An Anniversary to Forget
Over at Shrink Rap News on the Clinical Psychiatry News web page I've posted my latest rant about the Stanford prison experiment in recognition of its fortieth anniversary. Commenting over there is a nuisance, thus the post here. Pardon the inconvenience.
The experiment was a simplistic depiction of a complex situation. It assumed that Id impulses would run wild because there would be no check by the Ego or Superego. The Lord of the Flies. But it also reminded me of many of the posts here that assume that all psychiatric hospitalization is coersive and that abuse always occurs.
However, there is also truth in the notion that power corrupts, and that sadism is an important force in human nature.
The redirect to another site and come back here to comment thing is odd. Just saying.
Flaws in Zimbardo exp aside, enough studies do show that people behave differently when in uniform or when wearing a mask or when part of a mob.
Remember that we have a medical model of this experiment. Give a man (or sometimes woman) several letters behind their name and a few in front for good measure, then choose either a long white coat and a stethoscope, or baggy green pyjamas, cap and mask, and...voila! You have a chance of creating a tyrant who eats nurses, medical students and occasionally patients raw for breakfast, and wipes his feet on crushed souls.
Thankfully, this breed is becoming more rare. Although usually seen in surgeons,this can be seen in any specialty. My first clinical rotation was psychiatry, where one such female tyrant stripped several layers off me. Perhaps that is one reason why I gravitated toward surgery!
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