An Extreme Sportswoman Emerges From a Spanish Cave After Spending 500 Days Alone
How long can a person stay away from any form of human communication? An experiment was conducted to find out the long-term effects of solitude on the human mind and body.
Before the experiment, many researchers often highlighted the negative effects of solitude on mental health. The research was conducted in Spain using an extreme sportswoman who volunteered herself for the project.
The Former Guinness World Record
Before the experiment, the Guinness Book of Records awarded the record for the longest time spent in a cave to a group of Chilean miners who were accidentally trapped for sixty-nine days in a mine after it collapsed back in 2010.
Beatriz Flamini, a Spanish mountaineer, and extreme sportswoman, bravely volunteered to carry out the project, which would span over one year.
Meet The Star Of The Story
Beatriz Flamini took on the challenge to break the record and would spend 500 days in a Spanish cave close to Grenada, at a depth of 230ft underground, with no form of communication to the outside world while totally immersed in the project.
This length of time was to experimentally determine the effect of long-term solitude on the human body.
The Effects Of Social Isolation on Health
As human beings, social interaction is a significant part of our well-being, and lack of it often causes negative impacts on normal body functions, especially brain activity. In addition, according to research, social isolation and loneliness are associated with anxiety and depression, citing that many individuals use isolation as a form of coping mechanism when they worry.
The result is often an increased risk of dementia, stroke, and heart disease.
The Adverse Effects Of Solitude On The Brain
Social isolation changes the brain’s chemistry over time, causing a reduced amount of dopamine, which is the brain’s reward center.
The reduction of dopamine causes a degeneration in the brain which results in the loss of cognitive functions and memory while increasing the level of stress in the human body. Social isolation has also been linked to depression and suicide.
The Experiment Begins
In undergoing the experiment, which kicked off on November 20, 2021, Beatriz was provided with necessary supplies such as water and food.
She was also provided with some cameras to document her progress, books, and art supplies such as paints and knitting kits to help her pass the time. Beatriz spent her days in isolation, cooking, reading books, and exercising while documenting her progress.
The World Moved On While Beatriz Stayed In The Past
While in the cave, Beatriz had internal conversations with herself. She was unaware of major news highlights such as the passing of the longest reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, lifting of the Covid-19 mandatory face mask, and a possible vaccine.
She had also spent two birthdays in the cave. She was 48 years old when the project kicked off and 50 at the end of the experiment.
A 500-Day Experiment Comes To An End
At the end of the experiment, the extreme sportswoman had gone through 60 books and a thousand liters of water. She also made some cave drawings and had some self-reflection.
The experiment was monitored by a group of professional psychologists, researchers, and speleologists who study caves. Although she was closely monitored, none of them had any form of engagement with Beatriz.
Beatriz Narrates Her Experience
When Beatriz was brought out of the cave, she was surprised that her time in the cave was already up. She also stated she had been counting the first sixty-five days but decided to stop counting, and that was when time seemed to pass by very fast.
She also narrated her worst experience to be when flies invaded the cave to lay eggs and she became completely covered in insects.
How Beatriz Prepared For The Long Days
As a result of the negative impacts of solitude on mental health, Beatriz was determined not to let her mental health suffer. She practiced a lot of mental health exercises to help her prepare for life in the underground cave.
In an interview, she said, “You have to remain conscious of your feelings. If you’re afraid, that’s something natural, but never let panic in, or you get paralyzed.”
More Research To Be Carried Out On Solitude
Beatriz described her experience as something she would like to do again. She was congratulated by well-wishers and was very happy to have had the experience. The Guinness World Record is yet to confirm if her record will be different from the previous record because she voluntarily agreed to the experiment.
Through her bravery, researchers are able to understand not only the long-term impacts of solitude but also the human perception of time. The study will set the pace for other studies in the future.