What Would Being In A Bunker For 15 Years Really Do To Your Head?


There are few types of torture more effective than deprivation…

The Hebb experiments’ most dramatic outcomes were the visual and auditory hallucinations. People heard choirs and saw spaceships. Some parts of their brains were kicked into overdrive by the lack of stimulus.

Less well-known, but scarier, is the fact that other parts of their brains were dissolving. The subjects lost the ability to think with clarity and precision about anything. They couldn’t keep their thoughts on track. If the mind doesn’t have something to do, it will make tasks for itself, but the brain alone simply can’t provide the kind of stimulation necessary to keep itself going…

Brains physically can’t develop without stimulation. The brain also needs stimulation to maintain itself. Organizations like NASA and the military regularly study groups of adults and find that cognitive abilities decline fast when people don’t have enough to respond to. Wintering scientists in Antarctica and submariners and simple experimental volunteers all mentally decline – at least going by their scores on cognitive tests – when confined to a small space with a small group of people. The mind can’t keep working without plenty of things to occupy it…

The group suffered periods of excruciating insomnia and resulting lethargy.  Soviet scientists, studying long-term space flight, dubbed this sort of thing an “asthenic reaction.” Exercise and rest can only do so much. Confined and isolated, people will undergo periods of debilitating weakness. The Mars 500 crew was able to fight the effects, in part because they volunteered to do important research for a cause that they believed in, but they couldn’t avoid the physical consequences….

The common factor for nearly every group was depression and weakness, but some people had more acute effects. Submarine crews and, to some extent, early Antarctic crews, experienced intense panic and anxiety. Their lives depended on equipment, and equipment could fail. As people ran out of distractions, smaller anxieties were blown out of proportion. The combination of lack of distraction and helplessness gave people intense panic attacks, or constant grinding anxiety… Things are different for people who don’t know if their term of confinement will ever be over…

Tension is fine when people can walk away for a while, but in these situations that isn’t possible either physically or psychologically…

2 thoughts on “What Would Being In A Bunker For 15 Years Really Do To Your Head?

  1. I have thought about that fact in lieu of nuclear attacks and realized that it could be a long time in an underground bunker (if you could get to one). My thought that some low-energy device, such as a Kindle, could be used to stave off boredom and provide stimulation. Other things could as well: Scrabble, Chess, card games, even rounds of story-telling could help. Would it be enough?

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