So, my villain captures my main character hero's best friend. He likes to keep all of his captured enemies as morbid trophies. Once an enemy is defeated, they are all knocked out, covered in concrete, and stood up to be displayed for the villain's amusement.

They are kept alive during the entire process and the person is fed and watered and waste removed, throughout the incarceration.

So my question is: Would there be any ill effects from being a statue for 3 months, in a standing position?

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    $\begingroup$ You will develop a serious disliking for pigeons $\endgroup$ – Raditz_35 Jun 28 '18 at 8:14
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    $\begingroup$ So, a 3-month body cast in a standing position nevertheless? $\endgroup$ – MonkeyZeus Jun 28 '18 at 12:50
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    $\begingroup$ Death from coagulated blood, great. $\endgroup$ – DonQuiKong Jun 28 '18 at 14:42
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    $\begingroup$ I suggest you watch Return of the Jedi $\endgroup$ – Azor Ahai Jun 28 '18 at 17:42
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    $\begingroup$ Your landlord will sell off all your stuff and rent your place to someone else. $\endgroup$ – David Conrad Jun 29 '18 at 1:35

Have you ever had a cast on a knee or elbow for something like 40 days?

When you get the cast off, the muscles are really reduced in mass, and the mobility of your joint is greatly reduced. And getting it back is painful.

3 months are going to reduce the person in a miserable state: no muscles to support the standing position, no joints mobility.

I am assuming that with

kept alive while all this happens

you mean also taking care of some basic hygiene during those 3 months.

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    $\begingroup$ For an example of what this might look like, the movie Se7en has a similar situation.... $\endgroup$ – Anoplexian Jun 28 '18 at 16:55

Wow, that's quite a harsh torture.

Short term, any victims would probably get lesions from all the strain of being in a position which most people usually can't hold for more than a few hours. They will also have a hard time breathing (unless you allow for extra space near the chest), which will end up killing them in minutes to hours.

Medium term (from a couple days to a week), sweat and waste accumulate. This may cause infections if the person survives.

Long term there will be the trauma from this form of torture. This is probably worse than going to a solitary cell. There will also be severe atrophia of many muscles and a vitamin D deficit due to lack of sunlight, which indirectly will make their bones weaker.


You face a series of threats that come in waves.

Immediately, there's the problem of making the mold properly. Just pouring concrete over someone won't work. They move. They breathe. This presents issues. If the mold sets improperly, your victim cannot breathe, as others have pointed out.

Wet concrete is an alkali, so your victims are being burned as the concrete cures as others have pointed out.

Concrete contains sand and often small rock particles. These will cut your victim as they sit there, entombed for days.

Concrete is exothermic while curing. This paper points out that wet concrete poured at 20c (68f) will rise to 35c (95f) at it's peak.

So your victim is suffering from burns, abrasions, and temperature differentials while the cement cures.

Your villain must spend a great deal of time setting up the victim properly. An IV must be introduced to provide fluids and nutrients. Some kind of exit path must exist for fluids and solids.

Air tubes must be provided. Or better yet, a mask, to prevent cement from entering the mouth or nose.

If the face isn't protected, you now have cement blocking your ears and destroying your eyes. Without a full head shield, your victim is probably blind and possibly deaf after the ordeal.

Now you face hypothermia once the cement cures. (Ever sit on a cold concrete floor? Yeah, that, but now it's your whole body.)

And your victim will be put through high levels of pain as their muscles spasm and joints suffer under the physical strain.

And that's just the first day or two.

You also face high risk of infection from all of the cuts and burns and "bed" sores suffered up to this point.

Then there are the mental issues. You've just put someone in a sensory deprivation tank that they cannot escape and cannot even move inside of. They are at higher risk of hallucinations. The link also describes someone who:

For 1,307 days, Padilla was kept in a 9' x 7' cell with no natural light, clock or calendar. When Padilla left his cell, he was shackled and fitted with heavy goggles and headphones. His counsel argues that while he was being interrogated Padilla was subjected to harsh lights and pounding sounds. While meeting with his counsel, they reported Padilla exhibiting facial tics, random eye movements and unusual contortions of his body. According to them, Padilla had become so "shattered" that he became convinced his lawyers were part of a continuing interrogation program and saw his captors as protectors.

So your victim is being mentally and physically destroyed.

Muscle atrophy can begin to set in within days.

Disuse of the muscles, such as when muscle tissue is immobilized for even a few days of unuse – when the patient has a primary injury such as an immobilized broken bone (set in a cast or immobilized in traction), for example – will also lead rapidly to disuse atrophy.1

And your victim is at higher risk of blood clots.

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    $\begingroup$ I'll add that even partial disuse of one limb for three months can lead to 50% loss of muscle mass... and that with only one limb affected by atrophy, PT & recovery is measured in months to years. $\endgroup$ – GerardFalla Jun 28 '18 at 20:35
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    $\begingroup$ I can testify on the burning sensation of non-hardened concrete. I was helping pour some, and I got some of the the powder on my arms. It caked it some, making getting it off harder, and it burned and itched the whole time. Not fun. $\endgroup$ – The Mattbat999 Jun 29 '18 at 15:12

Concrete burns, severely. This is relevant to the physical health of someone you cast in it. https://precast.org/2010/05/cement-burns/

Standing completely still for 3 months will probably allow enough blood to clot that you simply lose vascular function. Even if you dont, you'll probably die immediately after being freed by something like a Pulmonary Embolism

Breathing will be difficult because in order to cast someone semi-realistically you'll need the concrete to match their body,but if it hardens anywhere inside the maximum size of their expanded chest during breathing, they'll suffocate. Short breaths might work but breathing short,fast breaths is going to keep them from sleeping, tire their diaphragm abnormally(possibly a factor) and drastically affect oxygen levels in their blood. That kind of restriction can cause a form of panic and may cause them to hyperventilate. I'm not an expert in this but I suspect you may be able to drive someone insane with this.

