The Three Christs of Ypsilanti

Psychologist Milton Rokeach took three psychotic men, each who believed they were Jesus Christ, and put them together at Ypsilanti State Hospital in Michigan. It was an experiment in identity, since all three men knew there could only be one Son of God. Rokeach chronicled what happened in his 1964 book The Three Christs of Ypsilanti, which is out of print.
In hindsight, the Three Christs study looks less like a promising experiment than the absurd plan of a psychologist who suffered the triumph of passion over good sense. The men's delusions barely shifted over the two years, and from an academic perspective, Rokeach did not make any grand discoveries concerning the psychology of identity and belief. Instead, his conclusions revolve around the personal lives of three particular (and particularly unfortunate) men. He falls back—rather meekly, perhaps—on the Freudian suggestion that their delusions were sparked by confusion over sexual identity, and attempts to end on a flourish by noting that we all "seek ways to live with one another in peace," even in the face of the most fundamental disagreements. As for the ethics of the study, Rokeach eventually realized its manipulative nature and apologized in an afterword to the 1984 edition: "I really had no right, even in the name of science, to play God and interfere round the clock with their daily lives."

Slate has some tidbits from the interaction of the three men. Link -via Buzzfeed

(Image credit: Robert Neubecker)

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