In the 1940s Russian scientists carried out an experiment with 5 men to study the effects of sleep deprivation. Those Guinea pigs were political prisoners and in order to convince them to take part in the trial they promised that, once finished the experiment, they would be freed. What happened, however, is rather disturbing. Today it is known as “The Russian sleep experiment “.
The experiment was supposed to enclose five subjects in a room and to keep them constantly exposed to a stimulating gas for a total length of 30 days.
The five men were taken to a room with five cots, many books, a bathroom and dried food in abundance. Given that at the time CCTVs were not available the room had thick glass windows, from which scientists could monitor the prisoners, and were equipped with microphones.
The beginning of the sleep experiment
The first five days went by peacefully, everything went the right way. The prisoners had begun to talk to each other, to tell about their lives, and scientists had noticed that their stories became sadder and more melancholic with every passing day.
By the sixth day a serious paranoia began to appear and suddenly the participants stopped talking to each other. But they began to whisper to the microphones, each trying to convince scientists they were better than the others.
After the ninth day one of them started screaming, running around the room. Thus he continued for 3 hours in a row, until he was no longer able to emit any sound. Even when he lost all his voice, he still tried to scream, but only managed to emit guttural sounds.
What intrigued the scientists, however, was the reaction of his fellow mates: no one seemed to care about the man’s screams and they continued to whisper into the microphones. Shortly after, another patient began screaming with all his breath.
The other subjects remained silent began to destroy their books with their own feces and then stuck them to the glass, preventing scientists to see them. The screaming stopped, as well as the whispers.
Three days went by, in which scientists checked that the microphones still worked. Not hearing any sound they thought that people could be dead, but the equipment that measured the oxygen in the room realized that they were alive and that, indeed, the prisoners were consuming a high amount of oxygen, as if they were under stress.
On the morning of the fourteenth day, in an attempt to try and provoke a reaction from the participants, they said over the intercom that they would enter the room to repair the microphones.
They were, however, puzzled by hearing the response of one of the prisoners: “We no longer want to be liberated.”
Scientists asked for an explanation, but did not get any answer and after consulting the military body that financed the experiment, they decided to enter the room. It was midnight on the fifteenth day.
The end of the experiment
The gas was removed from the room that was filled with fresh air. Immediately, however, the prisoners complained and begged for the gas to be put back on. The air was changed anyway, the room was open and the military went to retrieve the participants.
Soldiers screamed in terror when they saw what had happened: only four of them were still alive and the food rations of the last five days had not been touched.
The guinea pigs who had died had missing body parts, which were found in the exhaust pipe that was found in the middle of the room and that had caused a stagnation of water and blood on the floor.
The four survivors had plucked muscles from the body and subsequent tests revealed that they had been torn with bare hands,they were completely self-inflicted and then the torn pieces had been eaten.
Abdominal organs of all the participants were still working on the floor. The soldiers decided to leave the room, refusing to return, while participants continued to implore for the gas to be reinstalled.
New soldiers were called to release the individuals from the room, who were then taken to the operating theater.
It was not an easy task and a soldier died, his throat torn, and another has his testicles removed. Four more soldiers committed suicide a few days later.
Brought to the operating room the participants seemed impossible to calm down. They were given very high doses of morphine, but it seemed to have no effect.
Due to the high dose of tranquilizers received one of the patients died, but the doctors said that he continued to writhe and scream for three minutes after his heart had stopped beating.
Another participant died as soon as the anesthesia that had been submitted to him took effect. The moment he closed his eyes, his heart stopped beating.
The person with damaged vocal cords needed, like the others, an operation but the doctors did not know how to quell the man without killing him.
A nurse offered to do the surgery without anesthesia, and the patient agreed, nodding. The operation was a success and lasted six hours, after which the man became agitated and trying to talk.
He was given a piece of paper and a pen with which he wrote, “Continue to cut.”
The last guinea pig was brought to the operating theater, where he continued to struggle and asked for the gas. One of the doctors asked why he wanted it so much and he replied: “I have to stay awake.”
While the patients were under the knife, other staff cleaned the room from the blood. Once finished the two survivors were put on camp beds in the room where they had lived two weeks, waiting for the scientists, together with the highest military body, who would decide what to do.
The commanding officer decided he wanted to see what would happen if they rekindled the gas. Scientists tried to resist but were unsuccessful and the gas was restored.
The machinery attacked to the prisoners recorded that their brain waves were abnormal: they had sharp peaks and falls, as if they were suffering of micro brain deaths.
But the room was open and the prisoner that still had voice pleaded for the door to be closed so not to disperse the gas. The officer gave the order to close it, but inside there were also three scientists.
When they realized what was going on, one of them pulled out a gun and shot the soldier before he could close the door, then shot the mute participant and pointed his weapon at the last person left, while the other two scientists fled in terror.
“What are you really? I need to know!”
He asked the scientist to the guinea pig. The latter smiled and said:
“We are you. We are the madness that lurks within all of you, all the time praying to be freed from your unconscious. We are what you hide from at night, while you sleep. We are what you silence and paralyze every time you fall asleep. “
The scientist took aim and fired to the prisoner’s heart and while he was dying he whispered:
“I was almost free.”