tideshift

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Rat Park

This 1981 psychology study has fascinated me ever since my brother told me about it a few months ago.

The researcher, Bruce Alexander, hypothesized that addiction to drugs like heroin is caused not by the addict's sheer inability to kick an obviously harmful habit, but by the addict's active need for pain relief due to living in unbearable social and economic conditions.

Dr. Alexander got a bunch of caged lab rats addicted to morphine, and then did follow-up experiments involving Rat Park, a 200-square-foot rat heaven, with many rats for socializing, trees, ample food, toys and places to burrow and quiet spots for the females to give birth.

He basically found that the rats weaned themselves off the morphine, even when given free access to the drug.

Follow the link for more detail; the study was rejected by the journals Science and Nature, Alexander's university withdrew funding, and the information, with its profound ramifications for social policy, was all but forgotten...

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