Mrs. Heather Minton
W-131 ACP Composition
13 September 2010
Summary of “The Abu Ghraib Prison Scandal: Sources of Sadism”
The theme discussed in the article “The Abu Ghraib Prison Scandal: Sources of Sadism”, is how the average person is capable of doing some form of evil. The author, Marianne Szegedy- Maszak, openly discusses in her writing the actions of American soldiers taking humiliating pictures of prisoners in Abu Ghraib. Szegedy-Maszak begins to discuss the possibilities of how these actions came to take place. Some interpretations are listed: inadequate training, overzealous intelligence gathering, or failure of leadership. After listing these potential actions, Szegedy-Maszak asks, “Are there particular conditions in Iraq today that might shed light on why these soldiers committed these unconscionable acts?” (Szegedy-Maszak 211)
Szegedy-Maszak declares that in a 1971 study by psychologist Philip Zimbardo, showed how cruel people can be to each other because a higher power told them they could to enforce superiority. In his study at Stanford University, Zimbardo created a fake prison with students being selected randomly as guards or prisoners. The experiment shockingly showed the “guards” torturing and manipulating the prisoners. In another study preformed many years earlier by Stanley Milgram at Yale, gave students permission to engage in sending electric shocks to an actor that was strapped to an electric chair. The experiments were supposed to be about different forms of studying. Every time the actor got a question wrong that was asked, the student gave him a shock each time being greater than the last. Milgram’s study showed 2 out of the 3 students giving the shocks would have killed the actor if the shocks had been real. Szegedy-Maszak compares these tests to what happened at Abu Ghraib because it was following along the same pattern (Szegedy-Maszak 211).
The article ends with psychologist Herbert Kelman...