…on Disobedience…

From p 163 or Stanley Milgram’s Obedience to Authority.

“The sequence starts with inner doubt, tension that is at first a private experience but which invariably comes to assume an external form, as the subject informs the experimenter of his apprehension or draws his attention to the victim’s suffering. The subject expects, at some level, that the experimenter will make the same inference from these facts as he has: that one should not proceed with the shocks. When the experimenter fails to do this, communication shades into dissent, as the subject attempts to persuade authority to alter the course of his action. Just as the shock series consist of a step-by-step increase in severity, so the voicing of dissent allows for a graduated movement toward a break with the experimenter. The initial expression of disagreement, however tentatively phrased, provides a higher plateau from which to launch the next point of disagreement. Ideally, the dissenting subject would like he experimenter to release the subject, to alter the course of the experiment, and thus eliminate the need to break with authority. Failing this, consent is transformed into a threat that the subject will refuse to carry out the authority’s orders. Finally, the subject, having exhausted all other means, finds that he must get at the very root of his relationship with the experimenter in order to stop shocking the victim: he disobeys. Inner doubt, externalization of doubt, dissent, threat disobedience: it is a difficult path, which only a minority of subjects are able to pursue to its conclusion. Yet is is not a negative conclusion, but has the character of an affirmative act, a deliberate bucking of the tide. It is compliance that carries the passive connotation. The act of disobedience requires a mobilization of inner resources, and their transformation beyond inner preoccupation, beyond merely polite verbal exchange, into a domain for action. But the psychic cost is considerable.”

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