Why do good people do bad things?

As an American psychologist Philip Zimbardo proved that any good person under certain circumstances turns into a beast. Well, almost any.

“Create a sense of sadness, fear, a sense of arbitrariness among prisoners that their lives are completely controlled by us … We will take their individuality in different ways. All this in aggregate will create in them a feeling of powerlessness. So in this situation we will have all the power, and they have no power, “instructed the participants of the famous Stanford experiment by its author, American psychologist Philip Zimbardo.
What is good
 … and what is bad? So, “bad” is “a conscious, deliberate act committed to harm, offend, humiliate, dehumanize or destroy other people who are not guilty of anything; or the use of the personal power and authority of the System in order to encourage people or allow them to perform such acts on its behalf. In short, “knowing what is good, doing badly” is a definition of evil given by Philip Zimbardo in his book on the Stanford experiment “The Effect of Lucifer. Why do good people turn into villains? ” But what kind of experiment is this?
The most psychologically stable
“Hardly these young people understand that today the church bells of Palo Alto call them. Soon their lives will change in a completely unexpected way. Sunday, August 14, 1971, at five to ten in the morning, “- so begins his story Philip Zimbardo.
Palo Alto – a small Californian town, which is adjacent to the campus of Stanford University. Here, in the basement of the Faculty of Psychology, there was a prison. Ponaroshku. For the ad to participate in the experiment for $ 15 per day (or $ 76, taking into account inflation as of 2006), 70 people responded. Zimbardo and his colleagues chose 24. The most healthy and psychologically stable.

All the participants were men, students of colleges, mostly from the middle strata. The group was divided into two parts. The first was to play the role of guards, the second – to prisoners. Nobody wanted to be a jailer, so Zimbrado selected them by lot. This then they will think that they were taken to the guards for high growth (although there was no average difference in growth between the two groups). In the meantime … They chose the form for their role in local stores. And they were given mirror sunglasses. That there was no visible eyes … The guards had to wear them all the time while they were in the service. Zimbardo himself became the “manager” of the prison.
The prisoners were dressed in crude, mitkalovye robes and gave them rubber slippers. Underwear was not on them – it was to change their habitual posture and make them feel uncomfortable. On one foot, each was wearing a small chain, symbolizing unfreedom. On the head – stockings to imitate shaved heads. Instead of names, numbers they must remember. Two weeks (this was how much the experiment would last) will be treated exclusively by numbers.
All this was supposed to disorient the prisoners and immerse them in the prison atmosphere. The maximum is real. If you exclude physical and sexual violence, which was strictly forbidden from the outset. Zimbardo was interested in the person’s reaction to the restriction of freedom, the living conditions behind bars and the impact of the imposed social role on behavior. First of all, his attention was focused on the prisoners. But very quickly it switched to guards, and the experiment itself soon got out of hand.
The Zimbardo effect
“There is a big difference between your Stanford” pretend prison “and real prisons – there are very different prisoners and guards than you. In a real prison, we are dealing with sociopaths, cruel guys who do not need to break the law or attack guards. We need really steep guards to control them, ready, if necessary, to curtail their necks. Your dear Stanford boys are not nearly as rude and cruel as real guards and prisoners, “Zimbardo said one of the experiment consultants, a policeman named Bill.

In 2015, there was a film directed by Kyle Patrick Alvarez, dedicated to the Stanford experiment with the same name.
Also has got a finger in the sky. But before the experiment began, no one could think about it. And the humiliation of prisoners begins almost immediately. Despite the embarrassment and embarrassment, most guards quickly master their role. They can be understood: what will happen if they are not tough? Are prisoners likely to stop listening to them?
Probably, they will break the experiment? Probably. But rigidity does not mean cruelty. How far can she go in an ordinary psychological experiment?

