Everyday Dehumanization

When you hear that term dehumanization it can feel grandiose and far away. It feels not just evil, but unrelatable. At least, those are some of the adjectives that come up as it relates to me. 

There’s a self sealing trap in this dynamic, however. Dehumanization is specifically what ignites our greatest evil (including racism) and we put it on a pedestal of unrelatable evil doing. Said differently, the lesson we need isn’t the lesson we assume pertains to us. 

There likely isn’t a more profound mind on this topic than Phillip Zambardo. I’ve referenced his text, The Lucifer Effect: Understanding How Good People Turn Evil, several times over the last nine years this blog has existed. Zimbardo is my first choice expert on this topic, because it was his famous Stanford prison experiment that has been a mainstay in Psychology 101 classes for decades since. 

The short story? Zimbardo selected twenty-four young people around the Stanford University campus to be in his experiment. The experiment was the observation of human behavior in a mock prison environment in the basement of the Psych Building. It was to last two weeks. 

By way of coin flip,  half were given the role of “guard” and the other half the role of “prisoner”. The results were famously catastrophic. The study was cut short on the sixth day as the “guards” were already physically and emotionally abusing the “prisoners”. The criminal defense attorneys should mention both parties knew they won their roles in a coin toss and that no prisoners were guilty of any crimes.  For crimes like domestic violence, domestic violence lawyers need to be contacted! 

How could twenty four well-to-do young people devolve into an abusive expression of power and oppression in just six days, you ask? 

Zimbardo attributes it to his small but deliberate protocols for dehumanization. Prisoners’ were no longer allowed to have names. They would be referred to by their numbered prisoner ID, instead. Guards were given anonymity via large reflective sunglasses to give them the feeling their identity was protected. The rest is history. 

In our minds, evil is big, grandiose and far away. You know the kind you see in the movies. Where there are good guys and bad guys. What Zimbarado taught the world in 1971 is that the line between “good” and “evil” is razor thin, unassuming, and within us all. Dehumanization at the smallest level is the first domino in a cascade of unthinkable behaviors. 

Do you recognize today’s equivalents to depersonalize people by removing the use of their names for something more general and less human to support the role of the oppressed? Do you recognize today’s equivalents of identity protecting reflective glasses that can empower oppressors?



Daily Coaching Video 

Submit Your Score to the Digital Whiteboard

6/6/20 WOD

Complete 3 rounds for quality of:

10 Bent over I-Raises

15 Bent over Y-Raises

20 Bent over T-Raises 

25 Bent over W-Raises

30 Cuban Presses


Then, complete 4 rounds for quality of:

:30 Iso Bent Over Towel Row Hold

30 Bent over Lateral Raises

25 Lateral Raises

20 Front Raises


The, complete 5 rounds for time of: 

3-Pos Dynamic Push Ups (12 Narrow, 12 Regular, 12 Wide)

-Rest :60-