I do my best to be mindful of synchronicity. I also love reading about strange science experiments. So when I recently came across multiple references to psychologist Bruce Alexander and his rat park, I figured I better take a look. Once I did, I knew I had to pass it on to y’all. . .
Alexander is a Canadian psychologist who has worked in the field of chemical addiction for almost thirty years. Last year, he published a book titled The Globalisation of Addiction: A Study in Poverty of the Spirit.
He’s best known for his 1981 experiment known as The Rat Park. Alexander wanted to test his idea that addiction is not simply caused by use. Working at British Columbia’s Simon Fraser University, he and his team set up what they referred to as a “rat paradise” with toys, comfortable mats, and special rooms for hot rat sex. He gave the rats access to either plain water or water laced with morphine. Some of the rats had been previously given morphine to levels that should have led to addiction. According to Alexander’s study, none of the rats consistently drank the dope-juice. Meanwhile, a group of rats kept in what was described as “typical experiment conditions” showed quite an affection for drugged water.
I have not yet located a copy of the original report, published in the journal Psychopharmacology, but here‘s a more recent paper by Alexander.
What do you think, friends? The ideas are certainly atypical, yet his recent book was published by Oxford University Press. The guy is no hack. And I figure any excuse to reevaluate our country’s drug policy is a good idea.
Also, I’d love to see what any artist readers can come up with for a visual depiction of Rat Paradise. . .