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Self-isolation is slowly fading away due to the coronavirus. Something is already possible. But this brings not only economic, but also psychological relief. For people who have seen real self-isolation know: two months - and then thick problems begin …
There has not yet been found a person who would reliably and with feeling describe the real everyday and psychological problems arising from the constant coexistence of people in a confined space. There are as many economic Cassandras as you like, and they are only exercising in increasing the horror of how the world economy Troy will fall. But what happened and still happens behind closed doors of households, where loving spouses live in front of each other day after day, is not known for certain. Although the numbers say that in Lithuania alone, the number of murders has increased by 122 percent. This can already freeze consciousness. In some way.
Isolation and self-isolation issues
Here, however, it is necessary to make a reservation.
The problems of people living together in a confined space have been described more than once, and have been doing this for a long time. Classics - prison life. Solitary confinement is said to be the worst.
Some time after being placed there, the so-called sensory deprivation occurs - a violation of the usual process of thinking due to a deficit of external influence on the sensory organs and informational influence on the brain. Then consciousness itself begins to develop compensation: various illusions arise, especially vivid dreams appear. But since they still end up with a real picture of roughly plastered concrete walls and a window with a lattice under the ceiling, it all ends with a severe depression.
But it's worse to sit in one cell together. Two months and that's it. I mean, everything is negotiated, everything is discussed, all the habits and preferences of the inmate are mutually studied. But he's still here. With those same already boring addictions and already hated habits. And he also shits right there, in the corner!
In general, the staff of the correctional service, as well as scientists, are well aware of the syndromes arising from such living. And for the prisoners "krytka" is always an additional punishment. It is not for nothing that all colonies have a punishment cell or a PKT - cell-type premises, where violators of the regime and representatives of "otritsalov" are serving their penalty isolation.
But the prison is still here and there. Prison is a concept. And laws. And there is another social category of "isolates" - those who voluntarily, for the sake of science, for example, or in service, lock themselves up at polar stations, remote weather stations or on an orbiting space station.
Those who have experienced this will say: it is often more difficult there than on the "door". Not because it is worse, but because of psychology. For the problems of cohabitation in a limited space of two or more people are the same: sooner or later, everyone starts to bore each other. The atmosphere is monotonous, the work is monotonous, the life is limited and predictable - and the same. Before their underwear, studied people constantly dart before their eyes. Begins, according to the definition of scientists, mental asthenization - depletion of the psyche. And with it increased irritability, fatigue, narrowing of the field of mental and psychic vision, and so on.
But at the same time understanding - you yourself, voluntarily "closed" in these conditions. There are no "concepts", there are no strict restrictions on the part of the law and an ensign with a baton. A person in such a situation must keep himself within the framework. At the expense, of course, again the depletion of one's own psyche.
And if you also have a monotonous life or work, say, took readings from meters or meteorological devices every four hours - and again to the same station, where you can't even get enough sleep, then monotony develops. This is a psychological state where there is still a lack of personally important information, but at the same time you, like a machine, perform the same stereotypical actions in a stereotypical external environment. Attention, control over one's actions and self-control decrease, interest in work and life decreases …
Problems as a goal
The complex of the Institute of Biomedical Problems (IBMP) of the Russian Academy of Sciences is located in Moscow on Khoroshevskoe Highway. Outwardly not very outstanding - there are many of them. But since it arose as an institute for the study and solution of medical and biological problems of cosmonautics, the psychological direction is developing in it in the most natural way, and today it is at the top of the world scientific peak. It began with the need to analyze the psychological state of an astronaut applicant in general and then tackled the acute and, as it turned out, very costly problem of psychological compatibility of crews of spaceships and stations.
And then there were, you know, cases when former friends did not spill water so much went into hatred for each other that it was necessary to prematurely and expensively wind down important space expeditions.
And here, at this institute, exactly ten years ago, an experiment began to isolate the crew for 520 days in a closed module that imitated a spacecraft during a flight to Mars. The experiment was called "Mars-500", and the author of these lines had a chance to cover it a little then. Getting information, as they say, first-hand.
Six people - three from Russia, two Europeans and a Chinese - were locked in a module for 17 months, where they not only lived in strict isolation, but also communicated with the Mission Control Center as if they were really moving away from Earth. Even with the increase in the time between the question and the answer on the radio - as it should be with the limited speed of light and the growing distance between the MCC and the ship. We will not say that the completion of all the necessary tasks of such a flight was complete. More than a hundred different experiments, including "landing" on the surface of "Mars", collecting rock samples and "flying" back to Earth. There was perhaps zero gravity. Let's talk about the psychological side of what these six, without exaggeration, heroes experienced.
