StudyBoss » Psychology » Essay on Dehumanization In A Few Good Men

Essay on Dehumanization In A Few Good Men

Dehumanization is one of the central processes in the transformation of ordinary, normal people into indifferent or even wanton perpetrators of evil, Phillip Zimbardo brilliantly explains in his novel The Lucifer Effect (Zimbardo 157). Dehumanization plays a key role in the military, whether it be utilized concerning the enemy or regarding America’s own troops. In A Few Good Men, Downey and Dawson did not have the privilege of being able to refer to Santiago as a person, they simply were ordered to perform a “code red” on a dissatisfactory marine.

Zimbardo accounts for Dawson and Downey’s acts by elucidating that dehumanization resembles a “cortical cataract” that clouds one’s thinking and fosters the perception that other individuals are less than human. This person will come to see others as enemies deserving of torment, torture, and annihilation (Zimbardo 156). If this is true, then the marines’ viewpoint could have morphed into one that considered Santiago less than human as a consequence of the utilization of dehumanization.

Epitomizing dehumanization, Colonel Jessup explains that the oppression of Santiago is imperative to protect the country, and even states that, “Santiago’s death, while tragic, probably saved lives. ” The Colonel is in charge of an entire base and promotes uniformity as well as the harassment of any marine that does not impeccably follow his orders. Zimbardo would extrapolate upon the subjection to this authority by explaining that “When all members of a group of individuals are in a deindividuated state, their mental functioning changes: they live in an expandedpresent moment that makes past and future distant and irrelevant.

Feelings dominate reason, and action dominates reflection. In such a state, the usual cognitive and motivational processes that steer their behavior in socially desirable paths no longer guide people,” (Zimbardo 220). This is also applicable and verifiable in Milgram’s subjects who also had reason to inflict pain upon another person. The individuals in the experiments were stripped of their original names and dubbed “learners” and “teachers” in order to rob them of their identity.

Coupled with the deprivation of individualization, Milgram also would successfully explain dehumanization was promoted by referring to the shocking of the learners as “the procedure”, “the punishment” or the simple statement of “please continue” (Milgram 82). Kelman and Hamilton might effectually concur by elucidating that through dehumanization, one’s attitude toward the target and toward himself becomes so structured that it is neither necessary nor possible for them to view the relationship in moral terms (Kelman, Hamilton 139).

If this is true, then Dawson and Downey would have solely viewed Santiago as an assignment, completely disregarding feelings or morals. Milgram could serve to further this argument by providing a powerful sentiment: the essence of obedience is that another person comes to view himself as an instrument in a large process (Milgram 87). In essence, the individual preforming the vile act synonymously dehumanizes himself in order to facilitate the procedure. When one refers to Jessup’s previous dehumanization of Santiago in the courtroom, the dehumanization of self is also blatantly apparent.

He roars in response to Lieutenant Kaffee, “We use words like “honor,” “code,” “loyalty. ” We use these words as the backbone of a life spent defending something. ” Milgram could extrapolate upon this proclamation by clarifying that language provides numerous terms to pinpoint this type of morality: loyalty, duty, discipline all are terms heavily saturated with moral meaning (Milgram 87). These words emit a false perception of benevolence, misleading people into compliance.

If this is true, then dehumanization techniques do not exclusively encompass descriptions with a egative connotation, but also include virtuous words. Kelman and Hamilton could continue by effectively conveying that authoritative figures utilize obligatory language when proclaiming orders (Kelman, Hamilton 140). Contemporarily, Ashraf Bhat would warn individuals through his article Language: The Ultimate Tool of Social Control that they are not always aware that world views are being manipulated or directed by language, which makes it conceptually impossible to question certain values (Bhat 3).

This verifies that Dawson and Downey were coerced into accosting Santiago as a consequence of excessive manipulative language employed by Colonel Jessup. Although explaining different tactics of dehumanization, these authors would concurrently agree that Colonel Jessup degraded Santiago’s morality in order to facilitate the actions ordained. As to why Jessup was able to administer a dubious order without question, Kelman and Hamilton may profess that American military law assumes that the subordinate is inclined to follow orders, as that is the normal obligation of the role (Kelman, Hamilton 135).

