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How extreme isolation warps the mind

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posted on Jul, 15 2014 @ 09:35 PM
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"When people are isolated from human contact, their mind can do some truly bizarre things".


Sarah Shourd, a 32-year old had been hiking with two friends in the mountains of Iraqi Kurdistan when they were arrested by Iranian troops after straying onto the border with Iran.
Story


Accused of spying, they were kept in solitary confinement in Evin prison in Tehran, each in their own tiny cell. She endured almost 10,000 hours with little human contact before she was freed. One of the most disturbing effects was the hallucinations.

Why does our mind start to hallucinate? I've been there, whether through isolation, lack of sleep or you know what. When one is alone, you come face to face with your greatest enemy or the greatest version of yourself that no one gets to experience.


“In the periphery of my vision, I began to see flashing lights, only to jerk my head around to find that nothing was there,” she wrote in the New York Times in 2011. “At one point, I heard someone screaming, and it wasn’t until I felt the hands of one of the friendlier guards on my face, trying to revive me, that I realized the screams were my own.”

A terrifying account of a fun filled, outgoing individual immediately cut off from the world and all the life contained within. As much as I think I would be better off as an introvert who seeks his alone time, I do not think I would remain calm knowing that I was a captive prisoner. Certain military groups are trained in the art of extreme solitude but the experiments I hear aren't always easy going.


We all want to be alone from time to time, to escape the demands of our colleagues or the hassle of crowds. But not alone alone. For most people, prolonged social isolation is all bad, particularly mentally. We know this not only from reports by people like Shourd who have experienced it first-hand, but also from psychological experiments on the effects of isolation and sensory deprivation, some of which had to be called off due to the extreme and bizarre reactions of those involved.

How would you spend your 10,000 hours? How about total darkness in a studio apartment with no windows or bathroom? I personally fall asleep with something on Netflix or the internet as I haven't had cable in almost two decades. My brain is my worst enemy but it is an enemy that I wouldn't mind spending a few hours a day with getting to know. I would love to hear if any members have actually used isolation tanks or in fact own one. How does your brain play with you when you are completely alone?
edit on 15-7-2014 by eisegesis because: (no reason given)




posted on Jul, 15 2014 @ 09:46 PM
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a reply to: eisegesis

Yes, and people wonder why we're having issues with many of this generation that's a prison society. The majority of people who go to prison end up in solitary at some point. I think it takes less than a week for it to be permanently psychologically damaging.

There's a really good National Geographic doc on Netflix about solitary but couldn't find it on youtube. So here's some free youtubes.



and




posted on Jul, 15 2014 @ 09:51 PM
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a reply to: eisegesis

When im alone my mind goes to some deep places thats for sure.
Thats when I do my best drawing.


edit on 07/16/2009 by Lichter daraus because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 15 2014 @ 09:54 PM
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kind of makes you feel bad for the solitary gorilla at the zoo doesnt it



posted on Jul, 15 2014 @ 09:58 PM
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originally posted by: OrphanApology
a reply to: eisegesis

Yes, and people wonder why we're having issues with many of this generation that's a prison society. The majority of people who go to prison end up in solitary at some point. I think it takes less than a week for it to be permanently psychologically damaging.

There's a really good National Geographic doc on Netflix about solitary but couldn't find it on youtube. So here's some free youtubes.


You know, its funny. I want my alone time so much that when I finally get it, I only enjoy it about 80% of the time. The rest is deep dark and scary that human nature naturally entertains. It's like riding a horse, it wouldn't be so fun if it didn't take some skill involved. Genius is borderline sociopath. Which I am neither.


edit on 15-7-2014 by eisegesis because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 15 2014 @ 10:02 PM
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originally posted by: Lichter daraus
a reply to: eisegesis

When im alone my mind goes to some deep places thats for sure.
Thats when I do my best drawing.


Awesome. Do you have a certain style you like to draw during that time?




posted on Jul, 15 2014 @ 10:02 PM
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a reply to: eisegesis

You're mistaking introversion for solitary.

I am introverted for the most part but still socialize in my own way when I get the mood(after all, what is posting on ATS if not virtual socialization).

It's the lack of all types of socialization for extended periods of time that will cause one to go mad. Doesn't matter how much you love alone time. Even hermits in the forest interact with animals.



posted on Jul, 15 2014 @ 10:04 PM
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a reply to: eisegesis

Oh yeah, during that time my drawings are pretty dark and symbolic, sometimes dark and political.



posted on Jul, 15 2014 @ 10:04 PM
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Seems more and more are playing video games. I wonder how it changes em. Of course, people used to read books a lot. However, video games seem different because they're interactive. I think they're more addictive because of that. Video games emulate life but it's far inferior. I'd love to go deeper into it, but I guess video games cannot really be compared to extreme isolation, since the computer is giving external stimulation and feedback. Still, it does remind me of isolation. It's not as social somehow.

