Tag Archives: Milgram

Experiment 20: A Dramatization of Three Women in Milgram’s Obedience to Authority Experiments

AHP readers may find Experiment 20, the Guardian’s recent collaboration with Macquarie University, of interest:

Experiment 20 dramatises the stories of three women who took part in the psychologist Stanley Milgram’s ‘Obedience to Authority’ experiments in 1962, and insisted on being heard. More than 800 people were recruited for what they were told was a study about learning and memory. The scenario they took part in urged them to inflict electric shocks on another person. This film by Kathryn Millard is the last in Guardian Australia’s Present Traces series, presented by Macquarie University and linked by archive material.

FHHS Sponsored Session: “Human Science Fictionalized: A Novel, a Visual Narrative and an Indie Film”

This November’s History of Science Society (HSS) meeting features a session sponsored by HSS’s special interest group the Forum for History of Human Science (FHHS). The HSS meeting runs November 3rd through 6th in Atlanta, Georgia. The session “Human Science Fictionalized: A Novel, a Visual Narrative and an Indie Film,” organized by Ben Harris (right), will take place on the morning of Sunday November 6th. Full details follow below.

Sunday Nov. 6, 9-11 am
Session 87. Human Science Fictionalized: A Novel, a Visual Narrative and an Indie Film
Chair(s): John Carson, University of Michigan
Commentator(s): Nadine Weidman, Harvard University
Organizer(s): Ben Harris, University of New Hampshire

A Novelist’s Perspective, Andromeda Romano-Lax, Independent Scholar
An Artist’s Perspective, Matteo Farinella, Independent Scholar and Columbia University
Putting Stanley Milgram on Film, Gina Perry, University of Melbourne

Summary:

In studies of science popularization the focus is usually on non-fiction. But what about fictionalized portraits of science? This session looks at three attempts to bring the human and neuro- sciences to the public through fiction. Among the questions explored are: how is the fact/fiction boundary negotiated? how do a “fact writer” and a “fiction writer” think about popularization differently? What are the different relationships that they have to their sources, or that they envision with their audiences? Andromeda Romano-Lax is a successful novelist whose most recent work, Behave (2016), dramatizes the life and career of Rosalie Rayner, wife and former student of behaviorist John Watson. Matteo Farinella is an illustrator and artist with a doctorate in neuroscience. His visual narrative, Neurocomic (2013, co-authored with Hana Roz), portrays the history of neuroscience through a young man’s a voyage of discovery in a land of giant neurons and encounters with famous scientists. Gina Perry is an Australian journalist who used her investigative and narrative skills to write a Behind the Shock Machine (2013), a history of Stanley Milgram’s obedience studies. Now a doctoral student in psychology, she will review Experimenter, Michael Almereyda’s 2016 film about Milgram and his work. Our commentator is Nadine Weidman, a historian of science at Harvard University known for her work on public controversy and popularization in the twentieth century human sciences. Our Chair is John Carson, a historian at the University of Michigan and Director of Undergraduate Studies for its Program in Science, Technology, and Society.

Come back tomorrow for a roundup of all the history of human science related programming at HSS!

New HoP: Evil, Attachment, and Trends in Psychiatry

The February 2016 issue of History of Psychology is now online. The issue includes an opening editorial note from incoming editor Nadine Weidman on her plans for the journal. Articles in the issue explore studies of evil by Ernest Becker and Stanley Milgram, the influence of William Blatz on Mary Ainsworth’s attachment theory, and Foucault’s work on mental illness. The issue also includes an article on cyclical trends in the history of psychiatry by Hannah Decker, along with commentary from Allen Frances and Ronald Pies and a response from the author. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“History of Psychology,” by Nadine Weidman. The abstract reads,

The editor of History of Psychology discusses her plan to vary the journal’s content and expand its scope in specific ways. The first is to introduce a “Spotlight” feature, a relatively brief, provocative thought piece that might take one of several forms. Along with this new feature, she hopes further to broaden the journal’s coverage and its range of contributors. She encourages submissions on the history of the psy-sciences off the beaten path. Finally, she plans to continue the journal’s tradition of special issues, special sections, and essay reviews of two or more important recently published books in the field.

