The Onion: Majority of Psychological Experiments Conducted in 1970s Just Crimes


From the satirical outlet The Onion: “‘Much of the time these researchers didn’t even bother to test a hypothesis or collect data, but instead just tortured student volunteers for amusement by burning them with hot irons or beating them over and over again with a sack of hammers.'”

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  1. If a website, or a group, and individual who has experienced the injustice of this bizarre care, along with the broader history of cover-up, then does one advance satire, (I had to look at Satire’s website to understand the nature of the reporting), do you think when the issue is one life lost to injustice, is Satire an appropriate vehicle to convey to the broader public the nature of our problem? As a standard of comparison, do you think Simon Wisenthal would have tried to use satire? Do you think Ruby Bridges would use satire? How can I/We expect a robust challenge for social justice, if the image becomes entangled with an Onion? Tears of the past are enough!

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  2. Thanks for this I needed a laugh .
    Actually quite a few classic psychological experiments have proved to be unreplicable. Apparently they tried to replicate the ‘Stanford prison’ experiment and it turned into a love in – everyone got along fine!

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  3. Rarely, is “satire” truly funny. “Satire” is the dark side of humor with a tragic bit of truth. It should awaken us to the evils of the world. Laughing at satire is similar to the time I unfortunately laughed at a fellow traveler on the road who had a flat tire; then a few miles later I got a flat tire so bad that my tire was down to the rim and my car and I limped back to the only service station available in the area. Who had the last laugh? The men at the service station who repaired my tire as I dug deep into my pocket book tp pay the bill. I am not laughing at this. When is it funny to hear of people being forced to hide under paper bags and be bashed with hammers? Please do tell me. Thank you.

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  4. Isn’t that regarded as a relatively successful outcome (of psychiatric training)?
    Although falling toward obsequious rotund obtundency might be seen as the somewhat lesser evil sometimes.
    Whatever, regardless of these considerations, as I sit at the kitchen table, with two dictionaries open before me and another on my phone while they discuss the nature of language on the radio, these considerations lead me to believe these are two skills I need to develop.

    At first your use of the word obtuse was in question but then, well it seems to me that intentionality might be seen to be out of place in an environment like this. One of the chief errors in our thinking it seems to me is to assume intentionality where none exists. Whatever about the misdirected rage and emotional obduracy of the average trumpesta it would be wrong to assume that they are forever thinking of doing anybody any harm, although obviously some do.
    It seems likewise that the systemic troubles with psychiatric care getting worse with time can’t be analysed by assuming intentionality on behalf of staff, let alone patients for the most part. This might explain why expressing individual agency and having agency respected proves so impossible. Of course being free is remarkably far from doing what you damn well please.

    Mostly though I realise how much this damage has contributed to dulling my own senses while being trapped in this process. At least I’ve discovered a word, ‘obtundent’, that perfectly describes the treatment so frequently recommended.

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    • I do think it important to remember that something can be intentional without being fully conscious. A lot of times, the staff’s motivations go to maintaining order and avoiding emotional discomfort on their own parts. They are mostly completely unaware of these motivations, yet make decisions with these motivations in the back of their minds. The DSM contributes greatly to making this easier, because rather than admitting they feel uncomfortable because they don’t know what to do or because their own issues have been brought to the surface, they can blame the patient by saying, “Her borderline symptoms are escalating” or “He’s decompensating, we need a PRN injection stat!”

      So the staff may not be aware they are intentionally oppressing their patients, and yet be intentionally oppressing their patients nonetheless, with the full support of the oppressive system.

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      • I think that’s by and large true. I contradict myself, they do know what their doing. They think you’ve got to be cruel to be kind maybe or that it’s the lesser of two evils. And often it’s through less cruelties. But I’ve met a lot of these people and their rarely out and out nasty. I think they genuinely feel they are doing the right thing.
        But also in some key respects I think they actually don’t know what they are doing. The numbers of people registered with psychiatric difficulties keeps rising and I don’t think the system has stopped to consider its role in this scandal.
        As for us patients, sometimes thankfully, they usually don’t care they are just fulfilling their duties.

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