Author(s): J. Carey Jackson, MD

Date Authored: December 5, 2013

This clip illustrates a common form of torture: confinement and isolation in restricted spaces.

Torture survivors often describe being placed as this man was, in a space where he could neither lie down or stand and this affects them physically and mentally. Military Officers from Iraq describe being kept in 3 foot by 3 foot cells. Others buried in dirt up to their waste or chest for periods of time. This kind of postural confinement creates muscle spasms and resultant pain. Prisoners describe shifting constantly to try to stretch muscles that have gone into spasms.

As this goes on for weeks and months tendons and ligaments contract or stretch, neuropathies can result from pressure injuries. The long term consequences vary by case, but they leave both a physical and psychological imprint and often a connection between the two. This man attributes many of his leg pains and his tendon contracture to the ways in which he was constrained and then repeatedly traumatized by the shackles used to confine him.

Of note, for him, anatomically unrelated symptoms can result from or associate with the leg pain the two phenomena having been linked in memory by the experience. When he is hungry or has nightmares the leg pains flare.