Image for 14/06/2010

Play now 28 mins


28 minutes
First broadcast:
Monday 14 June 2010

Rwanda plans to introduce life sentences with no contact with other prisoners to replace the death sentence. Claudia Hammond talks to Craig Haney a psychologist who has interviewed hundreds of prisoners in solitary confinement in the United States. He discusses the psychological consequences of prolonged periods of sensory deprivation and no social contact – extreme anxiety, paranoia, hallucinations, delusions, self-harm and suicide.

In Zamfara State in Northern Nigeria a third of the under fives have been killed in one village from lead poisoning. It’s a result of people mining for gold and storing the crushed rocks which contain high levels of lead in their homes. Claudia talks to Lauren Cooney the emergency coordinator for Medicins Sans Frontieres. She explains the health problems lead poisoning can cause and how it is being treated.

Savant Syndrome can but doesn’t always accompany autism. It can also follow a brain injury. People with Savant syndrome have an extraordinary talent like the ability to draw detailed architectural sketches of buildings from a brief sighting or in a matter of seconds they can tell you the day of the week of any date in history. In the U.S.A. Darold Treffert has devoted his career to studying these rare individuals.

Restless leg syndrome is a neurological disorder which affects millions of people around the world, particularly women. Research conducted in Iceland revealed that it runs in families and last year scientists pinpointed the gene involved. Consultant Adrian Williams sees many patients with RLS, including Beverley Finn, who hasn’t has a good night’s sleep for 46 years because of the condition.


4 items
  • The psychological consequences of solitary confinement in prison

    Rwanda plans to introduce solitary confinement for life to replace the death sentence. What are the psychological consequences of imprisonment with no social contact?

  • Lead poisoning in Nigeria

    In Northern Nigeria lead poisoning has killed a third of under fives in one village. How is it being prevented and treated in other children? Claudia Hammond speaks to Lauren Cooney of MSF.

  • Savant syndrome

    People with Savant syndrome have an extraordinary skill, either mathematical or artistic. It often accompanies autism or happens after brain injury. Author and psychiatrist Darold Treffert explains.

  • Restless Leg syndrome

    Restless Leg syndrome can cause sleepless nights. Claudia Hammond talks to Adrian Williams of the Sleep Centre at St Thomas's Hospital in London.


Free downloads

  1. Image for Health Check

    Health Check

    The BBC World Service's weekly round up of global health stories and topical issues in medicine.

  2. Image for Science Hour

    Science Hour

    Science news and highlights of the week from BBC World Service. The Science Hour is a weekly…

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.

Added. Check out your playlist Dismiss