispenser operates (the rat is probably learning to associate the sound of the dispenser operating with food – a piece of classical conditioning which is really incidental to the instrumental learning task at hand). Once the animal has learned the food pellets are reinforcing and where they are to be found, it would, however, still probably take some time for the rat to learn that bar-pressing when the SD light was on produced food. The problem is that the rat is extremely unlikely to press the lever often by chance. In order to learn an operant contingency by trial and error the operant must be some behavior which the animal performs often anyway. Instead of allowing the rat to learn by trial and error one can use a ‘shaping’ or ‘successive-approximations’ procedure. Initially, instead of rewarding the rat for producing the exact behavior we require – lever pressing – he is rewarded whenever he performs a behavior which approximates to lever pressing. The closeness of the approximation to the desired behavior required in order for the rat to get a pellet is gradually increased so that eventually he is only reinforced for pressing the lever. Starting by reinforcing the animal whenever he is in the front half of the Skinner-box, he is later only reinforced if he is also on the side of the box where the lever is. After this the reinforcement occurs if his head is pointing towards the lever and then later only when he approaches the lever, when he touches the lever with the front half of his body, when he puts touches the lever with his paw and so on until the rat is pressing the lever in order to obtain the reinforcer. The rat may still not have completely learned the operant contingency – specifically he may not yet have learned that the contingency between the operant response and reinforcement is signaled by the SD light. If we now leave him to work in the Skinner-box on his own he will soon learn this and will only press the lever when the SD light is on.

From this procedure, even difficult to get rats to conform to, Skinner developed the absurd theory that Man could and should be controlled in a similar way for his own good and for the good of civilization. Skinner follows in the tradition of all elitists who imagine they know what is best for everyone else and have no compunctions about enforcing his ideas upon others in there own best interests.

The Stimulus and the Response: A Critique of B.F. Skinner – by Ayn Rand

Meaning & Motivation – the truth about what really makes people really do things, but more what enables them to live life causatively as a sane and responsible human being.

Note: The book Beyond Freedom and Dignity was written under a grant from the National Institutes of Mental Health (HIMH). This shows first, the relation of the government to behavioral engineering, and second, that even this massive government organization which claims to deal with “mental health” is quite comfortable dealing with theorists who blatantly deny the very existence of a mind and therefore anything “mental”. Possible the NIMH should change it’s name to something more appropriate, such as the “National Institutes of Human Control and Conditioning” – which would be a more apt name for what they are actually concerned with.

Suggested Reading!

About Behaviorism – by B. F. Skinner

Beyond Freedom and Dignity – by B. F. Skinner

Behaviorism – by John Watson

Waldon Two – by B. F. Skinner

Say NO To Psychiatry!

Back to Behaviorism Main Page

Back to Main SNTP Page

Pursuing Truth in all subjects…
Gene Zimmer 1999

vvtfzgALL, vvtSkinner1, say no to psychiatry, FTR, Foundation for Truth in Reality, B.F. Skinner, behavioral psychology, behaviorism




Moral disengagement

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Moral disengagement is a term from social psychology for the process of convincing the self that ethical standards do not apply to oneself in a particular context, by separating moral reactions from inhumane conduct by disabling the mechanism of self-condemnation.[1]

Generally, moral standards are adopted to serve as guides and deterrents for conduct. Once internalized control has developed, people regulate their actions by the standards they apply to themselves. They do things that give them self-satisfaction and a sense of self-worth and refrain from behaving in ways that violate their moral standards. Self-sanctions keep conduct in line with these internal standards. However, moral standards only function as fixed internal regulators of conduct when self-regulatory mechanisms have been activated, and there are many psychological processes to prevent this activation. These processes are forms of moral disengagement of which there are four categories (Bandura, 1999).


Reconstructing conduct

One method of disengagement is portraying inhumane behavior as though it has a moral purpose in order to make it socially acceptable. For example, torture, in order to obtain information necessary to protect the nation’s citizens, may be seen as acceptable. Voltaire is quoted as saying, “Those who can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities” (Bandura, 1999).

Another disengagement technique is advantageous comparison. Moral judgments of conduct can be influenced by structuring what the conduct is compared against. In social comparison the “morality” of acts depends more on the ideological allegiances of the labelers than on the acts themselves (Bandura, 1990).

