The Brain: A Secret History
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The Brain: A Secret History

2011, Psychology  -   66 Comments
Ratings: 8.00/10 from 123 users.

The Brain: A Secret HistoryIn a compelling and at times disturbing series, Dr Michael Mosley explores the brutal history of experimental psychology.

Mosley embarks on three journeys to understand science's last great frontier - the human mind - as he traces the history of the attempts to understand and manipulate the brain. Experiments on the human mind have led to profound insights into how our brain works - but have also involved great cruelty and posed some terrible ethical dilemmas.

Mind Control. To begin, Michael traces the sinister ways this science has been used to try to control our minds. He finds that the pursuit of mind control has led to some truly horrific experiments and left many casualties in its wake. Extraordinary archive captures what happened - scientists systematically change the behavior of children; law abiding citizens give fatal electric shocks; a gay man has electrodes implanted in his head in an attempt to turn his sexuality.

Emotions. In this film, Michael investigates how scientists have struggled to understand that most irrational and deeply complex part of our minds - our emotions. Michael meets survivors - both participants and scientists - of some of the key historical experiments. Many of these extraordinary research projects were captured on film - an eight-month-old boy is taught to fear random objects, baby monkeys are given mothers made from wire and cloth, and an adult is deliberately violent before a group of toddlers.

Broken Brains. Dr Michael Mosley concludes his series exploring the brutal history of experimental psychology by looking at how experiments on abnormal brains have revealed the workings of the normal brain. He meets remarkable individuals like Karen, who suffered from a rare condition - alien hand syndrome - which meant that one of her hands constantly attacked her. And Julia, who seems to have recovered from her stroke - until experiments reveal she is unable to recall the name of any object.

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john margetts
4 months ago

nonsense. Thoughts are NOT generated within the brain so any attempt to change people's thinking by messing with brain tissue is destined to failure or worse.

6 years ago

Well ,after all we are in hell ,or at the very least a kind of prison...with the thought of hey I'm gonna die .don't know we live on as a soul..or are we doomed to be born .on lovely planet earth .again. one know.

nile ferns
6 years ago

Didn't learn a thing that I already learned from Psy-101

6 years ago

How is it that nobody realises that people are also animals. The experiments on all of the animals were disgusting, and are still disgusting. I also had to turn it off as it made me so angry at the clear distress of the dog and the look on the little boys face. The human race is disgusting.

6 years ago

I watched part of the programme broadcast last night with growing repulsion. We saw a baby being subjected to experiments designed to give us an understanding of fear, then some old footage of a baby monkey in a laboratory, separated from it's mother so that it's basic emotional needs could be assessed through a series of crude experiments. It was very distressing to observe, particularly as More gave creduility to these cruel experiments It was like watching something produced by the Nazi SS. You must try harder and use nothing that amounted from old experiments that surely should be consigned into a bin of great shame. No-one, whatever species should suffer so that 'scientists' can make great claims about 'understanding' in science. Shame on you Micheal.

6 years ago

Part2 and 3 ???.,

7 years ago

I personally think Pavlov was too reserved in his pursuit for knowledge, it's sad that 'morals' used to be considered more important than results. Thank god that changed

7 years ago

How can I access Parts II & III Emotions & Broken Brains? Help please!!

10 years ago

Fascinating! I really want parts 2 and 3!!!!

10 years ago

The Brain - A Secret History
Can someone please give me a link to download part II?

Laura B
10 years ago

I love Science, I believe in searching for answers, but after seeing this I keep thinking about people who claim alien abductions and having experiments done on them...not really any different is it.....

11 years ago

im thrilled i get to see this again,when it dissapeared from iplayer i thought it was gone forever.i found it completely fascinating and was so proud that id heard of most of the research. my psychology tutor and i were also interested to see what had happened of HM (henry molaison) which i think i in one of these documentaries

11 years ago

The well of despair! Poor monkeys....

11 years ago

Liked it pretty much.

