Center on Sentencing and Corrections

Psychiatric Effects of Solitary Confinement

Psychiatric Effects of Solitary Confinement

Grassian, Stuart. “Psychiatric Effects of Solitary Confinement.” Washington University Journal of Law & Policy 22 (2006).


“The author, Dr. Grassian, is a Board Certified Psychiatrist who was on the faculty of the Harvard Medical School for over twenty-five years. He has had extensive experience in evaluating the psychiatric effects of solitary confinement, and in the course of his professional involvement, has been involved as an expert regarding the psychiatric impact of federal and state segregation and disciplinary units in many settings. The following statement is largely a redacted, non-institution and non-inmate specific, version of a declaration which was submitted in September 1993 in Madrid v. Gomez.”

This article considers solitary confinement and other conditions of restricted environmental stimulation and examines the severe psychiatric harm that such isolation can cause.


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Keywords: mental health, mental illness, mental health treatment, Pelican Bay, California, Langley v. Coughlin, history