Politics, Foreign Policy, Current Events and Occasional Outbursts Lacking Couth

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Sensory Deprivation and Interrogations

Neurophilosophy has a fascinating five part youtube link to a documentary on sensory deprivation as a weapon. It also covers the devastating effects of isolation. When I read the "Lucifer Principle" a while back there was a chapter on social isolation and how it can be a catalyst for suicide. John Boyd was also a proponent of isolation as a means of destruction, and connecting as a form counteracting the deadly impact of isolation.

The video documents an experiment that takes a handful of fit, and smart, individuals in a sensory isolated environment. One interesting part was when a participant in the experiment scored highly on pre-psychological testing introversion scores, whilst all the others scored highly on extraversion. In the first few hours the introverted person copes by staying awake with meditation and enjoys the isolation, whilst all the extraverted persons fall asleep.

Another thought I had from watching the experiment was the efficacy of intelligence gained from interrogations. As the video shows, there are numerous psychological problems that could bring about bad intelligence e.g visual and auditory hallucinations, the creation of information out of nothing, and most important suggestability. The males in the experiment were more likely to succumb to suggestability than the females. They would question their own beliefs and take someone elses viewpoint.

The end of the video was also great. The participants in the experiment were flooded with sensory input when they left their isolation. They saw everything around them as beautiful. You have to wonder what will be the first things on the minds of the multitudes of terrorist detainees if we ever release them. Will they be released and plot revenge? Will they be mentally broken? Or will they fall in love with the world and its beauty?


Jay@Soob said...

I can't watch the vids on my home computer (well I could but then much system crashing and extreme rage ensues.) How long were the subjects deprived? To what degree were they deprived?

I also wonder about the effects of sleep deprivation and it's efficacy in interrogation as it too leads to a not exactly lucid mind set.

G said...

I think it was 72 hours. They were all locked in dark rooms, with no visual stimulation at all. Others had their arms covered to not allow touch, whilst others again had headphones on that blasted white noise into their ears.

Yeah, the whole interrogation process is problematic from the beginning. There is too many psychological variables that can place the whole interrogation out of whack.

Jay@Soob said...

I've given quite a bit of thought to the subject of torture and my conclusion, thus far, is that it's usefulness should be based on its effectiveness. Much of what I read points to much better and more effective techniques in extracting information.
However, I take issue with those that are willing to accept the ethics of waging war as a necessary evil (including the acceptance of "collateral damage") yet label torture as immoral.