What is Solitary Confinement Like? | Philosophy Tube

What is Solitary Confinement Like? | Philosophy Tube

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There are tens of thousands, of people in solitary confinement all, around the world there, may even be a prison using it not far away from where you are right now and the experiences. Of prisoners in solitary are completely. Changing how, we think about. The human mind. Part. One all. Alone. For a long time people in the Western philosophical tradition have said that human minds are, separate. 100, percent discrete. Individuals. Sealed-off, units, you. Can find ideas like this in thinkers like Rene Descartes was area code even Aristotle who said man is a political creature and one whose nature is to live with others thought, that human beings were, separate, from each other and the world we, enjoy, socializing. Need socializing. Maybe but still there's. That gap I'm not gonna get too deep into this today but that model of the individual, self isolated, from others it's, the theory of mind that capitalism, assumes, and it was part of what inspired a lot of early proponents, of solitary, confinement take somebody who's done wrong seal, them away somewhere, where they can reflect have, a chat with their ideal self and hopefully, come out better it, almost sounds, humane more, humane at least than, thumbscrews. Burning. Them in public or executions. Surely. It's, difficult, to know exactly how, many people are being held, in solitary confinement today, in the United States all the estimates I've seen are measured in tens of thousands, but, disagreements. About definitions, as well as changing, definitions, and policies, and Court decisions reporting. And recording, errors and different, counting, procedures, have led to a lack of reliable, and valid data, on Supermax, issues, also. Sometimes, people are subjected. To what looks an awful lot like solitary, confinement but isn't officially, called that they, call it the secure, housing unit, or the control, unit, or preventative. Detention, in my, country the Department of Justice has said that we don't do solitary confinement and yet, a report in 2017. By Her Majesty's Inspectorate of prisons said that not only are we doing it we're even doing it to children however, many people are being held in solitary though and whatever its legal, definition, in her book solitary, confinement falsely, professor Lisa gun fair argues that they almost invariably. Don't, come. Out better they are harmed by the experience, of course as well as a general unpleasantness, of being locked up they can also hallucinate. Become, disoriented. Distressed.

Depressed. And. Psychotic. Suicidal. Even but, even beyond, that, human. Being is kept in solitary can, actually lose their minds, and their ability to interpret, their, own experiences. There, are many ways to destroy, a person, but. One of the simplest and most devastating, is, through prolonged solitary, confinement. Deprived. Of meaningful, human interaction, otherwise, healthy, prisoners. Become unhinged. They. See things that do not exist and, they, fail to see things that do their. Sense of their own bodies even the fundamental, capacity, to feel pain, and distinguish. Their own pain from that of others erodes. To the point where they're no longer sure if they're being harmed, or harming, themselves and. Gotha. Says that's because we've been wrong about, minds. All this time when, not actually. Discrete, individuals, at least not as much as we thought we're. A network we're, not a hive mind obviously but if we were 100, percent separate. And we wouldn't expect solitary to completely, destroy somebody's, capacity, for meaningful experience, in quite the way that it can she. Says in order to explain, what it does to a human being we're, gonna need an entirely, new theory. Of mind, part, two, phenomenology. Gopher. Begins with the testimony, of survivors. Of solitary confinement so, let's hear some that we want there are a little bit disturbing but have a listen and see what you can spot here, are the words of Jack Henry Abbott who was imprisoned in solitary confinement and, complete. Darkness, I heard. Someone, screaming. Far, away. And. It, was me, I. Fell. Against. The wall and as if it were a catapult, was, hurled, across, the cell to the opposite wall back, and forth I reeled, from, the door to the walls. Screaming. Insane. That, was after only twenty three days here's. Some more from prisoners in Walpole prison in Massachusetts. The shortest term was 11 days the longest 10, months. I. Seem. To see movements. Real, fast motions, in front of me and then it, seems like they're doing the thing behind your back, quite. See them doesn't. Just hit me dwell. On it, Alan, melting, everything in the south starts, moving everything. Gets darker you feel like you're losing your vision can't concentrate, can't, read your, minds. Narcotized. Sometimes. Can't grasp, words, in my mind that I know gets, stuck have to think, of another word memory. Is going you, feel, you, are losing something, you, might not, get our back. And finally. The words of Robert King a black panther who was imprisoned in a cell 6 foot by 9 foot for, a murder he didn't commit for, 29. Years, and, lived. When. I walked out of Angola, I didn't, realize how permanently. The experience, of solitary, would mark me even. Now my sight is impaired I find. It very difficult, to judge long distances. A result. Of living, in such a small space. Emotionally. - I found. It hard. To move on I talked, about my 29, years in solitary as, if it was the past but, the truth is never. Leaves you in some. Ways I'm still. There. What is it about living. In a static, unchanging, world. Without other people that, causes these kinds of experiences, and remember these, are just the people who got out and are able to talk about it there'd be others who could tell us a lot more about solitaire, if only they were in a state - but, that I am forbid to tell the secrets of, my prison-house, I could a tale unfold whose. Lightest, word. To. Account for these experiences, Gunther draws on a tradition, in philosophy known as, phenomenology. Now, a full survey of phenomenology, is somewhat beyond today's scope but in brief it's the practice in philosophy of putting the quality, of experience first. We, ask what, is it like to experience, the world and once we've got some kind of answer to that then, we move on to questions like what is the world like and we can spot some interesting, things in this way take. This cup if, I were to, consider it in the way that I normally do I say. That, it's. A cup as. Tea. Stains in it but if I pay attention to, the way in which I experience, it I noticed. That I can never see all, of it at once, although. I think of it as being a single, separate. Chunk of matter I only. Ever see one side, of it at a time, and. I never see it just on its own I always see it against some background, or.

In Some context. In some, relation. To me so, in fact I'm not, separate. From the world at all all, my, thoughts and the contents, of my mind are, inescapably. Bound up with it for the phenomenologist. Experience. Is not the inscription, of impressions, on the blank slate of the mind but, rather the intentional. Relation, of consciousness. To a world, that is neither out there in a separate realm beyond consciousness, nor, in, here, in the form of an innate idea, for. The phenomenologist, consciousness. Is not a thing, consciousness. Is always consciousness. Of something. Persons. Do not exist, as such, without. A world, to, which they belong, in a previous, video we talked about split. Mind, theory, the idea that to be a human being is to be split into two halves the experienced. Self and the ideal, self, the, ideal self is like an internal other that monitors, and critiques, our behavior, and, Grantha takes this idea up and, says maybe other people and, the stimulation, they provide, and the examples, they set to us are key. To forming that, ideal, self, with. Nobody else around there's, nobody to check whether what you just saw was real or. Only in your head there's. Nobody to tell you implicitly, or explicitly how. You should, behave and so your ability to do that for yourself. Starts. To break down the. Mind starts. To break down if one is deprived, for, long enough of the experience. Of other concrete, persons, in a shared or common space it is, possible, for one's own sense, of personhood, to diminish, or even. Collapse. While. The transcendental. Ego or the pure capacity, for experience, remains. Without. The concrete, experience, of other embodied, ego is oriented, towards common objects in a shared world my. Own experience. Of the boundaries, of those perceptual, objects, begins. To, waver it. Becomes difficult to tell what is real, and what is only my imagination playing. Tricks on me I may, begin to hallucinate spontaneously. Generating, an experience, of imaginary others in the absence of concrete bodily, relations, or I may, have less dramatic, but no less unnerving, perceptual. Distortions, like the, Supermax, prisoners, for whom the wire mesh on their door begins. To vibrate or. The surface of the wall seems, to, bulge. To. The extent that we regard the prisoner is an individual, who is separable, from the world and others even if we acknowledge that this individual, is a social animal whose environment, has some sort of effect on physical and mental health we, fail to grasp the, depths of the harm inflicted, by. Solitary, confinement. Mind is exposed, perhaps, most clearly by those prisoners, who throw, their own feces of, the walls of their cells so someone has to come in and clean it up ordinarily. We might say oh they're just disgusting.

Or Trying to be awful towards the guards but, Gotha invites, us to the idea that people who do this can do it because they literally have nothing else left to do, a six. Foot by nine foot, cell alone, for, years sometimes. Decades. There. Are no actions, they can take that will meaningfully. Change their, world there. Are no. Tasks. Left to perform that, can establish, a relationship with somebody else and, if deprived of that relation with the world and others the mind will break down so almost is a self defense mechanism, it forces. A connection, with somebody even, using the crudest of methods even, though that somebody will probably punish, them more in a long term as a result part, three torture. Little. Wonder then that many people will consider solitary, confinement to be a form, of torture, since. The 20th century torture, techniques, have come on a little bit it's no longer in vogue to just put, someone in thumb screws or stretch them on the rack it's also not a particularly reliable way of obtaining information if. The goal of the torture is to get information which it isn't always the. CIA's, human. Resources. Exploitation. Training manual, has. This to say the. Torture, situation, is an external. Conflict. A contest. Between the subject, and his tormentor. The. Pain which, is being inflicted upon, him from outside himself may. Actually intensify. His will to resist on, the, other hand pain. Which he feels he is inflicting, upon himself. Will. Be more likely to SAP his resistance, and in. Line with that gunther, says that torture, in the modern age tends to focus on turning, the victim against, themselves turning. The experience, itself against. The ideal self, the. Use of stress positions, like forcing a prisoner to squat, for hours on end exploits. Their own body, as the torture device wearing. Them down psychologically. As well as it's, a little bit like playing good cop bad cop only you make the prisoner, their own bad cop that, way it's a lot easier for the torturer, to come in and pretend to be the good cop who journey when he cares about the prisoner and just wants to get him out of this awful situation. Survivors. Of places like the Abu Ghraib prison and, Guantanamo Bay, have testified that loud music, was, played at them for hours by United, States soldiers as an enhanced. Interrogation technique, and the, principle there is the same Kunta argues that solitary, confinement is the purest, distillation. Of this torture principle, turning, the prisoners capacity, for any kind of experience not just pain or sound against, them turning. The structure, of their own minds, against, them there, are some practical implications of this discussion that are uncomfortable. But it would be disingenuous not, to note them the. First is, that if solitary. Confinement is a form of torture legally. Or morally, then. That would, mean that the United States which, imprisons, more people than any other country both, in terms of absolute numbers and relative to their population, and regularly. Uses solitary confinement would. Be one. Of if not the, biggest. Torturers. In the. World. Certain. Recent events might, blunt. The moral shock of a sentence like that. But. In fairness to the current regime this, practice predates, them by, many years secondly. The inhabitants, of prisons in the United States and in my country the UK are disproportionately. People of color and therefore so are the inhabitants of, solitary confinement cells, in addition you, might think as I did actually before I started researching this video that, solitary confinement is only for the worst of the worst it's only for the really. Dangerous people the really bad eggs but. That's, also not true breaking. Prison rules can, a new time in solitary and in, prison there are a lot of rules that it's sometimes difficult to avoid breaking especially the rules on fighting, if you're caught in a bad spot and you need to defend yourself in, Pelican, Bay Penitentiary, in California, you can earn a trip to the special. Housing unit, for tattooing. For having, more than five dollars without permission and. Even for attempted suicide, although. It seems a lot like extra punishment, there are no extra, trial, or legal loopholes that you have to go through before solitaire, is added to your sentence, it's also worth asking the really really hard question. Even. If solitaire was in practice only for the worst of the worst would it be okay to do even, then, given. The nature and the type of a harm that it does is that. An OK, thing to, inflict on anyone. I originally. Had quite. A different ending for this video planned but, I changed it more or less the last minute because I started to worry that it. Was coming, across as a little bit preachy.

So. The. The, neo-nazi. Terrorists and as Brevik. Murdered. 77, people including. Several teenagers in. 2011. And, he's. Been in various forms. Of solitary, confinement, ever since and I have, to confess I I. Have. No sympathy for, the man I. Certainly. Would not want to be the guy who, has to sit down and talk to others brevet once a week just cuz he's gonna lose his mind if if we don't I have. Sympathy and compassion for a lot of people in prison but. If you're coming at this from a place of well why should I care about these people then. At. Least in, that one case yeah. I I completely, agree but at the same time how. We feel. About people. In prison isn't really. The philosophical, issue at stake here the. Question, that we're bumping up against is. What. Is solitary confinement and. Maybe, prison more generally, for. Like. Why. We're doing this to people and. If. The answer is supposed to be, because. Of rehabilitation. It makes makes per people good then. We. Can't really ignore the fact that solitary, and maybe. To an extent prison generally, is, pretty incompatible, with, that goal like. You you, you can't rehabilitate, somebody who's just been. Cancelled. It's just been destroyed. In, that, way where, we we tell them to. Reflect. On what they've done but. We just. Makka them so that they can't reflect, on it we, tell them to take responsibility for, their actions but we deprive, them of any, possible actions. For, which they might take responsibility. We, tell them to make. Social, and ethical transformations. But, we deprive them of anybody relative, to whom they might make that kind of a transformation so. We. Definitely don't help people. In solitary confinement we. We just make them easier to control and maybe. Give ourselves a little bit of shouting Freud this is really. Science again kept personal, now but. Sometimes. When I'm, really going through a rough patch in my life I, have. This fantasy that I. Get. On a plane over the, ocean and. It. Crashes but. I survive, and. I. Wash. Up on a. Beautiful. Desert island and everyone, in my old life they, just think, I'm dead and I.

Live There, alone. On, the island for the rest of my days. Because. There's no one there who who, can hurt, me and. There's. No one who I can hurt. But. As. I get older I, realized. That that's not a healthy. Fantasy that's a death wish and. For. Better and worse we, really are all intertwined, there the poet John, Donne once wrote appropriate. Enough, no. Man is, an island entire. Of itself every man. Is a piece of the continent a part of, the main if, a, clod be washed, away by the sea Europe. Is the less, as. Well as if a promontory, were, as well as if a manor of thy friends or of thine own worth. Every. Man's death, diminishes me. Because, I am involved, in, mankind and. Therefore. Never, send. To know For Whom. The Bell, Tolls. It. Tolls. Special. Thanks to Dan Olsen Mike, Rugnetta, Antony. DeAngelo and Gabriel. From cashing gaya for lending their vocal talents to this episode you, can find links to all their works. You.

2018-08-19 08:12

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This was a really fun one to make! Thank you so much to Mike, Dan, Anthony, and Gabrion for helping with it! (I have now got myself a new microphone, so hopefully after this the sound quality will improve!)

