They created a prison environment, and randomly assigned students to either pretend they were a prison guard or a prisoner.
Ultimately, what happened in the two-week experiment, was that it had to be ended after only 6 days because of what the situation was doing to the college students who participated. In only a few days, the guards became sadistic ("repeatedly stripped their prisoners naked, hooded them, chained them denied them food, put them into solitary confinement, and made them clean toilet bowls with their bare hands") and the prisoners became depressed and showed signs of extreme stress. The guards who didn't descend to the behavior did nothing to stop the ones who did.
(The parallel with infamous acts by American prison guards in Iraq in 2004 prompted them to bring the Stanford experiment back to light after more than 30 years.)
So, anyway, Deepak went on to write about conditions that release these "shadow" energies:
- Removing a sense of responsibility
- Dehumanizing environments
- Peer examples of bad behavior
- Passive bystanders
- Rigid levels of power
- Prevailing chaos and disorder
- Lack of meaning
- Implicit permission to do harm
- "Us-versus-them" mentality
- Lack of accountability
"Leaving aside prisons, where one might expect the worst in human nature to emerge, as a physician I've seen similar abuse in hospital settings. Certainly, hospitals are not evil; they were established to do good in the first place. But the shadow isn't about who is good or bad. It's about sealed-up energies looking for an outlet, and a hospital is rife with the very conditions listed above: Patients are helpless under the authority of doctors and nurses, they are dehumanized by the cold mechanistic routine, isolated from everyday society, made more or less anonymous as one 'case' among thousands, and so forth."
Just thought I would share that with you.