The Creepiest Experiments Ever Done In Human History

The Creepiest Experiments Ever Done In Human History


The Monster Study— a psychological study conducted by Dr. Weddell Johnson and a graduate student working under him, Mary Tudor, in 1939— certainly has a fitting name.

The study was conducted on a group of orphans. Johnson chose them to use as his lab rats because parental permission, something that most likely would’ve been denied, wasn’t required.


Dr. Weddell Johnson made it his goal in life to find the cause for stuttering. As a stutterer himself, Johnson knew the severe effects stuttering could have: impacts on emotional and social growth, low self-esteem, social isolation, and the list goes on.




This is why he was so determined to find a cause (and possibly even cure) for stuttering.

However, his methods were extremely unethical.

Johnson believed that “stuttering begins in the ear of the listener, not in the mouth of the child”. He theorized that labeling a child with normal speech a ‘stutterer’ would make them one.

So, to test this theory, Johnson had Tudor induce stuttering in healthy children.

22 orphaned children were chosen to participate in the study. The children were all told that they were receiving speech therapy. One group was labeled as “stutterers”, and one labeled as “normal speakers”.

6 of the orphans in the group of “stutterers” had normal speech.

The group of “normal speakers” received positive therapy, designed to reduce stuttering. The other group received negative therapy consisting of correcting tiny errors and lecturing the children, which was used to make them more conscious of their speech.

The results of this treatment?

Five of the six normal speakers in the “stutterers” group developed a stutter, and three of the other children in that group saw their speech worsen.

These effects were permanent.

Johnson sent Tudor back to the orphanage to undo the results of the study, but it was too late. The orphans labeled as stutterers suffered life-long speech issues.

The subjects of the Monster Study had to carry this burden for the rest of their lives.

So, in summary, the Monster Study was cruel, creepy, and unethical mainly because:


1. The children were never told about the study by Johnson or Tudor.


2. The teachers and administrators of the orphanage, who also didn’t know a study was taking place, weren’t told about it either.


3. It’s hard to say that the study was for the “greater good”: The study was never published, which greatly reduced possible benefits.


4. The study wasn’t published because Johnson feared it would be compared to Nazi experiments, which also goes to show how unethical it was.


5. There were life-long psychological effects on the test subjects, including stuttering induced/worsened by negative therapy, a low self-esteem, and symptoms of depression.


6.Johnson knew about these life-long effects and how devastating they could be, yet still made an effort to induce stuttering in the children to prove his theory.

Due to these reasons, the Monster Study is still widely seen as one of the most horrifying experiments carried out in the United States.




The Stuttering Doctor's 'Monster Study

The 'Monster Study' on Stuttering - PsyBlog

SJ Mercury News: The Monster Study