15 Shocking Medical Experiments Performed On Human Beings

Sometimes, physicians used medical knowledge to experiment on people in order to achieve discoveries in particular subjects. Mostly, these topics are about the human anatomy, psychology, and effects caused by specific substances or methodologies. Such experiments caused lots of harm to people by damaging their health, leaving bad memories, or even killing them. Of course, not every experiment was set out with a purpose to harm people, because when you research new things, unexpected things happen quite often.

Alas, most of these medical experiments will never be heard of, as there are many of them kept secret. Why? Because they are horrible, disturbing, and something researchers don’t want you to know about. Yet, the more something is kept secret, the more it’s interesting to hear about, right? So, if you are curious for information about secret and awful medical experiments that were performed on people, I recommend you read this to find about these tests below!

14 The Moving Heads


One of the most shocking things about horrible medical experiments in the past is that some of them weren’t kept secret. Some of them were published in some of the most popular newspapers, so many people knew about them.

One of the greatest examples of such happenings was reported in 1866 with every terrible detail about an experiment done in France. It started by catching four criminals, who were then executed by having their heads cut off. Later, the four heads were used to research how the heads would respond and act to stimulus after being without the whole body. As medical researchers saw, heads were able to respond and move when subjected to electrical currents. Heads could even change their grimaces and even crush a pencil with teeth. All of this happened by using different amounts of electrical energy.

13 Experiments On Orphaned Kids


In 1913, the Washington Herald report mentioned that many orphaned kids were used to conduct medical experiments. Researchers who conducted these experiments said it was for the sake of humanity and those who suffered weren't worth worrying about. Researchers found orphaned kids mostly in hospitals and took them for their studies. Some of these studies were highly dangerous while others weren't, but the key is that they were all inhumane. Because no one stopped them from doing so, researchers found many kids for their experiments. For instance, one Japanese researcher said he performed experiments on 146 orphaned children for the sake of good.

12 Sweat-Killer


In 1898, one researcher believed that because sweat most often has a bad smell, it should be full of harmful bacteria. To prove his mistaken opinion, the researcher invited participants to have a steam bath. Later, he took samples of sweat from participants and analyzed it.

He saw many germs in sweat and came to a conclusion that sweat is harmful to people because it releases bacteria that is inside of human bodies. Furthermore, he thought that people could be diagnosed for diseases by sweating and by later analyzing the germs found in sweat.

However, a modern research found that when people sweat, they don’t actually emanate harmful bacteria, so it’s a bad way to diagnose diseases. Also, they found that sweat produces natural antibiotics made inside of the body. These natural antibiotics are able to kill germs that cause diseases, so it only proves that a bit of sweating is good for your health.

11 Transplanting Animal Glands Into People


The New York Tribute newspaper reported in 1921 that there was a Japanese medical college experimenting with glands. At first glance, the article sounded interesting and there seemed to be nothing to worry about. However, the truth is a bit different.

Japanese researchers wanted to see how transplanting animal glands could affect people - for example, how it could stop aging or increase libido. Most of these transplants went tragically wrong, as participants became sick due to shockingly fast changes in their bodies. They not only acted differently, but some patients even started to look as if they were completely different people.

Later from these experiments, physicians created a serum in which they thought could make a man look younger and increase their sex drive. As these experiments became more and more popular, they started to be conducted in almost all regions of the world, so it’s only a question how many people suffered from such experiments.

10 An Executed Person Was Resurrected


In 1879, people were curious about the human anatomy. Combine that with a chance to take the corpses of hanged people, and you have lots of researches happening on dead people. One of the most notorious experiments was made in the Indianapolis Medical College.

There, a professor brought in a hanged body and told his students that they would see how a dead body will be living again. The professor, with a help of a few researchers, pumped blood inside of the body, filled the lungs with air, and attached a battery to the brain.

After some time, the dead body started to move his head and move his eyes as if he was alive. Later, the professor increased the electrical flow and the body moved even more. Two minutes after the researchers stopped the needed functions for survival, the body stopped to move and died once again. Students were certainly shocked, though.

9 Radiation Effects


During the Cold War, the Soviet Union and the USA were worried about nuclear attacks so they became interested in how radiation affects health. To know the answer, Dr. Eugene Saenger conducted a research from 1961 to 1970.

He knew it would be difficult to find people who would participate in this experiment by their own free will, so he found poor Americans who were mostly black. The total number of participants was 88, who all were suffering from cancer and were convinced that they would defeat the disease. But to do so, they needed one hour of exposure to radiation. As these people didn’t have another choice, they accepted the offer.

Later, Dr. Saenger saw that most participants vomited, felt pain, lost appetite, and experienced nausea. After a longer period of time, most of them died.

8 Slave Research


Between 1845 and 1849, J. Marion Slims, a famous gynecologist who is considered to be a father of this science, was interested in researching diseases from which women suffered. As slavery was still widespread, he used this as an opportunity and took many black women slaves for his researches. Then, he did all types of operations that he didn’t know if they were helpful or worsening conditions even more. Some women had to survive as many as 30 operations without pain relievers because at that time they weren’t considered secure. One of the most horrible things about this study is that Slims didn’t consider his studies to be harming actual people because these women were slaves.

Furthermore, there were many advocates of his study that protected his terrible research from those who wanted to stop him. Alas, he wasn't stopped.