Parabola we love a busty queen

Loveo Little I wonder if his breasts lactate

Parabola contessa is more of a decoration than anything, or like an extra hole when he gets bored. Like in the streets he says he respects women but in the sheets it’s a different story

Loveo Little but you said threesome

Parabola no sorry he loves me and me only

Loveo Little can I get in on some of this hot and bothered animal sex

tjb0607 he should buy a good night out with me and count contessa we love a good threesome

The echo makes it sound like you're in a cell though, so it works for this video. But yeah, seconding the sound panels suggestion. Or whatever substitutes you can find It's more important than the microphone choice, I'm pretty sure. I have a crap mic and it still sounds better than this.

I liked the echo effect. Sounded like the voices in my head.

Was that an American accent?

sounds like most of the issue is the echoes, so you might consider buying some echo-reducing foam panels to hang up around your recording room

Really important topic dealt with here! I started to look into these kinds of things after reading Michel Foucault's *Madness and Civilization*, *Crime and Punishment* and *The Birth of the Clinic*. Really, disturbing stuff and things have gotten much worse since the time he was writing.

Nice American accent, friend! I'm from just outside Boston, MA so my standard for that may be lower than others, but still... Nice one!

It's not just the mic -- the room you are in somehow reinforces your punctuated 's' sounds, making it unbearable to watch with in-ears.

I think very recently with the Ideal self video and this one, it seems you production value has gone up a lot. These vids are starting to look like something I'd see VSauce do! I really love your recent work (not to say that your old stuff is bad, I just think this, which you are doing nowadays, really jumps out)!

Philosophy Tube. Excellent evil G-man accent, Ollie!

Philosophy Tube you should do porn

Philosophy Tube so sexy and talented

I did the editing, and I did it with Final Cut Pro :)

Who did the editing for this and what did they use to get the sort of glitchy effect ?

Seems like its the studio rather than the microphone?

Count Contessa we love a man that cares abt ur feelings

Loveo Little I wish I could get a piece of olly pie

also sound panels! theyre pretty important to stop the echo u know

Philosophy Tube ur so HOT ugh yes plsss

I'm curious though. In the case of the worst psychopaths, the kind of people who are incapable of ANY connection or empathy. The kind of people who have genuine differences in their brains that make it impossible to connect to others...how does it affect them? Do they have the same connection the statistical majority of people do, just shallowly or does it not exist at all?

Living a few days without the internet is like solitary confinement for some people.

so is your next video on substance dualism?

Wow Olly. while that was hard to watch I also feel you're really stepping up the quality of the vidios, keep rocking!

This episode reminds me of the book: The Yellow Wallpaper by Charlotte Perkins Gilman a lot! Wonderful episode as always Olly!

I think the it makes more sense that solitary confinement is applicable to those who break jail rules than those who commit bad crimes. Referring to your Foucault videos here It benefits the Power to have prisoners be useful, as long as the prisoner corrects their behavior, everything is fine, no matter how heinous their crime was. But if you break the rules of the jail however, you're resisting the corrective actions which is like a crime inside the jail, so they send you to the prison equivalent of the prison itself - solitary confinement. There ought to be two levels to solitary confinement, one is just meant to give a taste of how bad it can get (like the Guantanamo Bay loudspeakers) so that the prisoner can decide to follow prison rules at least going forward. The second level would be the prison giving up on the prisoner and that's the actual solitary confinement, which in my eyes is just as direct as normal violence, its only purpose to serve as a deterrent for others.

How much of the effects of solitary confinement are caused by the lack of human interaction vs the lack of any stimuli whatsoever?For example in the desert island situation would the effects be nearly as destructive as solitary confinement?

Great video, great guests, tough topic. Thank you, Olly. P.S. Your David Attenborough impression is strong!

This is an interesting video, though tbh I'm not sure I necessarily agree that you can make the conclusions about the nature of mind that you do from looking at solitary confinement. Mainly because you only look at the "solitary" bit but not the "confinement". Just looking at this you can see what happens when someone is locked in a room on their own with nothing to do and you're using that to say something about just being on your own, when the experiences aren't necessarily comparable. Really I feel you'd need to look at people who go of and live in the woods on their own and stuff - they are also deprived of company but they also have stuff to do and can set goals for themselves which they can achieve, and so may not experience the psychological effects of solitary confinement

Forget about solitary as a form of punishment for a second. There are thousands, if not millions of prisoners who will undoubtedly do harm to others if given the chance. Is it not morally and legally justified to have such individuals in solitary confinement? If not, what would be the alternative?

Something I just learned of recently and thus don’t have too many knowledge of is that there will be several strikes in US prisons(and possibly more outside of it) in August 21st in order to meet various demands to improve prison life, such as getting rid of solitary confinement, ending racist practices, turning the prison into more rehabilitative centers and many more. So if you could use your platform here or in other media sites to spread this news that would be appreciated

All work ethic and no insight makes this a dull channel.

"This ending was a bit preachy, so let's end on a quote from a cleric instead. . .. wait." *giggles* Only teasing. Great video! Really tho, it's exhausting *not* to preach about these issues. People in my life used to ask me "Why can't we just disagree?", and, well, for me, the answer is that "Because torture/genocide/imperialism/slavery is evil" Which is kinda why people don't ask me that question anymore, nobody wants to be friends with someone that thinks the things you believe are evil. I was more likeable when I was a kind of nihilist libertarian, just waiting for the world to burn and blaming each person for their own horror.

I think it's more that they don't think aspects of their day-to-day lives are truly torture/genocide/imperialism/slavery. That's the trouble of shades of gray morality. You compartmentalize things into varying degrees of bad or good, but not truly black or white, and thus make excuses for the shades. So when someone says, "that thing you support is evil because" they refuse to see the issue for what it actually is.

Both my parents were incarcerated in suspicions of speaking against a dictator. (My mother was in solitary just because there were no other women in that said prison.) They had a friend who wasn't even in suspicion, whom the military kept in solitary to get him talking about the whereabouts of my parents and others of their friends. He didn't sing. Good news is that they live to this day to tell the tale. We once went to a memorial with a replica of a prison cell. I can't explain the somber look upon my father's face. I haven't seen it before and haven't seen it since. But it makes me somewhat relieved that my existence have been spared from such a harrowing experience.

Where you completely fail in this examination sir. No one is born a murderer, a theif, a racketeer, a junkie, etc. Were you born looking at the crime and not the cause? Prison, crime, all come down to a reason. Say a disease, do you look at the symptoms? Then ask the disease to cure those symptoms? Perhaps do you give the disease money, or lie to it for a better outcome? No u surely dont, but you will allow the disease to harm your brother because some magical authority gives others the right to psycopaths in govt, or corporations. I can pinpoint just where you get yer death wish. Look around you at the complete and total illogical systemically violent divisive society that we live in? Perhaps all the guilt built up for the labor youve produced and how it goes to removing people from their homes, murder, genocide, and yet what roll do we play to solve these heinous crimes we take part in producing? Not a fucking thing, yet you I everyone guilty as Anders Brevik. If you drive the get away car for a bank robbery are you NOT charged with bank robbery? Why then do we allow the state of which we are infinitely more powerful then to commit atrocity after atrocity?Not sure

I have a similar fantasy about living alone on an island. Existentialist love islands

1) Good video! 2) Not sure Breivik is really in solitary confinement in the same way that, say, inmates in the US are. If I remember correctly he has daily contact with guards and weekly contact with a psychologist; he's just not allowed contact with other inmates because he wants to radicalise them.

Quick question which would probably require more actual statistics than just a detached philosophical approach; but is any sort of solitary confinement ok in prison, even if its only for a day? An hour? When does it become harmful? When does separating someone from others become solitary confinement and not just, for lack of a better term, a 'time out'? I honestly have no idea, just wondering what other people's thoughts on it might be. But there must be some line right? Giving someone a 'time out' period for two hours or so after a prison fight is probably beneficial in most cases (I would imagine). Let's people cool off. I dunno, its late and I'm just spit balling at this point. Anyway, good video!

I've heard it explained as that brain needs stimulation (new ideas, sensations, scenery, etc) to survive, and without that stimulation, it begins to make up ways of stimulating itself with hallucinations.

A thought occurred to me when watching this - is it possible the dissociation involed with isolationism is central to the expansion of spirituality monks are seeking in committing to a vow of silence? And would the difference in the psychological impact involve the individual's personal will, meaning it's torture to someone who is focused on a social experience vs someone who is focused on a personal experience?

i really like how you sit on a couch in act 3, a good dramatic choice i think

I love you, Olly, and so we all here :D. Great vid as always. Keep up the good work and take care :)

good shit man

What you said about the modern strategy of torture being to psychologically turn the prisoner against themselves reminds me of what the Australian government is doing to captured refugees.

Fascinating - I am turning over in my mind the concept of how we know ourselves better in relationship to others. Nice job leading a conversation about what happens when we no longer have that reference point.

Fuck America

What do you say to black conservatives in the U.S. that claim African Americans are responsible for a disproportionate percentage of gun crime in the U.S?

More like diarrhea of the mind. Also, I think prison is preventative, in that it prevents a larger population from imitating the criminal deviant's behavior.

Sorry about the usual "diarrhea of the fingers" thing I do.

As someone who experiences some pretty intense unwanted thought cycles, I have to believe that everyone has at least the theoretical potential to be forgiven. If I allow that it is impossible for a person to achieve forgiveness, even if that person is Anders Brevik, my thoughts will cycle out of control, deconstructing what actions are unforgivable, and eventually I will wonder whether I myself have done something unforgivable, and that possibility will haunt me for weeks or months on end. I can circumvent these cycles by believing that everyone has the potential to be forgiven. I think any justice system worthy of the name should consensually facilitate the rehabilitation of the criminal, the validation of the victim(s), and the cultivation of forgiveness. Of course, if a criminal does not want to be forgiven, or the victim does not want to forgive, forgiveness cannot be achieved. If, however, the criminal does want to be forgiven, and the victim does want to forgive, then the justice system should help the two of them to achieve that goal in whatever way it can.

I've heard psychodynamic psychoanalysis (which can be once a week, rather than 5 days a week, unlike classical psychoanalysis) is excellent at treating PTSD. I wonder if this would help people who have been in solitary.

It's like phenomenology destroys the internalism/externalism dichotomy.

I often worry about disabled people and senior citizens who are sequestered in their homes or living facilities, rarely ever seeing other people because they're too physically or mentally impaired to go out on their own and who don't get many visitors. I wonder if they suffer these same issues as well? It's not solitary confinement in the sense that no one has locked them up, but they still have limited interaction with other people, and that has to be a hellish way to spend the last years of your life for many people.

Extended mind? No, not enough evidence.

I really hope I don't take away from the important nature of this video. I have a question however: Why is do music and dance seem to receive so little attention from aesthetic theorists, where visual art and literature (and by proxy theater), receive so much attention from aesthetic theorists. Plato only talks about which modal scales (or their Ancient equivalents) should be removed from the perfect ideal society. We have Schopenhauer, Nietzsche, Dewey, Adorno, Goodman, and Susanne Langer, and no other major thinkers. Why?

That reading of 'No Man Is An Island' gave me goosebumps.

the poem at the end make me cry. you are a genius Olly

Great video but one advice/preference - I’d rather see you record in a small regular room with good sound rather than this big studio with echo

I feel that this video focuses too heavily on lack of social contact as cause for the harm of solitary confinement, and downplays the role that lack of agency and lack of sensory stimulus play. Viewed through the lens of self-determination theory, solitary confinement attacks all three basic human needs: competence, autonomy, and relatedness. The "solitary" part - being separated from human contact - attacks relatedness, while "confinement" attacks autonomy and competence. So I don't think that the desert island scenario you talked about is quite the same as solitary confinement. And in real-world cases where people live alone in nature for long periods of time, although they are profoundly lonely, it usually doesn't take as severe a toll on their sanity as being in solitary confinement does, because two of their three basic psychological needs can still be met. Taking into account research showing that people will sometimes even prefer pain over mild boredom if given the choice, maybe it's not so much the isolation, but the combination of isolation and boredom that does people in.

People who try to defend this disgust me on a level I can barely articulate

Since I learned about it in college, and you left the hanging question, I'd like to dig into why we punish people (even though I think you yourself already know these things). From what I've learned, and near as I can imagine myself, we punish people for one (or more) of four reasons: -Rehabilitation, as you mentioned, to make the person cause less harm -Retributivism, to 'make things right', exact justice, etc. -Deterrance, to dissuade those who have not yet caused harm from doing so -Incapacitation, because someone in jail is not able to harm society We have evidence that deterrance only barely works: just as much pickpocketing happens when the penalty is a day in jail as when the penalty is death, I believe Britain tried that and proved it unsuccessful. Not a bad idea on its own, but very ineffective. Incapacitation is effective towards its aims, though not a lot of people talk about how immensely costly it is to keep people in prison, and by itself of course does nothing to decrease harm when the convicted are no longer incapacitated. It seems like a solution, but not a great one. Retributivism doesn't actually care about anything that exists. It doesn't care about improving the world, merely paying lip service to the subjective experience of 'Justice'. I recall an experiment (though I don't have the time to dig it up) where people were inflicted some harm by someone else, and then their response was weighed. I think it used electric shocks, and duration/intensity of the shocks were the metrics. People always inflicted far more harm than what they actually experienced. I think retributivism comprises most of our legal considerations in court. Rehabilitation often needs to happen at the expense of the others, so you don't see it often, but it's the only one with promise. Retribution requires eventually allowing those that cause harm back into society (difficult to do as long as certain jobs/living situations exclude or track offenders), and it means doing things to help the offender, rather than harm them, and this is a pill many refuse to swallow. I don't know how effective change is going to happen. But I think changing one thing at a time isn't a bad approach. We really should force prisons and the legal system to consider why we're doing what we're doing, and if there's an alternative that's not so destructive. Getting rid of solitary confinement would be a huge step in that direction.

Heartbreaking and informative. You are such an interesting and thoughtful thinker. Love your channel more and more everytime I visit.

I know that voice! It's Mike! :D

If I can "chip in" you said that the majority of people in the US and UK in prison, are people of colour and they therefor have the most experience with solitary... Now I wonder why that is, I just can´t believe that the governments lock up people of colour just for the sake of it, there must be a relation between crime and community, or past knowledge of what happens generally where, I wonder why then people of colour commit more crimes and/or locked up more often that others..

It's interesting that even h/c Buddhist monks go into prolonged solitary retreats only after a lot of prep and are still expected to hallucinate, they can just handle it. Even in Vipassana retreats where you are among people but can't talk a lot of people give up just in a few days.

olly, the audio quality in the studio is REALLY BAD and it's to do with both the microphones and improper soundproofing in the studio your older videos sounded much better and looked just as good

It was interesting to watch this. I'm aware of the negative effects of solitary confinement but I wonder how those can be reconciled with a lot of eastern or mystical traditions in which extreme isolation is practiced on purpose and can be enlightening/blissful etc. Do you think that in the case of the prisoner it makes a difference that its against their will? Or is it that they don't have training in the types of meditative techniques that can be used in isolation to have transcendental experiences. It was actually really interesting to hear you read one of the excerpts and they mention specifically transcending the ego as a terrible side effect when its like the entire goal of enlightenment... Interesting stuff Olly!