11 years ago

One thing he said that I disagree with:

In the split brain patients, when a shape of a letter was placed in their left hand, and they were asked to identify it, Dr. Mosley says that "this clearly demonstrates that *language* is solely a left-brain function". But it would seem to me that since the left hand (which is controlled by the right hemisphere) is still able to sign the correct answer, that the right hemisphere is obviously still fully capable of understanding language. So, in reality, all this experiment demonstrates is the physical disconnection between the right hemisphere and the speech center, AND an apparent total unawareness by EITHER hemisphere that the disconnect even exists.

11 years ago

Rewarding desired behavior produces more desired behavior... Gee, who'd a thunk it?

11 years ago

Does anybody have information on what part of Dave's brain was removed? (Episode 2 4/4 at about 2:00ish)

possibly some part of the limbic system?.. amygdala?

11 years ago

I'm glad that with neuroscience we can have a reasonable explanation to what happens inside our brain and how it affects our behavior; no offense to anyone who believes in the paranormal, but is not fair to rely in the belief that someone has been possessed by a demon. This is a great documentary I enjoyed watching the whole thing, the host used relevant and simple examples to explain it in simple terms :)

11 years ago

Is the knowledge worth the lives of innocent kids and monkeys? Not for me. All those doctors had to do was wait around a bit longer, collect case studies and make use of advanced statistics. But I guess experimenting is easier, faster and less expensive... Dr Mosley thinks the knowledge is worth it, but of course he wouldn't have let his own children be experimented on. How convenient. No wonder he scored low on empathy!
Still, it is a very good documentary and I'm quite looking forward to watch the final part.

11 years ago

OMG< I had to turn this off!! I wish i could lay hands to Pavlov, I would hook him up to a electric shock. I know people think that something is wrong with those of us that identify with animals to the point that I do, and maybe there is something wrong with me- but I am this way and I can't help it. How anyone can harm animals is beyond me, they are just like children. Besides, I think they said they were going to show more horrible experiments on animals and people. I simply can't watch stuff like that without getting so angry that I start pacing the floor and ranting on and on- it gets out of hand. I know something is wrong with me, I should be able to detach myself at least to the point I can watch these documentaries and debate with others intelligently about it, at least that would have the potential of being productive. I wish I could watch this, I am really interested in the topic. I guess I will have to settle for reading the comments. Please don't hurt animals everyone, they have feelings just like people. In fact they are innocent just like children, I would rather see an adult person get beat than an animal. Most of them deserve it, including me at times.

The next time you see some rich corporate fat cat driving down the road in his Hummer, follow him. When he gets out of the car- beat him repeatedly amongst the head and shoulder area then flee the scene. The next time you see a stray dog or cat, feed them and help them find a home. In six months this will be a better place to live.

11 years ago

Dr. Nut? Did he just say that? Interesting doc.

11 years ago

skiners "good behavior" rofl... we can translate that in to zombie behavior!
& that a F... is that mind control should be used to make a world a beter place? this is not sparta but still madness!
A must see doc!

11 years ago

Dr Michael Mosley rocks. Some of the stuff in the doco is freaky though.

11 years ago

Wow, I've heard about Pavlov's experiments, but I had no idea how inhumane they were. I really wish we could stop using research animals,it's something more telling about us than any clinical result could ever reveal.

11 years ago

and a girl who had arguments with her parents over a boyfriend gets sent to a so called 'hospital'. these people should be bloody arrested. I am so fired up the psychodoctors will probably come over and lock me up now.......

11 years ago

wow pavlov was able to show what any person with a brain could have told you a thousand years ago...... and without torturing children....
go Pavlov!!!! be proud....

11 years ago

Palestinians use these techniques on the children encouraging them to hate Jews and Christians. They are taught that the Jews are apes and pigs and Christians are dogs and that we should all be killed. This is taught through a Sesame Street-like program.

11 years ago

Now I see how the socialists, via Hollywood, etc. are brainwashing the world population. It's group-think.

11 years ago

If someone knows anything in the entire universe that is more faceting than the human brain please let me know what it is...........

11 years ago

Nazi-Mengele-like experimentation on humans...

Dejan Savi?
11 years ago

Excellent documentary!

11 years ago

great series! a lot of this was covered in my intro psych course but wasn't explained nearly as well or in such an interesting fashion as in this doc. definitely would recommend.