all of us who know prisons or have been to one see some of this dehumanizing everywhere. The message is clear that the DOC does not want prisoners to have visitors and often, visitors are treated like prisoners .For the prisoner this dehumanization goes on in every facit of his life and is sytematic. Cheaper than Lab Rats describes well the evolution of this system. It is pasted below and put in pdf file
The Mental Torture of American Prisoners
Cheaper Than Lab Rats, Part II
by Hans Sherrer
written in March 1999
Prison Legal News cover article April 1999
The use of prisoners in medical experiments didn't begin or end with the radiation
experiments conducted on them from the 1940's to the 1970's. [See: Part I -
Can Prisoner's Glow in the Dark?PLN, March 19991
As thinly disguised psychological laboratories, supermax prisons and other forms of isolating prisoners from the outside world continue the tradition of using prisoners as "lab rats."
Psychological experimentation on prisoners raises serious cultural, legal, political,
and ethical questions for the same reasons that human radiation and biochemical
experiments on them did. Also, just as the radiation experiments conducted on
prisoners was for the purpose of understanding the effects of radiation on military
personnel and the general population, psychological experiments conducted on
prisoners have a larger purpose than finding more effective ways to torment them.
One of those purposes is to determine how political authorities can affect,
manipulate, and/or control the behavior and responses of people in the general
population under various conditions.
One of the fathers of today's mental experimentation on prisoners is M.LT. psy-
chology professor Dr. Edgar Schein. He became one of the western world's fore-
most authorities on psychological coercion by studying the methods used by the
Communist Chinese and North Koreans on American prisoners during the Korean
At a 1962 M.I.T. seminar attended by psychologists and prison wardens from
around the country, Dr, Schein explained how physical, psychological, and chemical
techniques of coercion inflicted on American prisoners of war, could be used on
prisoners of law in American prisons. Dr. Schein told his audience that they
shouldn't be squeamish about using mind control techniques on American prison-
ers perfected by the Russians and • Communist Chinese because:
"These same techniques in the service of different goals may be quite acceptable
to us. ... I would like to have you think of brainwashing not in terms of politics,
ethics, and morals, but in terms of the deliberate changing of human behavior and
attitudes by a group of men who have relatively complete control over the
environment in which the captive population lives."
The centerpiece of Dr. Schein's,techniques of coercive manipulation is the
psychological isolation of prisoners by the fraying or outright destruction of social
bonds and their emotional support structure. This includes relationships between
prisoners on ihe inside, as well as their family and friends on the outside. The
reason he keyed on this as a powerful coercive mechanism, is that to,varying
degrees we all perceive our existence as human beings from what is reflected back
to us by those living beings we come into contact with. Psychologist Nathaniel
Branden named this phenomenon the Muttnik Principle. In the 1960's he realized
from his response to his dog Muttnik, that all living beings contribute to our mental health who make us feel real by accurately reflecting our treatment of them back to us.
Dr Schein learned from studying, the successful techniques of totalitarian regimes,
that isolation and other forms of sensory deprivation, psychological disorientation,
and pervasive surveillance have a significantly negative effect on the human
psycbe. BY reducing the sensory feedback that Dr. Branden identified as vital to
someone's well-being, they can be Used-as a weapon to induce cracks in that
person's mental defense system. Dr: Schein* believed this predictable human
response to stensory deprivation could be utilized for purposes of affecting the of behavior of men and women in America’s prisons. He thought these mental cracks could be filled With Ideas of the government’s own choosing.
some of Dr. Schein's colleagues went beyond him by identifying the use of powerful
psychoactive drugs as a practical way to biochemically isolate prisoners from their
normal influences, without the expense of physically isolating them.
Beginning in the late 1960s, Dr. Schein's ideas on human experimentation were
put into action and overseen by federal prison psychiatrist Dr: Martin Groder. He
was instrumental in the transfer of "agitators, suspected militants, writ-writers, and
other troublemakers" to remote prisons in an effort to sever family ties by making
visits difficult. After being moved, these prisoners were put in isolation and
deprived of mail and other sensory stimulations. Every effort was made to weaken
their internal defenses and heighten their susceptibility to influences controlled by
prison authorities. If a prisoner responded by abandoning his attitude of
individuality, he was granted privileges. If not, his psychological torture continued
University of Michigan psychologist Dr. James V McConnell was an enthusiastic
supporter of Dr. Groder's work. In an April 1970 Psychology Today article entitled “Criminals Can Be Brainwashed-Now”, Dr. McConnell favorably' compared the human
psyche to that of rats and flatworms. He even thought people could be manipulated with behavioral techniques he perfected while training flatworms to navigate-a- maze.
