I thought I’d misread this initially. Surely they meant ‘alone for several days – even hours’? But no just 6 – 15 minutes alone is enough to make people reach for the button and self-administer an electric shock. And it’s not the curiosity of what the shock would be like either.
As Blaise Pascal said: “All men’s miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone.”
People try to keep busy; they feel they must be doing something. Some end up totally driven, never being able to rest and relax. It’s the difficulty of being made to face one’s thoughts that seems to trouble people. After therapy most people realise that it’s the fear of those thoughts that causes the anxiety. Allowing them may bring pain initially but that passes and they are left feeling lighter and free.
http://www.iflscience.com/brain/people-would-rather-experience-electric-shock-be-alone-their-thoughts further details and a link to the study here.