The famous Stanford University Experiment
Here is the story of people, who under the right circumstances, become monsters;
I was sick to my stomach. When it's happening to you, it doesn't feel heroic; it feels real scary. It feels like you are a deviant.
Professor Christina Maslach, UC-Berkeley, told psychologists gathered in Toronto, Aug. 12, 1996. The Stanford experiment was terminated because of her objections. She relates events:
Maslach walked into the mock prison on the evening of the fifth day. Having just received her doctorate from Stanford and starting an assistant professorship at Berkeley, she had agreed to do subject interviews the next day and had come down the night before to familiarize herself with the experiment.
At first, she said, she found it "dull and boring."
"I looked at the prison yard from the point of view of the video camera [that had been set up to monitor it] and there was not much happening. So I went around to the other end of the hall where some guards were waiting to start their next shift."
There, she had a pleasant conversation with a "charming, funny, smart" young man waiting to start his guard shift. Other researchers had told her there was a particularly sadistic guard, whom both prisoners and other guards had nicknamed John Wayne. Later, when she looked at the monitor of the prison yard again, she asked someone to point out John Wayne and was shocked to discover it was the young man she had talked with earlier.
"This man had been transformed. He was talking in a different accent - a Southern accent, which I hadn't recalled at all. He moved differently, and the way he talked was different, not just in the accent, but in the way he was interacting with the prisoners. It was like [seeing] Jekyll and Hyde. . . . It really took my breath away."
These guys were all peaceniks," Zimbardo recalled of the students chosen to be guards. "They became like Nazis.
"It shows how easy it is for good people to become perpetrators of evil."
Says Zimbardo: "She challenged us to examine the madness she observed, that we had created and had to take responsibility for."
The conclusion that I draw from this experiment is that certain narcissistic tendencies can be accentuated by putting people in power over others, they can then develop pathological narcissistic personality disorders (if they are not already Narcissists). The attachment problems of narcissism can easily lead to tyranny and concentration camps. As Zimbardo points out, peaceniks became Nazis. Narcissists crave attention, good or bad and they are great actors, able to change roles. They jump at the chance to rule and control others.