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SJBell
08-04-2010, 07:22 PM
Let's say a person is locked in a room with no windows and completely deprived of food. How long will it take before he starts to get hungry? How long before he starts to get so desperately hungry that he can't think of anything else?

Additionally, once he gets out of the room, how does he re-feed in such a manner as to avoid any medical complications?

Maryn
08-04-2010, 07:49 PM
I only know what I've read, but some of it was non-fiction.

A meal missed triggers hunger if the person is accustommed to eating about the same times daily. Two meals missed, more severe, to the point of a pain in the belly. It gets worse for about 72 hours, until the brain steps in and flips the hunger switch to "off."

Upon return to access to food, it's common to gorge--and vomit.

The worst problem with being locked in without food isn't going to be starvation but dehydration, unless the room is a bathroom.

Maryn, hoping to have helped

Rammstein
08-04-2010, 08:15 PM
It depends on a lot of things, really, but to start with, food isn't anywhere near as important as water. Basically anyone surviving a week without any water can claim a miracle. Your prisoner must have water if you want him to really starve - or else he will have died long before that.

If it was me, I'd be hungry within a few hours, really hungry in a day or two and completely nuts for food within say a week. It depends on willpower and the ability to focus your mind on something besides the hunger.

If your prisoner has water, strong willpower and good character (sort of not-chickening-out-kinda-guy) when he's locked up, he could make it a month or even a month and a half, something like that. Especially if he's fat or even obese to begin with (though the rate of metabolism matters as well - a lot of body fat is useful as a source of nutrition when starving, but your general health is also weaker). Somewhere along the line, he will have swallowed his own tongue and perhaps started gnawing his hands or feet - say 4-5 weeks into it. He will be in and out of consciousness, will be hallucinating and perhaps have seizures. He would basically be a complete vegetable.

If he's left without food for that long, his body will have athropied, his muscles having been recycled for nutrition by the body, and he'll have difficulty moving around without considerable pain. Some of his internal organs will start to flicker on and off, particularly the kidneys, and he will probably need kidney dialysis for the rest of his life.

Someone having been severely starved can't eat regular food for quite a while after the starvation ends. His metabolism will have slowed down and almost shut off in order for the body to conserve the little energy it has left, which means that normal food put in his body too soon could actually kill him.

He'll need a good, long hospitalization to ever regain his strength, and the first order of business would be IV feeding, then a diet of liquids and after that, solid foods. This process takes anywhere from several weeks to months depending on how bad it got in that prison of his... It is possible to fully recover though.

For the sake of your story, I'd suggest you give him a 7-10 days before he starts imagining his feet are tenderloin steaks, medium rare.

I'm not a doctor or anything, I just happen to have researched this myself not long ago. Hope it helps.

benbradley
08-04-2010, 08:19 PM
Yeah, the danger point (as in dying) without water is about three days. If you can drink water you can go many days longer without food.

And yes, after days without food, it's important to eat small amounts at first, else you'll throw up. I guess throwing up is a medical complication...

Michael Davis
08-04-2010, 08:55 PM
Kind of an individual thing. If you've eaten in the past hour, not even the scent of a charbroiling T-bone is going to wake my hunger bug. Also can depend on the persons condition, or if their on any meds. I know when I was on cancer meds, I had no appetite at all, zero, and lost 45 pounds. Continued for 6 weeks after the treatments. I understand other meds can do that also.

Pamvhv
08-04-2010, 08:58 PM
I would go with small bits of soft food. Kind of like the clear liquid diet they give you after a surgery in a hospital.

SJBell
08-04-2010, 09:47 PM
Mmm. This is a lot of valuable information, but not the kind I was looking for. My fault- the initial question was too vague. More detailed scenario:

As part of a kind of hazing ritual, a man is locked in a room without food. He's been on bread & water for two days beforehand, so he's not hungry going in, but hasn't been eating well lately either. The intention is that this will make the test short. He has a limited water supply, enough so that he'll suffer hunger before dehydration.

There's a sandwich in the room. The man is told by a monitor that he must remain in the room for a full day, without eating the sandwich. He'll be released after a full day, but if he's touched so much as a single crumb of the sandwich in the meantime, he fails the test. The man absolutely does not want to fail the test.

What the man doesn't know: the monitor won't be back in a day. Instead the monitor will be watching him through a hidden camera, and will return to release the man only after he's eaten the sandwich. There are no windows or clocks in the room, so the man has no way to gauge the passing of time, and he will have no contact with the monitor, or anyone else.

How long before the man gives in and eats the sandwich? And what kind of thoughts go through his head before that point?

backslashbaby
08-04-2010, 10:19 PM
That's crazy individual. Some people lose their appetite in starvation mode. And it depends so much on what the risk is.

I've read about hunger in The Hunger in Ireland (OMG - read up on that), Germany after WWI, Haiti after the earthquake, etc. The stories are crazy varied.

Some people can put themselves behind their loved ones. Some can't (read Elie Wiesel's stories of concentration camps).

The Irish stories have tales of hunger from so very many people that I'd probably start there.

Maryn
08-04-2010, 10:21 PM
It would depend on the man, naturally, and on how badly he wants to pass the test. (If it was important to me and if I had water, I could go without eating for a couple of days, easy. I'd probably sleep as much as I could. Even though I know it's bad for me, I go 16 hours without eating fairly often.)

Before he caves in and eats the sandwich, I would think he would be rationalizing the rightness of doing so, convincing himself that any organization which hazes in such a cruel way isn't one he wants to join anyway. He'd probably feel some anger at whoever got him into the situation, even if it's largely his own doing.

Depending on what kind of sandwich it is, he might also be wondering if it's still safe to eat. Many types wouldn't be without refrigeration.