The editing was a bit weird

I kinda hate humanity now

This is such an important video. People can often be very reactionary and dehumanizing when it comes to prisoners. I frequently hear people complain about "how good" prisoners have it nowadays. I think it's normal to want severe punishments for the Ted Bundys and John Wayne Gacys in the world- I relate to that, I don't feel sorry for Anders Brevik either. But those cases are rare. It seems that for the majority of prisoners the punishment does not fit the crime nor does it do anything for society.

Omg. That CIA voice was on POINT!

There was an event in Spain today in memory of the victims of a terrorist attack, and they read the same poem that you’re re reading at the end!

Thanks for making this video! You made me think about prisoners and I usually haven't done that. I appreciate the alternate view. I love your work!

Bro ur American accent is so good it's scary

this was a really great/interesting video and also i was So Happy to see anthony d'angelo featured in it

is the audio on this purposely tweaked to make you sound like a hallucination?

That was a great episode! Some really powerful stuff, especially your personal story. Thanks for sharing it with us! That couldn't have been easy.

I think there's an issue with the aesthetisation of torture and the aesthetisation of suffering altogether. I sort of find it disrespectful to be entirely honest. The final question is the purpose of justice and also finding the right balance between what is seen as just and what is seen as exercising empathy.

That was... deeply unpleasant. Moreso even than some things that are actively trying to disgust. It was good. Don't get me wrong, it just wasn't a nice thing to watch. It made me angry in the same way that Naomi Klein's 'Shock Doctrine' did.

prison abolition

The audio is terrible quality man.

Oh wow. I've never been imprisoned, and I cannot imagine the brutal conditions these prisoners had to face, but this still hit home for me. I spent a year jobless, alone, and horribly depressed and impoverished in my 6x9 foot room. I wouldn't leave apartment for weeks on end sometimes and had virtually no human interaction for very uncomfortable stretches of time. Back then, I often felt like I saw shapes or shadows hiding in my peripheral vision, I couldn't eat, I was paranoid that something was always behind me, and my mind often went to disassociative and manic places casing me to pick up some bad habits to cope. I'm much better now thankfully! And yet I feel like my mind is much slower and just kinda "off" compared to what it used to be before this happened, especially when it comes to human interaction. And despite how it's been about a year since then, I still can't help but go back to that place regularly as if I'm still stuck there. Thank you so much for this video, I learned a lot!

Hi Olly, you looking good lately! Also, please penetrate me.

The fact that we do this to other humans is what's criminal.

Could this be related to the phenomenon of feral children?

It does seem like a significant factor in this is the unchanging static environment, even potentially more so than humans. I'm not a psychologist, but if the walls are bulging and the wire is rattling in your head, I would take that as a mind trying to create a natural difference, a basic everyday stimuli, in just the environment. Flinging feces at a wall from that perspective seems less like a way of generating connection, and more a way of generating novelty by altering the unchanging surroundings.

i wonder if the same can be said for people who are in a coma for an extend period of time? surly the effects would be the same.

Excellent video, Ollie! I wish every American would watch it.

Its a huge problem -here in Denmark its not use that often but its used! and Iv hear that they have used it for people who are suicidal because there is something wrong with our bureaucracy. We also have problems with over psykwards for using fixation to much

It's Breivik* but no biggie

why does your mic sound weird ps. oh nvm he said it in the comments

US prisons are just training camps for race gangs. The whole country is more dangerous because prisoners are taught to be more violent, paranoid, racist, and ruthless.

i am going out to meet my mates lol

Haven't watched all of it yet, but I'm glad you released this 'quickly' instead of worrying over every audio clip.

Holy fuck olly got buff & chiseled(no homo) when did this happen

* i love that you stopped near the end to make it like a sit down conversation and am going to share this for sure! thank you for all the hard work...

I think you are to a certain degree lump together several things that happen to a person in a typical US prison solitary confinement. It's not only social isolation, but also lack of sensory stimulus, lack of possibility for physical activity and constant claustrophobic feeling. If you compare it to Brevik's conditions they are lacking some of those issues.

I don't think that solitary confinement will ever be considered as a form of torture in any legal sense, since it has different effects on different people. Someone who regularly interacts with many people every day, and gets a lot of their fulfillment from external sources, will be far worse affected than someone who hardly ever talks to anyone, and spends a lot of their time focused internally.

OLLY your voice acting in nats video blooooody hell

That plain white room you're in really needs to be sound treated. Either that or you need to change your recording setup and process your audio more, maybe all three.

You should also use a de-esser or a pop filter because those "S" sounds during the close-ups are excruciating


That voice box jumped 6 feet up through your nose LOL

I thought prison was meant for punishment. Never heard that the criminals were supposed to be rehabilitated.

There’s a sound issue. The studio you’re in is really reflective and there’s no soft surfaces to dampen echoes to clean up your sound, and gets worse f you apply any kind of audio effect onto it in post? It’s difficult to understand your speech when it’s played out of a lower quality speaker like a phone.

You don't have to be in a prison or living on a desert island to feel isolated - sometimes you can be in plain sight. I'm over this now. I went for a long period of learning how to walk again. Here's a diary entry of mine (specific details removed and I don't live there anymore) from Monday 18/6/11... Kind of just picked a day at random as they were all pretty much the same (on average): - 'Mon' swim day: - Had trouble getting to sleep (though ended up going to sleep around same time as previous night - ~ 3.30 AM). I dunno, maybe chill out day is so much less stress at the moment. Needed another drinkk of milk & some peanuts so likely body wanted some fuel for some repairs (kind of felt like that). Done all three 1330m walks. Feeling benefit (overslept til 10 AM). Rest yesterday. Ankles just sore. No twinges to speak of. Couple of things. Maybe coincedence but on last walk, old lady in house near me where I sometimes double back on [street removed] came out of front door just as I was passing house, we glanced at teach other for a split second. & she went back in. Guy walking dog was where I would have doubled back so I carried on & looped through estate. And, as I was crossing road on [street removed] to do last 250m there was a bang on someone's living room window - I didn't pay too much attention and concentrated on traffic on road. & may have been coincedence. On corner with [street removed], two blokes outside of front door of house made two slow hand claps, again I didn't pay much attention. If it was directed at me then so what? What are they gonna do really. Not much left today. Tomorrow same as today (& I actually feel better than I did on the chill out day yesterday & there is another chill out day after tomorrow). ------------------- Thanks. I've heard it say that most people's suffering is caused not by their ills but by other people. In 2007/2008 I was so bad I didn't even leave the house - for a whole year. LOL - the financial crash means nothing to me! Edit; now I'm going to go for a run xP

Surely you must admit that there will always be at least some portion of the population who are too dangerous to be around others. People that, if given the chance, would absolutely kill again. What would you propose we do with those people? When inmates break the rules, victimize other inmates, or assault staff, there has to be some sort of negative consequence. If the consequence isnt severe, it wont serve as a deterrent. What sorts of punishments would you reccomend that would not violate anyone's basic human rights, yet still serve as an effective deterrent? How do you punish someone who is already locked up? No doubt solitary confinement is a brutal punishment that's probably overused, but in some cases I think it's probably a necessary evil that is much more humane than the alternative.

I don't believe in free will so I can't rationally give even a neo Nazi moral responsibility for his or her actions. Though I can't bring myself to empathize with a person like that, I would never say they deserve to be tortured.

Is no one aware that monks go into solitary every day? It's only harmful if you're not trained how to work with it. Also, shamans go into solitary confinement as part of their initiation and they come out better people - healers. These people are being deprived of the physical and so forced to become aware of the nonphysical - something that was always there the whole time - but now their light of awareness is shining on it, and so they're consciously aware of it. The other thing to consider is that what we become aware of in any part of life is the product of the emotional frequency we're on. Spiritual people tend to have trained themselves to focus on the positive and so become aware of their spirit guides who help them as healers. Most in prison will naturally be focused on the depraved and so that's what will manifest in the nonphysical - that focus manifested them in prison in the first place. They must learn to focus away from that junk and onto the good over time and they'll be just as awake as a monk.

xciellew ponpon true, but I just watched an interview about a guy that was in prison and sent to solitary for several months and he decided to take up a meditation practice, and he came out a new man. He is now a spiritual teacher and healer. He said it was the best thing that ever happened to him.

But there's a big difference if you are being forced to do something....I mean the context changes everything.

I really appreciate how much attention you give to the truly marginalized populations in society; so few people bother with that and it is so important. Also, there was an interesting article I read on NPR a few weeks ago about how a North Dakota prison is attempting to re-structure its solitary confinement (which they now call the Behavior Intervention Unit) by providing therapy and recreation to promote positive behaviors instead of just punishing negative ones. I recommend giving it a read. Also also, I’ve worked with the mentally ill and incarcerated populations and the truth is pretty much without exception, if you are kind to people and provide positive reinforcement, you will get positive results. At worst, in the case of the few who are just really nasty people, being nice to them can at least make you feel better because it demonstrates that their shit behavior has nothing to do with you.

Hey Ollie, i loved your video, but as a sugestion, when you are explaning the concepts to understand your statements, like the concept of fenomenology, or even the idea of the mind being actually a network of mind, you could make some animation and revisit more those vocabulary so it gets more sistematized in the rest of the video making it more educational maybe?

Fascinating video Ollie. I'm totally blown away by just how interesting, educational and professional this video is. You've outdone yourself.

Even though I absolutely despise nazis, authoritarian policies, ideologies, fascism and the control and violence exerted upon others through racial prejudice that they wish to exist in reality, still the lack of empathy for the 2011 killer leaves me uneasy, the lack of mercy for them, the acceptance of the violence of torture exerted by the state apparatus as legitimate due to their actions and line of thought, somehow leaves me thinking that if we don't treat this guy as a person who deserves redemption and we collectivelly alienate him from any sort of possibility of change, then we are dooming him to remain an enemy of his surroundings, like a beast trapped in a cage by the gaze of empty-eyed dominators, is this the way we're going to treat the scum of the world? the worst of society? Is the violence of cristalyzing him into a cell of thought, of categorization of him as a nazi, not the same as putting him in solitary confinement but in regards of the way he identifies and conforms himself and his way of looking at the world? Is it okay, is it just to do this, even considering his monstruous actions?

I know I should be focused on the content, but because we all need some self-esteem boost once in a while: you look excellent dude!

This video hit hard, I felt sick by the time it was over. Amazing work Olly.

I think the standard which needs to be applied to all punishments is based on the worst case scenario: we all know innocent people sometimes get convicted, because of a lot of things, and even if there were never police and prosecutors motivated by anything other than the purest ideals, they would not have all-seeing knowledge and would sometimes be honestly mistaken. So the standard is: "are we comfortable with this consequence for crime being applied to an innocent person, who might never be cleared of the crime?"

Or come up with an alternative system to punishment, which is not the best tool for rehabilitation in any case. I would be comfortable with some innocent people accidentally being put through a course of psycho-social rehabilitation designed to turn offenders into responsible citizens.

IkomaTanomori are we comfortable with ANY punishment being inflicted on an innocent person? If we used this as our guide, it seems we would just have to let everyone go free wouldnt we?

How much of the tortuousness of "solitary confinement" is due to the lack of socialization, and how much is due to the other conditions imposed at the same time, like lack of a daylight cycle? I live alone and work from home over email and easily go a week at a time without interacting with another person. I know that's just a short period of time compared to incarceration, but I do wonder, if someone were basically locked in my little home all by themselves, would that be anywhere nearly as bad as being in a little concrete cell with constant artificial illumination?

Or, for a hypothetical consideration: imagine we had the ability to plop arbitrarily many prisoners each into their own little natural paradise, a world with no predators or infectious diseases, with plentiful food growing all around, unlimited clean water, warm sunshine and cool breezes but trees for shade and windbreaks... just no people, and no civilization. Would "banishing" people to there be torture? All alone in your own personal Eden?

And like... I feel like if I were in prison, the thing I'd feel most threatened by (besides the state who put me in there) would be other prisoners. I think I'd much rather be in a prison with nobody else in it, than the same prison full of people who are a constant threat to my physical and mental wellbeing. All else being equal, removing the other people seems like an improvement.

Abolish Prisons

Barbara Fortunato abolish murder

I can't exactly speak for the entire prison industrial complex, but I was a correctional officer in Texas for a time. I became familiar with several of the offenders and they gave me some insight into their experience. It was an invaluable counterpoint to my own. Taking a phenomenological approach, it becomes very difficult to speak about administrative segregation, or even general population pods, in a free world context. This is all to say, there is no practical alternative to administrative segregation for 2 reasons. The purposes of prison are to different degrees to rehabilitate, to punish, and to separate. To separate, because of a generally utilitarian reason, it is better to subject people inclined to criminal behavior to as few people as possible and limit the possible harm an offender can accomplish. To punish the offender for the harm already done by limiting privileges and freedoms they cannot be trusted with for empirical reasons. And lastly to rehabilitate if possible. There are classes, certificates, training, and other self improvement opportunities. This is, of course the general case, and does not account for other failings in the departments of criminal justice. Human systems are inherently flawed and we must correct them as we go. Until then we work with the best ideas we've got. However, some people... They become worse in prison. They become more violent, less observant of established rules, and more isolationist. In my experience, offenders as the absolute most self centered people I've ever come across. Please take that as an observation, not a value judgement. So, what do you do with the people who continue to offend after they've already been removed from the population at large? The cycle repeats on a smaller scale: you remove/punish/rehabilitate if possible with ad seg. It's the prison within a prison. Secondly, for administrative purposes. There are only so many beds in so many units, with so many facilities, and too few officers. Administrative segregation is, as cold as it may sound, the equivalent of pulling a file you'll need to work on ahead of time to make a staggering work load easier to process. So, it's not good. It's not nice. It may in fact be torturous... But it's the best the penal system has at the moment. Praxis from myriad and often contradictory axioms.

Tommy Robinson was placed in solitary confinement for his "safty". So it's not always used as an explicit punishment.

