Psychological Effects of Solitary Confinement

Essay by dapromise08A+, May 2005

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What is solitary confinement? By definition, the term "solitary confinement" refers to "a punishment in which a prisoner is denied contact with any other persons." ("Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia") For centuries, people who have wronged society by inflicting suffering of the body have been punished with imprisonment. Today, it is not only used as a form of punishment, but also as a form of rehabilitation in attempts to change a person's mind as well as the individual's body.

Solitary confinement was originally designed to give prisoners a chance to regain their conscience by the violation of human rights and dignity in order to allow the prisoner to consider his or her wrongdoings. Unfortunately, it was later discovered that this kind of punishment, which bound prisoners to their cells in solitude, was the worst kind of torture possible. After prolonged solitary confinement, prisoners showed adverse psychological effects such as delusions, inability to trust another person, dissatisfaction with life, depression, feelings of panic, and in many cases, madness (Krestev, pars.10).

According to psychological research, these symptoms mentioned are all symptoms of claustrophobia, or a fear of being trapped in a confined place. What is the source of these bizarre aftereffects? Research proves that the psychological effects are definite results of sensory deprivation. Awhile after an individual is confined in a prison cell, his or her senses will began to be juggled around due to the lack of input. Because the brain is in need of constant activity and impulses, it will take on an unexpected life of its own, and the effect is quadrupled if the individual is confined in a dark room. Due to the confusion of the brain, the individual will soon lose his or her sense of humanity and began to act similarly to an animal. At the same...

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