Rebellion Transcript

Rebellion Transcript

Classic Studies in Psychology


Rebellion Transcript

Speakers: Dr. Philip Zimbardo, Guard 1, Guard 2, Prisoner 1, Prisoner 2, Prisoners

DR. PHILIP ZIMBARDO: But the next day, on the morning of the next day, the prisoners rebelled. And what the guards did, they came to me and said, “The prisoners are rebelling. What are we going to do?” I said, “It’s your prison, whatever you want. I will do it, but you’ve got to tell me.” And they said, “We have to treat force with force,” so they broke down the doors —

GUARD 1: (Indiscernible) take your bed (Indiscernible).

DR. PHILIP ZIMBARDO: — stripped the prisoners naked, dragged them out. Some of them, they tied up their feet. They put them in solitary confinement which is a tiny little hole in the closet oh, about this big and dark, and they said, “At this point, everything but breathing air is a privilege. Food is a privilege. Clothes are a privilege. Having a bed is a privilege.” And so the guards began to say, “Here are the new rules. And the new rules are you are dangerous and we are going to treat you as such.” And then, it began to escalate. Each day, the level of abuse, aggression, violence against prisoners got more and more extreme.

And so the guards changed to become more dominant, and, you see, it’s all about power. It’s the whole institution that empowers the guards who are the representative of this institution called prison to do whatever is necessary to prevent prisoners from escaping, maintain law and order.

GUARD 2: Keep going. Once I was blind.

PRISONER 1: (Singing) Once, I was blind.

DR. PHILIP ZIMBARDO: The way — the direction it took was having them engage in ever more humiliating tasks, cleaning toilet bowls out with their bare hands, taking their blankets and putting them in dirt with nettles, and the prisoner had to spend hours taking the nettles out if they wanted to, you know, sleep. And it’s essentially saying, “We have the power to create a totally arbitrary, mindless environment, and that’s the environment you have to live in.”

So some of the prisoners are now crushed. And in 36 hours, the first kid has an emotional breakdown meaning crying, screaming, irrational thinking.

PRISONER 2: I’ve got to go to a doctor, anything. I want out! I want out now! Goddamnit!

DR. PHILIP ZIMBARDO: And we have to release him. In 5 days, we had to release five of the prisoners because the situation was so overwhelming.

What about the kids who didn’t break down? They became zombies, zombies in the sense that they became almost all mindlessly obedient. Whatever the guards would say, they did. Do this, they did. “Do 10 pushups. Do 20 pushups. Step on him while he’s doing pushups. Tell him he’s a bastard.”

PRISONERS: Prisoner 819 did a bad thing. Prisoner 819 did a bad thing.

DR. PHILIP ZIMBARDO: It was horrifying to see the kids break down. It was even more horrifying to see these other kids just become mindlessly obedient.

PRISONERS: Because of what prisoner 819 did, my cell is a mess. Because of what prisoner 819 did, my cell is a mess.

DR. PHILIP ZIMBARDO: Again, we have to keep remembering these are kids who start out being rebels against society, everyone of them, and now, they are just pawns. They are the puppets that the guards are manipulating. In fact, one of the guards said, it was like —

[End of Audio]

From “Classic Studies in Psychology.” Copyright 2012 by Films Media Group. All rights reserved. Adapted with permission.

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