Unethical Experiments on Humans for Humans in History

K. Marion Sims Medical experiments lead to medical progress. The main reason for medical innovation is for maintenance and saving of lives. But in history, some scientists run over ethics in the hopes of innovations. In 2011, Guatemala received a formal apology from government of America for the controversial experiments done in Guatemala in the forties. The experiment made prisoners and mentally ill patients infected with syphilis. Around the world, many horrendous experiments have been done on people for people in history. Some of these experiments are honest ethical mistakes while some are just really antagonistic.

 The “monster study”

In the year 1939, to prove a theory that was made by speech pathologists from the University of Iowa that stuttering was a learned behavior caused by a child’s anxiety about speaking, they conducted what is known and called the “monster study.” They used orphans in their study. They tried to induce stuttering by telling them that they were doomed to start stuttering in the future. They sit down orphans from Ohio Soldiers and Sailors Orphan’s Home and told them lies that they were showing symptoms of stuttering and that they should not speak unless they could speak 100% correctly. The attempt did not make the selected child stutterer in the end but made the once normal children withdrawn and loners. The three surviving persons that were victimized sued Iowa and the university which led to Iowa settling a sum of $925,000, according to a New York Times article released in 2003.

Medical Experiments by the Nazis

One of the most notorious medical experiments in history were the ones executed by Josef Mengele, a physician from Auschwitz. An experiment was done by Mengele combing incoming trains for twins to prove his theories that the Aryans were racially superior. According to the Holocaust Memorial Museum in America, he liked to collect the eyeballs of his dead patients.

The Nazis did terrible things to Jews. They used the Jews as Guinea pigs on their treatments for contagious disease and chemical warfare. Some were shoved into freezing temperatures and low pressure chambers for military aircraft experiments. Many Jews died in experiments on sterilization. Later on, when Hitler was defeated, the doctors responsible for the inhumane experiments were put to trial as war criminals but Mengele fled to South Africa and died in Brazil in 1979.

Japan’s Unit 731

According to the New York Times report in 1995, a death toll of around 200,000 people had died due to Japan’s Unit 731. In the years between 1930’s to 1940’s, the Japanese Imperial Army conducted medical experiments on civilians in China. Wells were infected with cholera, typhoid and fleas that spread throughout cities in China causing epidemics. They also used prisoners to walk long hours in the freezing temperature to determine the best medical treatment for frostbite. Former members of Unit 731 told media outlets that they dosed prisoners with poison gas, forced into pressure chambers where their eyes popped out their sockets, and dissected even when the prisoners were alive and conscious. The U.S. government helped hide the experiments as secrets as part of making Japan an ally in the cold war, according to a Times magazine report.

Surgical experiments on slaves

 J. Marion Sims remains a controversial figure up to present time because of his fame gained by his experiments on performing surgeries on slave women. He caused great suffering into the women he had experimented on. He treated women with vesico-vaginal fistula, performing surgeries without any anesthesia (since anesthesia had only been recently discovered that time). He argued that operations were only recently been discovered, and in part because Sims believed the operations were “not painful enough to justify the trouble,” as he said in an 1857 lecture.

Arguments are still made up to modern times, many tried not to put the blame on Sims since his patients would have consented to the surgeries and were given free will to choose to undergo surgery or not. University of Alabama’s social work professor Durrender Ojanuga said nonetheless that Sims “manipulated the social institution of slavery to perform human experimentations, which by any standard is unacceptable,” in a Journal of Medical Ethics in 1993.


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