Speaking of which, are dreams extreme isolation? Our body essentially shuts down when we sleep. The only stimulation we receive is our brain. Maybe people in extreme isolation who have hallucinations are experiencing negative effects from a brain that EXPECTS stimulation. Like in a dream, the mind has the desire to create stimulation if it's not there.
edit on 15-7-2014 by jonnywhite because: (no reason given)



posted on Jul, 15 2014 @ 10:06 PM
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a reply to: eisegesis

I would speculate that any American hiking near the Iraq / Iran border in the summer for fun probably wasn't all that mentally stable to begin with.



posted on Jul, 15 2014 @ 10:28 PM
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originally posted by: IAMAMOG
kind of makes you feel bad for the solitary gorilla at the zoo doesnt it


Nice avatar for this thread.

I wish I had a tail sometimes, like church when I was a kid. Solitary confinement may have done me right.

I can tell you right now, that I don't need solitary confinement to hallucinate.



posted on Jul, 15 2014 @ 10:37 PM
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originally posted by: VictorVonDoom
a reply to: eisegesis

I would speculate that any American hiking near the Iraq / Iran border in the summer for fun probably wasn't all that mentally stable to begin with.


Its funny when that happened and it made the news during the war. I said to the wife of all the places in the entire world, you choose the Iran/Iraq border. Iran claimed CIA, to me that was a given. What would possess you to hilke there?

Why not just wear a Bush Tee-Shirt and ride a motorcycle down the road in Iraq with ISIS chasing right behind you. Then say I was just out catching some rays while going for a putt.



posted on Jul, 15 2014 @ 10:45 PM
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originally posted by: VictorVonDoom
a reply to: eisegesis

I would speculate that any American hiking near the Iraq / Iran border in the summer for fun probably wasn't all that mentally stable to begin with.


Looks like a pretty cool place to hike.



posted on Jul, 16 2014 @ 12:22 AM
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I've done three months in county. I intentionally got thrown in solitary. A 20 man tank is not my environment. I ate, slept, and worked out. I was glad to get out, but it wasn't so bad in the hole. I definitely prefer it over general population.



posted on Jul, 16 2014 @ 12:30 AM
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a reply to: eisegesis

This makes me think of the MANY people who live in their tiny apartment-cages. Working online with no contact with people, gaming online, ordering in (hey maybe they chat to the delivery guy!).
Hikikomori---Isolated Youths in Japan
Willing Isolation in Japan noted back in 2006

I'm here on the west coast, and we hear about this sort of stuff in Japan constantly. Hubby just mentioned a book about hikikomori called "Shutting Out the Sun"---apparently it is by the whisleblower of Fukushima.
Amazon---Shutting Out the Sun: How Japan Created Its Own Lost Generation

S&F for bringing up something that desperately needs to be discussed and researched.



posted on Jul, 16 2014 @ 12:37 AM
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follow-up quote from the wiki about hikikomori (Withdrawn peoples)




According to government figures released in 2010, there are 700,000 individuals living as hikikomori with an average age of 31.



posted on Jul, 16 2014 @ 01:05 AM
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Even though the topic is "extreme isolation", meaning no human contact, I have an idea of what happens.

I was writing about it in another thread- what happened to my head when I moved to a foreign country, where I could not speak the language, and all the cultural values, ideas, ways of living where very different.
I think i had something akin to Paris Syndrome; I think I had periods of temporary psychosis.

The problem for me was that being in a rural area, I could not find anyone who spoke english, or anyone with a similar background as myself.

I think a lot of us have found ourselves making claims at times in life that we don't care what others think or if they agree or not- we think for ourself, right? I always thought that was true. Truly.

But there is an extreme case you will rarely find yourself in, in which the entire world around you proclaims you are WRONG- in how you see the world, in concepts that you have always taken for granted to be universally known and accepted as true.

Like imagine tomorrow, if everyone around you started laughing or treating you like you were crazy because you claimed there is a place called "Hawaii". If everyone around you claimed it never existed. It would be funny for a few days, after months, without one person ever having any memory of the Hawaiian islands existing, your mind starts to crumble. You would start to put all your memory, all your past, and all your deepest beliefs about life into question!