Thank you so much for making this video. It was very difficult to watch but it is so important. The use of solitary as a punishment for attempted suicide is particularly horrifying. I have survived two suicide attempts and I know the reason I am still alive is that I was given a huge amount of social support immediately afterwards. I understand that this video is more interested in the philosophical aspects of this, but are what can we do about solitary confinement? What actions can we take to stop this. Frankly I think that solitary is unconstitutional in the US but in practice the constitution gets ignored when it's convenient for the most powerful in society. :'(

"[the isolated individual] is the theory of mind that capitalism pursues" um no. Not at all. That is a massive strawman. Capitalism litterally requires people to specialize and in doing so rely on others. Marx himself believed that under communism a man would work 7 different jobs on a day. Yes capitalism is based on individuals as the fundamental economic unit, but the rationally self-interested actions of those individuals are obviously going to involve doing things for and with other people, whether they be family and friends, or employers, employees, and coworkers. Seriously, read the work of any capitalist economist or philosopher, smith, menger, bohm-bawerk, mises, hayek, rothbard, rand, friedman and sowell all talk about this.

When my little brother was in prison, he would intentionally start fights so he could be placed in solitary confinement. Because in solitary confinement he wasn't having to protect himself against other prisoners. He eventually joined the Aryan Nation as a means of protecting himself during his incarceration. So basically, the prison system, at least in the US, is so needlessly brutal by design, that prisoners would voluntarily opt for a situation which most are aware would cause them almost certain mental damage.

This topic always makes me kind of agressive and I want to blow up every wall on earth and break the jaw of every person who dares to torture or lock up someone! Who wants to join me? We collect money for a heavy tank and drive through every prison wall and border wall!

Preachy? What a dismissive word. How can it be "preachy" to point out that something that destroys human beings is wrong? And if there are arguments in favor of solitary confinement (or any other evil done to humans by their government) let someone else make those arguments.

This is an amazing very important video. I'd like to draw your attention to the question of other creatures than humans. Especially in light of your sincere sharing of your island fantasy - are there any animals there? To put is in other words: I think we are not just a human network as appose to individuals, but we are in one network with all living beings to many degrees (a dog maybe more than an ant). In light of that - the imprisonment and torture we inflict on other members of that network (factory farming especially) seems terribly terribly wrong and cruel. Your thoughts?

Very good video

Prisons are such a ridicilous concept. I mean, I get that you want to seperate criminals from the normal people, but why torture those people only to make them commit another crime after they left the prison? Imagine the violence, the fear, the rape, the feeling of hopelessness and the psychological distress all together

I wonder if you ever plan to do a video on phenomenology. That would help a lot.

This is why i advocate state sponsored corporal punishment

How is solitary confinement? It's boring...painfully boring. In fact that's really the primary issue with being in jail. It's really boring. Depriving a person of mental stimulation for long periods of time is definitely injurious to them.

“Prisons do not disappear social problems, they disappear human beings. Homelessness, unemployment, drug addiction, mental illness, and illiteracy are only a few of the problems that disappear from public view when the human beings contending with them are relegated to cages.” ― Angela Y. Davis

Ollie. I have exchanged letters with an old penpal of mine who was imprisoned in Shirley Mx in Massachusetts, a prison like walpole. I am a local in this area and both of these prisons are known to be the hardest, most brutal prisons in our area. My penpal was allowed to write letters and in them he stated he had been in solitary confinement for 13 months. If you'd be interested in learning more about his experience I can send you quotes or even put you in contact with him if you really wanted too. If you are interested in the field and learning first hand about the American Prison system you should look at websites like Writeaprisoner.com or others like it. I think you would really benefit from hearing from these people first hand especially with your knowledge and your growing amount of influence in the internet world of philosophy. Hope all is well. Thanks for being you.

But... Paul Simon is an island...

What about the voluntary solitary, such as religious hermits? Doesn't that pose additional questions for the issue?

This blew me away, seriously. Changed the way I view myself and my life. Thank you

Good job on dem gains


pretty solid north american accent there for the CIA bit

This was an amazing video man I love the new camera set ups can’t wait to see an episode on phenomenology

I don't know if living on an island with stuff to interact with is quite as devastating as being in a small room with nothing to do at all, I absolutely think most people would probably lose their minds, or at the very least their "civil" behaviour, but I don't think you would experience the same level of psychic distress, just because you still have the freedom to act, build, hunt or do whatever. Definitely not something I'd consider all that desirable but I think it would be better than solitary confinement in a prison cell.

Nice content as always, Olly! I remember, seeing this video, of a serie called "Rectify" - it's a serie about someone who didn't commited a crime, but was pushed to prison and stayed there for 20 years in solitary confinement.

Fuck U.S. prisons and police! Fuck the whole goddamn justice system. It doesn't serve justice, it serves vengeance to petty and self-righteous pricks who want to make others suffer along with them.

Golly gosh the mic quality

Great video! It was hard to watch indeed! One minor thing though, you misspelled Anders Breivik as "Brevik"

Phenomenology is not something I would have ever thought to apply to this subject, and it seems to have some great explanatory power. Great video! (Also nice American accent)

Is it really isolation? No type of distractions at all, no reading, no pictures, no writing?

I wonder if Solitary confinement and the experiences of people who have been not cinfined but solitary for long periods of time (castaways, hermits, lost in the woods, etc) have crossovers of these experiences.

Fantastic video Olly, and the end was a great way to wrap it up. One question I had: what's the experience of hermits like?

I disagree with you on Anders Brevik. Yes he's a bastard but surely after what you're saying in this video even for someone like brevik, if you excuse solitary confinement for one you set down the path of excusing it for more..... ya know But i might be wrong

Thank you! From "former legal activist" to phlosopher. This is why I wath this channel... This video is a severe improvement regarding the early ones, and has much less fanservice than the hegel one. The Prison debate involves is not only a human rights issue, but a legal phylosophy issue and a socio-economic issue. Besides being a completely broken and disfunctional idea that people will behave within law if conditioned to it by one way or the other. It ignores that there are career criminals, and there has been even before the concept of crime was created. Regardless of the option of capital punishment, how do you define who outta be "recovered" and who is a lost case? Diferent countrys have diferent methods but the consensus is shady and misleading at the best... What is jail and what is jail for is also questions that get confused because they somewhat intertwinne but are completely diferent points within that harvest of topics.

This was a really awkward and unconvincing video... the fact that people were traumatized by prolonged solitary confinement (duh!) isn't enough to conclude that we should elaborate a new theory of mind. The shots at capitalism were pretty cheap too.

I honestly love how you connect philosophy with real life issues. When I read something like "consciousness is a social process that requires other people," it's hard for me to take seriously because it doesn't mean anything practical to me. This video and others like it (the one on Hegelian dialectics, and the one on the split mind) help me apply my love of philosophy to my desire to make the world better.

Solitary confinement is illegal in Sweden and pretty much the rest of Europe.

It's the same with people with mental health issues in general. I'm glad I have a cat who is someone to communicate with because I am incredibly isolated. Rarely going out, even to get food and opt for online deliveries where possible. I hate going out. But solitary confinement is different. There's literally no stimulation because they're confined to a tiny, bare room, not allowed books, things to keep them occupied and productive. That loss of productivity and having no purpose or stimulation is what triggers mental health issues in solitary. Your brain is so bored it will create hallucinations.

I'm glad to hear you received help, and that you are giving it to others now!

I was diagnosed late in life with an ASD. Prior to that my anxiety, agoraphobia, and intolerance for social situations had slowly cut me off from any meaningful interpersonal contact to the point where I was spending sometimes 3 months at a time without interacting with another person in a meaningful way. That went on for about 5 years. During which I slowly descended into a horrible state. I was drinking, taking benzodiazepines. I have large chunks of my memory missing. Sometimes whole weeks that I cannot recall at all where I would often injure myself and even ended up with pigeons nesting in a room in my apartment because I was so oblivious to what was happening around me. Eventually I injured myself seriously and was unable to move my hand for several months as a result. During the medical treatment for that injury I was forced to describe the situation that I was in to the medical services. Quite quickly I received a massive intervention, which I think looking back probably saved my life. I was thoroughly assessed, diagnosed with ASD, and had a massive support structure put in place to prevent me from ending up there again. A decade later I am now happily married and volunteering in my local community mental health charity, befriending people who have similarly limited contact since I have first hand experience of what a hell that is to experience. The worry is justified, but there are some people out there trying to help where we can.

Stuntddude "people will sometimes prefer pain over mild boredom" me in the bedroom

It's kind of sad, at least in the US, most people that are in solitary confinement have mental illness. It becomes a self-perpetuating cycle.

Both the US and Soviet space programmes incorporated solitary confinement into the training for astro/cosmo-nauts, and I've heard that Soviet researchers noticed that candidates involved in a discipline like music or mathematics fared better in solitary because internal mental exercises like composing music delay the onset of perceptual breakdown in the confinement environment. After watching this video it sounds like the benefit of particular intellectual disciplines in coping with isolation may also have to do with the role of other people in the historical evolution of the discipline. Since any given form of art or field of inquiry is the product of known and named historical figures, and the disciplines are practiced in the context of the contemporary discourse, then composing music, solving maths puzzles, etc., in one's head during solitary confinement is, to an extent, a social interaction with an imagined community, softening the quern of grinding loneliness. If this is the case, political prisoners like Robert King may be at an advantage in terms of coping with the psychological damage of isolation because their imprisonment is itself symbolically a social interaction with the community whom their activism sought to empower. While the trauma and lasting damage of prolonged solitary confinement may be unavoidable, perhaps the experience can be mediated through a sense of belonging to a community who needn't be physically present.

The trouble with deep philosophical questions is that, phenomenologically, the experience of searching for answers can feel very similar to that really important thing chipping away at your subconscious that you've forgotten you should have been doing for the last 6 months.

Love your work as always, Olly

So, 23 days does that. I did 7 months in what they call "administrative segregation," which is a novel term they came up with so that when your family or friends wonder why you aren't writing, they don't have to say "he's in solitary confinement." They weren't even allowed to tell us what fucking time it was. If you asked, they would stick their watch up to the window. I got to the point where I was throwing my food back out the trap when they brought it, just so they would come in and fuck me up, because while they were fucking me up, they would scream "stop resisting!" at me, and that was the sound of a voice other than my own. I will never, ever, ever, ever, ever be completely past that, and when the shit finally hits the fan, the people who were responsible for that chunk of my bid will pay. Yes. It's torture. I don't see how this is even still a question. This is NOT an acceptable tactic to use for anything. Edit: Jesus, I just realized I'm home on my bed. The white cinder-block wall behind you..... It's been a long time, I've been out now for longer than I was in, and the majority of my time in wasn't spent in seg. Yet, here I am, still trapped in this tiny cell. I feel like I need to smash my way out before the walls close in and crush me.

When I was 16 I was arrested and jailed for a crime that I didn't commit (shockingly, because I was committing plenty) and since I couldn't afford bail was stuck sitting there. I was promptly moved to the SHU (Secure Housing Unit) for nearly a month while I awaited a bail reduction hearing. After the hearing it was about a month before I was finally released. I wasn't moved there because of anything that I did, but because I had an uncle that was a Corrections Officer and, even though we didn't get along, he was terrified someone would try and take me out because of it. So he made a couple of phone calls and I was considered "High Risk" and removed from the general population. Reminder, this is in jail, not prison, and not because of anything I did. I didn't put myself in jail or even have time to break any jail rules (I'd been trying to sleep after being processed and hadn't been there 3 hours). My charges were eventually dropped entirely, but while there, 24/7, you could hear the screams and banging constantly. It smelled of feces and urine constantly. The CO's were abusive and cruel (to minors) constantly. In adult facilities I'd later visit it's no different. People that are often mentally ill to begin with are stuck in small cells alone for indefinite amounts of time and slowly wither away. Often injuring themselves or others at every available chance just to get a trip to the infirmary or hospital. The effects it had on my mind still pops up unexpectedly more than 16 years later. I was a using opiate addict and alcoholic for many years to come so I found myself locked up several more times but fortunately avoided solitary for more than a few days after. But a couple of months when I was 16 was enough to have a lasting impact. And it was very obvious from what I saw and heard while there, the stories I've heard from people that have experienced it first hand and all of the research I've seen since, that solitary confinement is absolutely torture and it's one that no one deserves for any reason. No effort is made for correction, healing, improvement ect. You're just left to languish as you fall further into insanity. I feel extremely fortunate to have had the limited experience that I did after meeting people who had much more. Mine was nothing compared to there's. But if a kid that hadn't committed a crime can be subjected to such treatment, imagine how it is for those that have. And there are many ways that people end up alone. Prisons are just the most egregious example of intentional isolation. But the elderly and mentally ill are often in similar boats. Absolutely amazing contribution, Olly! One of many issues I feel quite strongly about and so few people understand or care. Takes a good voice and mind to break it down in a digestible manner and you've absolutely succeeded there!

Olly, I love your content! But please invest in a new and better audio recording equipment. Your content is too good to have audio that feels quite off! (It feels off only when you are on camera. Its fine when you are narrating! So probably check/upgrade that equipment)

Olly, I love you and your videos so much but for the love of all things holy can you stop it with the accent when you read American things. I’ll admit, your attempts are far better than most but they still make me wince. Maybe just tone it down so every American text doesn’t sound like George Washington is reading it. An American fan.

Totally unrelated to the video, but thank you for calling Breivik a neo-nazi. There is a lot of dog-whistling happening, so it's comforting to see someone calling a spade for a spade.

the tinny reverb really detracts from an interesting video, do yourself a favor and record your videos in a not so empty room.

Holy Shit! This video was amazing, thank you for your effort!

just monika

just philosophy


fakkin ell - that guy is hot as fuck. he fuck me with his tube. sideways.. and call me all sort of dirty british names

i love the lyric "understand your own soul as an arboretum" from the rapper Scallops Hotel on his song Gnosis, Black Nationalism, Rice, as the same idea of like "no man is an island"

Good video, Olly! I don't see any point in solitary confinement; it's pure torture whether with books, video games and social media (as in some European countries) or not. What is it that you're trying to achieve by putting someone into an isolated, small prison cell? It's inhumane and makes no sense. Prison itself is a highly controversial topic itself as you say in the video, but solitary confinement in the 21st century is simply outrageous. Even in case of Brevick - so ok, you isolate him (as far as I know in Norway they have the Internet and books in solitary confinement) and then what, he comes out better? Ridiculous. People like him should never leave the walls of prison and it's one of the rare cases when the concept of prison makes sense. But even then, something else should be done, maybe isolating them part of the day only if other inmates, I can imagine, don't want to interact with him. There's no silver bullet to prevent "Brevicks" from happening in our lives, but that should never justify such an outrageous, immoral form of imprisonment as solitary confinement.

John Emory and he feels no pain nor does he cry


Fuck capitalism, fuck poverty, fuck politics, and fuck solitary. I'd love to know your opinion on social isolation...

