The Dark, Dark Pit of Despair

200px-Pitofdespair-Harlow

We’ve all been there right?

It made me think, where is this pit? It must have a location?

Turns out, it does.

The pit of despair was a device fashioned by a psychologist (Harry Harlow) used in animal experiments to contemplate how clinical depression worked. The way the device worked was that monkeys were put in the chamber after bonding with their mothers. Within a few days, they became listless and remain huddled in a corner.

Of course, this was an American psychologist. A long time ago and a galaxy far, far away (1970s).

The experiments were criticised for transgressing moral and ethical lines and for achieving little more than confirming what people already knew – if you break people’s social ties, they break down. It seems Harlow stood by his work and was heavily invested in understanding the experience of being in the pit of despair.

Animals were harmed in this experiment. That’s the sad thing.