By Carol Tavris
The Wall Street Journal
Originally published September 6, 2013
Here is an excerpt:
To almost everyone's surprise at the time, upward of two-thirds of the
participant-teachers administered what they thought were the highest levels of
shock, even though many were sweating and suffering over the pain they believed
they were inflicting on a stranger in the name of science. Milgram's experiment
produced a firestorm of protest about the potential psychological harm inflicted
on the unwitting participants. As a result, it could never be done today in its
Some people hated the method and others the message, but the Milgram study
has never faded from public attention. It has been endlessly retold in
schoolrooms, textbooks, TV programs, novels, songs and films. What, then, is
left to say about it?
According to Gina Perry, an Australian psychologist and journalist,
everything. She has investigated every aspect of the research and spoken with
seemingly anyone who had a connection to Milgram (1933-84). She describes each
of Milgram's 24 experimental variations on the basic obedience paradigm. She
interviewed some of the original subjects, the son of the man who played the
"learner," Milgram's research assistants, his colleagues and students, his
critics and defenders, and his biographer. She listened to audiotapes of the
participants made during and after the experiments. She pored through the
archives of Milgram's voluminous unpublished papers.
The entire book review is here, unfortunately, behind a paywall.