Behind the shock machine : the untold story of the notorious Milgram psychology experiments / Gina Perry.

by Perry, Gina [author.]Looking glass.

Publisher: Melbourne, Victoria : Scribe, 2013.Description: x 383 pages ; 21 cm.ISBN: 1921844558; 9781921844553; 9781922247094.Subject(s): Milgram, StanleyLooking glass | Behaviorism (Psychology) -- Moral and ethical aspects | Human experimentation in psychology -- Moral and ethical aspects | Interpersonal relationsLooking glass | Obedience -- Psychological aspects | Psychology -- Research -- Effect of experimenters onLooking glass | Social psychology -- Experiments -- History
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Enhanced descriptions from Syndetics:

The true story of the most controversial psychological research of the modern era.

In the summer of 1961, a group of ordinary men and women volunteered for a memory experiment to be conducted by young, dynamic psychologist Stanley Milgram. None could have imagined that, once seated in the lab, they would be placed in front of a box known as a shock machine and asked to give electric shocks to a man they'd just met. And no one could have foreseen how the repercussions of their actions, made under pressure and duress, would reverberate through their lives. For what the volunteers did not know was that the man was an actor, the shocks were fake, and what was really being tested was just how far they would go.

When Milgram's results were released, they created a worldwide sensation. He reported that people had repeatedly shocked a man they believed to be in pain, even dying, because they had been told to - linking the finding to Nazi behaviour during the Holocaust. But some questioned Milgram's unethical methods in fooling people. Milgram became both hero and villain, and his work seized the public imagination for more than half a century, inspiring books, plays, films, and art.

For Gina Perry, the story of the experiments never felt finished. Listening to participants' accounts and reading Milgram's files and notebooks, she pieced together an intriguing, sensational story- Milgram's plans had gone further than anyone imagined. This is the compelling tale of one man's ambition and of the experiment that defined a generation.

Reviews provided by Syndetics

Library Journal Review

Psychologist Perry digs deep into the story behind psychologist Stanley Milgram's famous "obedience experiments," which led to the reformation of American Psychiatric Association ethics codes and inspired several fictional and reality TV programs. Here Perry interviews subjects involved in the experiments, who, believing they were participating in research on the effects of punishment on learning, were instructed to administer electric shocks to other participants taking memory tests. Many of the unwitting subjects were traumatized, thinking they had actually killed the other participant, and some are still haunted and blame Milgram for their actions. Perry uncovers more than 20 variations of the experiment and describes Milgram's disdainful and harsh views toward subjects who proved to be obedient. She points out that the original experiment occurred in 1961, almost simultaneously with the trial of Nazi officer Adolf Eichmann. Perry prompts readers to consider several questions: Are people always responsible for their actions? Why are the subjects of Milgram's experiments more sympathetic than Nazis? Why is it acceptable to cite Milgram's experiment but not the research done in concentration camps? Is it because Milgram's subjects didn't harm anyone (even though they thought they did)? VERDICT Recommended to anyone in the psychology field or those studying ethics. Readers interested in World War II will learn from the experiment's parallels with Nazi atrocities.-Chrissy Spallone, Philadelphia Yearly Meeting Lib. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly Review

Perry puts one of the 20th century's most contentious psychological studies under a microscope in this truly shocking history of the Milgram "obedience experiments," examining their origins, methodologies, aftermath, and criticisms. Yale University psychologist Stanley Milgram's 1961 series of tests showed that 65% of participants would, under various circumstances, willingly administer high-voltage shocks to other participants. The findings made waves in scientific circles and in popular culture, and were used to account for atrocities like the Holocaust by demonstrating the disturbing ease with which seemingly normal people could be impelled to commit cruel acts. Perry, herself a psychologist, focuses largely on the means by which these devastating conclusions were drawn; in constructing her case, she draws from her own interviews with participants and recorded dialogue from the experiments. These details, combined with her journalistic approach, make the book easily accessible to laypersons-yet it's incisive enough to appeal to other psychologists as well. Perry's palpably unfavorable opinion of Milgram may leave some readers doubting the objectivity of her project, but there's still much rewarding and entertaining material here (her discussion about the scientific experiment as a form of theater is particularly interesting). No matter how shocking, it seems that the show must go on. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

Author notes provided by Syndetics

Gina Perry is an Australian writer whose feature articles, columns, and essays have been published in The Age and The Australian , and her short fiction has been published in a number of literary magazines, including Meanjin , Westerly , and Island .

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