ByJancy Richardson, writer at
To avoid fainting, keep repeating 'It's only a movie...It's only a movie...'
Jancy Richardson

Even as a horror writer, some things are almost too shocking to bear researching. We've seen so many movie representations of violence and deranged human experiments - The Human Centipede springs revoltingly to mind - but their real life counterparts are infinitely worse.

Read on, if you can stomach it, to discover some of the worst human experiments ever conducted...

1. MK Ultra

Project MK Ultra was a 1950s CIA research program into mind control, and is still a hot topic among conspiracy theorists today.

Many drugs but particularly LSD were used without telling people the full extent of what they were being given, including military staff, sex workers, the mentally ill and random members of the public.

Dr. Donald Cameron was instrumental in some of the more extreme and bizarre experiments. Patients who visited him for minor psychiatric problems were ruthlessly experimented on; given drug-induced comas, dangerous levels of electroshock therapy and weeks of noise or repetitive phrases looped into their ears.

CIA Director Richard Helms ordered all MK Ultra documents destroyed in 1973.


2. Tuskegee Syphilis

For 40 years between 1932 and 1972, the Tuskegee Study of Untreated Syphilis in the Negro Male hid a terrible abuse of poor African Americans.

Syphilis treatment was withheld from patients, who were often not told which disease they had, euphemistically terming their condition 'bad blood' and bribing them with meals and 'medical treatment.' Ill-informed, many men transmitted the disease sexually to their wives, or congenitally to their children.

Doctors deliberately gave patients placebo pills so they could watch the disease progress. 600 men were enrolled at the start of the project. Only 74 survived it.


3. The Secret Soviet Poison Laboratory

The Soviet Secret services established their first Poison Laboratory - creepily known as 'The Chamber' - in 1921, but it stayed in operation for over 50 years.

Prisoners from the Gulags - deemed 'enemies of the people,' they could be arrested for almost any reason the authorities chose - were given lethal poisons, including digitoxin, mustard gas and ricin, often in the guise of 'medicine.'

The purpose of 'The Chamber' was to develop a tasteless, odorless, untraceable poison for effective political assassinations. To this effect, 'The Chamber' was brutally effective: the product C-2 was made, an undetectable, subtle poison that killed its host in under 15 minutes.


4. Unit 731

Between 1937 and 1945 the Second Sino-Japanese war raged, mirroring the atrocities happening across the globe in Nazi Germany.

Commander Shiro Ishii ran Unit 731, a horrific camp where some of the worst war crimes in history were committed. Prisoners of war had amputated limbs reattached to different areas of the body, or were deliberately infected with gangrene. Living people were used to test flame throwers, while both male and female prisoners were purposely given sexually transmitted diseases for unscrupulous doctors to study their effects.

Shockingly, Commander Ishii was never punished for the atrocities he oversaw, dying of natural causes at the ripe old age of 67.


5. Dr. Josef Mengele

Perhaps the most famous human experiments of all time were conducted by Nazi Dr. Josef Mengele, whose heinous acts at Auschwitz live in infamy. Obsessed with torture and death, Mengele was particularly fascinated by twins, whom he abused appallingly.

Mengele's experiments involved injecting twins' eyes with dye and chemicals, or sewing twins together to make 'conjoined twins.' Painful procedures such as amputation, castration and organ removal were completed without anesthesia. Mengele imprisoned 1,500 sets of twins. Only 200 people survived.

Survivor Eva Mozes Kor remembers:

The experiments were difficult in that they were degrading and made us feel like animals. I was photographed continuously. Photographed and compared, always in the nude. The humiliation was the closest thing to making someone feel like a nothing, a piece of garbage, a piece of meat.


These cases of vile abuse and unethical experiments in the name of 'science' serve as the worst examples of human depravity. We can only hope that anything approaching acts of this barbarity continue in the realm of fiction.


Which of these horrendous evil human experiments did you find the most shocking?

Sources: Josef Mengele Biography, Take a Moment, Wikipedia


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