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With The Apparition out next week on home release we take a look at Psychological experiments gone wrong…

December 21st, 2013 by Marc Comments

With The Apparition getting its home release next week, it got us thinking… given the subject matter,  how close to reality are these things? Answer: Not very. But here’s a few disturbing ones we found…


In 1971, psychologist Philip Zombardo, attempted to question the ways in which people will conform to assigned social roles using a group of male college students to take part in a two-week long experiment whereby half would live as guards and half would live as prisoners in a mock jail setting. The results were disturbing with the students seemingly becoming sadistic guards or distraught prisoners becoming more and more drawn into the make-believe world. Within only 6-days the experiment was shut down due to the highly detrimental and stressful effects on the subjects.


The now infamous ‘shock’ experiments conducted by Stanley Milgram in the 1960s were designed to illustrate how far people would go to obey authority, even if it meant inflicting harm on an innocent victim . The study asked volunteers to deliver increasingly strong electric shocks to another subject under the instruction of a doctor, the authority figure, even when the subject was screaming in pain – although this was only a ruse to test the obedience of people under an authority figure and the subjects felt no real pain. Many participants willingly shocked the subjects, often believing them to be in a great deal of pain or occasionally even dead. Many participants later claimed that they had been affected for life, knowing that they were capable of such inhumane behaviour.


Theodore Kaczynski, a Harvard student, became the unknowing participant of a CIA-sponsored personality experiment headed by a Dr Henry Murray in which students were told that they would be having a philosophy debate with a fellow student. It was in fact a deliberately brutalizing psychological stress test whereby students were belittled by an anonymous lawyer whilst facing bright lights and a one-way mirror. The experiment had a significant impact on Kaczynski who later became a domestic terrorist, engaging in bombing campaigns for the best part of 20 years.

The test had been intended to test people’s ability to withstand brainwashing and psychological torture but instead gave birth to a variety of undesirable psychological effects in its participants.


Subproject 68 was an experiment conducted in order to erase the minds of subjects and reduce their memories to that of an infant in order to then re-build their personalities and programme their attitudes. To do this, test subjects were placed in drug-induced comas for up to 88 days and given strong electric shocks during which recorded statements or white noises would be played repetitively; some subjects were even sexually abused.

The result was not an army of robots as originally hoped but a group of permanently mentally damaged individuals.


Conducted in 1967, this was an experiment designed to explore the ways even the most representative of societies can become permeated by fascism. Using a class of school students, the experimenter created a social system whereby some students were considered members of a prestigious order. These students became eager to engage in cruel treatment of the non-order members of the class which even filtered out of the classroom and into their everyday lives. After only four days, the experiment was cancelled as it was felt to be getting far too out of control.




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Marc is a self-confessed nerd. Ever since seeing Star Wars for the first time around 1979 he’s been an unapologetic fan of the Wars and still believes, with Clone Wars and now Underworld, we are yet to see the best Star Wars. He’s a dad of two who now doesn’t have the time (or money) to collect the amount of toys, comics, movies and books he once did, much to the relief of his long-suffering wife. In the real world he’s a graphic designer. He started Following the Nerd because he was tired of searching a million sites every day for all the best news that he loves and decided to create one place where you can go to get the whole lot. Secretly he longs to be sitting in the cockpit of his YT-1300 Corellian Transport ship with his co-pilot Chewie, roaming the universe, waiting for his next big adventure, but feels just at home watching cartoons with his kids….