Top 10 CREEPY EXPERIMENTS Done On CHILDREN
We all know that throughout history there have been what we would call ‘social sacrifices’ in order to obtain more knowledge about how humans work, not only physically, but also mentally. Sometimes science requires questionable things to be done in order to get results, but what’s considered too far? In this installment, we'll look at experiments that may cross that boundary in our Top 10 Crazy Experiments Done on Children.
In the 1960s, Dr. Lauretta Bender, a neuropsychiatrist at Bellevue Hospital, began what she thought was a revolutionary treatment for children with autistic schizophrenia – electroshock therapy. It was believed that she had performed her experiment on over 100 children between the ages of three and twelve, with some reports believing the number to be twice that amount. Several of Bender’s patients later showed very violent or aggressive behaviors, with at least one case leading to multiple homicides. Luckily, Dr. Bender’s experiments were shut down and didn’t catch on as some new-aged treatment fad.
Hepatitis in Willowbrook State School
At some point between the late 1950’s and 1970’s, medical researcher Saul Krugman exposed the mentally challenged residents housed at the Willowbrook State School in New York with the hepatitis virus for observation. The experiment followed an outbreak at the school and was performed in order to track the development and possibly treatment of the viral infection. As expected, many doctors opposed the study, but their concerns were put aside as parents for these children began sending in permission letters stating agreement with the experiments. It allowed family members to be admitted into the overcrowded institution to see their children while also allowing doctors to find out more about the infection. Ultimately, though, the study was considered the most unethical experiment performed on children in the United States.
Little Albert Experiment
In 1920, a case study was brought to attention after being published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology. Little Albert was a 9-month-old infant conditioned to fear a white lab rat. When Albert was originally exposed to the rat, he showed no fear but rather curiosity. However, after the researchers banged a hammer to make a loud noise every time Albert touched the rat, he began to cry and try to crawl away from the rodent. Unfortunately for Albert, his conditioning went a little too far when he started to confuse the rat with most furry things such as dogs, fur coats, and even a Santa Clause mask with a cotton ball beard.
The Third Wave
In April of 1967, a Californian teacher named Ron Jones became Cubberley High School’s very own Adolf Hitler. To explain just how Nazi sympathizers could have accepted the actions of the regime, Jones implemented a mock Nazi movement. He introduced a strict discipline into his lessons and the students went along with it. Within a week, the kids designed a uniform, insignia, salutes, and banners for the regime and even made the almost all-white school segregate the restrooms. At the end of the week, the students were in a rally when the hoax was revealed to them. Afterwards, some recall it being a very emotional experience for them.
The First Transgender
David Reimer was an identical twin born in 1965. At eight months old, his parents took him for a routine circumcision, but things went awry when the doctor accidentally destroyed his.. <gasp> I can’t even say it. David’s parents went to psychologist John Money, who recommended that they perform the first ever gender reassignment and reconstruction surgery. The parents went ahead with the operation but David, or Brenda as they later named him, did not follow in his role as a female. He refused to wear dresses and would not play with female toys. By the age of 9 or so, David started to act as typical 9-year old boy. David lived a rather normal life, but a series of tragic events in his late 30’s, including a divorce, unemployment and the death of his twin brother, lead to his suicide in 2004.
In 1960, two psychologists built something called the “visual cliff” to test depth perception differences between infants born preterm and those born fullterm. It was an illusion on glass that made it seem like there was a cliff. The two tested 36 infants by having their mothers try to coax them into crawling off of the cliff. Even though there was no real danger, only three of the children wound up crawling to their doom, most of the children retreated when they got to close to the cliff. Along with depth perception, researchers may have gotten their first taste of infant survival instinct.
The Monster Study
In 1939, Wendell Johnson of the University of Iowa conducted a stuttering experiment on 22 orphans. The children were separated into two groups. The first group, made up of children with stuttering speech, received positive speech therapy and was properly praised for their accomplishments. In the second group, who were able to speak without stuttering, the children were taught poorly and were belittled for their mistakes. These children, though they started with none, developed speech problems that they had for the rest of their lives. At the time, the results of this study were never published due to the news of human experiments done by Nazis. Due to his use of orphans, Johnson’s peers were quick to dub his experiment “The Monster Study.”
Robbers Cave Experiment
In 1954, an experiment called Robbers Cave was carried out, where two groups of 11-year-old boys were pinned against each other out in the woods. Each team participated in team-building exercises, unaware of the other team’s existence, until there was a strong bond within the team. The two teams were then pinned against each other in a series of tournaments for valuable prizes and interactions ended up getting aggressive. To quell the aggression, the two groups were given teamwork-driven tasks that require intergroup cooperation. What started as an aggressive relationship eventually quelled through the positive interactions between groups.
The 1961 Bobo Doll Experiment
In 1961, as the first of two experiments, Albert Bandura had a group of children individually observe adults punching, kicking, and hitting a Bobo clown doll. Following the display of aggression, each individual child was awarded an opportunity to play with non-aggressive toys, such as trucks. To fuel aggression for the sake of the study, the experimenter would take the toys away and immediately move the child into a room of other toys, including the Bobo doll. As they had witnessed the adults do, the children were observed punching, kicking, and hitting the clown. Researchers sought to prove that children learn through observing their surroundings. In a later experiment, following criticism, Bandura replaced the Bobo doll with a live clown.
The Broken-Toy Experiment
During this twisted study, children were given a ‘special’ toy that was rigged to break on them and were specifically told to be careful with it. When the toy would break, the examiner who gave them the toy would observe the child’s reaction. Researchers did this so they could explore the guilt children would fear. The examiner would go into a different room and hand the child a replica to assure them it was okay and fixed, possibly to alleviate any long-term emotional damage. Many people were upset by this experiment and had publicly expressed their fears how people were willing to ‘intentionally inflict pain’ on children.