Maryn, who wouldn't eat the tuna

veinglory
08-04-2010, 10:28 PM
I don't think a day is really starvation at all. That is purely a will power and temperment issue. We don't biologically have to eat every day. Even now many people on alternative diets only eat every other day as a matter of routine. If he focusses on feeling hungry and stares at the sandwhich, he will be hungry. If not, not. Many people could easily just turn their back and snooze that period of time away without feeling hunger at all.

quicklime
08-04-2010, 10:33 PM
Mmm. This is a lot of valuable information, but not the kind I was looking for. My fault- the initial question was too vague. More detailed scenario:

As part of a kind of hazing ritual, a man is locked in a room without food. He's been on bread & water for two days beforehand, so he's not hungry going in, but hasn't been eating well lately either. The intention is that this will make the test short. He has a limited water supply, enough so that he'll suffer hunger before dehydration.

There's a sandwich in the room. The man is told by a monitor that he must remain in the room for a full day, without eating the sandwich. He'll be released after a full day, but if he's touched so much as a single crumb of the sandwich in the meantime, he fails the test. The man absolutely does not want to fail the test.

What the man doesn't know: the monitor won't be back in a day. Instead the monitor will be watching him through a hidden camera, and will return to release the man only after he's eaten the sandwich. There are no windows or clocks in the room, so the man has no way to gauge the passing of time, and he will have no contact with the monitor, or anyone else.

How long before the man gives in and eats the sandwich? And what kind of thoughts go through his head before that point?


fasting differs in many people, and it is about a lot of things, including willpower, when and what they ate last, etc.

as a general example, I've gone a day or day and a half eating nothing except tea, water, and chewing gum (all sugar-free) several times, with relatively little discomfort. I did two and a half days and got sick, but also had the flu at that time. I went back to eating with a big dinner--no ill effects, I think that would take a few days longer.

A few days I was going to fast but ate a large meal alte the night before, and I was painfully ravenous by lunch because I hadn't digested everything in my sleep, apparently.

in my case, and most, if the guy wants, he could hold out until the sandwich was no longer safe to eat in the first place.

If he WOULD wait that long is another question.

Fenika
08-05-2010, 04:05 AM
I can't go two or three hours without getting hungry, LOL.

LoopyLinde
08-05-2010, 07:08 AM
Let's say a person is locked in a room with no windows and completely deprived of food. How long will it take before he starts to get hungry? How long before he starts to get so desperately hungry that he can't think of anything else?

Additionally, once he gets out of the room, how does he re-feed in such a manner as to avoid any medical complications?

This is my personal experience with starvation. I voluntarily fasted for two weeks once. I was young and stupid and thought I was dieting. I did eat supper (not breakfast or lunch) on the weekend in between, because I didn't want my parents to know what I was doing, so the longest time I went without any food at all was 7 days. I never got to the point where the hunger went away, which I understand happens eventually.

I became a little obsessed with food after a couple of days, which got worse the longer I tried not to eat. I mean, really thinking about it constantly. It was harder to sleep too. After the second 7 days, I couldn't take it anymore and started eating again.

I would have been able to resist the sandwich for at least the first week, maybe 10 days or so, but not much longer than that. I had no trouble going back to regular meals afterward. I did fill up a bit faster for a while, but ate pretty normally with no problems.

Rammstein
08-05-2010, 11:00 AM
I think the problem here is that keeping the guy locked up for so long that he starts to obsess about food but trying to pass it off as one single day is probably not doable - it takes a few days to loose track of time too, I'd say.

Pamvhv
08-05-2010, 11:04 AM
My question is: what is on the sandwich, how long until it goes bad? LOL

Nivarion
08-05-2010, 11:12 AM
Recently while making spiritual decisions I fasted for two days strait. Normally I get hungry at least once a day. I didn't think of food or water for the whole two days. I didn't feel any hunger or thirst, though I did get a throbbing head ache the night after I had come to my decision.

I'm an excellent cook and have probably 8 months worth of food in my house, so I could have gone and made anything, but I just didn't.

A single day would be easy, if he really wanted it. Just turn your back to the food and do something to take your time. If he's spiritual at all have him pray to whatever gods he believes in, he shouldn't even notice the food.

Shakesbear
08-05-2010, 11:44 AM
I remember reading about the Mulroney family - four women who starved themselves to death. I am not sure if this will be of any help to you:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/special_report/story/0,3604,425337,00.html

at the end of the page there is a bit or writing in blue - click on that and it takes you to some of the letters written.

In one of the letters it says that they have been 36 days with out food.

SJBell
08-06-2010, 05:00 AM
Thanks for the advice, everyone. I've decided that our prisoner will crack after three days. That may be a little short, but I think I can justify through his being unused to such trials of endurance, lack of substantial body fat, and additional psychological stresses.

boron
08-06-2010, 06:02 PM
3rd and 4th day seem to be ideal. The first day you become hungry, the second day you are proud how good you are doing, the third day muscular weakness, fatigue, "the hole in the stomach", and dizziness likely appear, which all can be manageable physically, but then questions appear: why I'm doing this, is it harmful for my health...But nothing really scary in a physical sense should happen to an adult healthy man fasting for a week. It's on the level of discomfort, stomach rumbling, weakness, mild nausea, excitation and temptation, not pain or panic or fainting or cloudy mind. Except of exciting (actually after the phase of excitement), your mind becomes more clear, you become calm, so this is one reason why fasting is so often used along with meditation.

You can also decide to go in some kind of hibernation mode. The principle is extremely simple: you ignore the hunger and accept to operate on an easy going level. It needs some practice, like watching TV all days, lol.