We are hard wired for connection…we need other people in our lives like we need oxygen.
Some time ago, Jian Ghomeshi, the host of Q, interviewed an author, Mazier Bahari, a journalist who was imprisoned in Iran in 2009. There was a line in his interview that has stuck in my brain since…I went online to relisten to the part I can’t get out of my head:
Gian (host): “Most of the 118 days you spent in Evin[prison] you are in solitary confinement.There was a moment when you thought of suicide.Tell me about that?
Mazier: “Well, you know, I spent 107 days in solitary confinement.And sometimes when I tell people that, they ask me, ‘And were you also tortured?’ and that is like if you ask someone who has cancer, “And do you have any other illnesses?”Solitary confinement is the worst kind of torture.Human beings are social animals. Human beings need to communicate, need to be loved, need to touch other people.”
Mazier goes on to describe the mental anguish that comes with solitary confinement, the physical sensations of isolation which are too intense to tolerate, and the thought distortions that creep up as a result of being completely alone….having him contemplate suicide very seriously.
He didn’t kill himself…why?
Because he had an inner conversation with his father…his father talked him out of it. His father told him that completing suicide would be allowing his captors the victory, and he dare not allow that to happen. In solitary confinement, it was the deep connection he had with a loved one that allowed him to stay alive…imagining conversation with his dad.