Sunday, 15 February 2009

From "Obedience to Authority"

By Stanley Milgram.

MR. RENSALEER: Oh, I can't continue this way; it's a voluntary program, if this man doesn't want to go on with it.
EXPERIMENTER: Please continue.
(A long pause.)
MR. RENSALEER: The man, he seems to be getting hurt.
EXPERIMENTER: There is no permanent tissue damage.
MR. RENSALEER: Yes, but I know what shocks do to you. I'm an electrical engineer, and I have had shocks ... and you get real shook up by them -- especially if you know the next one is coming. I'm sorry.
EXPERIMENTER: It is absolutely essential that you continue.
MR. RENSALEER: Well, I won't -- not with the man screaming to get out.
EXPERIMENTER: You have no other choice.
MR. RENSALEER: I do have a choice. (Incredulous and indignant:) Why don't I have a choice? I came here on my own free will. I thought I could help in a research project. But if I have to hurt somebody to do that, or if I was in his place, too, I wouldn't stay there. I can't continue. I'm very sorry. I think I've gone too far already, probably.

[...] Although this subject defied the experimenter at 255 volts, he still feels responsible for administering any shocks beyond the victim's first protests. He is hard on himself and does not allow the structure of authority in which he is functioning to absolve him of any responsibility. Rensaleer expressed surprise at the underestimation of obedience by the psychiatrists. He said that on the basis of his experience in Nazi-occupied Europe, he would predict a high level of compliance to orders.

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