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Your Stir Crazy from Covid-19? Imagine being in Prison

Paranoia. Hallucinations. Extreme emotions. Anxiety.

Does any of this sound familiar to you? Covid-19 has been messing with a lot of us mentally, and we may not even know it.

In a BBC Report by Michael Bond (2008), he sheds light on a study (Hebb’s Experiment) that was recreated by psychologist Ian Robbins. In the experiment, volunteers were isolated for 48 hours in a soundproofed room, located in a former nuclear bunker. The results of this experiment were similar to the original. The volunteers suffered from a range of symptoms:

  • Anxiety

  • Extreme emotions

  • Paranoia

  • Significant deterioration in their mental functioning

  • Hallucination

Imagine; the effects of extreme isolation have been researched and validated, yet more discussions of the profound effects of loneliness are not being discussed in depth. I wanted to take this time to help you understand what is going on with you and have you empathetically relate to people living the Covid19 life long before we have.

This whole concept of being stir crazy is real, and it affects us all differently. Regardless, let's be real right now; we are all feeling a little psychologically disturbed, confined, and imprisoned.

Social isolation has been defined as a particular situation when: people live alone, have limited contact with friends and family members, and may not have a significant social group that they belong too (Singer, 2018). As many of us are experiencing, being isolated has a detrimental impact on our well-being. It is no wonder that there are so many of us on social media acting the damn fool. Many of us need stimulation, and for good reason. Recent studies are now showing that social isolation increases levels of stress hormones and often leads to a compromised immune system, poor sleep, and cognitive decline (Bond, 2014).

Bond (2014), also looked at a study conducted by Rosenstreich & Margalit (2015) on social isolation and academic achievement. I work with students, and I can already see how students being away from their friends have affected them, especially those who are in a one-child family. Some of my students are: cranky, their sleep patterns are way off, and their schoolwork is not getting done. The study concluded that social isolation has harmful effects on emotional, physical, and cognitive well-being. It is no wonder that I am seeing a student's marks slipping.

This whole Covid-19 situation has caused me to reflect on my own experience with social isolation. This was during a short period incarcerated in Panama, and also in Buffalo, New York. Many of us have no idea what people in prison are going through and why some of them have severe psychological disturbances when released.

Many of us are tripping right now, and I am not diminishing what we are feeling, but now that we have experienced what it feels like to be socially isolated, can you imagine what it is like for people who have been in prison for five, 10, 15 years.

They are faced with times of extreme isolation, and many of them are never fully psychologically rehabilitated. As a consequence, they often feel a lack of meaning in their lives. This lack of meaning leads to a lack of care, and this lack of care can lead to reoffending. Researchers are continuing to focus extensively on this issue.

Empathy is the word of the week for me. I feel this empathy for those who are incarcerated because they have been living a COVID life before Covid-19 became a thing.


Bond, M. (2014). How extreme isolation warps minds. BBC Future

Singer, C. (2018). Health Effects of Social Isolation and Loneliness. Journal of Aging Life Care, Spring.


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