Movement, Mood, and Moment in Human Subjects during Temporal Isolation

  • Jürgen Aschoff


The single and singular book of Robert Burton (1651), ‘The Anatomy of Melancholy,’ carries a frontispiece that displays, apart from Democritus and the author himself, four figures in different poses: the Inamorato’ stands with folded hand, down hangs his head, terse and polite’; the Hypochondrine sits on a chair, his head leaning on his arm, ‘much pain he hath and many woes’; the Superstitious on his knees’ fasts, prays, tormented hope and fears betwixt’; finally, the Maniac shows all limbs in wild motion (though the legs are in chains), and ‘roars amain he knows not why.’ (Quotations from Burton’s explanatory poem ‘the argument of the frontispiece.’) The four figures illustrate the common experience that posture, mood and motion are closely related. When in high spirits, we may dance in a lively fashion, in sorrow we may hide in our beds; and subjective time, as it passes by, changes its speed along with changes in our mood and motion. A woodcut of the Japanese artist Eisen (Fig. 1) provides further examples of this inter-relationship, and it even pins down the ‘moment’ (see the bottom right hand corner) when a lady attempts to thread a needle.


Rectal Temperature Circadian System Wake Time Subjective Time Isolation Unit 
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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jürgen Aschoff
    • 1
  1. 1.Max-Planck-Institut für VerhaltensphysiologieAndechsGermany

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