On the second day the guards decide that their charges are not serious about their authority. Deciding to teach the disobedient, they tear the blankets off their beds, and then drag them along the prickly bushes. To get the spines from the blankets, the prisoners will need at least an hour. If, of course, they want to sleep under the blankets. Without realizing it, the jailers are trying to get prisoners to do useless and useless work. Like in any prison. As in the army. As in any administrative system. Even at school. This is necessary for power and control. To suppress will, freedom and individuality.
Guards detain prisoners with each other, choosing a “good” and “bad” prison corps. “Bad” people are forced to clean the toilet bowls with their bare hands, press them for a long time, take their mattresses from them, so that they can sleep directly on the concrete floor.
On the fourth day, the jailers – in order to stop the attempts to escape (which indeed took place) – persuade the local police to transfer the improvised prison to a real one – to one of the unused prison corps. Fortunately, in vain. Because of what Zimbardo himself, in his words, “was angry and annoyed.” He himself was a part of the sadistic guard.
On the fifth day homosexual bullying begins. The jailers do not suspect that everything that is happening is fixed on hidden video cameras. From one such entry: “You will be the bride of Frankenstein,” says one of the guards named Barden to the prisoner under No. 2093. – No. 7258, you will be Frankenstein. I want you to go as Frankenstein goes, and say that you love No. 2093. ” He forces the prisoners to move towards each other, imitating sexual intercourse. “Like dogs, right?” So the dogs do! He’s ready, is not he? Look, he’s standing behind, it’s dog style! Why do not you make it like a dog? “- laughs another jailer, Hellman.
All those involved in the experiment, including the team of observer psychologists and Zimbardo himself, became so involved in the role that they did not pay attention to the sufferings of prisoners and did not seriously consider their complaints. While the case did not interfere with the post-graduate student of Stanford University and Zimbardo’s bride Christina Maslak, who had not participated in the experiment before. She raised the question of the ethics of his continuation, and the experiment was stopped on the sixth day.
Abu Ghraib
– a prison 32 km from Baghdad. In 2004, an international scandal erupted here. The American channel CBS spoke about the torture of American soldiers over prisoners. And he did not just tell me, but showed me the photos that the soldier-guards did themselves. Here they pose against the backdrop of a living pyramid of naked prisoners, there – they beat them to death.
Prisoners were raped, forced to walk on all fours and bark, to catch food from the toilets, stripping naked and putting plastic bags on their heads, was led on a leash. And constantly photographed. “An American said he would rape me. He painted a woman on my back and made me stand in a shameful position, holding my own scrotum in my hands, “one of the prisoners said.
Among the organizers of all these indecencies were women – soldiers of the US Army Lindy Rana Ingland and Sabrina Harman. One of the most cruel guards, paradoxically. Smiling broadly, Sabrina Harman posed against the background of a martyred Iraqi man named Manadel al-Jamadi, and one inmate was forced to stand with a packet on her head and with wires tied to his arms, legs and genitals, telling him that if he moved, he would kill him current (in fact, the wires were not connected to electricity, but you can imagine what the prisoner was experiencing).
Events in Abu Ghraib made us remember again about the Stanford experiment. Including Philip Zimbardo, who became interested in this story. And he was not easily interested, but he concluded: the military command and the government are wrongly approaching the matter. The allegations concerned only abuse of several “black sheep” of the US Army. Zimbardo believes that the reason is in the System.
“The main lesson of the Stanford prison experiment is very simple: the situation matters,” Zimbardo writes. – Social situations often have a more powerful impact on the behavior and thinking of individuals, groups and even national leaders than we are used to thinking. Some situations have such a strong influence on us that we begin to behave as we never imagined … The most important lesson of STE (Stanford prison experiment – NS) is that the System creates the Situation. It provides legitimate support, power and resources, through which these or those situations arise. ”

Thanks to the System, ordinary people allow themselves to behave like tyrants (“this is the norm”). Most people do not think about the correctness or incorrectness of this rule. It is correct, and that’s it. Because so do everything, because it is so necessary. Most do not think. And if they think, they finally give in to temptation to be like everyone else. It’s easier and safer.
Milgram and Hofling Experiment
In 1963 another American psychologist, Stanley Milgram of Yale University, seated three people behind the device with buttons. The first of them was an experimenter, the second one was a “teacher”, the third one was a “student” (in fact, it was an actor). The experimenter required the “teacher” to ask the “student” simple tasks for memorization. With every error of the “student”, an electric current was beating (that’s what the “teacher”, the “disciple” thought, of course, only pretended). With each new mistake the experimenter demanded from the “teacher” to increase the current strength, arguing this with various arguments. Starting with only 15 V, 26 subjects from 40 participants in the experiment reached the “cherished” 450 V. Only five stopped at 300 V, when the “student” began to show the first signs of discontent, four stopped at 315 V, the two – at 330 V, one person stayed at the rates of 345, 360 and 375 V.

