Friday, February 22, 2013

Does Solitary Confinement Create Psychosis?

APA photo
It was both heartening and heartbreaking to read George Will’s column in Friday’s Daily News-Record, “We’re Creating Psychotics,” one that deserves the attention of every mental health professional, politician and taxpayer in the country.

Will describes how harmful confining inmates in isolation cells can be, and cites Charles Dickens, who as early as 1842 had this to say about America’s experiment with solitary confinement:

“I hold this slow and daily tampering with the mysteries of the brain, to be immeasurably worse than any torture of the body: and because its ghastly signs and tokens are not so palpable to the eye and sense of touch as scars upon the flesh; because its wounds are not upon the surface, and it extorts few cries that human ears can hear; therefore I the more denounce it, as a secret punishment which slumbering humanity is not roused up to stay.”

According to a March 10, 2010, article in the Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, “the adverse effects of solitary confinement are especially significant for persons with serious mental illness... All too frequently, mentally ill prisoners decompensate in isolation, requiring crisis care or psychiatric hospitalization.”

Here's some information on our local jail's use of isolation cells for the suicidally depressed and mentally ill:

Also check the following link, and another by the American Psychological Association.
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