Dehumanization and Morals

Reaction of Article 1

Dehumanizationand Morals

Inthe Stanford prison experiment, it was clear that there was the abuseof human rights. The detainees were subjected to physical andpsychological abuse. The physical and verbal abuse is quite degradingand lead to erosion of dignity of the detainees. It is however quitedisturbing to note that the prison authorities were not taking anyaction to rectify the situation. Measures should be put in place touphold the dignity of all the prisoners and detainees. The Prisonshould also be retrained so that they are able to handle and treatprisoners in inhumane ways.

TheRelationship between a Total Institution and the Mortification of theSelf

A total institution is aguarded area where people of diverse backgrounds are strictly guardedand have no interaction with the rest of the world. To perform theexperiment, the basement of the psychology department at StanfordUniversity was converted into a confinement area. Students were toact either as prisoners or as guards to create a prison environment.‘Prisoners“ were brought in one by one, just like it happens in areal prison. All the qualities and behaviors in prison were adopted.Physical abuse and other degrading and embossing practices wereemployed.


Theexperiment was meant to find out the gravity of physical violence inAmerican prisons. Again the basement of the psychology department atStanford was availed for the purpose. It was found out that indeedthere is a lot of violence in prison. Sexual forms of violence alsoexist, and rapes and related vices are common occurrences. Theexperiment had to be halted before stipulated time when Zimbardofound the situation intolerable. He, however, proved that physicalviolence is the order of the day in American prisons.

TheBystander Effect

Bystandereffect implies a failure to take responsibility. Individuals wouldrespond to occurrences within their vicinity instead assume thatothers should be in charge. It, therefore, means the concernedindividuals sit back and watch as events unfold. Such individualsgive excuses and shift blames so that they appear not to be at faultat any given time. it always others to be blamed and not themselves.

EvilManifests in the Shadows

Thereasons why human beings engage in evil behaviors and other vices islargely dependent on situational forces. In this, an individualbackground plays an important role. People brought up in environmentsof scarcity are most likely to engage in stealing than those broughtup in areas full of plenty resources. Also, a child brought up inviolent neighborhoods is more likely to be violent to others inadulthood. Those who have been sexually abused at some point in theirlives would easily engage in the vice too.

Predispositionvs. Situational Variables

Zimbardoattributes evil behaviors, not to individual`s internal qualities butrather to situations. He emphasizes that people should not be quickto judge but rather endeavor to understand the individuals who committhe evil acts. That would provide room for assistance, counseling andcould be the first step towards rehabilitating the individual. He,therefore, emphasizes understanding of contexts under which evil actshave been committed and making the individual concerned becomes abetter person.

Whennormal people do evil things.

Inthe banality of evil, people are considered good or well behaved.However, they could indulge in bad behaviors if exposed to differentkinds of environment. In the prison experiments, ordinary studentswere noticed to engage in behaviors that ordinarily they don`t. Thatis a result of being subject to prison environment which hasdifferent setting from others that they are used to. The conclusionof this is that even good people have the potential of engaging inevil acts. All that is required is some form of trigger to respondto.