Background: In winter, daytime is very short where I live. A few months ago, due to a bad sleeping habit, I had not seen sunlight for almost a month. Then I noticed some strange things had been happening to me for a few days. I wasn't feeling any emotion (especially fear). In addition, ability to distinguish between right and wrong was slowly fading away.

Does not seeing any sunlight for some number of days affect sense of morality and emotions?

Update: As I recall, this happened to me 3 times over 4 years of time. But I wasn't aware of it.


2 Answers 2


Although not the question you asked, there has been at least one study looking at the influence of 'cave-like environments' on cognition - people are more prone to magical thinking/illogical beliefs (not their term) when placed in a dark, windowless environment.

Rigoli et al (2013): Cave-like Environments Facilitate Magical Thinking


The cognitive mechanisms that underlie beliefs in the supernatural are not well understood. In an attempt to understand this phenomenon, we hypothesized that the cave environment “affords” such usage. In our experiment, 52 participants completed a survey about their metaphysical beliefs inside a room providing a great deal of natural light, while another 52 participants completed the same survey in a dark and windowless room. The survey asked participants to rate their beliefs in a variety of supernatural phenomena and also included multiple-choice questions which described bizarre scenarios that could be explained either scientifically or supernaturally. The supernatural responses to both the rating-scale questions and to the multiple-choice questions were significantly higher in the cave-like condition. These results are consistent with anthropological claims that the dark zones of caves may have played a role in the environment of evolutionary adaptedness that contributed to humans’ tendency toward magical thinking.


Yes and no. As organisms in environment emotions could be defined as our bodies reaction to our environment so yes if your environment changes then of course your emotions will change. So there's that. However if you're asking what I think you're asking which is for some sort of explanation for the observed changes in your behaviour that have been caused by changes in your environment, then I could try to sound all knowledgeable about this and say "Sure! Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a well known syndrome etc etc." However SAD is not an explanation for your condition, it's merely us categorising phenomena and then saying that what we observe is an explanation for what happened, when it's really not, and in fact this act by its very definition is an observation of what happened and not an explanation.

So to sum up, have you observed changes in your physiology as a result of changes in your environment? Of course, and that's normal. It's almost a statement of the obvious when you think about it. Do we have an explanation for this in terms of psychology? No, not if we're being intellectually honest about it. Personally I'd argue that it's not a psychological problem at all, but a natural bodily reaction to a change in its environment. It just so happens that we as a society have begun to medicalise normal bodily reactions to environmental changes, claimed that because we have them that there is something wrong with us (as opposed to something being wrong with our environment) and started giving them names such as SAD, or anxiety, or depression etc etc.

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    $\begingroup$ Some contentious claims here! Any references you can offer? $\endgroup$ Apr 11, 2014 at 2:54
  • $\begingroup$ This isn't really new. All I'm saying is that what we have come to define as psychological illnesses are not illnesses in the medical sense and all the evidence points to this. For an example of this see The Myth of the Chemical Cure by Joanna Moncrieff. Yes we can look at the brain and see that x chemical seems to show up more (or less) in people with depression etc, however this doesn't really tell us anything other than the fact that when people are depressed the brain chemistry changes (and even with this the evidence is pretty sketchy - see the book mentioned above). $\endgroup$ Apr 22, 2014 at 22:11
  • $\begingroup$ Where we have gone wrong is in assuming that these changes in brain chemistry are the causes of depression, rather than being a physiological response of the body to the persons environment, and the persons response to that environment (if you don't like your environment why not change it?) with the environment of course being defined as both that persons current environment and their history. Correlation does not equal causation. The other points I made are to me statements of the obvious and I deliberately phrased them as such. $\endgroup$ Apr 22, 2014 at 22:12
  • $\begingroup$ I suppose the real problem, when it comes down to it is the idea that there are psychological causes behind common everyday human feelings and pretty predictable physiological responses to ones environment (disrupted sleeping habits and lack of sunlight would be one example). $\endgroup$ Apr 22, 2014 at 22:12

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