A similar experiment in 1966 was conducted by psychiatrist Charles Hofling, who called up sister stations in hospitals of various types and, appearing as one of the doctors, ordered nurses to inject 20 mg of dangerous Astrogen into one or another patient. This is twice the permissible norm of 10 mg, which was well known to nurses. But it did not stop them. 21 out of 22 sisters unquestioningly complied with the prescription of a doctor, whom I did not even see. Of course, all of them were stopped in time, none of the patients were injured. It was just an experiment.
Unthinking submission to the authorities, characteristic of the absolute majority of people, and a suitable ideology, which lies at the root of any system, are capable of much. Including the most bloody crimes, such as Nazism and torture of the Inquisition. All this is now around us. Somewhere on a smaller scale, somewhere in the larger. Hazing in the army, harassment of women, bullying in school, beating parents of children, wives – husbands. Most of them close their eyes. Including the police. It is as if there is, but at the same time it does not seem to exist. It seems to be bad, and seems to be “with whom it does not happen.” It seems to be necessary to be indignant, but “why conflict”, “take the rubbish out of the hut.” And in general, “they will understand themselves.” Because this is a kind of norm.
“When people talk about the Stanford experiment, they often use the word” accidentally, “says Lyubov Zaeva, a psychoanalyst, a specialist in the European Confederation of Psychoanalytic Psychotherapy. – Random choice of participants, random division of them into two groups. However, from the standpoint of psychoanalysis, one should speak about the nonrandomness of many details.
Every person has sadistic and masochistic inclinations. It is they, as different forms of hatred, that help us from infancy to demand what is necessary for survival, and to express discontent if our needs are not met on time or at the desired level. Normally, these drives (inclinations.-NS) are constantly looking for a way out of the natural “storehouses” and “factories” of the unconscious, but at the same time they are controlled by external and internal moral rules, life princes. And the more mature the ego and superego in a person, the higher the likelihood that he does not cross a line not because he will be punished, but because he does not see pleasure and expediency in it. That is one thing when I’m afraid of doing something and therefore do not. Other – if there is no need, I do not want to do it.
Let’s return to the experiment. When the call for recruitment was announced, it was those people who responded to it, whose declared theme – prison – had already caused not disgust, but curiosity. That is, they initially wanted to play it, and therefore, to realize some of their fantasies and desires. Otherwise, they simply would not respond. Next it was not so important, on which side of the line they were, because sadism and masochism are only “hourglasses” that can turn this way and that, depending on the degree of repression of some desires, the fear of manifesting their true desires, degree of internal permissiveness.

“Jailers” received from the authoritative figure – the author of the Zimbardo experiment – permission to freely implement sadistic drives. That is, initially participants were similar to teenagers, whose identity is formed largely due to aggressive self-identification and competition, the form of their manifestation and the ability of sublimation depends on the degree of infantility. On Zimbardo, the role of the Adult, superego supporter, law and rules was projected. And if the superego outwardly allowed the freedom of drives, then further each was guided by the degree of his desires. That is, all the participants of the experiment, even before the beginning of the active phase of the actions, already wanted to react to some suppressed desires. It is also not accidental that the participants were students, that is, yesterday’s teenagers, whose desire for a free exit of forbidden drives is very large and can easily become stronger than the reality principle.
Let’s not forget that at the heart of any idea is the unconscious desire of the creator-creator to react to something. That is, the very idea of ​​the experiment was due to some sadistic desires Zimbardo. Some of them were embodied actively – in the form of shocking conditions, rules, and part – in the form of passive observation of the sufferings of participants.
Thus, this experiment is not so much about the conditions for the loss of social roles and self-identification, but rather about the power of sadomasochistic drives of individuals with, probably, the border organization of the individual. Because the principle of reality would stop the ordinary neurotic at the stage of curiosity, but would not allow him to break the boundaries of internal permissiveness by freely participating in fantasy from the inner reality called “Prison.” We go only in those scenarios and spaces that are close to us, are familiar even remotely. We can try on only those roles, information about which already exists in our internal experience …

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