My problem wasn't questions of Hawaii, of course, but it was all kinds of other things (like the example I used in the other thread, the idea that raw vegetables are good for you- suddenly that is not, was not ever, true, and I was insane to think so- according to everyone around me, including doctors.)

I couldn't much understand anyone anyway, so I retreated into isolation. I spent my days alone hiking or mediating in nature. for a couple of years.


Without ever having another human being to "back up" or confirm my perceptions, there was just no way I could depend upon anything as being objectively real or true.
It was like the boundry of self feel down and chaos ensued.

Now, I am not sure of the lines between hallucination and "reality". Perhaps there is NOT just one objective reality- perhaps there are many, sharing the same space and time, superimposed.... but we "tune into" specific ones through relationship and exchange with other entities on it.

In other words, when two or more beings focus together on one reality, it becomes more "real" to them both- they have more influence in it, other realities become "blocked off" from our perception.

It might be that without others to help us anchor in a specific reality, we "scatter" and become able to perceive other dimensions that were always there, but that we tuned out of normally.

I like the simplicity of just deciding that what I experienced was simply hallucinations of a traumatized, isolated. mind. It is easier to assume that.
But some of the experiences, and things I am able to experience now if I choose to, paint a different story.



posted on Jul, 16 2014 @ 05:43 AM
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originally posted by: skunkape23
I've done three months in county. I intentionally got thrown in solitary. A 20 man tank is not my environment. I ate, slept, and worked out. I was glad to get out, but it wasn't so bad in the hole. I definitely prefer it over general population.


Sounds rough. I would definitely wonder if my chances were better off alone than with twenty criminals. What was your coping technique? Did you just sing "Mary had a little lamb" all day? Share your experience if you like.



posted on Jul, 16 2014 @ 06:17 AM
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originally posted by: kismetpair927
a reply to: eisegesis

This makes me think of the MANY people who live in their tiny apartment-cages. Working online with no contact with people, gaming online, ordering in (hey maybe they chat to the delivery guy!).
Hikikomori---Isolated Youths in Japan
Willing Isolation in Japan noted back in 2006

I'm here on the west coast, and we hear about this sort of stuff in Japan constantly. Hubby just mentioned a book about hikikomori called "Shutting Out the Sun"---apparently it is by the whisleblower of Fukushima.
Amazon---Shutting Out the Sun: How Japan Created Its Own Lost Generation

S&F for bringing up something that desperately needs to be discussed and researched.


Would You Live in a 5-Foot Condo? Some Japanese Do


Built for "salarymen" who missed the last train home after staying out drinking, capsule hotels are now the homes of last resort for Japan's unemployed, according to the New York Times. Each 6 1/2-foot by 5-foot "room" contains a bed, a TV, and a pair of coat hooks. So what if the place looks like a microwave oven museum? For the hundred or so Japanese who rent the cubicles long term, it beats living on the streets.

Those rooms will probably make you or break you. At least you get Japanese game show!

Loneliness In A Beautiful But Desolate Urban Jungle (Japan)


“It’s not political deadlock or economic meltdown, but loneliness. Within a couple of decades, single person households will be the dominant demographic in Japan, and there have been a litany of cases in recent times of dozens of people dying alone. Increasing incidences of divorce, a plummeting birth rate and a lengthening average life span are making life an extremely solitary experience for millions. But some see this lonely demographic as an untapped business opportunity…”
(North Asia correspondent, Mark Willacy- Tokyo).

How ironic. An untapped business opportunity? More like another low wage factory with poor conditions. You don't even leave to go to work or get a chance to be in any social setting at all.


“Hikikomori is a Japanese phenomenon in which a young person, usually male, withdraws entirely from society, isolating and often confining themselves to their home. The concept has been depicted in anime several times, most notably in Welcome to the NHK” (Anime Network).



But is unhappiness primarily a result of being weary of pain, or is it pleasure? As Blaise Pascal once said: “There is a god shaped vacuum in the heart of every man which cannot be filled by any created thing, but only by God, the Creator, made known through Jesus.” Loneliness in Japan is a result of deeper spiritual hunger that cannot be diagnosed or fulfilled by politicians. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5: 3). Only God can fill the spiritual void in human hearts.

I can do without the religious part but there is truth in that our parents, families, friends, coworkers and big nanny government will never be able to satisfy that last piece inside of everybody. In solitary, one would not do well if that piece inside them was empty. It's what keeps my hope in humanity alive against all the tyranny. Too many people are afraid to find that shining star inside that we often learn about when we are alone or at our darkest.


edit on 16-7-2014 by eisegesis because: (no reason given)




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