What happened? In general, everything that psychologists predicted on the basis of the data of their science. Including a decrease in the physical activity of the crew at the end of the "flight" and even a decrease in the metabolic rate. But at the same time, which is characteristic, psychologists at the same time shone like a polished penny. If the stones on the surface of "Mars" the guys collected quite earthly, and from a medical point of view, nothing special happened, then psychologists could report with legitimate pride. On their line, all their recommendations worked, not a single noticeable breakdown occurred in the crew and, in general, he overcame "legitimate" psychological problems with dignity and honor. Moreover, as one of the project leaders, Doctor of Medical Sciences, Alexander Suvorov, announced at the time, this experiment provided "new knowledge about the unique capabilities of man."
Unique human capabilities
It really hit the mark.
The fact is that IBMP RAS had carried out similar experiments before. Back in 1967, three volunteers were locked in a mock-up of a spaceship's living compartment for a year. It was not yet complete isolation, as in "Mars-500", but nevertheless, the fully prepared participants in the experiment left their "starship" on November 5, 1968, almost complete enemies. "It happened that the periods of hostility to each other reached at times" blind hatred "and" physical disgust. "At such moments, close communication, the inability to physically isolate from others was a particularly difficult test, "one of them recalled later. Although initially the crew was well-trained and psychologically stable one hundred percent. But these people never experienced the need to meet again.
Then people "flew away" for different periods (and in different institutions), and in each experiment the features of "group dynamics in an isolated small group" were studied. They even ventured to assemble a completely female crew and "launch" it for 25 days to "study psychological compatibility" during the "visiting expedition".
Why - took the risk? Yes, because there are examples in the experiments of either expeditionary or space psychology when it was women who blew up the psychological situation. As, for example, one Canadian with the appearance of a skunk poisoned the life of her Russian colleagues with tantrums, and then accused them of "sexual harassment". Or the case in Antarctica, which was told by the writer Vladimir Sanin. There, the head and deputy of the expedition, "big and old friends" of the Americans, brought their wives, "also faithful friends," to the station. And what?
To begin with, the wives quarreled to smithereens, then turned their husbands into mortal enemies, and in the end, splitting the collective in half, set the resulting halves one against the other. The station quickly turned into a mess, and the troublemakers had to be urgently taken out on a special flight. And - a curious psychological moment waiting for an explanation from science - as soon as the plane with the faithful friends took off from the strip, their husbands almost strangled each other in their arms, and the warring halves immediately followed the example of their superiors.
In the course of Russian experiments with self-isolation of volunteers, scientists also checked the psychophysiological state of the crews when simulating emergency situations. And they not only checked, but also tried to control this very state, as it was during the experiment "ECOPSY-95" lasting 90 days.
Judging by the way the Mars-500 crew behaved, such control of the dynamics of psychological processes during a long space flight in a closed room was quite well mastered. Moreover, normal and emergency situations were posed to the crew so skillfully that it happened to be more worried about the Earth, and not about itself.
For example, Anatoly Grigoriev, the then vice-president of the Russian Academy of Sciences, scientific director of the IBMP, said that once the "Martians" were completely disconnected from the power supply. "That is, not only communication, but also the use of hygiene products - all this was ruled out," he said. But the crew didn’t know that this was another introduction. At that time, Chubais was still at fault in the power grids of Russia, so the "cosmonauts" decided that the blackout had occurred throughout Moscow. And they were very worried about their curators at the MCC. And they were in no hurry to take their wards out of delusion, in order to "nourish" themselves in full with the data obtained from an unexpected psychological experiment.
At first, I was afraid that the crew might have significant stressful situations, because it is still very difficult to live in such a confined space for so long, '' said Academician Grigoriev. “But the crew, these young people, had enough wisdom, intelligence and high motivation to deal with psychological problems very reasonably and adequately. And whether a person in extreme situations will be able to make a decision, on which the fate of the entire experiment sometimes depends, is very significant. And the crew showed excellent sense of high responsibility when making decisions.
Of course! As one of the external participants in the experiment noted, "Is there any time for reflections, when they sometimes had no time to breathe!"
This does not mean, of course, that there were no tense situations, - acknowledged Academician Grigoriev in our conversation then. - They were.But the crew, these young people, had enough wisdom, intelligence and high motivation to very reasonably and adequately cope with these small psychological problems. They are great.
At the same time, the scientist characterized the relationship in the crew as "professional". Not fraternal, not friendly, but "professional correct relationship."
Maybe this is the main secret, if not comfortable, then not conflicting stay in self-isolation? Not inflated expectations of each other against the background of friendly, family relationships, and even love, but just against their background - correctness, self-discipline and as much as possible doing business?