Heard an interesting story on the radio today about a lab rat study done in the 1950’s by a (possibly sadistic) scientist named Curt Richter.
He took a bunch of rats and put them into a high-sided bucket of circulating water that they couldn’t escape from and timed how long it took for the rats to drown. It wasn’t long – an average of 15 minutes for the rats to give up, stop swimming, and drown.
He then repeated the experiment with a new group of rats and a new twist – in the second instance, he “rescued” the rats just after they had given up swimming, again, at around the 15 minute mark. He let them dry off, he fed them some food, allowed them to recuperate. And then he threw them back in the bucket of water. The amazing result was that these rats were then able to swim for up to 60 hours before giving up and drowning.
Curt Richter attributed the rat’s new found stamina and survival skills to “hope” and felt that he had demonstrated the miraculous achievements possible as long as one has hope.
I see implications for action movies where the hero is about to die in the villains lair, and he is briefly rescued.
What I also find interesting is that this study, which really is completely f’ed up, is cited in on a lot of bibly / sermony / religious websites when you google for it. They love the part about the hope, but they’re kind of missing how the hope part was derived. Maybe the rats that gave up in fifteen minutes were really the smart ones.