You have been accepted for an experiment: you must stay in a room with nothing but bed/toilet/food/water and no human contact for one month. If you succeed for the whole month without giving up, you get $5,000,000. Do you accept? And what are your coping strategies to avoid mental breakdown?

I was put in a drunk cell for 8 hours once, the jails in my country are known as some of the nicest in the world. But the drunk cells are very similar to what I've seen of solitary confinement cells in American documentaries. It's just a beige room with a "toilet" and a solid bed which is fused with the floor, plastic mattress on top. There's a tiny window too high to see anything out of, its only function is to let more light in to your room.

I was almost sober by the time they threw me in there. First thing I did was trying to sleep, but I couldn't... so after what I assumed was an hour I gave up. I sat up, walked around the cell for a while, but basically I just stared into the wall for 7 hours. I consider myself patient, staring into a wall for that long really is a test. You could try it at home if you think you could do it for a month, sit in your most featureless room and stare at the wall for as long as you can take it without looking at a clock.

I know, 8 hours might not seem that long. But for me it was long enough to figure out that I'd definitely not be able to do it for a month. Even a week of that would be torture.

I would never claim to know what it's like to be in such a place for days, weeks or months, but what I do know is that I'd be one of those people that are shouting and hammering on the door after a day or two. There's a reason that solitary confinement is illegal for extended periods of time in some countries, including mine.

I watched a documentary about solitary confinement in the US a while back, and there was a guy that just recently had been put there... it was his first week and he was really confident in his ability to stay sane and that he'd make it just fine. If I recall correctly a week or so later he was hammering, shouting and cutting himself up, the kind of cuts that bleed profusely, just so they would take him out of the cell for a little while. The other people on the solitary wing would do the same thing as him. They really are reminiscent of apes in small cages. After a month or so, they would let them go in the normal jail, but some of them had already been there to long to cope with the "outside".

/r/AskReddit Thread Parent