Arctic and Antarctic
Type of Spiritual Experience
Dr. Grassian was a Board Certified Psychiatrist who was on the faculty of the Harvard Medical School for over twenty-five years
A description of the experience
From Psychiatric Effects of Solitary Confinement - Stuart Grassian
Psychiatric disturbances have been described in Arctic and Antarctic inhabitants (explorers, researchers, and their support staff), spending varying periods in winter isolation. In these regions, winters last for up to nine months with weather conditions so cold (-100°F) that leaving the confines of the indoors is dangerous. Typically, teams of work groups have fewer than fifty members who spend up to two years working in small quarters. Small group isolation conditions at these stations have been compared to life in prisons by at least one researcher:
“[T]he isolation imposed by the harsh environment [of the Antarctic] is rarely experienced outside penal conditions.”[ Robert J. Biersner & Robert Hogan, Personality Correlates of Adjustment in Isolated Work Groups, 18 J. RESEARCH IN PERSONALITY 491, 491 (1989).]
As a result of these disturbing findings among Antarctic workers, systematic efforts have been made to provide psychological screening of potential station employees and to ameliorate the isolation conditions prevailing in such stations. Despite these efforts, significant psychiatric disturbances have continued to be observed.
A review of the literature on the psychological adjustment to Arctic life described a syndrome which parallels the Antarctic literature: sleep disturbances, apathy, irritability, cognitive dysfunction, hallucinations, depression, and anxiety were widely reported as a result of the small group isolation endured by inhabitants.
. . . . [I]nsomnia, pallor, loss of appetite, loss of interest, psychomotor retardation, paranoidal ideation, [and] nonspecific hallucinations of light flashes and sudden movements [were also experienced].”
The source of the experienceExplorer or adventurer unnamed
Concepts, symbols and science items
Activities and commonsteps
OverloadsBeing in extremely inhospitable surroundings
Loneliness and isolation