7 The Chamber


In days of the Cold War, Soviet Union scientists had a task to create poisonous gases that would be deadly, odorless, and tasteless. At the laboratory that was named The Chamber, scientists experimented on prisoners who were sentenced in Soviet gulags.

To start the experiment, the scientist added little doses of poison in the water and the food prisoners consumed. Of course, the prisoners knew nothing about the experiment so they gladly ate what was offered. After 15 minutes, prisoners became weaker and later died. This was like a dream poison for the Soviet Union.

This type of poison, which is called C-2, was manufactured from digitoxin, ricin, mustard gas, and other dangerous chemicals. Gladly, these poisons were almost never used in real battles (or at least there is no documentation of it), so let's hope that it won’t be used in the future.

6 Project 4.1


This project was conducted in 1952 on the natives of the Marshall Islands by exposing them to high doses of radiation. This radiation went to these islands from the Castle Bravo Nuclear test at Bikini Atoll. Later, the wind blew radiation particles to the Marshall Islands.

While the researchers could inform native people about the coming danger and help them to evacuate, they didn’t do it. They simply waited many years to see how long-term exposure to radiation affects people. In the first years, as radiation wasn’t huge enough, people only became less healthy. However, the more years went after the explosion, the more people became sick.

After 10 years, miscarriages and children’s growth problems became a regular problem among natives. Also, 30% of them developed tumors and experienced vomiting, bleeding, loss of teeth, and other problems that today are well-known results of exposure to radiation among health practitioners.

5 The Monster


In 1939, a study called “The Monster” was completed at the University of Iowa. There, a speech pathologist named Wendell Johnson and one of his students, Mary Tudor, experimented on 22 children who had speaking problems.

These 22 kids were divided into two groups. The first group was praised and encouraged about their improvements in speaking correctly. The second group was ridiculed, criticized, and called idiots. After a series of speaking lessons, the first group became much better. However, the second group not only didn’t learn how to speak, some of the kids developed social problems that damaged them for life.

In 2007, some of the participants, who were still alive and experiencing mental problems from this study, sued the University of Iowa for performing “The Monster” experiment on them, without even letting them know, and stopping their lingual skills development.

4 Children Of The Poor Were Used To Stop Tuberculosis


In 1908, physicians had to find a cure or a way to prevent tuberculosis, as this disease killed 110,000 every year in the USA during the early 1900s. Because of that, tuberculosis was called the Great White Plague and was one of the most horrible diseases of that time.

To create the first remedies to tuberculosis, a children’s hospital in Washington, DC made a choice to try these cures on the poor kids at the hospital. Physicians experiments with 10 children (although, it could be even more) without letting these kids and their families know.

The medics decided to experiment on poor children as they believed that their parents didn’t care about them anyway, and that these kids wouldn’t become successful in the future anyway. This helped to create remedies for tuberculosis faster, but it was a horrible violation of human rights.

3 Cholera Beds


In the past, the USA was not the only country interested in the people's health. Germany, the UK, France, and Russia were also curious about this subject. So, in 1871, Russian researchers wanted to find how cholera spreads and, at the same time, how a belief in being healthy affects people’s well being.

In those days, it was quite a hot topic, as cholera killed many people and folks became interested in the human brain. To get two answers in one study, four criminals were asked to sleep in beds in which people died from cholera. The criminals did as they were asked.

After some time, researchers examined their health and saw that criminals were healthy. However, the second time, criminals were asked to sleep in standard beds and were told that people died from cholera in them, which was a lie. After that, three criminals actually died from cholera because they simply believed that they could become infected.

2 Transferred Happiness


History is full of crazy studies about various subjects and medical experiments. In 1895, a US newspaper reported about an experiment in Paris, in which a Parisian doctor was looking for ways on how to make people happy.

The doctor wanted to help individuals who suffered from melancholy, which causes a depressed mood, by finding a way to transfer happiness from one person to another. To do so, the doctor asked participants to use a horseshoe. First, happy people were asked to wear a horseshoe on their heads. Later, “positive” horseshoes were given to people who suffered from melancholy.

If this method is helpful, it's not completely proven because some participants with a bad mood became happier while others stayed the same. However, newer studies show that by being with positive people, we tend to become happier and vice versa.


It happened when one person was struck by lightning and became paralyzed. Friends who were together with him thought that he would soon die. By having little understanding about the world, friends did the best they could – they improvised. They buried their friend to the chin underground because they had a belief that if the Earth would receive electricity from the injured friend’s body, he could stay alive.

While such a method works when you need to discharge items, the dying one’s friends went too far and, by trying to save him, killed him. After a judge heard about what happened, the friends weren’t punished for their innovative and crazy experiment.

1 Killed By A Lie


There was yet another experiment that proved how believing in particular things affects health. This time, it happened in 1898 during the Spanish-American War. According to the story, a lieutenant and a surgeon got into a conflict and decided to end it by killing one another.

They were to take two pills - one of which would be poisonous and another would be normal. Two other surgeons prepared the pills but neither of the pills were deadly, just one was awful by in taste. As the surgeon (who decided to have the duel), knew other surgeons would never harm him, he calmly ate the pill.

On the other hand, the lieutenant felt an awful taste and started to think that he was poisoned. Furthermore, surgeons scared the lieutenant a little bit and, before telling him that it was just an awful pill, he died of a heart attack because he believed he was poisoned.


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15 Shocking Medical Experiments Performed On Human Beings