Displacing or diffusing responsibility

Another dissociative practice, known as displacement of responsibility, operates by distorting the relationship between actions and the effects they cause. People behave in ways they would normally oppose if a legitimate authority accepts responsibility for the consequences of that behavior. Under conditions of displaced responsibility, people view their actions as the dictates of authorities rather than their own actions (Bandura, 1999).

Additionally, there is the practice of diffusion of responsibility. This is when the services of many people, where each performs a task that seems harmless in itself, can enable people to behave inhumanely collectively, because no single person feels responsible. An example of this is in executions where multiple persons have distinct roles in the execution process so no individual is responsible (Bandura, in press).

A similar technique is collective action. Any harm done by a group can be blamed on the other members so people act more harshly when responsibility is collective than when individualized. For example, a juror sentencing a person to death can blame the “jury” rather than him or herself as a juror (Bandura, in press).

Disregarding or misrepresenting injurious consequences

Another method of disengagement is through disregard or misrepresentation of the consequences of action. When someone pursues an activity harmful to others for personal gain they generally either minimize the harm they have caused or attempt to avoid facing it. Instead, they will recall prior information given to them about the potential benefits of the behavior. People are especially prone to minimize harmful effects when they act alone. It is relatively easy to hurt others when the detrimental results of one’s conduct are ignored (Bandura, 1999).

Dehumanizing or blaming the victim

A final disengagement practice, dehumanization, is applied to the targets of violent acts and depends on how the perpetrator views the people toward whom the harmful behavior is directed. Once dehumanized, divested of human qualities, people are no longer viewed as persons with feelings, hopes, and concerns but as subhuman objects which do not evoke feelings of empathy from the perpetrator and can be subjected to horrendous treatment (Stanford, 1991).


  1. ^ Fiske, S. (2004). Social Beings: A core motives approach to social psychology. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.

Retrieved from “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moral_disengagement

Categories: Social psychology




My Note – What has happened in psychiatry and in mental health industries generally, is that a sadistic and immoral cruelty to those indicted as mentally ill without trial, without due process and without objective verification is occurring simply as the result of subjective diagnoses made by mental health practitioners whose personal fortunes are enhanced by the pharmaceutical industries and by other financial incentives within the industry itself. The moral disengagement that is common among those practitioners has been rationalized as necessary in the name of professionalism and is extraordinary in its perversity. The damages that are being done to individuals and to their lives are irreversible, profoundly shocking and inherently sadistic in what they are forcing upon people, their patients in particular, upon children, upon young adults and upon the adult citizens in their care often without cause or reason.

Who has become the subjective arbiter of what is normal, reasonable, rational, sane or mentally healthy and of what constitutes desirable or undesirable behaviors that must be modified? What are the subjective diagnoses intended to do that in any way serve the needs, the opportunities, the good mental health and greater quality of life, chances of survival in this world and potential accomplishments of these individuals in their lifetime?

How is any of it designed to offer good health, good mental health and a better life to anyone beyond the financial benefit to the mental health industries, psychiatrists and practitioners that are engaging in it? In every instance, the physiological changes and damages to the overall good health and good life of the person they are subjecting to it are profoundly affected in negative, intrusive and torturous ways. That is an absolute fact.

And, to what good purpose does it serve? Is it really that necessary that every human being alive today be required to sleep at night, wake up at 6 am and go to sit in a tiny office cubicle never seeing the sunlight, go home at 5, spend an hour in traffic getting home, cook a warm dinner for an hour, eat, watch a little television and go to bed after the 11 pm news rather than be a night owl, a creative or conduct a lifestyle different than that?

Is it really always necessary and appropriate to only say things that people in one’s family like, to never do anything that might embarrass them or to live by standards they deemed to be appropriate which are based on a time and place that no longer exists? Is it mentally ill for a white woman to fall in love with a black man, an Asian man  or a Mexican man because the family was raised in a time of racial prejudice but their daughter is of today’s viewpoints about it?

Is it right for any family or spouse to keep a family member locked in their room or in their house as a prisoner day in and day out without allowing that family member access to a greater world and the opportunities available in it because the family is afraid of embarrassment and only concerned for their reputation, or are operating out of jealousy, or pettiness, or greed, or repulsion for the choices and viewpoints that differ from their own? Is that really indicating mental illness borne by their family member or is it their thinking that is outdated, wrong, manipulative and unhealthy?

