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Knowledge Sharing: Lucifer Effect – Beware of Your Shadows

16 Oktober 2016

Oleh: Admin Pusat


"They appear to be heroic at the surface but turn to be evil underneath. 
They rationalize their acts to save others, 
yet they create suffering to others except their own groups of followers".                                                                         

                                                                              The Lucifer Effect

Beware of Your Shadows


Monty P. Satiadarma


November 2016

The Lucifer effect is a book written by Philip Zimbardo (1971) based on his research on Stanford University, California. Zimbardo was triggered by numbers of facts of reports from various prison, including in Iraq, about dehumanizing treatments on the prisoners. He inquired how numbers of US military people who used to be “normal” citizens who were aware of the princples of humanity turned to imply hardships including corporal punishments to the war prisoners in Iraq and in other places. Based on such idea, he proposed to conduct a research on how social pressure may change people attitude. Lucifer is also known as Satan in Biblical story. Although the name Lucifer was only mentioned once in the book of Isaiah, it was Dante Alleghieri in the Divine Comedy that described more Lucifer as the first angle created by God but later turned to be aginst God, as so he was expleed from the Garden of Eden. Lucifer fell from Heaven (in modern version known as The Fallen Angel), and conducted evil acts on human. Evil is the exercise of power to intentionally harm, hurt, and destroy others. In August 1971 Zimbardo, supported by the US Naval, conducted the research in Stanford University basement which was set up in a form of  a prison. In the previous months he put an add to recruit Students in Stanford Universty who were willing to participate in the research. He obtained 18 students and separated into two groups of 9, each played the roles as prisoners and prison guards. As time progressed, these expectedly intelligent Stanford University students, internalized the roles seriously and act in accordance to their roles. Although at the very beginning they realized they just played the roles, they gradually became so influenced by their roles. As a result, conflict arise between them, and aggressive physical acts such as hitting and kicking were conducted by the guards resulting stress on the prisoners. One of the guards later explained they did the acts as a part of the roles they played, though not requested by Zimbardo, but Zimbardo did not ask them to stop, nor did he give any comment. Thus they kept doing the acts despite of aware of hos such act might result on people. A similar condition has happened during an obedient experiment by Stanley Milgram in Yale University (1961-1963). Milgram asked 12 teachers to question numbers of students next door to answer various questions announced through loudspeakers. Whenever the students gave the wrong answer, the teachers would electrocute them. The students may scream as a result of pain being electrocuted. As the experiment progressed, each wrong answer would add the electric watts; the more wrong answers the students responds, the higher the electrocute was given. Four hundred fifty watts was the highest electro shock being given. Only 3 out of the 12 teachers terminated the process as they did not want to continue to electrocute the students anymore; but the 9 teachers continued as being asked by Milgram (the authority). In further study the results remain similar. More than 50 people tended to conduct acts that may create pain to others since they just follow instructions from the authority. Milgram concluded that in the case of Nazi, it was Hitler who created the regime tobe evil. In Zimbardo’s research, it was similar to Milgram experiment, and Zimbardo was in the place of Milgram. The difference was that Milgram instructed the teachers to electrocute the students (played by actors, and they were not electrocuted for real rather just acted by screaming); whereas in Stanford, Zimbardo did not prevent nor did he say anything when the students in guards role conducted physical punishments to their friends who played as prisoners. The results indicated that social (situational) attribution gives more influence to  people rather than dispositional attribution in conducting behavior. The reason of this is because people internalized their social role since situational condition gives pressure to people and the authority influence them. Only a small percentage of people dare and have courage to confront. Most people will follow authority instructions, and in reality this leads to the growth of cults. Jung previously has explained that within each person there would be anima/animus and shadows. When people are at stress, the shadow may appear as fear, coward, drive to avoidance conduct, bad dreams and many negative qualities of the personality. People who are afraid to their authorities may blindly follow the instructions even if the instructions are against their moral principles. People who are in situational roles tend to conduct behavior in accordance to situasional (social) pressure rather than based on their personal dispositional tendency. There are 7 (seven) conditions that people need to be aware of that may cause them to slip from wanting to be hero into being evil; rather than being angels, they turned to be evils as Lucifer. Those conditions are a) passive tolerance of evil, b) uncritical conformity, c) blind obedience to authority, d) diffusion of personal responsibility, e) deindividuating the self, f) dehumanizing others, and g) mindlessly taking the first small step. People need to realize that there are various systemic demonic or Luciferian conduct. They appear to be heroic at the surface but turn to be evil underneath. They rationalize their acts to save others, yet they create suffering to others except their own groups of followers. We need to realize what Jung ever mentioned that man is actually less good than what he imagines himself or want to be. We need to be aware that Lucifer was previously the light bearer, the carrier of the morning star, yet turn to be evil. We need to realize that all of such is within us. Thus, we must be able to choose what is right to do, and all that good things are also whitin as God whispers. Beware toward our own shadows that may bring us to be evil. It depends on us whether we want to listen to the voice within.


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