What is Solitary Confinement Like? | Philosophy Tube | Summary and Q&A

August 17, 2018
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What is Solitary Confinement Like? | Philosophy Tube


Solitary confinement is a form of torture that harms prisoners mentally and physically, challenging the idea of the individual self.

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Key Insights

  • 🙈 Solitary confinement is a widespread practice in many prisons, but its harmful effects on prisoners' mental health cannot be ignored.
  • 🤳 The concept of the individual self, isolated from others, is challenged by the devastating impact of solitary confinement.
  • 💁 Solitary confinement may be considered a form of torture, turning prisoners' own experiences against them.


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 h... Read More

Questions & Answers

Q: How does solitary confinement affect prisoners' mental health?

Solitary confinement can lead to hallucinations, disorientation, distress, and even loss of the ability to interpret one's own experiences due to prolonged isolation and lack of meaningful human interaction.

Q: Why is solitary confinement considered a form of torture?

Solitary confinement turns the prisoners' own minds against them, causing psychological harm and distress. It deprives them of any actions, relationships, or tasks that could establish a meaningful connection with others, leading to a collapse of their sense of personhood.

Q: How does solitary confinement challenge the concept of the individual self?

Solitary confinement demonstrates that human minds are not as separate as previously thought. The interconnectedness of our experiences and the need for social interaction highlight that we are a network rather than entirely discrete individuals.

Q: Does solitary confinement contribute to rehabilitation efforts?

Solitary confinement is incompatible with the goal of rehabilitation, as it destroys individuals rather than helping them reflect, take responsibility, and make social and ethical transformations. It hinders the possibility of positive change.

Summary & Key Takeaways

  • Solitary confinement is commonly used in prisons, but its effects on prisoners are detrimental, leading to hallucinations, disorientation, and mental distress.

  • Human minds are interconnected, and prolonged isolation in confinement erodes a person's ability to interpret their own experiences.

  • The practice of solitary confinement raises questions about the concept of rehabilitation and the purpose of punishment in prisons.

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