Buried Alive! The Immersive Experience

Ryan Reynolds inwards Buried (2010)

The pathological fearfulness of beingness buried live on is called taphophobia.1  This seems similar a perfectly rational fearfulness to me, especially if 1 is claustrophobic too enjoys horror movies too Edgar Allan Poe short stories. Within a modern medical context, however, it only non possible that a someone volition live on buried spell silent alive.

But this wasn't e'er the case. In the 19th century, truthful stories of premature burial were common, appearing inwards newspapers too medical journals of the day. Tebb too Vollum (1896) published a 400 page tome (Premature burial too how it may live on prevented: amongst special reference to trance, catalepsy, too other forms of suspended animation) that was total of such examples:

The British Medical Journal, Dec 8, 1877,
p. 819, inserts the next : —


"A correspondent at Naples states that the Appeal Court has had earlier it a instance non probable to inspire confidence inwards the minds of those who hold off frontwards amongst horror to the possibility of beingness buried alive. It appeared from the testify that approximately fourth dimension agone a adult woman was interred amongst all the usual formalities, it beingness believed that she was dead, spell she was exclusively inwards a trance. Some days afterwards, the grave inwards which she had been placed beingness opened for the reception of approximately other body, it was found that the clothe which covered the unfortunate adult woman were torn to pieces, too that she had fifty-fifty broken her limbs inwards attempting to extricate herself from the living tomb. The Court, after hearing the case, sentenced the doc who had signed the certificate of decease, too the mayor who had authorised the interment, each to 3 months' imprisonment for involuntary manslaughter."

To avoid this fate worse than death, contraptions known equally “safety coffins” were popular, amongst air tubes, bells, flags, and/or burning lamps (Dossey, 2007). Some taphophobes went to neat lengths to outline specific instructions for treatment their corpse, to forestall such an ante-mortem horror from happening to them. Some powerfulness fifty-fifty say these directives were a shape of “overkill”...

From the Lancet, August 20, 1864, p. 219.


"Amongst the papers left past times the neat Meyerbeer, were approximately which showed that he had a profound dread of premature interment. He directed, it is stated, that his trunk should live on left for x days undisturbed, amongst the aspect upwardly uncovered, too watched black too day. Bells were to live on fastened to his feet. And at the goal of the 2d twenty-four lx minutes catamenia veins were to live on opened inwards the arm too leg. This is the gossip of the upper-case alphabetic lineament inwards which he died. The offset impression is that such a fearfulness is morbid. No dubiety fewer precautions would suffice, but at nowadays too over again cases occur which seem to warrant such a feeling, too to demo that desire of caution may Pb to premature interment inwards cases unknown. An instance is mentioned past times the Ost. Deutsche Post of Vienna. H5N1 few days since, runs the story, inwards the institution of the Brothers of Charity inwards that capital, the bell of the dead-room was heard to band violently, too on 1 of the attendants proceeding to the house to ascertain the cause, he was surprised at seeing 1 of the supposed dead men pulling the bell-rope. He was removed similar a shot to approximately other room, too hopes are entertained of his recovery."

Here's a especially gruesome one:

From the Daily Telegraph, Jan 18, 1889.

"A gendarme was buried live on the other twenty-four lx minutes catamenia inwards a hamlet close Grenoble. The homo had move intoxicated on murphy brandy, too brutal into a profound sleep. After 20 hours passed inwards slumber, his friends considered him to live on dead, especially equally his trunk assumed the usual rigidity of a corpse. When the sexton, however, was lowering the remains of the ill-fated gendarme into the grave, he heard moans too knocks proceeding from the interior of the 'four-boards.' He similar a shot bored holes inwards the sides of the coffin, to permit inwards air, too thence knocked off the lid. The gendarme had, however, ceased to live, having horribly mutilated his caput inwards his frantic but futile efforts to outburst his coffin open."

Doesn't that audio similar fun? Wouldn't you lot similar to experience this yourself? Now you lot can!

Taphobos, an immersive coffin experience (by James Brown)

How does it work?

The game uses a existent life coffin, an Oculus Rift, a PC too approximately microphones. One histrion gets inwards the coffin amongst the Rift on, together amongst a headset + microphone. The other histrion plays on a PC over again amongst mic + headset, this histrion volition play a offset someone game where they must operate amongst the buried histrion to uncover where the coffin is too rescue the trapped histrion earlier their oxygen runs out. This is all powered past times the Unity engine.

But why?? (Brown, 2015):

This operate is intended to explore “uncomfortable experiences too interactions” equally utilization of academic question inwards the Human Computer Interaction champaign (HCI) from an MSc past times Research inwards Computer Science student, James Brown. The histrion within the coffin volition experience diverse emotions equally they are seat inwards too thence test to move out of the confined space. Claustrophobia too equally the fearfulness of beingness buried live on “taphophobia” may good deport on players of the game too they must care amongst these emotions equally they play.

Further Reading


Buried Alive! (October 31, 2011)


1 Also spelled taphephobia. From the Greek taphos, or grave.


Brown J. (2015). Taphobos: An Immersive Coffin Experience. British HCI 2015, July 13-17, 2015, Lincoln, United Kingdom.

Dossey L. (2007). The undead: botched burials, security coffins, too the fearfulness of the grave. Explore (NY). 3:347-54.

Tebb W, Vollum EP. (1896). Premature burial too how it may live on prevented: amongst special reference to trance, catalepsy, too other forms of suspended animation. SWAN SONNENSCHEIN & CO., LIM.: London.  {archive.org}

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