Space madnessFor sure, scientists have been studying this phenomenon for decades. An interest in a special kind of cabin fever called ‘space madness’ began in the 1950s in the United States. It was the dawn of the space age, and astronauts were training for the first manned missions. How would they fare in very small capsules in the great void of space? Science fiction authors had already imagined such a situation. Many of them had written stories of astronauts cracking under pressure and going crazy. NASA psychologists were seriously worried that this might truly happen. They devised experiments that replicated the confinement and isolation that the astronauts would experience. They put astronauts in replicas of space capsules, and kept them there for long hours doing stressful work. Luckily, after more than 60 years of manned missions in space, there has never been a case of space madness. This is also thanks to the scientists at NASA, who are still studying and providing solutions to help astronauts cope with the loneliness and anxiety they might experience.
Cures for cabin feverSo what are the remedies for cabin fever (and space madness)? The first step is to acknowledge the situation and accept the distress it’s causing. Then, experts suggest that it’s important to establish a routine: you should follow a well-structured daily schedule. It’s important to keep physically active. If a room is all you have, you can still do some calisthenics or dance to your favourite song. Being mentally active is also important. NASA’s Jack Stuster, who has been studying how crews live and work in space, offers some valuable advice. “My primary recommendation,” he says, “is for people to view the self-quarantine as an opportunity, rather than an obstacle.” It’s a chance to work on a meaningful creative project such as writing a book or learning to paint or to cook. Reading can also be a great activity: a book can take you far away from the confines of your home and your current problems.
Connecting with othersRegarding the people you have to live with, Jack Stuster has this to say: “Set getting along as your highest goal.” He advises being considerate and respectful. He suggests eating together regularly. It’s also important to have group leisure activities such as movie nights or board games (but avoid divisive ones, such as Monopoly or Risk). Stuster also advises respecting each other’s need for privacy. The psychologist Paul Rosenblatt, who studied cabin fever in the 1980s, agrees. He says that families “need a certain balance of togetherness and apartness.” Connecting with those who are not living with us is also important. Luckily today technology offers great assistance. In the past social media have been criticized for depriving us of real social contact, but during the current crisis they can be an important resource. People have found ways to dine, celebrate birthdays, and to participate in weddings using their smartphone or computer. Indeed, the current lockdown could be an opportunity for self-improvement and for re-connecting with others in a meaningful way.
USEFUL LINKS 1) Do you have cabin fever? How can you cure it? Here is some advice from CNN: https://edition.cnn.com/2020/03/19/health/coronavirus-cabin-fever-definition-quarantine-wellness/index.html 2) Are you interested in the hazards of isolation and confinement in space exploration? Here are a couple of useful links: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FPinASEKA_I https://www.nasa.gov/feature/conquering-the-challenge-of-isolation-in-space-nasa-s-human-research-program-director 3) Read Jack Stuster’s detailed advice on how to deal with the problems of the current lockdown: http://spaceref.com/coronavirus/the-parallels-between-space-missions-and-covid-19-isolation.html 4) Here is some more advice for families under lockdown from The Guardian Australia: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g5Uulo_AS1Q
Puoi svolgere gli esercizi collegati a questo articolo anche in modo interattivo su ZTE. COMPREHENSION 1) Read the article and complete the sentences with the right alternative. 1. The expression ‘cabin fever’ originates from___ (Carlo Dellonte) (Image credits: Pixabay, Pixabay)
- a medical condition first discovered in North America.
- people being stuck in cabins for long periods of time.
- people having a fever during winter.
- confinement and isolation.
- the boredom and stress of long winters.
- negative feelings such as frustration and impatience.
- the dawn of the space age.
- no more than an invention of science fiction writers.
- cabin fever in space.
- astronauts could crack under pressure.
- it was impossible to replicate the confinement and isolation of space.
- space madness was inevitable.
- space madness does not exist.
- astronauts are taught how to deal with the pressure of their missions.
- space missions do not produce stress and loneliness.
- pretend that all is well.
- accept rather than fight against the negative sensations it produces.
- get rid of the distress it causes.
- is a great opportunity for everyone.
- is an obstacle.
- can be turned into an opportunity.
- they are fun activities.
- they help you keep mentally active.
- they help you keep physically active.
- have dinner together.
- play Monopoly.
- dance to your favourite song.
- are always a good alternative to real human contact.
- are criticized during the lockdown because they are depriving us of real human contact.
- can help us feel less lonely during the current lockdown.