The story is about a hidden case that involved inappropriate things that were being done to orphaned children; they were done for the purpose of confirming theories that were made about the condition of stuttering. This case was uncovered by a reporter named Jim Dyer. Jim was able to uncover a case that had gone unnoticed for decades, since the time of the First World War.
The theory concerning stuttering was developed by a scholar named Dr Wendell Johnson. Johnson first came to the University of Iowa in 1926, eager to learn and to write. Johnson had a severe stuttering defect. He had been stuttering for a large part of his life. Part of his objective in university was specifically to find a cure for his problem. His other goals were to under go speech therapy and to perfect his skills in writing. This condition had earned him considerable criticism from his peers, and doubts form his colleagues and from other men. Then, as well as the present days, people who stuttered were considered to be somewhat retarded. Stutterers appeared to be slow in thinking, and because of this, people were indifferent towards them.
Dr Johnson’s intentions were noble, but the manner in which he conducted his research was what was wrong. His theory was concerning the actual causes of stuttering. He used his student named Mary Tudor Jacobs, to experiment upon 22 boys and girls that they took from an orphanage. The results of these experiments gave Dr Johnson valuable information concerning Stuttering, which he presented to others and they gave him considerable acclaim. He became one of the country’s most influential speech pathologists. However, his advisors advised to hide how he came across the information and insight that he had. The experiment made the use of psychological pressure to cause the orphaned children to stutter. The children did not seem to know what was being done to them at the time. There also did not seem to be anyone to question what they were doing or to rebuke Dr Johnson and his assistant Mary. Surely enough, the children acquired stuttering disorders, and some were not able to shake off this weakness. This was a tragedy, and it constantly haunted Mary. She knew she had been instrument in destroying the lives of those children. And yet they had put all their trust in her.
Did the experiment succeed in its intention?
The experiment succeeded in its intention because Dr. Johnson’s intention was to determine whether the condition of Stuttering could be triggered by use of different stimuli; he had his stuttering problem from when he was young, and he committed his life into trying to learn about it and find out how it can be handed or controlled. The experiments that were done involved the applying of psychological pressure on child to see if it would alter the child’s speech habits. Surely enough, the children acquired the weakness of stuttering was birthed in these children. This showed that stuttering was a weakness that could be affected or controlled by external stimuli. With this new information, other scientists started exploring the possibilities and methods through which Stuttering can be addressed, and even healed. It has given birth to new types of speech therapy that have been useful in helping Stutterers to speak fluently.
The ends do not justify the means. This is because the lives of those 22 children were completely altered negatively when the experiments were done on them. Firstly, the children were not aware of what was going on. They had innocently put their trust in Mary, and had fully submitted to all that she did to them. They were lied to. They did this because they never thought that Mary would intentionally harm them. What Dr Johnson and Mary did was ethically unsound; it was wrong. Secondly, some of the repercussions of these experiments were that the children became objects of ridicule by their peers at school and at home. Nobody wants to associate with stutterers; therefore, they became very lonely children. Even as adults, stutterers come across as unstable; thus, the likelihood for them to get jobs was considerably slim. It also affected their chances in the future for life partners, and many other things that were governed by perception.
They may have borne this change better if they had been older; in the young state in which they were, it was guaranteed that there was interference with their self confidence and self esteem. Because of low self esteem, it meant that these children were never able to become what they had dreamed or desired initially to become. There is a likelihood that these children ended up making unwise decisions like going into drugs, crime, or even committing suicide. Dr Johnson and Mary had potentially completely ruined their lives.
Dr Johnson and Mary also did not make arrangements to care for the children. They were abandoned and not cared for after the experiment. Thus, another ethical issue that they should have addressed. They left the children with no hope after the experiments; they should have taken responsibility over them and cared for them to make sure they did not suffer as much because of the repercussions of the experiments.
In addition to the woes, they caused in the lives of the children, the also ended up splitting up siblings and friends during the time of experiments. They were chosen in a random way and separated from each other, which was adding insult to injury.
Therefore, Dr. Johnson did the children a great injustice; the knowledge that they acquired would eventually have been discovered. It was not necessary to cripple that lives of those children. As much as they experiments that they did came up with groundbreaking insights into Stuttering, they could have chosen a different and more humane way of gathering their data.