Are Psychiatric Experiments on Primates Ethical — Or Even Truly Useful?


Pediatric psychiatrist Sujartha Ramakrishna describes a planned University of Wisconsin psychiatric experiment “to discover new therapies by dissecting and analyzing the brains of baby monkeys who have been intentionally traumatized.” Is such an experiment ethical, Ramakrishna asks in The Cap Times — and can it possibly lead to anything truly helpful?

“The researchers argue that it’s worth intentionally causing psychological trauma to a small number of nonhuman primates in order to help a large number of human psychiatric patients,” writes Ramakrishna. “As a pediatric psychiatrist who has treated abused and neglected children, I understand the allure of this intriguing idea. If there are indeed chemical pathways that can be altered to save traumatized children from debilitating symptoms of anxiety and depression, therapies based on this information could be lifesaving.”

However, Ramakrishna argues, pediatric psychiatry is as much art as science, while these researchers’ experimental “attempts to attribute the development of mood and anxiety disorders to a few specific physiological changes in the brain are based on a gross oversimplification of the complexities of a developing human mind.”

Ramakrishna also likens early intervention with psychiatric medications to “ordering a pre-emptive chemical strike on the developing brains of at-risk children” and argues that “the use of ‘preventive medication’ is a dangerously Orwellian approach.”

Dr. Sujatha Ramakrishna: Let’s not monkey around with kids’ brains (The Cap Times, September 17, 2014)


  1. Perhaps some of these researchers will allow us to use a small number of them to help a large number of psychiatric patients understand what changes occur in the brain to come up with such ideas? I feel sure a discovery is just around the corner, just a few more researchers please.

    Application: Rejected.

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  2. It’s great to see someone as honest, compassionate and decent as Pediatric psychiatrist Sujartha Ramakrishna, a rarity it seems in pediatric psychiatry. This is a very moving, impressive article and gives me some hope to the end of the evil psychiatric assault against children and humanity in general as some younger people in the profession are speaking out against this ongoing murderous eugenics enterprise.

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  3. That such a “question” even has to be asked.
    What does that in itself already say.
    Primates have been shown to have as much an experience, and memory, of life as we do. They can be taught sign language and communicate much as we do, same memory, same emotions. Whales and dolphins also have shown the same abilities, and have been deemed non human persons by India.

    What’s also apparent is that I can’t write what I just did without being considered “crazy” by many people.

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    • The fact is that all of the beings that you mention above think. They just don’t have a way to communicate with us on the level that we expect all communication to take place. We are arrogant when we humans think that we are the only beings in this world that actually think and make decisions etc. We don’t like to accept the fact that we are not unique in the world when it comes to thinking. So, if you’re “crazy” then so am I and I’ll accept that label proudly in order to defend all thinking beings.

      The behavior and experiences of people who’ve been traumatized is not governed by chemical imbalances in their brains either. Trauma doesn’t cause broken brains it creates broken spirits. Psychiatry doesn’t want to accept and deal with this because it reveals the horrible, nasty underbelly of our society, where children are sexually abused and physically abused and neglected at rates that are unbelievable. They’d rather blame the abused and say that they have broken brains and chemical imbalances rather than dealing with the fact that humans can be so inhumane to one another, especially to our very own children. None of these experiments that they want to do will ever address this most important issue in dealing with trauma.

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      • “Trauma doesn’t cause broken brains, it creates broken spirits … None of these experiments that they want to do will ever address this most important issue in dealing with trauma.” I absolutely agree, Stephen.

        The psychiatric industry needs to get out of the business of covering up child abuse by defaming and torturing the victims, and into the business of putting the child molesters behind bars, and bringing about justice for the abused. Justice will help the abused heal better than anything else.

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      • The great way to “help” patients to deal with trauma is to turn them into psychopaths. No higher emotionality – no problem, right? I guess some small lobotomy like procedure of the right part of the brain will do… Who the hell are these people and were they trained by Nazis?

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  4. “to discover new therapies by dissecting and analyzing the brains of baby monkeys who have been intentionally traumatized.”
    That just sounds morbid. How about STOP traumatising monkeys, and hey maybe people as well? What’s wrong with a little prevention for f**s sake?

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