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The urge to say breathholding is bad.

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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New Member
Jan 11, 2004
Why is it that just about everybody has to say holding my breath is bad for me whenever I bring up the subject? When I think about the hidden reason behind such mindless statements, I either want to kill the person or hurt him really bad! or something like that. The futility of trying to persuade people about such things as holding your breath and not losing brain cells can be very discouraging, so I think it would be in everybody's interest to know that violence is the first cardinal rule in the art of persuasion. Yep, we live in a society where the denizens of consumer culture are tabula rasa peons who must be told everything and proficient in spreading mass propaganda via violence or mind-numbing numbness. Who would think you to be a criminal for dangling a carrot towards a pool to guide the donkey into the wonderful world of free diving? Oh well, that's my take on why people have to react reflexively like bugs when confronted with ideas contradicting what they've heard others say reflexively like bugs.

"So have you ever heard of people doing underwater breathholding?"
"Holding your breath can cause brain-damage, you know."
Extreme breathholding can definitely damage the brain. In less extreme cases, it just destroy your sense of irony.
The thing that frustrates me the most is that people judge before they think. They adhere to some old myths and beliefs the read in some newspaper article written by someone who didn't have a clue about anything but desperately needed a story.
Psychology says that beliefs and attitudes are very hard to change; it can be achieved by adding new information to existent beliefs.
But how do you talk to someone who doesn't even listen ? :head

Regards, Veronika
who currently has a slightly annoying parents-who-condemn-apnea-problem:(
I belive death is a major reason freediving has such a bad reputation among non divers. The only time media covers freediving is when a record (new max depth ever) is broken or a freediver drowns.

If one only hears of something whenever it goes wrong...

The best defense is, as in all simliar situations regardless of what, is to be prepared with knowledge. Learn as much as you can, and then whenever you end up being challenged by an ignorant comment, just return a solid response.
Originally posted by RogueWave
Extreme breathholding can definitely damage the brain. In less extreme cases, it just destroy your sense of irony.


Rogue, are you really almost 80 years old? Do you still freedive?

Sorry to hijack the thread :eek: , but reading your profile really got me thinking about the future.

To convince your friends, get a friend doctor into the room. In front of your friends, ask the doctor the following question:

- Doctor, at what arterial oxygen saturation do you think brain damage becomes a possibility?

[doctor will answer probably 85%, 80%, 75%, 70%, 65% etc...]

[you reply] Well then, did you know that a trained athlete can hold his breath for X:XX before reaching that level of oxygen saturation?

Using the following [approximate] table:
90% -> 5'20"
85% -> 5'40"
80% -> 6'00"
75% -> 6'20"
70% -> 6'40"
65% -> 7'00"

Eric Fattah
BC, Canada
Does that mean that when the static world record is broken the person is actually killing a few brain cells in the process? Or does that person qualify as superfit in which case the table changes?
Studies in rats show that unless there is a blackout or a very long 'samba', no brain cells are killed. However, that argument is not likely to get you very far with people.

The method I mentioned above relies on the unreliable question to the doctor. At 65% SaO2, you are still not even close to killing brain cells (as long as that saturation is not maintained for a long period). However, doctors are generally paranoid of letting their patients run below 80% SaO2, not so much because of brain damage, but because of the complications low O2 can have on other problems.

Since most people black-out around SaO2 = 45-55%, then one could assume that if SaO2 drops below 45%, there is some risk of the very beginning of damage, whereas we know of many freedivers who have blacked out for 4 minutes and recovered without any noticeable effect on brain function. So, their SaO2 was at 45-55% when they blacked out, then they spent another 4 minutes without O2, meaning their saturation probably dropped to 20% or less... still no noticeable effects -- but that doesn't mean there wasn't a small number of cells killed.

Eric Fattah
BC, Canada

Yes, fourscore am I.

How 'bout some karma for a superannuated apneist!
I lost my sense of shame decades ago. Not nearly as much fun as losing my virginity.
  • Like
Reactions: unirdna
I believe that somewhere around 50 years-old, each person makes his/her decision to live out the rest of their days as a jovial life-lover, or a cantankerous crotch-of-a-lintball. There doesn't seem to be any older folks who ride the middle. Glad to see you chose the light side of the force. Karma to you, my wise elder.


ps. Again, sorry for talking during class :eek: .
In my opinion explaining that (extreme) breath-holding is a safe sport using just scientific facts, doesn't work.
Just like the opposite: it has been scientificly proven that boxing and football cause brain damage. Does the general public care? No. Just like the fact that drinking lots of alcohol kills brain cells. Who cares? What about smoking: here in Holland half the size of a pack of cigarettes is covered with warnings that smoking is lethal. People still smoke.

The actual problem why some people think that breath-holding must be bad, is a strong conscious or subconscious fear for suffocation or drowning. Breathing and the regular supply of oxygen is vital for survival. And for surviving it's good that our system reacts so strong to the urge to breathe. But this fear can also be too strong, keeping people from experiencing their true potential.....

Fred S.
Fred is right on I think. People think what they want to think. Although Eric Fattahs arguments are probably the way to go in refuting the argument about brain damage, I think that generally speaking, it's pointless to explain a hobby or interest to someone who doesn't share it. Especially someone who has already decided it's not his/hers cup of tea anyway.
so Stephane Mifsud must be completly crazy now....with 8'24" and 6 months of intense training and 10 years of "holding his breath" practicing...;)
I think Andy LeSauce has done more static apneas than any person alive! According to his website he has recorded every static on paper, some five thousand or something like that.

Eric Fattah
BC, Canada
Seriously...my therapist is worried about me. She says she's heard that anything past 2 minutes is "dangerous"--or will "hurt you."
Someone else I know said it was anything past 4. That even pearl divers never go past 4 minutes, as that is "in the danger zone."
Anyways--I promised I'd check it out for her--and me...so her mind will be eased, and *I* will FINALLY KNOW!
I call the fear of brain damage The 6:40 Effect--that's when I first experienced it--at age 17. With the 6:40.
Even my neurologist insists I show no brain damage--and she knows about the 6:40.
So, how long is too long, guys???
Water Rat
BTW--does the amount of hyperventilating you do--if any--matter??
It matters on hold length.
Water Rat
Ya mean I can go past 5 minutes, again???
MOM said if you quit breathing for 5 minutes--you'd be DEAD. :(
Water Rat, who's almost regularly back in the 3's.
But pissed off by TOO MANY 2's!
Hope I can show this to Jane, my therapist--she's a real sweetie. :)
Water Rat
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