Dawson and Downey entertained Jessup’s orders because of this obligation, but they also regarded Santiago as a mission because dehumanization was festering their perception of the private’s individuality. Kelman and Hamilton could also argue that they upheld this mindset due to routinization by explaining that moral resistance is greatly reduced by transforming the action into routine, mechanical, highly programmed operations. This would reduce the necessity of making decisions as well as expedite avoidance of implications of the actions (Kelman, Hamilton 141).

Similarly, Milgram purports that there was a time when people were able to provide a fully human response to any situation because they were fully engrossed in it as human beings; however as soon as division of labor emerged, situations transformed. Dehumanization and routinization go hand in hand, altering the human mindset altogether (Milgram 89). If both testimonials reign true, then Dawson and Downey’s entire mentality was transfigured and they became messengers simply delivering Jessup’s dispatch. The separation of labor divides responsibility, and even the most heinous of acts can become a formality.

Milgram successfully contrives a thorough description of how the division of labor is effective: beyond a certain point, the breaking up of society into people carrying out narrow and very special jobs takes away from the human quality of work and life. Even Eichmann was sickened when he toured the concentration camps due to the fact that he had only to sit at a desk and shuffle papers (Milgram 89). Hannah Arednt, author of Eichmann in Jerusalem, would agree with Milgram by explaining that Eichmann was loyal to the SS and was surrounded by a sense of “normality” (Arednt 28).

She also explains that the attitude of the German people toward their own past could hardly have been more clearly demonstrated throughout the time of the trial: they themselves did not much care one way or the other, and did not particularly mind the presence of murderers at large in the country, since none of them were likely to commit murder of their own free will (Arednt 12). If this statement is valid, then then the Germans were cognizant of the fact that normal individuals were coerced into committing atrocious acts and only did so under the pressure of authority and routinization.

Kelman and Hamilton would speak on Eichmann by convincing the audience that routinization focuses on the details of the job rather than the meaning; moreover, this effect is more readily achieved among those who participate from a distance from their desks. (Kelman, Hamilton 141). In consequence, Eichmann probably was not conscious of the repercussions originating from his actions. Analogously, Dawson and Downey would not have comprehended the ramifications that could result from following Colonel Jessup’s commands.

Milgram most efficiently could continue by clarifying that there is a fragmentation of the total human act; no individual is confronted with the consequences of his or her decision to perform the evil act. The person who assumes responsibility has evaporated. He then effectively concludes by making the broad statement that perhaps this is the most common characteristic of socially organized evil in modern society (Milgram 89). Kelman and Hamilton could similarly conclude with an avowal that would convey that Dawson and Downey were not acting as personal agents, but merely extensions of the authority (Kelman, Hamilton 140).

Routinization strips humans of their individuality by deeming them as small parts of a massive event, no matter the age or rank of the individual afflicted. William Golding, author of Lord of the Flies, portrays how well-behaved British choirboys are transformed into murderers simply due to routinization. Jack, the child leader, undergoes a frightening metamorphosis into a bloodthirsty dictator. He became a new individual, liberated from shame and self-consciousness (Golding 58). The slaughter commences with the butchery of a boar as the boys venomously chant “Kill the pig.

Cut her throat. Spill her blood. ” Once that alien deed of killing another creature is accomplished, they then relish the fun of killing both animals and their human enemies. The repeated statement of “Kill the pig. Cut her throat. Spill her blood. ” signifies routinization, eventually leading to the murder of other boys (Golding 164). Kelman, Hamilton, and Milgram would synchronously concur that routinization overwhelmed the boys and they succumbed to the mechanized operations designed by the leader.

They would also agree that Dawson and Downey were confronted with a comparable situation: their actions were mechanized in order to shun any moral ambiguity. Conclusively, Kelman, Hamilton, and Milgram deliver possible accounts as to why Dawson and Downey regarded Santiago as a task rather than an individual. The marines were subject to the use of dehumanization and routinization, which promotes a sense of acquiesce to authority and spurns moral objection. Santiago’s humanity did not register in Dawson and Downey’s forethought, which resulted in the facilitation of preforming the deed ordered by Colonel Jessup.

Cite This Work

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing style below:

Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.