Harvard psychologist B. F. Skinner tried to resolve the ethical concerns that arose
from the scientific treatment of the human mind like a pliable blob of Play--Doh in
his 1971 book -Beyond Freedom and Dignity. However, he chose to do so in a book
with a title that neatly sums up the twisted Orwellian attitude of everyone involved
in experimenting on prisoners and other human beings.
Make no mistake about it, the millions of prisoners who have been subject in
various ways to sensory deprivation and isolation techniques are viewed by the
scientific and correctional community as human guinea pigs. They are "lab rats"
who only differ in the type of experiments they are subjected to, from the inmates
poked, prodded, and zappe4 during the radiation and hormone experiments that
occurred from the 1940's until the 1970's.
Dr. James V Bennett, who was then the director of the U. S. Bureau of Prisons,
made this crystal clear at the same 1962 conference where Dr. Schein made his
presentation. He made the observation that the federal prison system presented
"a tremendous opportunity to carry on some of the experimenting to which the
various panelists have alluded." He wasn't idly talking. In July 1972, prisoners at
Marion Federal Penitentiary smuggled out details to U. N. emissaries of
psychological experiments that were being conducted on them. The use of
psychological torture techniques in prisons was already widesspread enough in the
early 1970's, that Jessica Mitford wrote about them in a remarkable August 1973, Harers Magazine article entitled: The Torture Cure: In Some, American Prisons,It is already 1984.Among other things, the revelations in that article are credited with contributing to the end of the radiation and hormone experiments on prisoners in Oregon. However, Ms. Mitford's main thrust was exposing the use of prisoners as "lab rats" testing the effectiveness of sophisticated forms of mental coercion and powerful psychoactive drugs. In her article she wrote about the results of a laboratory experiment designed to test the effects of isolation on the human mind: "The exciting potential of sensory deprivation as a behavior modifier was revealed through an experiment in which students were paid $20 a day to live in tiny,
solitary cubicles with nothing to do. The experiment was supposed to last at least
six weeks, but none of the students could take it for more than a few days: Many
experienced vivid hallucinations - one student in particular insisted that a tiny
spaceship had got into the chamber and was buzzing around shooting pellets at
him. While they were in this condition, the experimenter fed the students
propaganda messages: No matter how poorly it was presented or how illogical it
sounded, the propaganda had a marked effect on the students' attitudes -
an effect that lasted for at least a year after they came out of the deprivation chambers."
Ms. 'Mitford expanded on her Hamer's article in “Kind and Usual Punishment: the Prison
Business”(1973)In the chapter detailing psychological experiments on-prisoners,
she quotes a 1970 prophecy Dr. Bennett made about prisons in the year 2000 AD:
"In my judgment the prison system will increasingly be valued, and used, as a
laboratory and workshop of social change."
Supermax prisons and other experimental forms of mind control exercised on
prisoners are a part of today's reality that Dr. Bennett envisioned almost thirty
years ago. Remarkably, authorities in the federal government recently let the cat out of the
bag they are aware of their potential liability for conducting psychological
experiments on prisoners. This was revealed in The Prison Litigation Reform Act
(PLRA) enacted in 1996. Its provisions contribute to the legal disenfranchisement
of prisoners by effectively limiting their ability to redress wrongs and grievances
through the federal court system. One of its provisions specifically prevents
prisoners from successfully suing prison officials for "mental or emotional harm
unless they can also prove physical injury." Almost diabolical in its design, this
provision of the PLRA effectively prohibits lawsuits stemming from the psychological
torture rampant in America's prisons.
It is significant that isolation experiments involving prisoners at Dachau were
among the vivisection experiments conducted by Nazi doctors. Needless to say,
the work of these discredited Nazi doctors is being continued daily in the
laboratories of physical and mental torture masquerading as American prisons.
Non-consenting prisoners are experimented on in many dehumanizing ways. Yet
their systematic mistreatment is openly condoned by political, judicial, and
bureaucratic authorities in the United States who view them in the same way the
Nazis viewed the inmates at Dachau and Auschwitz. They don't believe they are
Tow other document on this psychological torture: