Awesome Arlette’s Burning Question: “There is one thing I don’t understand so much. Our purpose overall is to feel truly good and when we do, we are in the vibration of who we really are. In that state we cannot hurt others. But what about people that enjoy hurting others? Like sadistic people? By harming others (even if they are aligned only with people that want to be hurt), aren’t they are hurting themselves?
Also I’ve recently read about a psychology term called “the Lucifer effect” which shows how when you give ordinary everyday life people power over others they use that for bad and a lot of awful stuff that it sounds straight from a horror movie.
I don’t understand how this works vibrationally. Every time I hear this stuff (which is rarely but still) it makes me feel like the world is fucked up (even though I KNOW it’s not true). I would love to hear what you think :)”
Dear Awesome Arlette,
What an excellent question!
“The Lucifer Effect” is a book by Philip Zimbardo, that talks about the 1971 Stanford Prison experiment, where volunteers were divided into two groups, with one group being designated “prison inmates” and the other as “prison guards”. They were then sequestered in a mock dungeon in the basement of one of Stanford University’s buildings. The experiment was planned to last two weeks, but had to be stopped after just six days due the emotional trauma being experienced by the participants. The students quickly began acting out their roles, with “guards” becoming sadistic and “prisoners” showing extreme passivity and depression. Prisoners and guards had rapidly adapted to their roles, stepping beyond the boundaries of what had been predicted and leading to dangerous and psychologically damaging situations. The conclusion of the study was that no human is actually either evil or good, but that under the right circumstances, the environment could call forth either type of behavior in otherwise sane and balanced individuals.
Studies such as these, as well as the infamous Milgram experiment, where it was shown that a large percentage of participants would torture another human being simply because they were told to by an authority figure, often lead people to conclude that we are all more inherently cruel than we’d like to think. Would we, if given the chance, really all rip each other’s throats out? And are social, religious and legal rules and regulations really the only reason we don’t?
Whenever someone asks me about or quotes from a clinical trial or experiment, I always point out that you have to very, very careful about coming to conclusions about the entire human race based on this kind of data. You see, experiments such as these have several inherent flaws, the biggest of which is that the people running such trials generally have no understanding of energy and the importance of our belief systems. Let me explain.
The role of “prisoner” isn’t just an arbitrary label that was assigned to these students. We all have a very detailed picture of what a prisoner is – a person who has done something bad, who deserves to be punished for it (this isn’t my belief, mind you, but the one generally held by society). The role of the prison guard is also quite well defined – to control the bad people, to make sure they know what they’ve done is wrong and to punish them. After all, they deserve it, right? In other words, we have firmly entrenched beliefs about what a prisoner is. The prison system, which is built on the underlying premise that you can and should remove individuals who have done something we find damaging to our society from that society and make their lives hell, is also a reflection of the widely held belief that you can punish people into compliance. This philosophy is also played out when we shame each other for being different, when parents prioritize control, and in bullying behavior (not just on the playground, but in boardrooms and government buildings, as well). If someone does something that you don’t like, you have the right, nay the obligation, to dominate them into conformity.
So, when you take individuals and assign them such a well-defined role, you have to take into consideration that you’ve just introduced the belief systems that come with that role into the equation. They become part of the experiment as well. For example, you might, having read the experiment, come to the conclusion that people, when given power over someone else, will generally become cruel. But that would be a faulty conclusion. This experiment didn’t isolate the variables necessary in order to study “people”, in general. It simply showed what would happen if you put otherwise sane and “normal” people, law abiding citizens of our society, into the prison environment, with all that it entails. This was a very specifically tailored environment, with very specific labels and belief systems attached. We don’t respect our prisoners as human beings, for example, so the “prison guards” didn’t either, even though they knew that the “inmates” were simply fellow volunteers and not actual criminals. Their views, their needs, and even their rights no longer mattered. They were prisoners, lowlifes, degenerates, second class (or no class) citizens, if you will, and should be treated as such.
Now, while I agree that each and every one of us has the capacity for “evil acts” if given the right environment, I think this study said much more about how we view prisoners than humanity as a whole. Of course, we could, theoretically, all become murderers. I’m not saying that you, my happy shiny puppy, are at risk of suddenly going psycho and slicing your neighbor’s head off. I’m saying that if you’d experienced the right amount of trauma, especially early on in life, coupled with a severe lack of options and your culture’s belief that violence is the only way to regain any sense of power, you too could’ve ended up behind bars by now. In other words, a dark, low-vibrational environment and culture, will spawn dark, low-vibrational people who are in a tremendous amount of pain and will use whatever means they have access to in order to feel better. The same, of course, can be demonstrated using lab rats and monkeys, who will, given the right stimulus and environment go nutso, too.
And I think that this is an important revelation, because if people who do “bad” things aren’t inherently different from the rest of us, then we can’t just keep shutting them away and torturing them. If you introduce the thought “if I’d had that guy’s life, that could’ve been me” into the equation, you can’t really treat the convicted quite so heartlessly anymore. Punishment must give way to actual rehabilitation (which our current prisons not only do NOT practice, but actually do the opposite of).
My point is that the labels we assign to a participant in one of these experiments matters a great deal. The student’s reactions were in large part based on the roles they had been assigned and what those labels meant to them, not just the fact that they had power over another or not.
Next, let’s look at those participants. If we take energy into account, we have to concede that not just anyone could’ve taken part in this study. I’m not just talking about the psychological profile of someone who might WANT to volunteer for an experiment at school, but what they were a vibrational match to – in short, the expectations of those running the study. These expectations would also have influenced how the experiment was conducted, including all the different variables present. For example, let’s say that you put the Dalai Lama into the role of prison guard. Do you really think he would’ve become cruel? Or is it more likely that he would’ve opened the cell doors and begun a dialogue with his “inmates”? Do you think he would’ve even participated in the experiment, or do you think it more likely that he would’ve just walked out, not wanting to play a game that required him to constrict, even in a pretend way, someone else’s freedom?
What if you’d taken someone like Gandhi and made him a “prisoner”? Would he have become rebellious or depressed? Or is it more likely he would’ve meditated and spread peace amongst his fellow inmates, encouraging them to civil instead of violent disobedience? Not everyone will react the way these students did. They had to first buy into the labels that were handed. They had to accept that a prisoner is a bad person. They had to buy into the punitive nature of the system and agree to act accordingly. They also had to accept the premise that it was their job to control the convicts, rather than changing the directive and looking for a completely different solution, for example. In other words, they had to be a match to the powerlessness that is inherent in the way we treat prisoners and the prison system as a whole. They had to be a match to the idea that others, if given sufficient reason, should be punished. They had to carry a certain amount of powerlessness within themselves (which would not have been hard to find, since the majority of our population still feels powerless to a large degree).
Those who run experiments think that they’ve selected their participants at random, that they represent a certain cross section of the entire population. But that’s never the case. They cannot attract the entire population (no one can). They can only attract those that are already a match to the manifestation they are, themselves, participating in. So, at best, they can conclude that people of a certain vibration (powerless) will react a certain way (become domineering, cruel, rebellious or depressed) when placed into a certain environment (their power is taken away, or they are given power over another, probably for the first time in their lives), assigned specific roles with well-defined beliefs (prisoner, guard) and the direction (probably unspoken but based on the system they already know) to control or be controlled, rather than having the freedom to make unity and understanding the goal.
The outcome is pre-determined
In the summary of the experiment I read, it said that at the end of the six days, no unity was reached between inmates and guards. Well, of course not! If you beat someone over the head with a baseball bat every day for years, and you then give him a baseball bat, the chances are very good that they will hit you with it. When you give those who feel powerless authority, they will almost certainly abuse it (unless they work on their shit and discover their true power, of course). You’ll see this in insecure corporate managers who act like dictators (with or without the “tator”). You can also witness this in insecure parents who get into power struggles with their kids, and dominate their children into respecting their authority, even if their rules make no sense. Prison is simply the most drastic example of this idea, but certainly not the only one.
Even though the students weren’t actually prisoners, they would’ve understood the powerlessness of both the inmates and the guards, and acted accordingly. Their reactions were real, because they were really coming from a place of powerlessness. In other words, just because they hadn’t killed or robbed anyone (or been caught for smoking weed), just because they hadn’t manifested their own powerlessness to the same degree as those who were actually in prison, doesn’t mean that their lack of a sense of control was any different. It was simply less severe.
So, if you consider that the variables in this experiment were very tightly controlled by the Law of Attraction, there really could not have been a different outcome than the one they received. Even studies using babies are subject to this phenomenon, by the way, since a.) those running the experiment still bring their beliefs, expectations and energy to the table and b.) the babies also already have beliefs – those picked up in utero and vibrationally from their parents and environment.
But what about all the cruelty in the world?
At this point in the conversation, I’m usually asked, “but what about all the evil things people do to each other? What about the Holocaust, slavery and genocide, both past and current? What about ISIS and Guantanamo Bay, and corporate executives who pollute the environment, or even just that nasty guy who cut me off in traffic today and then had the added audacity to flip me off?” To that I say that yes, we obviously have the capacity to be cruel to each other, but it’s never random. Cruelty doesn’t just happen. Nothing just happens randomly. Those who hurt have been hurt. Always. Those with a victim vibration will always attract a victimizer, and vice versa (please don’t read that as “blame the victim”, but rather as “let’s solve the victim vibration for once and all”). In fact, those who victimize others are always former (or current) victims themselves.
Being a victim and victimizing others are two sides of the same coin. But here’s the thing: that’s not the only coin in town. When those who are powerless get some power, they often do the only thing they know how to do – turn the table and dominate someone the way they have been dominated. They feel relief in this domination – they have some measure of control, often for the first time in their lives. But this need to control still comes from a place of powerlessness. If you address this underlying lack of power, the whole need to victimize (or be a victim) drops away. And there are a ton of people demonstrating that every day.
So, when someone asks me “what about all the cruelty in the world?”, I throw the question back at them. What about all the kindness? What about all the help that people give each other? What about all the charity? What about all the people who go through their daily lives without bashing anyone’s brains in, and NOT because they don’t want to go to prison, but simply because they don’t want to and generally don’t have any urge to?
It can be disconcerting and even frightening to read up on psychological studies and experiments and draw conclusions about the entire human race (including yourself). But when you take the vibration of the scientists, participants, and the beliefs involved in the parameters of the experiment into account, I promise you that the results will generally make a lot more sense to you. In this case, the study concluded that given the right environment, anyone could potentially react exactly like our prison population and guards do. But instead of using that as an excuse to be afraid (or support your already present fear) that any human could just randomly wig out and start shooting at people, which cannot happen (nothing is EVER random), consider this: all this study really showed is that when you take already powerless people and put them into an environment which makes them feel even more powerless, or allows them to alleviate that powerlessness by controlling others, you fail to achieve peace. What the study also showed is that convicted criminals aren’t inherently different from you and I, and as such, should not be treated as sub-humans. I would love to see this study being used for a reform of our prison system, as well as a change in the disrespect we have for individuality of any kind (not all prisoners are dangerous. In fact, MOST prison inmates in the US are doing time for non-violent offenses, so in many cases, we are locking people away because we disagree with how they live their lives). I’m not at all arguing that we should just let those who are in a murderous rage roam the streets freely, but I also don’t agree that locking them into a box and treating them like they have no value as human beings will cure that rage.
If our environment, both physical and of course, vibrational, can determine how we behave, then shouldn’t we be doing all we can to make that environment as soothing and nurturing and positive as possible? Shouldn’t we be studying what fosters creativity, and genius, and kindness towards others, and peace? Shouldn’t we stop subjecting people to an environment that we KNOW doesn’t lead to a successful outcome and try something else? Shouldn’t we apply this knowledge to our own lives, and create supportive environments within ourselves? I believe that yes. Yes we should. And of course, many of us are already doing just that. We are waking up. We are stepping out of powerlessness. We are lining up with solutions that actually work. We are setting different goals, no longer just wanting defend our powerless stance, but rather moving towards joy and collaboration and community.
In other words, studies such as these are drawing from an ever dwindling pool of eligible participants. Now, doesn’t that feel better?