Brutally good arguments against confinement, but it occurs to me the next argument (just a formal exercise). Imagine that you are on a planet and you want to interact with people who have already died or don't really exist in this concrete world of yours. You are, in one sense, confined in a place (your actual world). You are even confined to the asymmetric relationship between pleasure and pain even if you enjoy most of your life in your actual world. Those conditions are the same essential basis for a phenomenologist problem related to your personal dignity, as indeed Philip K. Dick tried to show. You can add all the grades you want for the brutality and priorities involved against and for one or another case, but it's essentially the same background.

Solitary confinement is only torture for oversocialized wimps. I've been isolated for the majority of my life and I'm happier that way tbh.

Your American accent is funny lol

This might be my favorite video so far, great work! I realize this is criticizing you for not making the video I wanted you to make… but since you mentioned a desert island scenario, I was wondering if there was a difference between a more “free” solitary experience like that and the much more confined version we see in prisons.

it would be nice if at some point you could make a video about the reading techniques you learn as an actor that help you on reading books faster :)

Just a lil insignificant thing that is totally unrelated to the topic of this video and in no way meant to be demeaning or whatever: sometimes your eyes don't seem to scan around or 'look inward' (so to speak) when you're speaking - especially when you come up with seemingly spontaneous things. To me, this feels uncanny, like there's not much going on internally, like you aren't the one thinking about what is being said because that was already done prior. The eye movements that are there seem more like an attempt to emulate what it might look like for someone to think or feel these things. I know obviously it's a video and it is more practical for it to be scripted, it's just an observation I thought you might be interested in since you're an actor. I've never actually been in front of a camera like this though, and I'm not an actor, so maybe it is just ridiculously hard to be ruthlessly yourself, or maybe what I've said is inaccurate. Regardless, I'd like to know what you think.

This is a topic I think about often, and this video has soured my perception of "corrections" facilities even more than it already was. I have a brother whom I dislike a lot, but he is in and out of prison (including solitary) and I think very few people (if any) deserve that kind of punitive "justice". He's a disagreeable person in a lot of ways, but what has got him stuck in the system (which seems intentionally impossible to get out of) was addiction to crack cocaine and heroin. He's a really damaged person who obviously self-medicates instead of seeking psychological help, but he's an adult so there's only so much other people can do. I will say, and he would agree, that 99% of his problems are from the "justice system", not from the drugs themselves. This is the case with most opiate addicts that I know. Anyway, I've ranted enough here. Anybody looking for a good read about America's fucked up scam of a punitive justice system should read "The End of Policing" by Alex Vitale.

abolish prison uwu

this guy should be an actor or something

Five days. At pretrial for false charges. The reason I even got into the cell remains unknown to me as it happened too fast, from my own business, and during the day. It was beyond awful. In my case the light never turned off. The hallucinations were wild enough that I knew not to believe them.

Great vid, looking jacked O-Man!

Should I be concerned?

it would be nice if at some point you could make a video about the reading techniques you learn as an actor that help you on reading books faster. Also check out the book native by akala. It's about racism in England so I think you will find it interesting

knocked it out the fucking park mate

Man that sounds wild....where can I learn more about phenomenology, solitary confinement experiences and the dissolution of the mind?

In the final episode of the terable Inhumans show, the "hero" traps the "bad guy" alone on the moon instead of killing him. I was horrified that anyone would think isolating the bad guy like that is the heroic thing to do.

Excellent video. And also I'm glad to know about Mike Rugnetta. I used to be a big fan of Idea Channel and I had no idea he was still on the business. Now I'm addicted to his website

I love your content! Couple bits of constructive criticism: your on-screen voice sounds tinny and quiet while your off-screen voice is perfect. Maybe you can use the same mic all around? Also, you have a *lot* of negative space in your shots at any given time, it might be a better look to be front and center or fill that space with something.

MY brother was in solitaire confinement for 180 days because someone stole his bed sheets, and tried to strangle a guard. Mind you, my brother had no idea who these people were in prison, and yet they punished my little brother. He was only in Prison for theft. Its not even a violent crime. I'm not saying theft is okay, but 180 days for something that wasn't even his fault.... i cried every day.

Good video, but the ending. I would argue that Breivik is not in solitary. He has regular contact with both the prison crew, priests and others..and yhe, I do think that is good. Solitary is torture, and if we put him in such a position would we be any better?

the voice recording was,,, not great. which means i was checking those puppies way too often during the video, damn Ollie

Prathamesh Kanbaskar Both are actually considered a form of torture.

(Long time listener, first time commenter) Olly, do you like films? Your discussion of the self and how it can be broken down sort of reminded me of this 90s sci fi called Twelve Monkeys. Idk, but it's very interesting philosophically and makes an interesting argument about psychology, and how society determines normality and mental health... Not really connected to this video but just thought you might be interested!

Have you ever seen Perfect Blue? It's like a horror spin on this idea (no one is truly individual). I liked it a lot even though that idea doesn't personally scare me. In that movie, characters' and the audience's grasp on reality weakens as the lines between individuals blur. For people in solitary confinement, the same happens for essentially the opposite reason. Or maybe it's actually a different means to the same cause? I wonder what you would think about that dichotomy.

womens prison less then an hour from my home.

+Alex Noa My point was not regarding that.Both are torture.I was challenging the assumption in the video that the results were caused by lack of human contact.The video argued from this assumption that we need a new theory of mind.

mofomarnie - People shouldn't be subjected to that. :(

Hipster Faye - True! Children are often not treated well, and this is another area that needs to be addressed in society.

I was in "in school suspension" for a while and i can relate to some of the feelings and idea here, so id be worried about kids in juvenile detention, or kids like me who were mishandled by adults.

The (Heideggerian) Force is strong with this one. Nothing like a criticism of Cartesian Dualism

I was legitimately a little freaked when the screen started going all David Lynch with the static.

I was thinking that if the evolutionary purpose of the human brain was to become better at problem solving and become intellectually superior in a way that we could survive against things we were physically inferior to, it's seemingly arguable that if you take away a person's ability to have new information, or problems to solve, or thoughts to have you're taking away their humanity, that is what makes them, them. Moreover the farther they are from their last ability to do such things the less them they become. Although This all relies on the idea that we're just a product of our experience and that if you take away someones experience completely over time they become less and less like a person, conversely if they had experience they would just be slowly changing from who they were to who they will be. That being the idea, though, it would explain the very different reactions people have because the only thing keeping them going is their own internal, themselves, or whats left of their mind.

Externalism is a philosophy of mind that suggests our experiences aren't just happening inside our heads. Michael Tye (Univ of Texas Austin) and Andrew Byrne (MIT) are both proponents of this idea. I am interested in your thoughts about externalism and other topics in the philosophy of mind.

(I'm not an expert) I've just been doing a bit of research into the relation of Glutamate and trauma. I was promoted to do this by a bad video I watched about transgender people and "gender-trenders" - in this video they connected schizophrenia with issues concerning gender identity, while also trying to stress that this was not the same as having gender dysphoria. I had also previously seen a connection between glutamate receptors in major depressive disorder in women in particular - where the was an overabundance of receptors (requiring more glutamate than normal to trigger a response). As well as a connection between glutamate receptors and schizophrenia - where there was a lack a receptors (meaning less glutamate than normal was needed to trigger a response). The number of receptors in the brain can reduce through over stimulation or increase from under stimulation. While also looking at how trauma can lead to depression psychosis and then schizophrenia through the over stimulation of dopamine pathways as a result of stress - and I am wondering whether abrupt changes can effect brain receptors? Too much Glutamate release (causing more neuro-excitement) during a stressful event can destroy the cells they are activating - they get worked to death. From what I understand. GABA converts to Glutamate and vice versa. GABA reduces neuro-excitability. Whereas Glutamete increases neuro-excitabilty GABA also inhibits dopamine. Estrogen inhibits GABA. Prolactin inhibits dopamine. A lack of dopamine causes non-psychosis depression (symptoms including a lack of will to get out of bed). Whereas too much dopamine causes psychosis depression (symptoms including thoughts running away with themselves - such as excessive worry and anxiety). Where this video I watched on the transgender issue was bad is that they seemed to have very little appreciation for what schizophrenia is and the symptoms associated with it - someone like Ash Hardell, criticised as being a "gender-trender" in the bad video I watched, who has had significant trouble with their gender identity, doesn't seem to me (in my unqualified opinion) to be someone with schizophrenia. But I was already aware that dysfunction of the ventro medial prefrontal cortex (vmpfc) in our brains is related to problems when trying to categorize a person's gender. And that reduced vmpfc activity was associated with reduced sensations of pain and symptoms of depression (labotomies previously done to "treat" depression literally would cut out the vmpfc). It seems that in both schizophrenia and depression that there is some form of either reduced neural connectivity or neural activity regarding pathways in the brain linking the vmpfc to the hippocampus (memory) and amygdala (emotions) and temporal lobe (visual memory and language comprehension). So there could be a connection with either over or under stimulation creating a dysfunctional balance between neurotransmitter output and neurotransmitter receptors? Also. Often associated with an increase in dopamine is are glucocorticoid hormones released by the adrenal glands of the kidneys, which trigger an increase in blood glucose levels, during the flight or flight response (and is associated with an icreased risk of developing diabetes). From wikipedia of the role of glutamate and glucocortoid hormones in the functioning of the hippocampus - so under or over stimulation of the hippocampus (memories) could be vitally important in schizophrenia and depression in relation to trauma?: - The form of neural plasticity known as long-term potentiation (LTP) was first discovered to occur in the hippocampus and has often been studied in this structure. LTP is widely believed to be one of the main neural mechanisms by which memories are stored in the brain.The best-studied form of LTP has been seen in CA1 of the hippocampus and occurs at synapses that terminate on dendritic spines and use the neurotransmitter glutamate. The hippocampus contains high levels of glucocorticoid receptors, which make it more vulnerable to long-term stress than most other brain areas. There is evidence that humans having experienced severe, long-lasting traumatic stress show atrophy of the hippocampus more than of other parts of the brain. These effects show up in post-traumatic stress disorder, and they may contribute to the hippocampal atrophy reported in schizophrenia and severe depression. A recent study has also revealed atrophy as a result of depression, but this can be stopped with anti-depressants even if they are not effective in relieving other symptoms.

I thought I understood the depths of this issue, but I didn't. It's truly difficult to fathom. I do wonder, though, about the effects of social surrogates (TV, radio, etc.) on isolated people. They do impart some of the benefits of genuine socialization, but if the issue is that a lack of genuine socialization diminishes or robs humans of a necessary reflection of self in the world, then how can social surrogates have any effect at all?

That's in my opinion the correct political answer, but on a personal level I don't blame anyone who wants Brevik to suffer.

interesting video

+R0DisG0D yeah i agree

Fine, if you're the guy from _Catch Me If You Can_

We are social animals tho, so we're treating prisoners worse than we do lab mouse


I really love that you're spreading philosophy it's a lost art form. Grade Schools should implicate philosophy. Children are only taught what to learn not how to learn and it saddens me.

"Guenther specializes in feminist philosophy" gee, great source.

Imagine if that Baby Shark song was put on full blast as a form of torture

I think your conclusion in part 1 kind of ignores the spatial aspect of solitary confinement. Someone can live alone on a mountain or some other remote place and not lose their mind whereas solitary also restricts a person's movement, ability to see anything new or interact with pretty much anything so it's not as straightforwardly social as you put it.

I also have no sympathy for Brevik… but even just bringing him up illuminates a point I always try to make to people who are gung ho about having a brutal prison system so long as it visits pain & destruction upon bad people: Until you had mentioned him, I had all but forgotten about Brevik. I imagine the same is probably true of most people who weren't immediately impacted by his crimes. These people leave the memory & consciousness of the public in matters of weeks or months, yet our prison systems continue to beat them up for years after the crimes they committed. There is an overwhelming disconnect there. How much has changed in the world since the terrorist attack & massacre in Oslo? How much have the victims changed? How much has Brevik changed? How much WOULD he have changed except that we isolate that one moment through his sentencing and insist it linger, locked in room with him for literally years, even after it has expired from relevance or interest. Our justice system as it currently exists, even in egalitarian places like the Netherlands, do not at all reflect the realities of how short lived humans are or how short term human memory & human personas are. Can anyone reading this at all put themselves in the frame of mind they'd have had, say, 15 years ago? If not, then why the Hell do our prison systems have terms that exceed even that number by orders of magnitude?

thank you

Great work Olly. We really need to get it out there how awful this is, how often this is used and that it is used against children and people who are in need of help, often just because it is easier for the custodians to deal with 'difficult' people.

I've noticed with myself that, when I experience something, it seems to become more real if I've experienced it with someone else, or if I've talked about it to someone else. When I tell another person about something that happened to me, or what I'm feeling, it's something that's out there instead of just in my head. Memories that I don't talk about feel more dreamlike, while memories that I've told as stories have more real details. Recently I had something very bad happen in my life and I've found it hard to talk about partly because I don't want it to be real, and there's this feeling that if I don't express it in words, it doesn't count. Anyway, I guess that's one way I think people need each other.

"The feeling your head is exploding (the feeling the top of your skull should really tear apart, burst wide open) – The feeling your spinal column is pressing into your brain – The feeling your brain is gradually shriveling up, like baked fruit – The feeling you’re completely and surreptitiously wired, under remote control – The feeling the associations you make are being hacked away – The feeling you are pissing the soul out of your body, as though you can’t hold water – The feeling the cell is moving. You wake up, open your eyes: the cell is moving; in the afternoon when the sun comes in, it suddenly stops. You can’t get rid of the feeling of moving. You can’t figure out if you’re trembling from fever or cold – you can’t figure out why you’re trembling – you’re freezing. Speaking at a normal volume requires efforts as if you were shouting, almost yelling – The feeling you’re growing mute – You can no longer identify what words mean, you can only guess – The sounds sibilants make – s, tz, z, sch, ch – are absolutely unbearable – Wardens, visitors, yard, all seem to be made of celluloid – Headaches – Flashes – Sentence, structure, grammar, syntax – are out of control. When you write, just two lines, you can hardly remember the beginning of the first line when you finish the second – The feeling of burning out inside – The feeling that if you said what is going on, if you let that out, it would be like splashing boiling water into another person’s face, boiling drinking water that would scald him for life, disfigure him – Raging agression, for which there is no outlet. That’s the worst. The clear awareness that you don’t have a hope of surviving; the utter failure to communicate that; visits leave no trace. Half an hour later you can only mechanically reconstruct whether the visit took place today or last week – But having a bath once a week means thawing for a moment, and can last a few hours – The feeling that time and space are encapsulated within each other – The feeling of being in a room of distorting mirrors – Staggering – Afterwards, terrifying euphoria that you’re hearing something – besides the acoustic difference between night and day – The feeling that time is flowing away, your brain is expanding again, your spinal column slipping back – down for weeks. The feeling you’ve been flayed." (Ulrike Meinhof, Notes from her struggle against 8 months of solitary confinement in Cologne Prison, 1972-73)

"We ask that they take responsibility for their actions, but deprive them of any possible actions for which they may take responsibility" – so very relevant for the direction childhood has been going the last 50-60 years as well.

