All science is a process of trial and error. When you're talking engineering, those errors can mean bridges collapsing. When you're talking chemistry, those errors can mean accidental explosions. When you're talking psychiatry, those errors can mean dick-ogling and poop paintings. We wish those were hypothetical joke examples ...
We all like to do a little "crotch-eyeballing" every once in a while, if you get what we mean, which you do. But in 1967, psychotherapist Paul Bindrim decided that it wasn't just for fun anymore. He thought it would make a good treatment method for his patients. So he put a bunch of strangers together and forced them to stare at each other's exposed genitals. You know, for mental health.
"Take two of deez and call me in the morning."
Bindrim gathered patients together, sat them in a circle while nude, and told them to "crotch-eyeball" (his actual term for the treatment) one lucky participant who laid in the center with their legs in the air. This could go on for up to 36 hours, while Bindrim lectured the group about the genitalia and anus, pried personal stories of sexual failure out of everyone, and pressured them about how repressed they all were.
If staring at a random stranger's exposed fun bits for over a day didn't cure you, worry not -- Bindrim had other aces up what we can only hope was his sleeve. He also encouraged patients to talk to their own genitals. He told one patient to explain to her vagina (which was called "Katy," for reasons tragically lost to history) what generally goes on in her crotch region: "Say, 'Katy, this is where I shit, fuck, piss and masturbate.'" An embarrassing silence later, the patient replied: "I think Katy already knows that." Oh, and sometimes he made male patients beat the hell out of benches while imagining the benches were women who had failed to give them love.
"Katy, this is where hobos shit, fuck, piss, and masturbate!" they'd yell.
Bindrim's techniques weren't purely for pantsless amusement. They aimed to regress the participants back to the source of their trauma, and produce strong emotions which he called "peak experiences." His methods even received positive press in the 1960s and 1970s, though the media would eventually turn on him. See, although Bindrim was a qualified professional with full academic credentials, he also had a keen interest in parapsychology, and was an ordained minister in the Church of Religious Science. When he eventually got bored of commanding naked people like a dong hypnotist, he switched to "aqua-energetics," a process wherein he used water to suck away negative life energy and improve health. This is a process modern science refers to as "bullshit."
When LSD was first discovered in the 1950s, it was hailed as a wonder treatment for everything, from alcoholism to schizophrenia to a general dissatisfaction with life. The CIA even briefly experimented with its potential as a truth serum, but abandoned it when the "truth" they uncovered was that "We're all like ... just hands, man. Really."
"Then how did we walk here?"
They had different ideas in Canada, where idealistic young psychologist Dr. Elliot Barker decided to try LSD as a cure ... for criminal psychopaths. Barker thought that group therapy sessions in which psychopaths talked honestly about their feelings would help get to the roots of their problems. However, he was also fully aware of the fact that psychopaths are a deceitful, manipulative lot who would most likely hide their issues and twist their testimonies to best suit their needs. So he developed a solution: He'd prevent them from actively lying by making them all trip balls on LSD.
Of course nude! Why not nude?
Waypoint Centre for Mental Health Care
"I call it 'crotch balltrip.'"
Sessions could last for 11 days, during which patients were fed solely through straws in the walls. In theory, this was supposed to remove the psychopaths' facade of normality and bring their insanity to the surface, in hopes it would "work itself through" and give way to empathy. In practice, you had a bunch of drugged-up naked psychos sucking on the walls.
To the surprise of nobody, except perhaps Dr. Elliot Barker, the patients ended up worse than they were going in. Your average criminal psychopath has a 60 percent re-offense rate, while these guys wound up at 80 percent. Presumably with some great new ideas about how to torture their kidnap victims.
Kingsley Hall in London was a new kind of psychiatric facility. An experiment in "anti-psychology," it broke down the classic hierarchies of "doctor" and "patient" by essentially turning the asylum into a community of equals. After all, why should some expert who happens to have a PhD in Freudian psychology be considered more credible than a young man who claims to be Sigmund Freud?
"Sometimes a cigar is just THE WALLS ARE ALIVE."
The first and most famous resident of Kingsley Hall was a nurse named Mary Barnes. A volunteer patient who checked in to treat her schizophrenia, she was encouraged to revert to infancy so that she could grow up again, hopefully mentally healthier this time. Her caretakers fed her from a bottle, bathed her, dressed her, and carried her around like she was a baby. And if you treat her like a baby, she'll behave like a baby. Unfortunately, a baby with the reach and bowel volume of an adult.
