Engels artikel: Solitary confinement is traumatizing and should be banned

Het onderstaande stukje heb ik onlangs geschreven. Het gaat over het traumatiserende effect van isoleercellen, dat zelfs bij gezonde mensen optreedt.

Solitary confinement should be banned, because it is always traumatizing, for all people in the world.
(By Jolijn Santegoeds, www.mindrights.nl , tekeertegendeisoleer@hotmail.com )


1. Solitary confinement = Exclusion.
Exclusion is wrong. It leads to feelings of “not being part of the world”, it divides people.(* see paragraph 2. Impact of Solitary Confinement)

Solitary confinement and exclusion are not creating inclusion.
Inclusion and world peace is what we want.
Solitary confinement needs to end.

2. Impact of solitary confinement

    • the only thing you can do in solitary confinement is thinking, so the mind will get very busy, bringing up a lot of feelings (questions, theories, fears, memories, possibilities, and so on)
    • None of these feelings can be shared or discussed in solitary confinement, there is no human contact, no support, no touch stone, all you can do is think think think (this on itself is a risk factor for developing mental health problems).


  • In solitary confinement there is no distraction from your perspective (no peptalk, no hope, no love, no warmth or understanding), so nothing stops you from going ‘wrong’ or going crazy.


  • The human nature is to live together (group-animal), so persons who are solitary confined need to develop a new way all by themselves to deal with the variety of very intense feelings in absence of human contact.
  • Because it is unnatural to be left all alone (evidence: babies die without a human touch) it is likely and absolutely normal to feel fear, anxiety, grief and loss, confusion and losing trust (in the world, and your own expectations of life and human interactions). This is very traumatizing, for every human being.
    • When solitary confined, it is natural to start questioning and doubting existence, because life is hard to recognize without human contact (in fact this is no life at all), and the increasing feelings of emptiness, loss of connection and loss of human nature, makes it natural to question your own expectations of life and human interactions (the existence of human compassion : a warm world or a cold world?). This often leads to deep doubts, loss of beliefs and big trauma.
      This is “breaking the nature, the heart and the soul of the person”.

      • When the nature, heart, soul and beliefs of a person are broken, it is hard for the person to cling onto something, because What to believe in?? (and mistakes may lead to new confinement). So this person can basically only go numb/introvert, and deal with the doubts all alone. And figure out a new way to deal with their own nature, heart, soul and beliefs, which have been cracked, because the natural way of coping with life has been disturbed by solitary confinement, and natural ways of dealing with feelings no longer fit..
        This is basically causing and creating mental problems, which are likely to come out at a certain point..
      • These traumatizing doubts that grasp on the human nature and togetherness, resulting from solitary confinement, are contrary to inclusion and world peace.


  • The absence of human contact and interaction, is the worst thing a human being can experience. When fully ignored and excluded a person doesn’t feel human anymore. (also see the meaning of Ubuntu, Xhosa/South Africa).


  • In solitary confinement, there is nothing to cling on to, no examples, no support or stimulation, no perspective, in fact it’s all rather hopeless,
  • which is triggering negative feelings, inducing painful associations, confusion, fear, grief, loss, anxiety, anger, despair, panic, trauma (and all these hard feelings you have to deal with all by yourself, all alone, in a new unnatural way without human contact..)
    • And when you panic or show any distress, you are likely to sit there longer, so there is no way you can share your feelings. This forces people to stop their natural way of expressing their true feelings, and find a way to deal with that all alone.. They are silenced and oppressed to a way bigger extend as just by the physical walls, and this leads to a huge load of mental problems for any person involved. Even healthy persons develop mental problems in solitary confinement.
    • And even the guards, nurses and family often have moral objections.


  • People get to know themselves and others (and life) by trial and error in expressing themselves, by getting feedback, and by learning from that. All of this growth stops when being solitary confined.
  • And even worse, in solitary confinement you start spinning backwards (growing into unnatural forms of existence, which is bad for any human being, and therefore bad for our entire world).


  • On top of that, the bottom line in all violations is about “not being heard/not being respected, and being overpowered as a person”. This surely goes for solitary confinement. The effects of solitary confinement are comparable (or even cumulative) to any other severe interpersonal violation, such as rape, abduction.


  • So, in short, solitary confinement has such a negative impact, that it should never be used.


    • In solitary confinement, your mind will be haunting you, and in case you already have inner trouble (mental issues), this can only become worse.
    • Special mental health risks:
      • Solitary confinement can cause psychosis, depression, suicide, and many more very severe mental health problems.

Also see this video about Open Dialogue in Finnland, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ywtPedxhC3U it clearly states that :

  • the first days of confusion are crucial for either solving it, or developing a problem, such as a psychosis. What is needed is human contact, to reduce confusion as early as possible.
  • So it is double inhumane to put person with mental health problems in solitary confinement.


