Sensory Deprivation

Picture yourself in front of your home on a typical day. The sun is visible, and you can feel its warmth on your face. You can see the breeze passing through the tree leaves and feel the wind blowing. Perhaps you can hear birds, passing automobiles, or people speaking. Perhaps you can smell the steaks being cooked on your neighbor’s barbecue. You realize you forgot to add sugar after taking a sip of your lemonade. It’s so sour that it makes your eyes water.

This situation is but one illustration of the wealth of information our senses constantly provide us with. What would occur if this input was absent?

Let’s start by removing your ability to smell. You’re unaware that your neighbor is currently frying a steak. To prevent you from detecting that your lemonade is too sour, we will then take away your ability to taste. So far, it doesn’t look too horrible. Even while you might miss out on a steak meal since you didn’t know your neighbor was grilling and you should drop by, you also miss out on the surprise of your sour lemonade. We are now taking away your ability to feel. You are unable to feel the wind, the sun, or even how firmly you are gripping your glass. Oops! Because of your shaky grip, the glass breaks and falls to the ground. 

Sensory deprivation is a state in which a person receives little to no sensory input. Or, the intentional decrease or elimination of stimulation from one or more of the senses is known as sensory deprivation or perceptual isolation. Simple obstructions like blindfolds, hoods, and earmuffs can block sight and sound, while more sophisticated obstructions can also block the senses of smell, touch, taste, thermoception (the ability to feel heat), and which way is up. Psychological studies and alternative therapies have both exploited sensory deprivation (e.g. with an isolation tank). 

Short-term sensory deprivation sessions are regarded to be soothing and helpful for meditation, but prolonged or forced sensory deprivation can cause severe anxiety, hallucinations, strange ideas, transient senselessness, and depression.

Consider going without sensory information for a few days. You can initially lose track of time. At that point, you might even begin to dream. You perceive unusual sounds that aren’t there or think you can see something in the pitch-black when you can’t. You might even lose sight of who you are, which could make you furious or depressed.

Despite the fact that this complete sensory deprivation is an extreme case, less severe sensory deprivation can still have a significant impact on a person. Long-term loss of one or more senses can have a substantial impact on a person’s future life experiences, interpersonal connections, physical health, as well as mental health.

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