My heart goes out to those who wrestle with social isolation, whether through their own motives/choices or by forces outside oneself (storm, shipwreck, getting lost, military confinement). In schizophrenia research, we pay attention to how the brain stimulates itself with uncontrollable hallucination; though it’s intriguing to me that during isolation, the brain of healthy individuals does the same thing. The BBC put together a fascinating documentary, “Horizon,” which is about experiments of sensory deprivation. Worth a watch!
For more fun history on the topic, check out John Lilly’s sensory deprivation tank research, where he isolated persons in a tank of water (with epsom salts to change the gravity) and left them alone for hours. Most persons reported hallucination. The government was fascinated with Lilly’s research and encouraged him to start LSD trials with persons in the tank, which he agreed to after some persistence on the government’s part. The reports are fascinating! Similarly to some other psychonauts, Richard Alpert and Timothy Leary, Lilly began subjecting himself to LSD research as well, and reported very interesting adventures (also worth a read). Some conclusions that are drawn from Lilly’s research include that hallucination themes are credited to environmental exposures (nurture debate). Go read for yourself!
In the meantime, it certainly makes some of the science fiction films/shows look less incredulous when we know what objective scientists are doing (and often confidentially!) Another example of media commentary- – does it describe or prescribe? Shows like the X-Files, the Fringe, Dr. Who, Star Trek (all my favorites, of course) often use some “out there” experiments that actually have historical relevance to support them (usually not referenced for the viewer, however). Just a fun little tid-bit to consider 😉