What behaviors are necessary in today’s world for survival and to achieve in a lifetime, to fit into society and be fulfilled, to be an asset to society and to enhance the chance for the overall survival of mankind, to excel and to succeed and to accomplish great things, to have successful relationships and financial rewards for one’s efforts, to have quality of life and enjoyment from living? What behaviors, attitudes, ideas, knowledge and personal assets of character are required to do those things and aren’t those the basic attributes of desirable good mental health?

None of the things being offered by mental health professionals do those things – none of them seem to be even concerned with those things as outcomes for the individuals they are “professionally treating” and whose behaviors they intend to modify to something other than whatever it currently is. Isn’t it true that many, if not all, mental health diagnoses are being made based on the subjective information offered by families intent on changing the behaviors of their members that they find bothersome for some arbitrary judgment made by the family and by whose judgmental perceptions, which could literally be anything from any time period, from any source, from any misunderstanding, from any zealous religious belief, and any perception of reality (or distance from it) whatsoever?

– cricketdiane


(5) After the hearing, if the judge of the probate court shall find by clear and convincing evidence, from the evidence above specified, that the person alleged to be subject to this Code section is a person subject to this Code section and that the condition of such person is irreversible and incurable, he shall enter an order and judgment authorizing the physician to perform such sterilization procedure in accordance with subsection (d) of this Code section;

(from prior parts of the section despite the first paragraph that says the General Assembly wants no part in sterilization of people with developmental disabilities, mental disabilities, brain damage, etc.)

(b)  Definitions. As used in this Code section, the term “person subject to this Code section” means a person who, because of a developmental disability, brain damage, or both, is irreversibly and incurably mentally incompetent to the degree that such person, with or without economic aid (charitable or otherwise) from others, could not provide care and support for any children procreated by such person in such a way that such children could reasonably be expected to survive to the age of 18 years without suffering or sustaining serious mental or physical harm, when there has been, according to the procedures of this Code section as hereinafter stated, the required finding that the condition of such person is irreversible and incurable.

(c)  Prerequisites to performing a sterilization procedure on a person subject to this Code section. A sterilization procedure may be performed by a physician on a person subject to this Code section pursuant to subsection (d) of this Code section only after satisfaction of all of the following conditions precedent:


(d)  Performance of sterilization procedure. After judgment of the court in accordance with the preceding subsections of this Code section shall have become final to the effect that such sterilization shall be performed upon such person subject to this Code section, a sterilization procedure may be performed in an accredited hospital by a physician upon such person subject to this Code section.

HISTORY: Ga. L. 1970, p. 683, § 3; Ga. L. 1971, p. 869, § 1; Ga. L. 1985, p. 1134, § 1; Ga. L. 1986, p. 982, § 10; Ga. L. 1992, p. 6, § 31; Ga. L. 2009, p. 453, § 3-7/HB 228.

O.C.G.A. § 31-20-3


What this means – that in the twenty-first century, any number of barbaric practices against the rights and freedoms of individuals considered to be mentally deficient or different can still be done, are being done and are not considered in the same light as the experiments of the Hitler regime, the Stalinist use of behavior modification mental health practices and the sadistic tortures imposed by historical despots and dictatorships despite their identical nature to the barbaric practices currently in use among mental health industries and practitioners today. The same has been done to people with seizures. The same has been done to people who have had strokes. The same has been done to those who are different. The same has been done to homosexually oriented people. The same has been done to women, daughters and wives who engaged in intimate relationships outside of marriage. The same has been done to those with brain injuries, mental illness, retardation, developmental disabilities, mentally debilitating diseases, dementia, Alzheimer’s dementia, post traumatic stress, to those who have already been victimized by crime and domestic violence and abuse, and to those whose only crime was, and is, to be different than their families wanted them to be. When does it stop? When does it change? When does it offer good things to the individual lives that are being forced to suffer it and instead of being forced to suffer further sadistic cruelties? When are the efforts made to better these lives rather than to harness them for profits and financial benefits to the professional providers that are further abusing them? When does that happen?

– cricketdiane