Rat Park was a study into drug addiction conducted in the late 1970s (and published in 1980) by Canadian psychologist Bruce K. Alexander and his colleagues atSimon Fraser University in British Columbia, Canada.
Alexander’s hypothesis was that ..
drugs do not cause addiction, and that the apparent addiction to opiate drugs commonly observed in laboratory rats exposed to it is attributable to their living conditions, and not to any addictive property of the drug itself.
He told the Canadian Senate in 2001 that prior experiments in which laboratory rats were kept isolated in cramped metal cages, tethered to a self-injection apparatus, show only that “severely distressed animals, like severely distressed people, will relieve their distress pharmacologically if they can.”
To test his hypothesis, Alexander built Rat Park, an 8.8 m2 (95 sq ft) housing colony, 200 times the floor area of a standard laboratory cage. There were 16–20 rats of both sexes in residence, an abundance of food, balls and wheels for play, and enough space for mating and raising litters. The results of the experiment appeared to support his hypothesis. Rats who had been forced to consume morphine hydrochloride for 57 consecutive days were brought to Rat Park and given a choice between plain tap water and water laced with morphine. For the most part, they chose the plain water. “Nothing that we tried,” Alexander wrote, “… produced anything that looked like addiction in rats that were housed in a reasonably normal environment.” Control groups of rats isolated in small cages consumed much more morphine in this and several subsequent experiments.
The two major science journals, Science and Nature, rejected Alexander, Coambs, and Hadaway’s first paper, which appeared instead in Psychopharmacology, a respectable but much smaller journal in 1978. The paper’s publication initially attracted no response. Within a few years, Simon Fraser University withdrew Rat Park’s funding.
from Bruce‘s wikipedia page:
on rat park:
The Rat Park experiments, published in psychopharmacology journals in the late 1970s and early 1980s, flatly contradicted the dominant view of addiction in their day. They quickly disappeared from view, having evoked only negative responses in the mainstream press and journals. Lauren Slater’s controversial psychology book, Opening Skinner’s Box: Great Psychological Experiments of the Twentieth Century helped to bring them back to public attention in 2005. These experiments are now widely known and cited.
lots more there..
Bruce’s site on rat park:
The box was fitted out to serve as a happy home and playground for groups of rats. My colleagues and I found that rats that lived together in this approximation of a natural environment had much less appetite for morphine than rats housed in solitary confinement in the tiny metal cages that were standard in those days.
Who could be surprised by this finding? The only people who acted surprised at the time – and a bit offended – were those addiction researchers who believed that the great appetite for morphine, heroin, and cocaine that earlier experiments had demonstrated in rats housed in the tiny solitary confinement cages proved that these drugs were irresistible to all mammals, including human beings.
intro’d to rat park and Bruce while reading Johan Hari‘s chasing the scream.
We have to build a society that looks more like Rat Park and less like a rat race.
Hari, Johann (2015-01-20). Chasing the Scream: The First and Last Days of the War on Drugs (Kindle Locations 4447-4448). Bloomsbury Publishing. Kindle Edition.
yes let’s model a nother way – vision versions..
what i didn’t know – is the animal didn’t have anything in the cage.. besides the lever. – @ on rat park ness
attachment via fitness affinity community, do overs, ..
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prospect – rat park environment but w/o free time, ie: in rat park, rats weren’t working/schooling for 7 hrs a day before coming home to the park.. (hearing rats not 100% free, social colonies/hierarchies -but hunter gatherers ness – seems diff.. no?)
refugee camps – have time – ie: time on hold/pause.. but stripped of authenticity (because treated not fully human having to flee) .. and perhaps w/o attachment (since most see at temp situation)also then how many normal ish spaces are we refugees..
basic income – ness – from Jill Leovy’s ghettoside (the epilogue):
the federal second chance act in 2005 inspired new efforts to provide ssi (supplemental security income, a payment available to people with disabilities) to prisoners upon reentry; many prisoners qualify, since a third of the state’s inmates have been diagnosed with mental illness. as we have seen, autonomy counters homicide. cold cash paid out to individuals is a powerful thing; this author has watched ssi transform many aspects of life in south central los angeles over about a decade, but the change for indigent black men has been especially dramatic.
money translates to autonomy, economic autonomy is like legal autonomy. it helps break apart homicidal enclaves by reducing interdependence and lowering the stakes of conflicts. the many indigent black men who now report themselves to be “on disability” – many of them with mental disabilities, such as add and bipolar disorder – signal an unprecedented income stream for a population that once suffered near-absolute economic marginalization. an eight-hundred-dollar-a-month check for an unemployed black ex-felon makes a big difference in his life.
the risks and benefits of various hustles surely appear different to him. he can move, ditch his homeys, commit fewer crimes, walk away from more fights. doubtless many people will criticize this trend and decry the expense of ssi. bu this author can’t condemn a program that appears to have saved so many from being murdered or maimed.
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Jane Costello‘s work in carolina mtns
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@johannhari101After last one went viral, somebody has made another animated video based on my book (I didn’t write this one) bit.ly/1RiQQvR
7 min – addicts are not a result of chemistry but of problems in our society ..7 min – expand on b alexander findings –