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February 1958

Sensory Deprivation: A Technique for Studying Psychiatric Aspects of Stress

AMA Arch NeurPsych. 1958;79(2):225-233. doi:10.1001/archneurpsyc.1958.02340020105020

Introduction  The study of the phenomenon of perceptual and sensory deprivation * is a new development in modern psychiatry. It has long been known that explorers or shipwrecked sailors exposed to a restricted or monotonously repetitive environment for extended periods of time may develop psychotic-like mental states.1 In recent years it has also been recognized that the technique of "brainwashing" often involves solitary confinement and deliberate impoverishment of the subject's sensory life.2Attempts to establish experimentally the necessary conditions of sensory deprivation in man were first reported from Hebb's laboratory in 1954.3 Abnormalities in the behavior of animals in isolation were noted by Reisen.4 In the original and in subsequent studies with human volunteers only a small number of subjects have been tested by any one investigator. There has been disagreement among the workers in the field regarding the significant features of the experimental conditions and the