Isolation: Why we need others to function

in Uncategorized
March 26th, 2017

Some peace and quiet might be nice, but too much may actually harm us. Humans are naturally social animals: we build communities, create teams, and all around like to be around others who share similar ideas with us. The aspect of interacting with others, discussing topics, or even criticizing others all are different forms of interaction that happen on a daily basis. What happens then when we are stripped away from all this? Research has shown that being in isolation damages people both neurologically and psychologically. In a study carried out by Dr. Heidbreder in Neuroscience, his team found that breeding rats in isolation caused them to have increased hyperactivity, startle response, and food hoarding behavior. Neurologically, these rats also experienced decreased dopamine and serotonin. Finally, they showed that these rats experienced chronic stress. All of this resulted from living in isolation. Without being able to interact with other rats, these rats grew stressed and were unable to get out of that stressed state. How would this look like in humans? Humans actually have something very similar to this: solitary confinement. At the University of Pittsburgh School of Law, there were a panel of neuroscientists who testified to the fact that isolation has a serious degenerative neurological effects.  One of the specialists, Akil, attributed it to the stress hormones essentially “rewiring” the brain. The power of being able to interact with others allows one to get rid of the stress, and being deprived of it causes chronic stress for the individual. Isolation causes a cease in brain activity, as the stimulation of thought and action leads to the firing of more neurons in the brain. Without that, we are left with nothing but a state of stress. There has been a lack of further neurological data to show how and what mechanisms of the brain deteriorate, due to the inhumanity of doing such research. However, we know that human interaction is almost essential. In order to live, we need to interact so we can stimulate our brains to function. If you would like to learn more about this, there’s a great video on the subject of isolation that shows the real life effects of what isolation could do to a person.

~ Albert Wang



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