3. Solitary confinement is no form of care, nor a way to bring safety, nor a way to solve conflicts.

This paragraph is also spread separately, by WNUSP : Attachment on Solitary Confinement


Reasons why solitary confinement should disappear immediately from Mental Health Care
(by Jolijn Santegoeds, tekeertegendeisoleer@hotmail.com)

1.In solitary confinement the person is solitary confined, without accompany, contact or sympathy. That is social exclusion and no help.

2.Solitary confinement is not low-stimulus or relaxing, but is often experienced as very negative and exciting (by everyone!). It has no therapeutic value for recovery.

3.The effects of solitary confinement (trauma, resistance, distrust, fear and a growing distance) is not desirable for the wellbeing of the client.

4.The isolation cell is a ‘storage’ for people who need ‘too much’ care and attention or who rebel. But the life of persons in need cannot be put ‘on a hold’. Abandoning persons and wait until they are ‘sane’ again is not mental health care.

5. Persons in need of care have feelings! And the existence of feelings cannot be ignored by mental health experts! The users voice cannot be ignored, because there can be no meaningful care relationship when the users voice is overruled in such horrible ways (you can’t tell your deepest fears to the people who hurt you).

6.”There is hardly enough time, c.q. personnel for providing real care. Everybody is overloaded”. But the isolation cell is a scandalous inhuman solution for this economic problem!

7.Constructive assistance is neglected by solitary confinement. It is not teaching how you should act. It has no therapeutic value for creating a better future.

8.The use of isolation cells is unscientific. (not based on effect studies). A cell is no well considered resource for mental health care. It is a random practice based on a horrible history.

9.Alternatives to solitary confinement are available, and should be enabled for everyone. Alternatives focus on crisis de-escalation, comfort, supporting the user to reduce panic, and enabling the user to find their own way of coping, to calm down and/or relieve the need to use violence (which is often mentioned as a reason for the use of solitary confinement). Panic of users can’t be fought by panic of carers. Mental health care is about reducing panic.

Every reaction has a cause. Aggression and hard behaviour don’t fall from the sky, but originate in one’s personal life. Every mind is different, but all feelings are human feelings. The right answer to so called ‘dangerous behaviour’ is highly personal. And life is dynamic, every situation is unique (not standardized).

Escalations originate from feelings of powerlessness, panic, despair, fears and so on.
Empowerment, abilities, and positive feelings reduce panic and powerlessness.
Not everyone can establish the same level of contact and trust with each other. The closest levels of contact and trust are found in the person’s natural social support network (friends, family, x85). So it is key to find the right person(s) who can help in bringing peace back and de-escalate the panic. Mental health care is mainly a social issue (psycho-social).


10. Solitary confinement does NOT increase safety. Instead it increases psychosocial problems, and causes more trauma, which is likely to lead to new crisis situations, and more struggles and unsafety!! Solitary confinement is increasing risks and the opposite of care and safety.

11.Even only the existence of isolation cells is intimidating or users and is undermining self esteem, trust in others, trust in understanding and support and equality. The threat of being secluded or restrained is hindering open contact and trust, and therefore obstructing prevention and real care.

12.Even in childcare and youth care isolation cells are still being used. A child deserves a better childhood. It is unacceptable to expose (esp. young) persons to a culture where violence is the dominant master in life (coercion is violence). This is not how we want to educate our children, and not how we want to organize our world.

13.Solitary confinement is not suitable for people in need, who are not criminal. Confinement is punishment. Mental health care must provide care, which is in every way different from confinement and restraints.

14. Care should be helpful for the user, and care should increase wellbeing. But coercion, restraints and solitary confinement are traumatizing, and not healing or increasing wellbeing. Solitary confinement should be banned from mental health care. First do no harm!


Care is attention for wellbeing and personal growth. Real Care is warm and wonderful.

The use of forced treatments is taking all the warmth away from the care concept. Carers have to block their feelings to be able to exercise these ‘treatments’ (and the good ones burn out soon), and users get traumatized more and more. It’s a separate world, a separate culture, which needs to end.

Solitary confinement is unacceptable in mental health care.


These principles are valid for all forms of forced treatments, such as seclusion, physical restraints as well as forced administration of any type of medication.


En hoe meer ik over dit stukje nadenk, hoe meer ik besef dat dit een belangrijk principe is. De beperkingen die een isoleercel oplegt gaan vele malen verder dan enkel de fysieke muren. Het breekt het gezonde deel van de mens (de natuur), en dat kan nooit de bedoeling zijn van zorg.
In principe werkt dit ook zo bij een gedwongen opname, of elke andere vorm van dwang. Daar gaan mensen zich vreemd van voelen, omdat ze niet langer zichzelf kunnen zijn.
En eigenlijk voel ik dat effect zelf ook nog heel vaakx85 Het is een trauma. En ik ben niet de enige.

Daarom moeten isoleercellen en dwang verdwijnen uit de zorg!


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