unethical psychological

Jonathan Fry
PSYC 2500H
Monkey Drug Trials
In 1969, an unethical study was conducted which involved giving monkeys the
opportunity to voluntarily inject themselves with a variety of psychoactive drugs. These drugs
included morphine, codeine, cocaine, amphetamines, alcohol, and caffeine, among others. These
monkeys were equipped with intravenous catheters. These catheters were surgically implanted,
and linked to a switch on a wall, which the monkeys could press to self-administer whichever
drug they had been given for the experiment. The ethical violations of this experiment are on a
massive scale. Initially, the procedure of surgically implanting intravenous catheters into the
monkeys is invasive and potentially dangerous. The drugs administered in this experiment were
even more potentially dangerous, and resulted in psychological dependency, self-injury in some
cases, and often death. This drug delivery system was flawed, and occasionally failed to deliver
the drugs to the monkeys, causing them to exhibit discomfort as a result of withdrawal
symptoms. Depression was another visible symptom caused by some of the drugs administered,
including codeine. Certain drugs in particular caused horrifying symptoms before death
occurred. The monkeys who were given amphetamines tore hair from their bodies. All the
monkeys who received codeine died of convulsions within 6-8 weeks of testing. Even worse,
cocaine caused monkeys to visually hallucinate, resulting in self-injury including the amputation
of their own fingers, and death within 30 days. The ethical violations of these trials are easily
apparent, ranging from administering dangerous drugs to animals, to conducting invasive
surgical procedures beforehand, and finally permitting them to physically mutilate themselves
before administering enough drugs to kill themselves.
Web Sources: