Can Silence Actually Drive You Crazy?
*Watch with headphones on!
Many stories have circulated claiming the longest anyone has stayed in an ultra-quiet anechoic chamber is 45 minutes, the reason being any longer would drive you insane. To me this sounded like unsubstantiated rubbish, like the claim the Great Wall is the only manmade structure visible from space. So I put my own psyche on the line, subjecting myself to over an hour of the most intense quiet on Earth. No, this was not THE quietest room on Earth (-9dB) but it is one of the quietest, and the truth is once you put a person inside, they are by far the loudest thing in there so the sound rating of the room is irrelevant.
I was not surprised to find that I could stay in there for as long as I liked and feel perfectly fine. What was surprising is that my heartbeat was audible. You can hear it on the sound recording. Now I wasn’t consciously aware of the sound of my heart while in the room, but I was more aware of the feeling of it beating.
Silence is the lack of audible sound or presence of sounds of very low intensity. By analogy, the word silence can also refer to any absence of communication, including in media other than speech. Silence is also used as total communication, in reference to nonverbal communication and spiritual connection. Silence also refers to no sounds uttered by anybody in a room or area. Silence is an important factor in many cultural spectacles, as in rituals.
In discourse analysis, speakers use brief absences of speech to mark the boundaries of prosodic units. Silence in speech can be hesitation,stutters, self-correction—or deliberate slowing of speech to clarify or aid processing of ideas. These are short silences. Longer pauses in language occur in interactive roles, reactive tokens, or turn-taking.
According to cultural norms, silence can be positive or negative. For example, in a Christian Methodist faith organization silence and reflection during the sermons might be appreciated by the congregation, while in a Southern Baptist church, silence might mean disagreement with what is being said, or perhaps disconnectedness from the congregated community.