Crazy Experiment: What Happens When Three Jesus Are Placed in the Same Mental Hospital
Crazy Experiment: What Happens When Three Jesus Are Placed in the Same Mental Hospital
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If one Son of God is good, then three is probably three times better? It may seem that this is what a man thought when he decided to bring together three men, each of whom considered himself to be Jesus Christ. And thus, and not some complete namesake. In fact, we are talking about one of the many immoral experiments on mentally ill people, conducted in the United States in the middle of the twentieth century.

The fifties in the United States and Europe in general were the heyday of unethical experiments and treatments. Medicinal and toxic substances have been calmly tested on children and adults with mental retardation, autism, mental problems, or simply infantile paralysis. In Norway, they experimented with LSD, giving it, without the knowledge of their parents, to children born to the Nazi occupation. In the United States, the removal of the clitoris was used to treat adolescent emotionality in girls. So the experiment of Dr. Milton Rokeach, which shocks our contemporaries, simply fit into the general idea of what is allowed in science and medicine.

Psychiatry has long been the least humane part of medicine. A painting by Jan van Hemessen depicting the operation to remove the stone of stupidity, a popular trick among the charlatans of the Middle Ages, which killed many people with mental health problems
Psychiatry has long been the least humane part of medicine. A painting by Jan van Hemessen depicting the operation to remove the stone of stupidity, a popular trick among the charlatans of the Middle Ages, which killed many people with mental health problems

A psychologist named Rokeach conceived his experiment after reading in a magazine article about two women, each of whom was sure that she was the Virgin Mary. After they met, one of them got rid of her delusion. Rokeach decided to replicate the situation in a more scientific setting and found three men, each of whom imagined himself to be the Son of God. Their names were Clyde Benson, Joseph Cassell and Leon Gabor, each diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

All three were taken to the same hospital in Michigan, under the supervision of Dr. Rokeach, and introduced to each other. After a bitter argument about who the impostor is, the Jesus just got into a fight and had to be pulled apart. The miracle with the Virgin Mary did not repeat itself, at least not on men. Then Rokeach decided to focus on one of the three patients, Leona Gabor, and try to manipulate him.

Writing fake love letters was considered a mockery long before the twentieth century. Painting by Gabriel Metsu
Writing fake love letters was considered a mockery long before the twentieth century. Painting by Gabriel Metsu

Gabor was convinced that he was married to a woman whom he himself called Madame Yeti and who lived exclusively in his imagination, and Rokeach began to write letters to Leon on behalf of his wife. At first, Madame Yeti just gave little household advice, such as how to improve the schedule of the day, and then she began to write about love. Leon, meanwhile, began to answer the letters of the "wife". But as soon as Madame Yeti hinted that Gabor might not be Jesus Christ, the patient simply took and tore her letters. But Dr. Rokeach hoped so much that he could use one delusion to influence another and cure Gabor at least a little!

Rokeach's next plan started with the fact that one of his assistants began to flirt with Gabor. Milton hoped that a real attractive woman would distract a man who, perhaps, just suffered greatly from loneliness, from a world of illusions. Leon quickly fell in love with the assistant, but she could not answer his feelings - and Gabor, realizing this, became even more closed on the idea of his divinity. At least it became clear that in some way the emotional state can influence the disease … But not in the way Dr. Rokeach had hoped. Love itself, like a feeling, heals only in fairy tales and romantic literature. In life, she can bring torment.

Love is not medicine. Painting by Franz Paul Gillery
Love is not medicine. Painting by Franz Paul Gillery

Similar attempts at treatment have failed with the other two "Jesus". Moreover, due to the psychologist's constant attempts to make the "Jesus" spend time together, all three were clearly suffering. Sometimes they tried to fight again and were harshly pulled apart. How much such behavior suits their title, they did not even think and, perhaps, if an outsider asked them about it, instead of dispelling the illusion, another fight would take place.

All Dr. Rokeach has achieved is that patients have learned to avoid talking about their divine identity by meeting each other. Before the hospital, they were very fond of talking about this with others. In addition, judging by the emotional state of the patients, the experiment did not just fail, but caused harm to all three men. Much later, in the eighties, Rokeach acknowledged this when he republished a book about how he made three Jesus live together and talk to each other every day. However, the money for republishing the description of the bullying of three people with mental health problems did not stop him from receiving his regret.

We can say that from the point of view of our time, almost all of medicine of the last century: 20 frightening photographs of medical instruments and methods of treatment of the last century a guarantee of that.

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