What Can Power Give You? Essay

1400 words - 6 pages

Have you ever heard that absolute power corrupts absolutely? In the two articles that I read, I came to realize that having complete authority can give authority figures unlimited power to physically, mentally, and sexually abuse, torture, and kill prisoners without prisoners being able to defend themselves due to being powerless. In the two articles, “The Stanford Prison Experiment” developed by Philip Zimbardo and “Abu Ghraib Prison Scandal,” they describe the ways that power can make a civilized person that has authority, (such as the guards, U.S. military, and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA)) act cruelly ill and abuse prisoners just for the fun of things and only because they have ...view middle of the document...

In both of these articles, power got the best of the authority figures. These authority figures developed individual differences in the way they responded to power through the following personalities: the Psychoanalytic Theory and the Humanistic Theory.
These authority figures developed individual differences in the way they responded to power through the Psychoanalytic Perspective on personality. In the case of the guards at Abu Ghraib, the anxieties and stresses of war seemed to cause displacement. This ego defense mechanism was exemplified when prisoners were stripped down into vulnerable states. One way the prisoner also became vulnerable was by the guards taking pictures of the naked prisoners. For example, this one guy had psychological behavioral issues. This caused the prisoner to feel displaced and act out, where he covered himself with poop and repeatedly banged his head on the doors while tied up. Also, he was the guard’s person to experiment new things on. There is undeniably a psychosexual aspect to these two situations.
These authority figures developed individual differences in the way they responded to power through the Humanistic Theory. During the Stanford Prison Experiment, the prisoners began to have an bad attitudes and curse out the guards. The guards then forced prisoners to get naked and moved out their beds. However, once they changed their attitude and behavior, they attended the privileged cell. This cell is where they received a special meal, gained their beds, and uniforms back. It was used when the prisoners were good and the guards placed them in this privilege cell. I noticed that conditional positive regard was utilized during this experiment. This depicted what power can do since the guards that paid no attention to the bad prisoners and made them become angry, continue to have inappropriate behavior. When guards show the norms of how to act once the prisoners are caged up with the well behaved, it makes the other prisoner want to straighten up. In this example, power from the guard demonstrates that other prisoners have something to value if they show good behavior.
All in all, I came to realize that power overall in the guards is different in the way they respond to power through personality perspectives. Depending on the perspectives guards can be cruel or they can be very understanding when dealing with prisoners’ attitudes and behaviors. What would you do if you were given a particular power over a group of people? Would you take control by being violent or would you play it fair? Would you go force for force? Notice that having power in these two situations created monsters of the people that were once rational.
It is considered that once you go to prison, you lose all your freedom. Who would have thought that some college students would actually take money for their freedom for a few days? Well this is true, in the “Stanford Prison Experiment” created by Philip Zimbardo, students actually decided to...

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