What about hermit people?

Hey Ollie I was in solitary confinement in county lockup for like 4 hours. They do absolutely everything they can to make you as uncomfortable and miserable as possible. The bunks are just metal, there are no chairs, and I had the AC blowing on me, and they already kept the jail at what felt like 40F. I was in there for unpaid traffic fines.

Prison is really just taking the troublemakers away so they can't make any more trouble for some time _and_ it being inherently awful experience it scares away everyone from either breaking laws or at least getting caught. By the way, a person who comited a crime and feels guilty will not be free if he isn't caught. His mind will work strongly against him. The only way is to decieve himself that he had no other choice or some other way of shedding responsibility. Al Capone said he's actually a good guy and wouldn't hurt a fly. That's the only way he could go on.

And it's not the mic, it's the environment. Recording in a bathroom with tons of echo. Try low-pass filter in the edit.

> All men's miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone. Blaise Pascal

Love how you integrated some acting training into this one. Great stuff!

Genesis 2:18 And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. Even paradise is incomplete without companionship. I possess all the gaunt measurements of an outsider. Any tailor with a pulse would shiver to customize my suit. Even so, I maintain my scruples by looking upon the walled city from the outskirts. Even in resentment can the mind connect and make meaning. To deprive a man of a friend is bad manners, to deprive a man of an enemy is out and out cruelty.

Any video that ends in a question isn't useless.

I could barely hear you T_T

Why did you not mention psychiatry ? It happens there, too... and often not even to punish anyone, just out of "convenience" for the hostpital's employees or even because some docs have convinced themselves that it helps the mentally ill.

I think you are overemphasizing the effect that solitude in itself has on the human mind and gloss too much over the second part of the equation which is the confinement part. Its not the loneliness that drives one insane by itself but being locked up in a small cell with no schedule or any meaningful way to interact with your surroundings - for there is nothing to interact with and no goal to work towards achieving - be it another person or object. Solitude can impact the mind negatively i wont argue that but having nothing to occupy your mind with over days and days really makes it decay.

Also, playing loud music repeatedly on end reminds me of that Christmas Black Mirror Episode. I mean, he was literally in solitary confinement forever

Would recommend Vsauce's free Mind Field episode on it called 'Isolation'.

Shoulda hit that audio wit a fat compressor my guy


Cool video Mr Thorn. Thanks for making this insight, and some interesting speculations into a topic I wouldn't otherwise have had much awareness of. Also the presentations of testimonies from solitary survivors were very strong, the work that went into them is appreciated. If I may ask 2 things: 1, if experience is in some way defined and validated by others, should we stop ragging on the selfie generation for supposedly devaluing their experiences by recording and sharing them with a whole bunch of people? 2, you've mentioned before Mary Shelley's "The Last Man". How has making this video affected your reading of it?

Before I say ANYTHING else, I want to point out 2 things: (1) I use block capitals to emphasize what I am saying , not shout, and (2) I will NEVER, EVER show disrespect to ANY animal by blaming them for ANY wrong doing commited by a member of the human race!!! As for solitary confinement being used a punishment however, LONG MAY IT CONTINUE for the likes of those things like pedophiles etc!!!It SHOULD AND MUST BE THE CASE that things that low lose ALL human rights privelages the VERY SECOND they touch their 1st victim with ANY part of their TOTALLY DISGUSTING bodies!!!

I’m really liking the new parts and refinement added to these recent videos! Keep up the good work! As for solitary confinement, I found this to be a really cool treatment of the topic. My stance is that any harm that’s not proportionally helpful is wrong, and solitary confinement is extremely harmful and doesn’t really help humanity, so solitary confinement is wrong.

My understanding is that a situation like being stuck on a deserted island is not the same as being in solitary. Some people do choose to live alone away from everybody.

Love your stuff, but wish you would have played more devils advocate here. There are problems that can come with solitary confinement, it is also the way Buhdists reach enlightenment and develop mentally and spiritually. I don't want people to think being alone with yourself is something to be afraid of.

4:53 Folding Ideas!

Hey Olly! If you haven't already I'd suggest you look up works by Dan Sperber. His recent book,The Enigma of Reason, comes to mind as he puts forward an interactionist account of reasoning.

I've found a parrallel to use when talking about what solitary does, and it applies to many things, most notably for me, with machine learning. So here's the parallel: Imagine someone puts you on the roof of a very tall building, that has a thin long plank going across to another building. You are right before the first step on the plank, and you have to walk across. You start walking, and you use all sorts of different things to make it across like a) perception of the environment, like where the plank is, and where you want to go, b) your body's feedback on balancing, and c) techniques, skills and all forms of knowledge you use to keep your body balanced and efficient at going across. Having social interactions and living as part of "the network", is to have a baseline, reinforced by your environment. In this parallel, to be able to see where the plank is, how wide it is, and where your feet are, is what reinforces your baseline, and keeps it steady. Individual personality, skills, experiences, etc. are divergences *from* the baseline, which makes us individuals. While walking that plank, divergences *from* the baseline, is and is caused by, our balance skill, our fears, our muscles, our mental state, etc. The baseline doesn't change, but the minor divergences change our performance in doing that task. That performance is _consistent_ and it might even become better with experience, while still keeping our individuality. However, that only happens because the baseline doesn't change. Now, imagine you have to do the same thing, but blindfolded. You stand before the plank, and in your head, you know exactly where the first step is. You're also very confident about the second and third steps. However, since you have no feedback to keep your baseline, pretty soon, your baseline _will_ diverge. Your feet will get closer to the edge, you won't be able to visualize the horizon any more, and you won't be able to focus at where you want to go. Your feet will get at the edge, and even if you try to correct your heading, you will over-correct, and you'll do it again and again. You start to rely completely on the memory of the plank, right before you walked on it, and you start to rely on estimates of how far you are across. You even overestimate the importance of your balance, compared to the information you have now lost. And the more you move forward, the more that information becomes obsolete, and you have officially corrupted your baseline. And your minor divergences won't matter, because your baseline supercedes them, and it's the one that ultimately dictates the end goal, which is to walk across. If you don't have a baseline, you don't have consistency, and if you don't have consistency, you don't have function. You can't evaluate your environment to suit the goal, nor are you able to adapt to the new parameters of your new environment. Precisely because you're working on a different, and increasingly unpredictable baseline, because of the corrupt and even adversarial information. Because our brains aren't able to protect themselves from divergence of the baseline, they are subject to "bad training", and it shouldn't be a surprise that doing something as "un-human" as solitary, would be "bad training" that would irreversibly change a human brain.

you look like your in my sc chamber.

I thought at first the sound quality was intentional to fit the theme of the video.

First, I liked the American accent when you read the CIA manual. Very passable, if I might say (and I might, being an American). And yes, we are the world's biggest torture state. No doubt about it. Just look at the School of the Americas. And adding to traditionally recognized torture methods the imposition of solitary confinement, it's clear we outmatch any other state for that title. We torture casually and flippantly, as if it's nothing at all. Obama spoke of the torture of Chelsea Manning as if it were just something she deserved for being guilty of breaking the law. She hadn't even been convicted yet, by the way. That was during the 3 years before she was tried. Although of course, that shouldn't matter where torture is concerned, but I think it is amusing that a so-called constitutional scholar is okay with torture, let alone of someone who hasn't even been convicted. Finally, prison and how we treat prisoners can't be about how we feel about them. That's just punishment for its own sake and letting the government be our avenging angel. It has to about who we are as a people and who we want those inmates to become by the time they're out. In short, if you treat people like animals, what we get is animals... or just broken people.

You're so empathetic and friendly and your content warnings are so good and I just wish I really knew you so we could be friends and I could so I'm proud to be your friend because Im proud to be your supporter and viewer you clever handsome devil

Oh please can you read more verse and act more lines of verse?

Keep in mind that on a desert island, isolation still sucks, but we have a very different set of tasks. The mind becomes an organ of survival, not apathy or hallucination.

Wire meshes vibrating and walls bulging or contorting is a phenomena of sleep deprivation and/or schizophrenia. Stay up for 3 days straight and you will quickly realize just how psychologically-constructed and NOT image-like your view of the world is. Especially in the dark.

I do also have escapism fantasies like the one you mentioned. Living alone, in the wild. I attribute it to alienation, but now I wonder if there's a death wish in there too

15:03 well my answer is just flat out no, because theres no pragmatic reason for it. To the contrary, it does damage to the fabric of society itself, weakening it over time.

4:02 HEY to the windoooooowsssss, to the wall *to the wall*, till the sweat drop down these walls..

I actually love the audio, gives the sound a podcast-ish feel

What is the pledge cutoff for existing in the credits?

Jose Mujica former president of Uruguay was held in solitary confinement for 12 years, and was held hostage for their goverment, if the rebelious group take any action "Pepe" Mujica would be executed, so picture this: 1 you form a political disident movement against your goverment 2 your group is declared ilegal and begun to be persecuted 3 you transform your group to a rebellious guerilla 4 you got caught and held in isolation 5 you wait that your group does not take any action or you will be executed 6 after a couple of years you wish that your group take any action to end your suffering 7 your group does not take any action and 12 years pass... how this guy did not lose his mind????

Very interesting video, thanks! I learned a lot. It would be interesting to compare the new (?) loneliness-studies, as loneliness seems to become epidemic these days. Have you ever read some stuff by Michael Moorcock? He has a short story called 'Islands', in which he sets up the idea of "no man is an island" and ...turns it around? I have always felt that there is some deeper meaning behind the story, and if you read it, would be interested in your interpretation! (oh, and the name of the guy is 'Breivik' ;) )

+Philosophy Tube _"I have now got myself a new microphone,"_ What happened? Your videos used to sound fine before.

I encourage anyone disturbed by this to look into the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee - a major supporter of the 2016 and 2018 prison strikes in the US.

Loneliness is a mind killer. :(

The eastern mystics have understood this for a long time. I hope someday the truth of our interconnectedness becomes mainstream science.

That was a fantastic video. Excellently presented and well thought out. You just have a way with words in that respect. Very thought provoking. I found that end segment very emotional also

I think I'd be fine in isolation...


Okay, this is a heavy topic, but 13:48 got me good.

What a terrible fate to be intertwined with the mass of humanity. I hope it's not true.

I have been having similar thoughts lately. I just got back into a relationship after more than a decade of being single and so the question of whether it is better to go it alone to in companionship with other people has really weighed on my mind lately. Thanks for this video!

Solitary confinement is definitely torture both morally and legally. Prisons in the United States are an industry, privately owned, for profit, and filled beyond capacity. Don't just take my word for it. Look it up for yourself. The United States has no problem with using torture techniques at home as well as abroad. The United States is undoubtedly the torture capital of the world.

I feel like I was away from this channel for 5 mins and when I came back, BAM! Olly was hot.

Man is not an island but the ocean (Yes I know this is similar to the poem ,but I think that this is more fluid)

Probably somebody has said that already in some comment, but just in case no one did and you haven't read it already: regarding your closing bit on ending up a castaway, Michel Tournier's retelling of Robinson Crusoe's story might interest you.

I've never personally spent more than a month in solitary, and I'm temperamentally suited to it, but I can attest that it can really fuck you up

Only 14 of the victims of the massacre of July 22nd were adults, all the rest were teenagers or in their early 20s. I'm sure you know this, I just thought I'd mention it for any viewers who don't know about the Utøya massacre. It wasn't just 'several teenagers' among the victims, most of the victims were teenagers.

Dude you ever heard of hegel ? He has this all sayed years befor.

when he started talking about the cup, hahaha BRAAA R U HIGH

I was having a moment and I just had to take a time out and I don't know how but I seem to always end up here so thank you... these videos are so helpful abd relaxing and informative we don't deserve YOU

I've never been more attracted to another human being than when I witnessed you just now theatrically breaking into Hamlet in the middle of a video about Solitary Confinement. Please, give love a chance :P

These last few videos have seen such incredible content improvement, thank you so much for making this

I thought you said “the poet Jeff Dunham”

I've come to this video 3 times before and inevitably run away by the 3 minute mark because of the audio (I know you've been told about it already), but this time I swear I will finish it.

I appreciate your determination lol

I mean I don't get why its such a revelation that we are networking creatures. Bald eagles live alone, hunt alone. They are solitary creatures - usually uncaring and preoccupied with their selves. [Also think of cats being generally less friendly and selfless than dogs; in the end of the day, a cat's home is THEIR home - you have to negotiate more with a feline than a horse or a dog] Humans have always formed tribes, with leaders. Families, friends. We're a pack animal. This is what I don't get about libertarians - society and people are necessary for our survival, physically and mentally. You can't be a secluded person for too long, even a bedroom dweller like myself has to communicate and interact with the outside world. So caring about our pack is important.

About the poem at the end. I’m new to this channel and analysing literature, but is it about how it’s easier to keep them in confinement (out of sight, out of mind) rather than giving them rehabilitation or death? Every person that dies pains us, so we selfishly choose to withhold any conclusion and keep them in a sort of suspended existence. Because it’s “easier” on our minds?

the goal of the prison system is not rehab. prison is meant as a punishment. a negative consequence to actions society deems illegal. i dont personally view solitary as torture. i did 5 days, 23 hours a day (usually the full 24 because i would sleep instead) in a cell 10' x 5' x 8'. i cherish my solitude. in regular life, i spend days on end without face to face interactions with other people. not everyone responds to stressors the same, what's torture to some is paradise to others.

It's also worthy of note that (in the US, at least) the prison system is completely gendered and binary. For trans people (most especially trans women still legally marked as male) who are sentenced to jail time, we just don't have the facilities we need. The choice can be either imprisonment with other inmates based on biological sex, where a transwoman looks like a victim and can only get so much protection from the predators in with her, or being sent into solitary confinement, which saves the body at the cost of the mind. I don't know what the best way to handle this circumstance is, but i'm pretty sure the current system isn't it.

