Sensory deprivation, out of time and perception recall
Type of Spiritual Experience
There may also be some element of the fact that all pain appeared to be exaggerated in SD.
Dr Jack Vernon undertook a series of controlled experiments in a specially made ‘dark room’. A large soft king sized bed was provided to minimise the sensation of touch. Clearly this was one sense not eliminated, but as this sensation did not change throughout the experiment as most subjects tended to lie fairly still, there was in a sense no stimulus, as generally our nerves measure change of stimulus, rather than the continual monitoring of a uniform stimulus.
The dark room was completely sound proofed and completely dark, however, the research subjects knew that there was a toilet they could go to in the room. Taste sensation was not eliminated as the subjects were provided with a cold box with food [mostly sandwiches and soup]. There was also a ‘panic button’ provided, so that if they felt they could endure no more they could ask to be removed, although the door was not locked and in fact they could walk out at any time. The research subjects were nearly all male and post graduate students at the university [Princeton].
“Our subjects were volunteers who could leave the chamber at will. They underwent no physical hardships, the period of confinement was short and the experience not fear arousing”
In effect, the experiments measured benign partial sensory deprivation.
A description of the experience
Inside the Black Room – Dr Jack Vernon
One subject ….started out in the usual manner by sleeping for the better part of the first day of confinement. Upon awakening he ate and noted that he felt good, perhaps too good, considering the conditions. He more or less "settled back" to see what S.D. was like and was pleased to discover that he could “smile at the darkness." He then dropped off for what he estimated was a short nap.
When he awoke he was suddenly and persistently concerned with time. He became obsessed with the idea that he was losing all sense of time. By this he did not mean clock time; he meant the more general sensation of passing through time-from childhood to adulthood. His obsession led him to fear that he might somehow reverse the process and return to childhood.
Apparently his childhood had been so difficult that he found even memories of it most undesirable. During confinement he had almost incessant and very vivid childhood memories. He stated that these were very unpleasant, but he would not tell what they were. The last one he recalled during S.D. he related, and, though it was not at all dramatic, it was disturbing enough to drive him out of confinement.
As a child he had often awakened in the dead of night with a stomach-ache, and he remembered that these occurrences caused a great deal of anguish for him.
In S.D., where it was perpetually the dead of night, he awoke with a mild stomach-ache that was accompanied by the kind of anguish that he had not known since childhood. When this happened he decided that it was time to leave S.D. Yet, like many others, he had difficulty in bringing himself to push the release button.
The source of the experienceScientist other
Concepts, symbols and science items
Perceptions - accessing perceptions
Perceptions and memory