Want to contact medical officer at Antarctic Station

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    I have a small bit of odd information relative to the cause of disputes, friction, and mental breaks that have historically occurred in Antarctic stations and scientific expeditions.
    I encountered this problem as an engineering student forty years ago.When my wife had psychotic mental break in the Payroll Office of the University of Alabama in August of 2002, I eventually realized what caused it. I was stunned to find that something I have known most of my life is unknown outside a few designers and engineers who work with Systems Furniture, Cubicles.
    In the 1960’s a group of designers and engineers accidentally discovered a “conflict of physiology.” They didn’t call it that. They didn’t understand what they had discovered.
    Knowledge workers using the first movable close-spaced office workstations began having mental breaks. The problem was solved and the cubicle became the industry standard to prevent those mental breaks.
    All humans have a warning system that will cause a startle if something is subliminally detected approaching from behind. We have the ability to ignore the detected movement once we identify the source as safe. But no one can stop seeing any thing in their vision field. Your brain continues to subliminally see, detect, the movement and your brain continues to attempt to force a startle and peripheral vision reflex. Those efforts are a Subliminal Distraction.
    Outcomes will vary with individuals but sudden violence is possible, Amok, iich’ii, Going Postal. (Culture Bound Syndromes)
    I would like to exchange emails with someone at any Antarctic station or someone with the ability to communicate with a medical officer there.


    Hi KC4IAI,

    Interesting comments, especially following on the heels of Bob Propst (widely credited as the invetor of the cubical) recently lamenting on what it has become.

    It in unlcear to me, however, how the “Subliminal Distraction” you describe applies to Antarctic stations. Sorry I can’t give you a contact, but I would be interested to know why you think they are connected. My experience has been that the so-called mental breaks are uncommon, and often overblown by rumors, the media, and/or history. Frictions between station personnel, while common, are easily attributed to petty power squabbles, sexual tension, or generally inconsiderate behavior. In other words, the same stuff you’d find anywhere else.



    I’m with Glenn, This is my fifth winter and I can count the number of serious friction incidents on one hand. It’s maybe less than the mainstream work centers. On the contrary most get pretty good at coinciding with each other during the winter months. I think where we have problems is the last month or so before you leave. You can see the light at the end of the tunnel and you can’t wait for it to get there. 


    My website explains the context in several cases.
    The circumstances that created the  business office mental breaks in the 1960’s are so simple they can happen almost anywhere. Start with the Psychology Demonstration and the Astronauts & Insanity pages, URL link below.
    The too-small living an working space is more of a problem with space stations now. But I have searched sites from schools with a presence in the Antarctic. They all have pictures with the problem illustrated. There was a mental break on Soyuz 21. Buzz Aldrin had problems after his missions.
    Sudden violence began to be noticed in the 1830’s, Cabin Fever. The cases are rare but they will happen. Individuals can create behaviors that will cause too much exposure. Reading a book in a place where others walk too close beside you is one, daydreaming in a similar location is another.  The Redlake shooter left a journal entry describing what he did to create exposure. Post Offices do not provide Cubicle Level Protection and continue to have shooting incidents.
    When the problem was discovered they did not put the issue up for discussion and debate in offices.They took the safe course and designed workstations that could not be moved to accidentally create exposure. Simple precautions will prevent exposure where cubicles would not be practical.
    Why are some effected but not others in similar exposure senarios? I don’t know but research at the University of Georgia in 2002 found a possible problem when they attempted to find a genetic connection to explain why mental illness seems to run in famlies.  They found a defect in the M-Channel for vision in the brain for schizophrenics and their disease free close blood relatives.
    I though I might find someone who will go to the Antarctic or someone with Ham Radio contacts. The message would eventually reach someone there.
    Although my site has copyright the distribution is FREE. You may print out a personal copy.
    You may be right that the cases have dropped off in frequency. But that does not mean a severe case will not happen again. I want to tell the medical officer and let him use his own judgement.
    http://VisionAndPsychosis.Net link to site pages from the index.


    I don’t know whether one of the medical people will read this, but I can say that there have been 50 to 200 people wintering at various antarctic stations for over 50 years. It’s a very studied environment. We all undergo physch evals every year. I doubt if there is anything that is not already well documented here.
    The bottom line is that there is almost no cabin fever, violence or problems of the sort you say are probable. They did some studies comparing us with similar small towns back home and our rates of problems are way less than normal.

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