I know three people who have been in solitary confinement (two of them for less than 3 days, the other was there almost a whole week) and still, they already say it's horrible. Less than 3 days and not even a week...

huh never knew that "no man is an island" and "it tolls for thee" were form the same poem

Great videos, it's true that solitary confinement is used by the penal system as a pragmatic solution for inmate that are violent toward others or themselves , suicidal or committed some sort of violation of the prison laws. It should not be used. I think it's a shame that you didn't mention psychiatric wards because they use solitary confinement for pretty much the same reason. This year i heard about an autistic teenager that have been hospitalized in a psychiatric ward and was in solitary confinement for more than 6 months it made the news in my country. I think this problem is even worse in psychiatric ward because those people are in the hands of trained medical personnel that are supposed to help people with mental disorders and they're supposed be people with very high ethics. it's been proven, by a lot of research papers, that solitary confinement for more than a few hours can cause the opposite desired effect especially when it comes to suicide. It's just a pragmatic solution, when they are in the cell they cannot harm themselves cause there is nothing in the cell but the thoughts don't disappear and even aggravates and they are more likely to hurt themselves when they come out, so doctors put them back in the cell. It's like they don't even try to help. From my own experience in psychiatric wards, I'm diagnosed with bipolar Ironically, I got out of the psychiatry ward with more trauma that i got in with. There's not a day I don't think about this experience and I dream a lot about being back there with nothing to do expect being with my thoughts. I would appreciate if you'll do a video on psychiatric wards.

I know a kid who was put in solitary for assault and bringing a weapon to school when we were in seventh grade, i think he was twelve at the time. We will both be turning 16 this december and he's not out. We do this to fucking kids "for their own safety".

i genuinely think there needs to be strict lines between what we consider rehabilitatable and what we consider worthy of damnation. i don't think someone like brevik can or should be rehabilitated, but i do believe that he is in the vast minority of the planet's incarcerated population.

this audio fucks my soul in the ass

In the case of Brevik, I'd have no problem if his arms and legs were cut off, his eyes poked out, his eardrums ruptured, strapped to a table and a tube supplying nutrients to what's left until it finally dies in its insanity someday. Most of the time, you should rehab. Other times, you need to punish. Some would say "Well, what does that say about you that you'd treat someone like that?" to which I would say "What does that say about you that you refuse to punish someone like him?"

Additionaly, what does it say about our treatment of old people, some who have no or barely any contact with people for days and weeks on end. At an age where they cannot contribute to society anymore ( at least in the economic way) does our society condemn them to torture? Does society have a responsability to change that, does the State?

For me the audio was fine

Anyone else notice Olly's reedy American accent while reading the CIA manual? Nice touch there.

I thought solitary only lasts for a day or so, why did no one tell me that solitary lasts that long?

seems if the state is going to do this to people they might as well kill them.

which - to be clear - is to say that the state should do neither.

I was one of those kids. Although, they never kept me in solitary confinement for more than a day, it was usually for a few hours. I managed to break out one time because the door they used wasn't locked, probably for legal reasons, which meant the person had to hold the knob, sometimes they got tired and let go. This was my school life from grade 2-6.

You still experience the whole cup, because you create a mental model of the parts you can't see. Just like how you don't notice your nose, but it's always in front of your face.

A system of cells interlinked Within cells interlinked within cells interlinked within one stem

please move into my mind and become my overself..............disturbing vid....challenging as always

pretty much describes the reality capitalism.

Being around human beings is DRAINING. When I'm around people, my self-esteem plummets, my IQ goes down, I become suicidal. It IS true: Hell, as a wise man once said, is other people.

These experinces remind me of people getting out of the nasty hoards they put themselves in inside their homes with trash, broken belongs, etc. A whole different solitary confinement with garbage and they come out removed from reality and have a hard time going back to society and have to put themselves into a mental hospital sometimes to repair their broken minds.

Regarding Anders Breivik, who is one of the worst humans on the planet. I feel exactly the same about Marc Dutroux, the belgian pedophile ... we still have to recognise they're human though. If we put them into solitary confinement and deny them their humanity, we might as well go sit in the next cell. We'd be no better.

Much Love

Adding to your points at 14:30, Solitary is often used as "protection". Not just for people in specific incidents, but people like, say, transgender prisoners who aren't allowed to use a prison more in line with their presented sex. Solitary is a place where a lot of women NEED to go in order not to get raped on a daily basis. If you're in a big supermax place and there just isn't the room for someone of your ethnicity (because, you know, wardens are at least smart enough to not throw the black guy into the neo-nazi bloc), solitary for you until a bed frees up! I haven't heard of this issue as much in places other than the United States, myself, but of course no one else has weaponized incarceration quite like we have, and failed to upkeep the system til it busts at the seams.

It is called introversion. Our kind have to approach life & problems differently than the examples set for us when we are young. The extroverted way of life taught to us is damaging. It is important to recognize that & figure out a better way to handle our daily life that suits our needs, no matter if it seems "selfish". We have to be selfish, otherwise we will loose our minds in the same way people in solitary confinement do.

I wonder is it is just the isolation- we know loneliness effects people but it doesn't drive them crazy like solitary. I think it's about a lack of new experience and stimulus. In a prison (or other materially and physically unchanging environment) that can come from people but locking someone in a small room with no humans to learn about or from or even develop relationships with while simultaneously being in that unchanging and miniscule (compared to what the human mind is capable of mapping) location is I think the real cause of torture- as your metaphor of looking at the cup implies, we need not only new things, but new ways to explore, new angles and they exhaust pretty quickly with inanimate objects so we either need heaps of objects/a massive location to explore, or humans (aka, something way more dynamic than a cup). Ideally both, of course. I don't see how It would hurt to give prisoners in solitary access to education and even digital human interaction related to that education. How could someone oppose that?

As someone who struggles with intrusive thoughts, this is my worst nightmare. I can't be alone with my thoughts for more than 45 minutes or I'll end up in a panic attack or something lol.

My god, I can't express how much this video was... needed for me, i guess or maybe just very relatable, but i say it's needed because I honestly have been losing my sense of logic, if that makes any sense. You see, I THINK this is what's happening to me, but I can only say I THINK so because I've lost my ability to say anything for sure I am homeschooled. Clearly, I'm capable of using the internet and playing undertale and downloading a picture of a fish lady from that game and making it my icon on youtube- i'm not in punishing confinement. I have some family members, a brother and two parents, living in the same house. I am not literally alone. But I am still... cycling through mind numbing uneventful days with no given purpose or goal in a small, very dark house. ( The house is always dark, the house is just not designed well and there are no windows downstairs that actually catch the sun, they're obstructed. It's like living in a cave ) I am experiencing these symptoms that i cannot otherwise describe before i saw this. I wasn't always homeschooled, only since 6 years ago (i've been out of school for a while, I dropped out of the online schooling because it was grueling- and impossible for someone with ADHD as well.) and I used to have a very defined personality and a healthy mindset and- well, I actually can't quite remember things clearly but I know for sure I wasn't THIS. This crippled, selective memory, can't tell dreams from reality, disassociating, non-entity with itching blood and constant buzzing of stress and panic and an aching, mind numbing desire to Make IT Stop, to the point where I've begun to lose track of what IT even is. I've self harmed, but not in typical ways. I bang my head on the walls at times, I've bitten myself hard enough to bleed. I almost deliberately attempt to disassociate just to live mentally outside of this hell hole of a perfectly clean, well decorated, suburban house. This insanity, all I can call it, seems to be coming from absolute thin air. Although I can't physically think of a method of explaining to my parents what's wrong, I've managed to convince them to take me to a doctor multiple times to their irritation, and the doctor recently says it might be a vitamin D deficiency, which is caused by my lack of sunlight, but that's just another contributing factor to dark, indoor isolation driving you insane. I do go out, always in groups with my parents and brother, but I can only describe it as being led on a leash, and always to the same places. Thrift stores, markets, clothing stores, dollar stores, back home. Only rarely do we do something specific, like visit a carnival or see a movie. When expected to do something on my own, I freeze up. I've become dependent on being lead around, on not having a say in where or when I go somewhere. On the internet, I seem fine. I'm an artist, I like cartoons and indie stuff. It's very easy to seem fine, other than the occasional irrational and disturbing outburst at 6 am (the nights are the hardest), but I can usually cover it up somehow. The problem is I can't easily help myself end this situation. The isolation and the odd relationship with the family that I do have with me has made it near impossible to think clearly or act directly enough to fix this problem quickly. I'm mostly slowly waiting to crawl out with the means I do have. I just know it, if only bitterly, helps to hear someone else describe exactly what i've been incapable of explaining for so long.

ily but this sound quality is oof

*changes accent spontaneously*

I was sent to a psych ward against my will and honestly it was hell and didn't help at all!

Look up Fresh Out with Big Herc. He was in prison for ten years in California and now interviews people about their experiences in prison and has many interviews on solitary confinement.

Okay, I'm at the about 9 minute point where you are talking about Phenomenology and consciousness.... And it struck a thought to me. so, I'm always curious about the concept of AI and things like 'robots' experiencing and reacting to the world in a way that we could call 'human' and be shown to have an actual 'consciousness' or 'soul'. And these words about the world neither being separate 'out there' or totally 'in here', but that consciousness is a constant sort of interaction with things in context; it kinda makes me wonder if a sufficiently advanced AI doesn't even need a program to 'have a soul', but that through the interaction of it's sensors, curiosity, and interaction, such a aspect would arise naturally. Mind you, this is a thought I had based on what I've heard at the third mark of the vid and I don't know enough about tech or the human mind to know for sure if my thoughts are even close to reality... Though it does give me ideas for new approaches to story telling (i'm a bit of a writer and story teller, and I find that the more you know about the real world, the more your stories can be made fresh and different. no matter if you hold to reality or not. Because sometimes it's not breaking the rules that matters, but how you do so to tell a story)

This was a really scary watch, especially because I recognize these experiences all too well from my times of depression-imposed isolation... No one should go through something like this.

this has defenitly changed my way of seeing prisons... And also, this video reminds me of the experience of people with mental illnessis. Did you knew that in France, as an anorexic, hospitals lock you alone in a room without any contact of the world to oblige you to eat or not commit suicide ? And that you can stay there alone so long you have't gain the weight the doctors says you have to gain ? I've experienced it, and really, you begin to loose the sense of yourself and of your existence.

the one thing this vid was lean on was the topic of mass incarceration of poc and people who are neurodivergent, any discussion of the American penal system has this due. otherwise amazing. your writing, quoting, interpretation, and performance are top-notch and were giving me an uncomfortable tightness when describing the torture.

The ideal self ... And being alone ;)

I had only ever heard portions of that poem before. It was much more powerful in its entirety.

depressing to watch the last bit about you wanting to live on an island after watching your suicide video. I've struggled with similar things to what you discussed in that video, good luck, it's a shit fight

But it's not just about lacking contact with other people; we rely on our senses, we are curious and require stimulation. Solitary confinement robs you of everything, you are just by yourself with reduced freedom and on top of that, not voluntarily. Also, not only without other humans but also the rest of nature (plants, other animals etc).

Completely harrowed by this video. Wasn’t prepared for this. Many wishes to your future endeavours. Keep up the good work.

So when you say that human minds are a "Network" you say that you don't mean that we're a hivemind, but what DO you actually mean? To me the evident fact that humans need social interaction to stay mentally sound in no way implies that human minds are somehow metaphysically (Or supernaturally?) connected. What you're actually implying is incredibly unclear and to me it sounds like new-age spiritualist twaddle of the kind espoused by people who also believe in stuff like Astral Projection.

Not even Nazis. It's the principle of the thing rather than any personal empathy on my part. It's why I'm against the death penalty, even though I really don't care if a mob kills a convicted paedophile. I also don't believe that through inaction we should allow them to die, such as sending them to prison knowing other inmates will murder them - that's even worse, that's making other people disposable tools of your revenge that you won't even legally legitimise. Locking people up should be when rehabilitation isn't possible, and the goal has to shift to keeping people safe from such an individual.

Pretty hard getting through this video. The echoing from those bare walls really ruin the sound quality

a friend of mine was put in jail because the cops who her roommate called on her during her suicide attempt misinterpreted her attempt to harm herself as aggravated assault. she was placed in solitary confinement because she was suicidal and deemed a risk to herself and also because she was a transfeminine person in a men's prison. she learned later that she had been screaming "it's gray! it's gray!" over and over again, but has no memory of this. let me repeat that she committed no crime. she was not sentenced to prison. she was simply held in jail for months while the authorities figured out what to do with her in their slow, plodding, stupid way. and even she was subjected to torture.

I had depression fuelled by social isolation. I felt intense pains every time I thought about people. I couldn't listen to music unless I had pre-selected sad music. I couldn't cope with the idea of happiness. It was torture. I have been psychotic a few times as a result. And when I listen to stories from solitary confinement, I am shocked at how similar it seems to my torture... And I expect it's probably worse. I'm a Danish Social Democrat. The kids in Norway were my brothers and sisters, ethnically and politically. I would not say Breivik should be in solitary. He should be able to talk to people - sure, not his neo-Nazi friends. But someone. That's the only way he can be a person. Whether he is one already or not. For a while, I was not a person, and it's a fate far worse than death.

I could be wrong about this, but I believe a fair number of states limits the length of time a prisoner can be in solitary at once to about a week. Of course, they can be tossed in and out of solitary indefinitely anyway. So.

I have experiences with seclusion, in my case, the (sometimes forcible) removal of disabled children from classrooms and sending them to a solitary place, in my case, locking us inside a padded closet about the size of a small American (nondisabled) bathroom cubicle for anywhere from a half to the full school day. I was only in there for an hour at most (it's hard to tell-- no clock), but I knew people who were there for full days. What I remember most was the feeling/belief that from the second I stepped into that room, I became no one. Being sent to a padded room was the epitome of being a crazy person. No one believes crazy people, even if they're telling the truth. I was less than a dog, because people care if you hurt dogs. No one would ever believe me again if anyone said I was being hurt, much less stop it. The first time they sent me to the padded room, I believed, I became inhuman in the eyes of every adult in the world, anyone who had access to my records, and anyone who saw the people who had my records react to me as inhuman and agreed or trusted them. My life was over. I wasn't human anymore. I'd been ejected from humanity. When I tell people about it, I anticipate them telling me I deserved it, or asking what I did (which translates to me as "Are you sure you didn't provoke this, though?"), and I structure my recounting around this ("I was thirteen and said-- not yelled, said-- that I didn't want to reorganize my binder. I did not /refuse/ to reorganize my binder, I just said I didn't want to, because I'd done the same thing last week, and I can't learn a new system of organization every week and follow them well. I made no violent statements or movements in my memory. I was frustrated, but not angry. The girl who got locked in for six periods? She was having panic attacks, sobbing pitifully, and saying she was sick. They decided to let her out after she vomited. She was twelve"). But our arguments should not be "We can prove that this person was not deserving of this treatment, and therefore, because it was unwarranted, it is abuse." It should be "This is abuse because it clearly causes severe harm to human beings, and we do not condone abuse in any circumstance. We can punish someone without resorting to abuse." Let me expand on why that is. I'm not saying that being tortured means you have an excuse to harm others. I'm not denying that it is very human to want those who have done horrible things to suffer. But when we decide that we are allowed to abuse humans if they've done something awful enough, we put the onus on the abused person to prove that they are good enough not be abused. You think it would be simple to prove. What does it tell you, though, that I didn't just write "I was thirteen, dumbass"? Surely that would been enough, right? You don't abuse children. Period. But I had to lay out an explanation of how I was nonviolent, and even on some levels, compliant (because I did comply! I did! I was organizing the stupid binder!), because one of the things abuse does is teach you that you are not good enough to expect not to be abused. And when we say, "but some people deserve it," we are reinforcing that lesson. And no, we can't just toughen up and assume you don't mean us, because that's not how brain damage works, and clearly, some of you do mean us. Someone thought we deserved that, or it wouldn't have happened, and people agreed, or when I reported this several times, told the principal, parents, psychologists, these experts would have stopped it. To an extent, thirteen year old Madi was right. People believed she deserved to just be locked up for periods of time, and people still believe that maybe it was justified. And I know it's hard to accept that these policies are so awful, because it means that we might be bad people for allowing them, but I also firmly believe that it's easier to condemn these policies and feel guilt than it is to experience seclusion and solitary confinement. Who knows, though? I could be crazy.

