Sahar males from Alabama with untreated syphilis. The

Sahar Akhtar

Professor Galietta

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PSY 242


the documentary The Deadly Deception,
Byers expounds on unethical behaviors expressed during the 1932
government-sponsored Tuskegee experiment (MNK HIST). The research took
approximately forty years involved injecting 400 African American males from
Alabama with untreated syphilis. The video was a direct indictment of the US
Public Health Service because despite the availability of penicillin the
subjects were denied treatment and the government allowed it to happen. In the
1920s syphilis was a severe epidemic but soon after the discovery of penicillin
the government started to use it for treatment (MNK HIST). After they had run
out of funds, the state decided to sponsor a study and determine the effects of
untreated syphilis.

taps were used for blood tests while deceiving the subjects that they were
being treated and the practice was contrary to the American Psychological
Association (APA) ethics code which clarifies that healthcare providers should
do no harm to participants during the experiment (American Psychological
Association). Even after the funds became available the men were still denied
treatment so that the government could derive desired information. The project
came to an end after the story about the unethical methods used in the
investigation got reported in the press.

outlines standards which all healthcare providers are expected to follow as
they assess, treat or conduct research on patients. According to the principle
of consultations and referrals regarding informed consent during studies,
patients must be informed of the intention, potential risks, and duration of a
given experiment so that they can make personal decisions on whether to
participate or not (American Psychological Association). However, it was not
the case in the Tuskegee experiment, whereby the African American men involved
were uneducated sharecroppers; hence, they did not have the ability to make
informed decisions (MNK HIST). More so, while offering professional services,
psychologists are not supposed to use any form of inducement to either attract
research participants or maintain them. Whereas the participants were made to
believe they were receiving treatment for the ‘bad blood’, researchers watched
as their health conditioned deteriorated over time and made sure they did not
access any form of treatment (MNK HIST).

to the principle of integrity, healthcare providers should be respectful of
others and avoid as much as they can to make any misleading, false or deceptive
statements (American Psychological Association). However, the government
violated the principle because the participants were duped into believing that
they were actually being treated of syphilis while actual intention was to use
them to derive medical information. The participants had syphilis in the
latency stage which can be very lethal, and despite such life-threatening
effects, they were never advised on how to prevent them (MNK HIST).

believe the participants involved in the Tuskegee experiment were of equal
stature just like any other American citizen irrespective of their race or
economic status. Therefore, they ought to have been treated like vulnerable
human beings they would face health consequences just like any other
individual. The fact that some survivors admitted that they were sure that if
the participants were white, the research would not have taken place is an indication
that some groups of the population were considered important than others. By
declaring that the government would offer a 200,000 dollars grant for the
establishment of a Center for Bioethics was a positive move and an affirmation
that the government was willing to ensure that such an event does not occur
again (Connoisseur X). However, I believe the president made a mistake by
passing the burden of responsibility for the lives lost during the experiment,
to the medical researchers. If the government had not given the permission then
the research would not have taken place and, therefore, it should be admitted
that the government was equally responsible.



American Psychological Association. “Ethical
Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct.”, 2017, Accessed
11 Dec. 2017.

Connoisseur X. “Bill Clinton Apology To Human
Experiment Victims.” Youtube, 2017,
Accessed 11 Dec. 2017

MNK HIST. “The Deadly Deception.” Youtube,
Accessed 11 Dec. 2017 

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