“You can chain me, you can torture me, you can even destroy this body, but you will never imprison my mind”, said Mahatma Gandhi. Zimbardo disagrees with the statement as guards can manipulate their power to imprison the prisoners brain.
Day one began for the guards in the Stanford experiment with the guards receiving their shirts which deindividualized them. They were given around the same amount of responsibilities as a guard who worked in a prison for their full-time job. Guards were expected to maintain “law and order” in the prison. Even though the guards were cautioned about the severity and dangers of the situation that they were about to enter into.
Day three arrived and they prepared for the first visitor’s night. After the guards had warned the prisoners of the expectations, the guards began to bring the first parents in. Both the prisoners and parents were allowed to sit in chairs. This shows that they were given equal opportunities. “817 is being obnoxious” said Guard A. Guard A made sure he is one of the guards in the yard and he made sure it was like that. That evening was his first opportunity to use the type of manipulative power that he really liked. The type of manipulative power that he really liked was being a figure that was very noticed and has almost all control over what would be said and what would not.
Another event that occured within the 1st few days of the experiment was prisoner 416, which was a new prisoner was forced to eat sausages which he refused to, so the guards shoved it down his throat. By day 4 Guard A came and “I did not like 416” (qtd. in Zimbardo). Guard A disliked him so much that he “forced sausage down his throat” (qtd. In Zimbardo). This shows moral disengagement by the guards not being held to any standards that encouraged the prisoners to be treated like a person. The prisoners had recreated a collective power over the individual with what they were seeing. This is clearly shown with prisoner 416 that it became ok for people to be mistreated and it was also normal for the prisoners. In a classroom it is normal for the teacher to not want others talking while they are talking this is how we have created a positive collective power over the individual.
In the story Night, it is shown that dehumanization is a big issue but there are ways that they get around it. “There no longer was any distinction between rich and poor, notables and the others; we were all people condemned to the same fate-still unknown.” (Wiesl. 21). This shows how people’s individuality was stripped away from them. They were forced to do everything a certain way in order to make everybody the same person. In society today that would not be normal even though some people may try to do that. Throughout the book dehumanization is a common issue.
Throughout Night we see the idea of moral disengagement. This shows that nobody was held to any moral standards, “A Jew no longer had the right to keep in house gold, jewels, or any objects of value.” (Wiesl. 20). This shows that in their society Jews were not treated equally and were looked down upon in a way. If you compare this to society today a protest might be held to show that this is not acceptable and people need to be held to some sort of standards.
- Wisel, Elie. Night. Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 2008.
- Zimbardo, Phillip, “A Pirandellian Prison.” New York Times Magazine, 1973, www.prisonexp.org/pdf/pirandellian.pdf