The Education of a Torturer

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"The Education of a Torturer" is an account of experiments that has similar results to that of Milgram's obedience experimentsthat were performed in 1963. Though both experiments vary drastically, both have one grim outcome, that is that, "it is ordinary people, not psychopaths, who become the Eichmanns of history."

The Stanford experiment was performed by psychologists Craig Haney, W. Curtis Banks, and Philip Zimbardo. Their goal was to find out if ordinary people could become abusive if given the power to do so. The results of the six day experiment are chilling.

The experiment took ordinary college students and had some agree to be prisoners and the rest would be guards for the prisoners. Both groups received no training on what to do or act like. They had to get all of their knowledge of what to do from outside sources, such as television and movies. The guards were given uniforms and night sticks and told to act like an ordinary guard would. The prisoners were treated like normal criminals. They were finger printed and booked, after that they were told to put on prison uniforms and then they were thrown into the slammer (in this case a simulated cellblock in the basement was used). All of the participants in this experiment at first were thought to be similar in behavior but after one week, all of that changed. The prisoners became "passive, dependent, and helpless." The guards on the other hand were the exact opposite. They became "aggressive and abusive within the prison, insulting and bullying the prisoners."

After the experiment was finished, many of the mock guards said that they enjoyed the power. Others said that they had no idea that they were capable of being so corrupt.

The experimenter was shocked at the results as well saying, "It was degrading....To me, those things are sick. But they (the prisoners) did everything I said. They abused each other because I requested them to. No one questioned my authority at all."

I have a...
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