“Ernest Becker and Stanley Milgram: Twentieth-century students of evil,” by Jack Martin.

Both Stanley Milgram and Ernest Becker studied and theorized human evil and offered explanations for evil acts, such as those constituting the Holocaust. Yet the explanations offered by Becker and Milgram are strikingly different. In this essay, brief biographical records of their lives are provided. Differences in their research methods and theories are then examined and traced to relevant differences in their lives, education, and careers. Especially important in this regard were their personal experiences of evil and the scholarly practices and traditions of social scientific and humanities scholarship that characterized their graduate education and scholarly work. The final parts of the essay are devoted to a comparative and integrative analysis of their respective approaches to the question of evil, especially as manifest during the Holocaust, and a brief exegesis of their disciplinary commitments.

“From secure dependency to attachment: Mary Ainsworth’s integration of Blatz’s security theory into Bowlby’s attachment theory,” by Lenny van Rosmalen, Frank C. P. van der Horst, and René van der Veer. Continue reading New HoP: Evil, Attachment, and Trends in Psychiatry

Theory & Psychology Special Issue: “Unplugging the Milgram Machine”

The October 2015 issue of Theory & Psychology is a special issue on “Unplugging the Milgram Machine.” Guest edited by Augustine Brannigan, Ian Nicholson, and Frances Cherry the issue includes a number of articles of interest to AHP readers. Full titles, authors, and abstracts follow below.

“Introduction to the special issue: Unplugging the Milgram machine,” by Augustine Brannigan, Ian Nicholson, and Frances Cherry. The abstract reads,

The current issue of Theory & Psychology is devoted to Stanley Milgram and his contribution to the study of obedience. It presents a decidedly critical evaluation of these well-known experiments that challenges their relevance to our understanding of events such as the Holocaust. It builds on recent investigations of the Milgram archive at Yale. The discipline’s adulation of the obedience research overlooks several critical factors: the palpable trauma experienced by many participants, and the stark skepticism of the deceptive cover-story experienced by many others, Milgram’s misrepresentation of the way in which the prods were undertaken to ensure standardization, and his failure to de-brief the vast majority of participants. There is also the cherry-picking of findings. The project was whitewashed in the film, Obedience, prepared by Milgram to popularize his conclusions. The articles contributed for this issue offer a more realistic assessment of Milgram’s contribution to knowledge.

“Coverage of recent criticisms of Milgram’s obedience experiments in introductory social psychology textbooks,” by Richard A. Griggs and George I. Whitehead III. The abstract reads, Continue reading Theory & Psychology Special Issue: “Unplugging the Milgram Machine”

Experimenter: The Milgram Movie

Adding to the recent trend in popular uptake of classic mid-century controversies in psychology (see for example the acclaimed television series Masters of Sex, which fictionalizes the groundbreaking sex research conducted by Masters and Johnson), October sees the release of Sundance Festival feature Experimenter (find our earlier coverage of the festival here), a film written and directed by Michael Almereyda about Stanley Milgram’s still infamous studies on obedience to authority.

Starring Peter Sarsgaard and Winona Ryder, the film dramatizes the ethical quandaries for which Milgram’s work became a poster child and contributed to the development of increased ethics regulation in psychological research. It also provides a characterization of Milgram himself, and contextualizes the infamy of his studies in light of his personal and professional lives.

The reception of Milgram’s work by public press has always promoted its more scandalous aspects (as we say in the field, it’s a ‘sexy’ topic for journalists), and as such this feature length is only the latest in a long line of media representation that Milgram has attracted since he published his conclusions. See our other blog coverage of these, starting with Shatner’s 1975 fictionalization; multiple renditions from the Travel, and Discovery channels, BBC, and ABC, often including attempts at actual replication of the experimental conditions; as well as a French mockumentary commenting on reality TV.