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The Man Who Shocked the World: The Life and Legacy of Stanley Milgram

BMJ 2005; 331 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.331.7512.356 (Published 4 August 2005)
Cite this as: BMJ 2005;331:356

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  1. Raj Persaud, Gresham professor for public understanding of psychiatry and consultant psychiatrist
  1. Maudsley Hospital, London

    The late Stanley Milgram fairly lays claim to be one of the greatest behavioural scientists of the 20th century. He derives his renown from of a series of experiments on obedience to authority, which he conducted at Yale University in 1961-2. Milgram found, surprisingly, that 65% of his subjects, ordinary residents of New Haven, were willing to give apparently harmful electric shocks—up to 450 volts—to a pitifully protesting victim, simply because a scientific, lab coated authority commanded them to, and despite the fact that the victim did nothing to deserve such punishment. The victim was, in reality, a good actor who did not actually receive shocks, a fact that was revealed to the subjects at the end of the experiment.


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    Basic Books, £15.50/$26/$C40, pp 360 ISBN 0 7382 0399 8 Due for publication in paperback next month

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    Milgram's interest in the study of obedience partly emerged out of a deep concern with the suffering of fellow Jews at the hands of the Nazis and an attempt to fathom how the Holocaust …

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