Editor’s Note: Geo first banged out this piece in the early days of the pandemic, whose cause shall not be named. The facts contained herein are universal and hold true today. – GDM

Isolation is a frightening prospect for a lot of us. True isolation — total isolation from all social interaction and deprivation of sensory stimulus, sight, sound, touch, smell, and taste — is something that few have experienced. Such isolation is quite matter-of-factly terrifying and even maddening to most. True isolation is NOT hunkering down in your apartment and binge-watching Netflix while stuffing your pie hole full of Cheetos.

No, true isolation is hardly experienced by our society’s general population. Solitary confinement is the most severe level of isolation and should not be confused with the simple isolation that most Americans are in due to the world health crisis at hand. To maintain perspective, the prospect of isolation sounds pretty innocuous to me, and I can say that we could do much worse.

Solitary confinement, or just Solitary, is an extreme situation that prisoners are prone to face depending on their attitude and conduct, as well as that of their captors. Prisoners of war and armed conflict are subject to some of the cruelest measures of extreme isolation possible. Most warfighters are fortunate to be able to attend training courses that aid significantly in their ability to endure the physical and mental rigors present in a Prisoner of War (POW) environment.

The highest level of POW survival training is called Survival, Evade, Resist, and Escape (SERE) training. As a student in SERE training, I was first isolated from all other students with a black hood over my head. From there, my isolation went to a deeper state of apparent Solitary (confinement) where I was stuffed into a very small wooden box whose dimensions didn’t allow full limb extension or the ability to sit up fully erect. In the top was a hole just large enough to squeeze the average head through — woe was me!

I say “apparent” Solitary because I was not immediately aware of the men around me who were also confined in wooden boxes; in my case, we were three in a room. We, citizens, shall potentially isolate in our homes for several weeks… well, I can hardly think of such an environment as “isolation.” We are in our house “boxes,” but we are immediately and keenly aware that our friends and neighbors are all around us sharing in the very same experience.