Yes, we're talking poop-painting.
She painted with shit, she sculpted with shit, she covered herself in it. Fittingly for a "baby," one of her favorite painting subjects was a gigantic pair of breasts, black and smelly and horrible, which she smear-painted throughout Kingsley Hall.
Like this, but bigger and boobier.
And because of the whole "no hierarchy" thing they had going, no one technically had any authority to stop her. And so Kingsley Hall sported the worst murals in history ... until someone finally came up with a solution so insanely simple, it just might work. They gave her normal paints to work with. Mary dropped her poop act in an instant, and went on to have an amazing career as a successful artist. They presumably billed her insurance for thousands.
Samuel Cartwright was an influential physician trained by U.S. founding father Benjamin Rush. While the latter is remembered by history as a brilliant author, humanitarian, and one of the earliest American abolitionists, Cartwright's track record ... isn't quite as stellar.
In the mid-1800s, there was a genuine sense of unhappiness in the African-American community. Seeing as how a good deal of said community was enslaved at the time, that's understandable. However, a major symptom of this unhappiness was that slaves kept trying to escape. Which was weird. "Whatever strange disease could be behind this mystery?" wondered Cartwright. And so he set out to solve the mystery. His grand discovery: The slaves who wanted to escape were all clearly mentally ill.
via Wiki Commons
"If you have a better theory, I'd like to
hear ignore it."
So in 1851, Cartwright introduced his theory about drapetomania, a disease he had "discovered." Signs of this affliction were that ... slaves seemed unhappy and behaved like they might want to escape. It's the only explanation!
Not only did Cartwright discover the disease, but he also found the cure: Whipping the crap out of any slave who looks unhappy. If that didn't work, feel free to cut off his big toes so he can't run away.
And this little piggy went, "JESUS CHRIST, WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU?!"
He then went on to "discover" another new disorder exclusive to black people: dysaesthesia Ethiopica. Its warning signs were apathy, idleness, and apparent mischievousness. Ah, but where drapetomania was purely a mental disorder, dysaesthesia Ethiopica came with a physical symptom: terrifying lesions which a skilled medical observer could point out. These also afflicted almost every free black person. See, they're much better off in slavery! They should be kept in a submissive state for their own good. In fact, slavery is best for them, and the white people are obligated to see that they remain so. You know, for humanitarian reasons.
"Attack Therapy" may sound like a direct-to-VHS Steven Seagal movie, but it refers to a psychiatric method. Turns out it's a questionable one. Surprise, right?
In the late 1950s and early 1960s, California-based group Synanon wanted to help people with their addiction issues. Unfortunately, their version of "help" was to yell at and humiliate the patient for hours on end. The method was known as Synanon's Game, and its object was to identify and crush the shit out of the psychological traits that could lead patients back to drug abuse.
Like Monopoly, but arguably even more damaging.
Synanon's ... unconventional methods only managed to help 10-15 perecent of the addicts who participated, and later studies pointed out that the attack therapy caused lasting psychological damage. When accusations came forward that the organization was less of a medical facility and more of a violently abusive cult, Synanon decided that they needed to defend their reputation. So they did what any esteemed clinic would do: They placed a live rattlesnake in the mailbox of a lawyer who'd won a lawsuit against them.
Thanks to antics like that, the organization was inevitably discredited, and went on to become a full-blown cult / murderous criminal gang before finally folding in 1991. However, attack therapy stuck around. In 1972, the government saw the technique as a weapon to help fight the new War on Drugs. It did not go well. They wound up giving $1.4 million to a Florida organization called The Seed, run by former stand-up comedian Art Barker, whose professional qualifications in the field were that he was ... funny, we guess?
"I want to share my Seed with all of you!"
The Seed, and similar organizations like Straight, Inc., would essentially imprison teens with relatively minor histories of drug use, then force them into confrontational sessions for a minimum of 12 hours per day, for months or even years. It didn't stop with verbal abuse, either. Seed's victims were chained to the floor, spat upon, beaten, and (in several documented cases) tortured and had their bones broken.
Despite a 1974 Congressional investigation comparing The Seed's techniques to those of the Gestapo, the institution survived. It even gained the political support of Ronald Reagan and George Bush Sr., before finally being shut down by abuse lawsuits over 20 years later ...
... for attack therapists.
For more times science should've been left to people more professional, check out The 6 Cruelest Science Experiments Ever (Were Done On Kids) and 6 Elaborate Science Experiments Done Just For The Hell Of It.
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