If you haven't yet, I'd really recommend reading "Are Prisons Obsolete?" by Angela Davis, or otherwise looking into the prison abolition movement. I'm doing my thesis on things related to trans sex workers in the prison system, and some of the stuff that happens even in genpop (general population, ie the "normal" prison housing) is absolutely harrowing. While genpop may harm/traumatize/kill you due to direct actions of other inmates or guards, solitary is a whole new beast because, like you said, it traumatizes you with a type of damage that seems more indirect, or that you're causing it to yourself. Thank you for making this video.

I’m watching this after Mike did the reading on 50 shades of grey for Dan’s series and it threw me when he started reading

Ive never had a response to something this strongly before. I feel physically ill, I knew the effects of solitary before but not some of the stats on how common it is. Its so revolting that something this horrifying and inhumane is being done right under everyone noses all for profit.

The US is already one of the largest torturers in the world as far as i know....

i went to a boarding school that used versions of solitary to control our behavior. i will never be the same.

Fascinating stuff, and, somewhat unsurprisingly, it speaks on certain kinds of mystical thought. One way I've heard it said is that you are a drop of dew suspended in a spiderweb, that drop is made up and defined by the reflection of the world around it upon it's surface. Withing this web there are hundreds like the first drop, and within each of their reflections is a reflection of the first drop which itself reflects all the other drops. It is only through looking at it's reflection in the other drops that the first may know who and what it is, and who and what the other drops are to it. So the cycle goes, look out to look in, look in to look out, and slowly you will know all there is to know about everything, and therefor yourself.

Does this video take into account the horrible crimes these people have committed, the horrific murders, the rapes the combinations of rape and murder, the terrible crimes against children and the elderly? When one realizes that, more solitary makes sense, not less.

14:04 in vid now. While I 100% agree that solitary confinement is torture, a lot of this feels very hippy-dippy “we’re all secretly the collective consciousness of the earth-mother” -esque. I will not argue against the idea that the human mind needs human contact to remain functional, but a lot of this vid feels like it’s pushing the idea that the reason the human mind needs contact is because of some mystical, psychic force.

Having never experienced solitary confinement, it had never occurred to me that it might be damaging, nor even that it was ever inflicted for so long.  Damn.

Did you pay attention to the part where he brought up his own feelings ?

I fully agree that Breivik can go fuck himself, but i think that having a law that allows for his solitary confinement, also means that others can be condemned to the same torture. So while something in me wants to see him suffer the worst possible punishment he can get, I don't think he should, because allowing for him to be tortured allows for other people to also get tortured, because you can't make a law that says that this time only we will torture a person. There is also another problem with him that does complicate this a bit, and that is that I think that if he was just let to hang out with other prisoners, he would be murdered because of what he did to the people he murdered, and for what he did to Norway in general, meaning that it would be a death sentence. I still believe that he should be allowed human interaction and community, the question is just how you do it.

Solitary confinement we Americans use it on pretty much everybody from prison,mental hospital,school of some kind, even for secret cia government usa unethical human experiments.

This is now what is being done to thousands of people around the globe with chronic pain who are being denied medications because of overzealous regulation. Since people with many years of intractable pain have been stripped of their means to manage the pain, their lives become unmanageable and their social networks break down. When that happens, predatory people come out and when that becomes unbearable and the person is completely traumatised a sort of "social anorexia" kicks in and the person no longer seeks social interaction because it's not worth it. If their only interaction is negative judgement from skeptical doctors (or doctors who are too intimidated by new laws to help the person, same effect really), cruel judgemental people, people who mock and diminish the experience of those reaching out, or even the "Angry Jack" effect when they have really tried everything, motovation breaks down. The hospitals won't help because the new regulations make them unequipped to deal with what only a few years ago was a simple solution. The bodies of people with persistant pain are the torturer and the war on drugs and sociaetal judgement and conflating dependancy on pain medications as addiction is the enforcer. (10 years ago they would equate dependency on pain meds as the same as needing insulin if you were diabetic. i could cope then. i got my Master's shortly before everything broke down.) Reality isn't the same as it was. I've tried hundreds of numbers of orginisations that are supposed to "help" but I am firmly shoved between the cracks in the system. Nobody calls. If I clean the apartment it will become messy again somehow I think I mess it up again in my sleep. Regular people seem extremely dangerous. I haven't had meaningful interaction with anyone in over 2 years nearly 3. I think I might dissociate I'm not sure but I see things I don't remember. I probably won't remember typing this in a few hours. I'm going to copy it to Open Office but I might not find it later, some things I find some things I don't know where they are. Green circles are red triangles.

I used to fantasize similar things, Olly. Then I lived with two roommates who both went home over the winter school break. I was all alone in the house for two weeks and only interacted with anyone a couple of times throughout that time. I almost killed myself. And it was so weird because I didn't feel stressed and that's usually what triggers my downward spirals. In fact, I was feeling a bit better about my life at the time. But still...

There is a VR game called 6x9 that details and simulates some experiences of solitary confinement. I definitely recommend it, it gave me a lot of insight. It's on a few platforms including Google cardboard, check it out

One thing I'd love to hear parallel to this issue is the similarity of social alienation and solitary confinement. I work with a few local homeless people through a food not bombs chapter and the way they describe their experience is pretty similar to this. One of them said something along the lines of this, I don't remember the exact quote though but I'll try: "Imagine being in the world, looking around and seeing people but all of them look away. They see you, but they don't want you to know. It's like being alone in a room full of people all the time. It's like you lose the ability to have meaningful human interaction while getting more and more desperate for it. People hear you, but they pretend they don't and just walk away." Another thing to consider is that, and I know I'll be accused of stereotyping but I work very closely with these people and they will tell you this, there is a huge interplay of serious mental illness and drug use among homeless communities. That definitely exasperates the problem. I am schizophrenic myself and a former heroin addict so I can sympathize a little bit but this is something different.

Thank-you for the video. I wonder about children who have been neglected. Maybe not solitary confinement but a disconnect from others.

Torture is wrong. It's also a damned unreliable way of getting information from people - befriending them works better - but above all it's not about what this or that horrible being (Anders Breivik) has done. It's about *who we are!* When the Revolutionary Guards took the US Tehran embassy personnel hostage in 1978 (or 79?), they didn't treat the Americans very well. When the hostage takers finally surrendered, one of the guards gave one among American service personnel his AK47 and said, "I guess it's tables turned, you can now beat me (I'm paraphrasing)." The American answered, "we don't do torture". He believed with all his being that torture was wrong. He shared his story when Abu Ghraib or one of the many scandals broke. Who are we? Are we torturers of our equals (and remember, "...all men are created equal...", whether you believe in God or not, I suppose most Americans should believe those words, so are we willing to torture our equals? *Not me!*

my new favorite channel. would you make videos on technology, like how tech relates to modern civilization and how tech is used to basically decide how societies will change and function?

This sounds like heaven

Come on, man, he's not being literal. If you want some overly materialist deconstructionism, then sure, let's discuss the exact neural pathways that instantiate our desire to be social. But that's not the point. We're not a hivemind. We're not islands. We're something in between. What would you call us?

Humans ascribe soulhood to things like them. If an AI behaves like a human, then we'll think it has a soul. If its behavior is alien, we'd consider it "just a machine" and not worthy of empathy. But there's no practical difference. Intelligence is just a measure of problem solving. An inhuman AI may or may not have a soul, but either way, there's no guarantee it will agree with us and work in our collective best interest. That's what makes AI so dangerous. An AI will devote no more care to your philosophy than a volcano.

Kind of strange that Hegel and Wittgenstein, the most powerful critics of the monadic-individual theory of mind, which "Capitalism" "assumes," came on the scene during the reign of Capitalism.

This is not philosophy but psychology.

I think I fell in love with your channel, I just find your voice so soothing.

Yeah, I've done it in a cell.

I want to be a cell as much as I want to be a cog. If solitary confinement destroys Me, I want to be destroyed.

trust me it sucks, the only feeling i got from not being alone is the pepper spray and being held down for a shot to calm down, other forms of interaction include being assaulted by staff for reasons i couldn't figure out and still can't

Olly, your dark fantasy about leaving your old life behind with everyone thinking you're dead is basically the plot of a classic film called The Passenger. If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend. I have variations of that fantasy too.

Solitary Confinement is not right. It harms the prisoner mentally.

Voluntary solitary confinement can be a cure for brain damage caused by culture. The social progressives can't blame you for anything if you've exited the narratives.

Solitary confinement is ultimate gaslighting

Punishment for attempted suicide is one of the craziest things humans ever came up with. Especially when the reason for those suicidal tendencies lies in the kind of treatment that somebody will be punished with.

If you ask someone to touch something that give them an electric shock they will decline if you ask them to do it again however if you leave them in the room alone eventually they will touch it again cause something will happen. People aren't made to be alone if they are they eventually will seek interaction even if it is a negative one.

This is something I've thought a lot about. Punishment does not rehabilitate, but I'm honestly surprised at how okay I am with that. Take Breivik, or one of those ISIS fucks who chopped of a man's head on TV. Imagine if that was your parent, and you saw that footage. Imagine knowing that someone who you love, who protected you, raised you, and did everything they could to give you a happy childhood and life met their end at the hands of one of those monsters. Imagine just how scared they were, to be treated by hands that did not care a wit for all the love and happiness that that person brought to the world. Now imagine being nice to them. Caring for them. Showing them kindness and compassion that they did not show that to person who meant so much to you. I don't know about anyone else, but that thought makes me sick to my stomach, and almost makes me feel like I'm insulting that person who was taken from me by giving a shit about this person. I'll extend an olive branch though: If these people should be shown such compassion, it is not because they deserve it. It is only because to give these people what they deserve may actually cause more harm to US. I think it's worth noting of that all the comic heroes, Punisher - while he may be the one most of us would like to exist - is without a doubt, of all the marvel protagonists that I can think of, the most sad.

I don’t think solitary is just about isolation from other people. I think it’s about isolation from the whole world. And the fact that it’s involuntary. People who go hiking alone in the wilderness or survive plane crashes can last months or even years without seeing another person but often emerge still sane. I think it’s because they have something real to do. They’re still interacting with the world. And they have purpose. I think these things are just as important as socialization in the effects of solitary confinement.

There's various reasons for people to go to solitary. Mass murderers or terrorists are the most extreme examples. Let's not deal with that, honestly, because the vast majority of people being punished are not psychopaths or monsters without emotion. Also, punishment doesn't really do anything for you. What do you gain out of it? Yes, there is that satisfaction that the person is "paying" for their crimes, that you're doing "justice" - but logically, nothing is gained at all. I know the gut reaction is to to want punishment, to want retribution, but it doesn't make any sense outside of that mindset. Nothing is gained, even against awful and horrendous people like Brevik or ISIS garbage humans.

This is... so interesting. Like I've never been in prison/solitary, but I know exactly the type of experiences they talk about due to brief psychotic disorder and dissociation that my mind uses as a coping mechanism... The whole thing they're describing are derealisation (the walls begin to bulge), depersonalisation (feeling like you're being pushed), and psychosis (not knowing whether you're being harmed or you're harming yourself [psychosis is often also thought of a disorder of time and/or causality]), so... Yeah, if generally neurotypical prisoners are put into solitary for some period of time, you can rest assured that they come out decidedly not neurotypical. Makes me wonder how much of my best friend's long list of mental illness (including depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, and dissociation) can actually be attributed to her time in prison and solitary...

18:00 I have very similar fantasies constantly and this has made me question that

The biggest damage probably comes from the lack of impressions, rather than solitude. Although social contact is likely essential in the long run, the idea that a period of complete loneliness would drive an adult insane seems implausible and counter-intuitive to our evolution. However completely lacking information to process, activate your senses, dream of and feed the brain - is a *very* unnatural situation and not something we'd experience ever in nature. I'd imagine you quickly lose grasp of reality, similar to how your consciousness "disappears" when you're about to fall asleep and your senses gradually disconnect. In a prison I think other factors come into play too. First of all many criminals have troubled pasts to begin with, and secondly they have insight into their predicament. Knowing you're going to be locked in somewhere for years or even decades is enough to put a huge toll on someone's psyche to begin with - before throwing them into a completely dark cell.

Disband US prisons altogether. They're absolute garbage and exploitive.

different counting procedures? Like...each prisoner in SC counts as 3/5 of a prisoner?

In Italy, people from organized crime, whether it's mafia, 'ndrangheta, camorra, are now sent to solitary confinment, technically to stop them from contacting other mafia men and recruiting more people into mafia, by law. However, the Italian government was condemned to have kept using legally obliged solitary confinment on a very, very powerful mafia man who could recruit people even indirectly, just by existing and inspiring people to join such a twisted community... who was also slowly dying of cancer, in horrible pain and unable to see his family for a last time until the very last breath. Even when everyone feels like such a mesure is necessary or even morally right, like against people who have literally destroyed families and entire regions of our country, is there a line that shouldn't be crossed? In that case, where did the powerful mafia boss that should be kept away from everyone end and where did the old man at death's door deserving dignity and the comfort of his loved ones begin?

I've been in the grip of the death wish for most of my life. I know, intellectually, that I am a social being, but no social exchange I ever have with anyone redounds to my advantage or theirs. Some of us are islands, or, to put it another way, not fully human beings.

what's the name of the song right at the end?

Wow! This video introduced me to some ideas that really helped me better understand some of my issues, thanks for the videos olly!!

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