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The Daily Agenda for Monday, March 11

Jim Burroway

March 11th, 2013

THIS MONTH IN HISTORY:
The Delivery of “Safe” Electric Shock for Psychological Treatments: 1935. Two years earlier in April 1933, the New York Branch of the American Psychological Association decided to form the Committee on the Use of Electric Shock in Psychological Experimentation. The committee was formed to “exchange views regarding some of the difficulties involved in electrical stimulation,” namely the delivery of powerful electric shock in aversion therapy as part of the popular new therapeutic craze known as Behavioral Therapy. The electric shock had to be powerful enough to serve as a negative reinforcement against undesired thoughts, feelings or behaviors, but not so strong that it would prove lethal. That was not a small issue in the 1930s. Electrical executions had been by then well on their way to replacing the hangman’s noose and the firing squad as more “humane” ways of imposing the death penalty on criminals. To avoid the same fate for psychiatric patients, research was needed to invent “safer” devices and institute safety standards so that clinicians could begin shocking their patients into conformity.

In a paper published in the March 1935 edition of Psychological Bulletin, New York University’s Louis William Max came to the rescue with a nine page thesis, describing his research into the problem. He had experimented with three types of protective devises: fuses, mechanical relays, and vacuum tube-based devices:

The ideal protective device must meet three requirements: (1) it must operate smoothly and unfailingly at the pre-determined cut-off current; (2) this operation must be sufficiently rapid, since the duration factor is an important one in lethal shock; and (3) the cut-off action must never occur below the prearranged maximum, as this would interfere with experimentation. Since the quantitative evidence thus far available is of a more or less anecdotal nature, and the physiologically safe limits both as to time and intensity have not yet been satisfactorily determined, we recommend as provisional maxima 12 m.a. and 8 sigma (½ cycle of 60 cycle A.C), these values being subject to subsequent increase when justified by further experimentation. This means that an adequate safety device must eliminate all currents above 12 m.a., and that this elimination must take place within 8 sigma after the onset of the stimulus. The 8 sigma limit is but a small fraction of the threshold shock-duration reported by Duchosal as producing ventricular fibrillation in the animal heart, and thus affords a good margin of safety; as ½ cycle A.C. it also provides a convenient electrical parameter for specifying and checking the speed of A.C. protective devices.

While his study of the three types of devices was still ongoing, his investigation into the use of fuses and mechanical relays didn’t appear promising. Instead, he recommended a “vacuum-tube protective device for A.C. shock with adjustable cut-off,” complete with crude hand-drawn schematics. He had been using a version of his device using D.C. electric shocks on human subjects for the previous two years, but D.C. shocks were unsatisfying; A.C. was what delivered the best jolt (electric chairs, for this reason, used A.C., not D.C.):

Schematic diagram of Louis William Max’s device for inducing a powerful electric shock. (Click to enlarge.)

Of the vacuum-tube devices investigated, the one which best meets our requirements is that of Fig. 2. As regards expense, a complete stimulator circuit built around this device would cost less than present electrostimulators. Its chief disadvantage is that its underlying circuit is more complicated than a fuse or relay circuit would be. But the manipulative adjustments required are rather simple, and could easily be made even by a non-electrically minded experimenter, by following a set of operating instructions.

…Regardless of which protective device proves most adequate, the design of shock apparatus needs improvement. All live and exposed connections with which an operator may come in contact or which may be short-circuited by an accidentally dropped screwdriver or metal pencil should be eliminated. Experimenters, for example, have reported unpleasant shocks from exposed studs and tap switches…

Even the most ideal of protective devices cannot substitute for the exercise of care in the use of shock apparatus. For the operator’s protection, it is recommended that only one hand be employed in the manipulation of the controls in present high-voltage apparatus. In locating the shocking electrodes on the subject, avoid all contralateral leads {i.e., from one side of the body to the other), or ipselateral leads above and below the heart (such as right hand to right foot). Where possible, electrodes should be firmly fastened to the subject, especially when intense shocks are contemplated, as the subject’s “startle” responses may dislodge an electrode and throw it into contact with a body part to be avoided. The subject might well be insulated from the ground, by means of a rubber mat or glass casters, particularly where the floor is of cement or composition. Finally, every experimenter using shock apparatus on human subjects should learn the Shaefer method of resuscitation.

Six months later, Max would present a paper before the 43rd annual meeting of the American Psychological Association, Ann Arbor, Michigan (See Sept 6) describing the use of his new invention in an attempt at “breaking up” a “homosexual neurosis in a young man.”

[Source: Louis W. Max. “Protective devices and precautions against lethal shock” Psychological Bulletin 32, no. 3 (March 1935): 203-211.]

TODAY’S BIRTHDAY:
David LaChapelle: 1963. When the kid from Connecticut move to New York City and started hanging out at Studio 54, he met Andy Warhol who hired the aspiring young photographer to work for Interview magazine. He would go on become a fashion photographer for Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone. GQ, Vogue, and Photo. He depicted David Duchovney in Lycra bondage pants, Chris Rock in a Blaxploitation fantasy, Kanye West as an African-American Jesus, Michael Jackson as an archangel, Jason Priestly as Elvis, Eminem naked, Elizabeth Taylor in a shocking pink turban, Lady Gaga as, well, Lady Gaga, and Dolly Parton’s breasts as a mountainous backdrop for Dollywood. His 1995 photo of the “kissing sailors” ad for Diesel was one of the first public ads showing a gay couple kissing. It was extremely controversial, landing in the glossy mags fresh off of the debate over Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. He also branched out into videos, working for Elton John, Moby, Enrique Iglesias, Macy Gray, Amy Winehouse, and many others. In 2004, he produced a documentary about the South Central L.A. dance style know as “krumping.”

LaChapelle’s color-saturated, provocative and surreal images have been in high demand in the fashion and music world, both for his photography and his videos, and the workaholic put in grinding hours getting each painstaking detail just right. It took him fourteen years, he says, before he finally learned how to say no. That came when Madonna was haranguing him about a video the two were planning. LaChapelle had enough, pulled the cell phone away from his ear, and snapped it shut. That’s right. He hung up on Madonna. He’s still working, but at his own pace and on his own terms. He no longer feels he has to say yes to everyone, which now leaves artists scrambling for substitutes when he turns them down. In 2011, LaChapelle accused Rihanna of copying his imagery for her video “S&M.” The two settled out of court just as the case was about to go to trial.

If you know of something that belongs on the agenda, please send it here. Don’t forget to include the basics: who, what, when, where, and URL (if available).

And feel free to consider this your open thread for the day. What’s happening in your world?

Comments

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Charles
March 11th, 2013 | LINK

“Six months later, Max would present a paper before the 43rd annual meeting of the American Psychological Association, Ann Arbor, Michigan (See Sept 6) describing the use of his new invention in an attempt at “breaking up” a “homosexual neurosis in a young man.””

Has anyone figured out to “break up” of the heterosexual anti-homosexual neurosis?

Regan DuCasse
March 11th, 2013 | LINK

I love David LaChapelle. The name of the documentary about South Central Los Angeles, ‘krumping’ is called “RIZE”. It’s outstanding. Absolutely love it.

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