In addition if they are cast in the wrong position their upper body may take most of the weight when the mold is stood up, essentially Crucifying the person inside the shell.

3 Months of inactivity is gonna cause severe atrophy as mentioned, if this affects standing muscles, back and legs etc, the person may not be able to stand or walk at all.

3 months in solitary is easily enough to cause varying states of mental trauma depending on the person involved.

3 minutes encased in a shell would cause the complete psychological breakdown of some claustrophobes I know.

GerardFalla and CAM pointed out that concrete is exothermic during curing, rising to approx. 95F(35C) in a room at 68F(20C). While you need to reach 104F(40C) to experience skin burns, heat stroke occurs at 104F(40C) internal which you'll easily reach if you lock a person into 95F(35C) thermally conductive material.

If you manage not to experience heatstroke, you might die of hypothermia ironically. A long time in physical contact with a thermally conductive slab of concrete could result in Hypothermia which only requires your body to drop below 95F(35C). In a 70F(20C) degree room being in full-body contact with a big stone radiator might actually kill you.

As CAM pointed out, the victim is likely feverish, in shock, abraded and chemically burned. Their body's heat regulation facility is likely compromised.

  • $\begingroup$ Atrophy would be pretty severe at three months, assuming survival of the impacts of skin exposure to wet and hardening concrete. You're spot on with the burns from the chemistry (very caustic, alkaline) and also setting concrete generates actual heat too. $\endgroup$ – GerardFalla Jun 28 '18 at 16:50
  • $\begingroup$ I know concrete is exothermic while setting but I'm not sure if it's bad enough to cause any damage in the quantities expressed in the question. $\endgroup$ – Joshua Rowlison Jun 28 '18 at 16:57
  • $\begingroup$ Concrete is exothermic as it cures. Wet concrete at 20c rises to 35c while curing. hindawi.com/journals/je/2013/946829 This is a BAD THING for your now-feverish, burned, and probably cut from silica particles, victim. $\endgroup$ – CaM Jun 28 '18 at 17:15
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    $\begingroup$ To be fair 35c won't actually cause burns according to burncentrecare.co.uk/about_burned_skin.html (warning, burn images) But being encased in 95F concrete while otherwise compromised will likely cause you to die from heatstroke. $\endgroup$ – Joshua Rowlison Jun 28 '18 at 17:22
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    $\begingroup$ Agreed - I wasn't suggesting first degree burns from exothermy during curing - more that along with the corresponding caustic burns, compression injuries, restricted breathing range, sheer mind-numbing panic, having an unavoidable full-contact heat source driving your core temperature up several degrees for an extended period seems nontrivial - I would summarize this as a high-lethality exercise absent all kinds of handwaving or magic. $\endgroup$ – GerardFalla Jun 28 '18 at 20:31

Even assuming that the evil guy has had the decency of providing intubation for waste disposal, other than severe muscle atrophy, the hapless victims will be dead from dehydration anyway, since concrete is such a hydrovore substance.

If they had any lesion prior to be turned into trophies, those lesions will get infected and go gangrenous.

Standing so long on your feet will also, well, send your feet in a gangrene

Even in forced immobility, dehydration and temperature (you'd keep emitting body heat inside that life-sized cage) would cause muscular spams. A series of painful, atrocious cramps.

Oh, but here comes the best part: concrete may look like an ominous sludge when fresh, but upon hardening that sludge expands. The victims' bones will be mostly broken by the time they become statues.

And, last but not least, psychological damage. Being entombed in your own body and staying conscious for that much time will cause those poor guys such a breakdown as to add a new definition under 'claustrophobia' and 'PTSD'.

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    $\begingroup$ Skin suffocation is not a thing. Concrete changes size slightly during curing, but then stops, otherwise it would be a useless building material. There won’t be any microparticles unless someone starts sanding the concrete. $\endgroup$ – Dan W Jun 28 '18 at 6:28
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you for your clarifications, edited answer. Yes, concrete changes size, but it exerts a strong pressure around the body it covers during hardening. That is why it hugs so tight iron bars in the armoring, or they'd easily come away $\endgroup$ – Valerio Pastore Jun 28 '18 at 6:33
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    $\begingroup$ You might not be standing on your feet though. The concrete will probably support the weight of your body. Your crushed, mushy body. $\endgroup$ – corsiKa Jun 28 '18 at 14:30

If the victims are held in an upright position, suspension trauma seems highly likely. This occurs when the human body is held upright without any movement for a period of time. Basically, whithout muscle movement the blood will have a hard time returning to the torso from the legs. This will eventually lead to death by oxygen depravation of the brain.

According to the wikipedia article, the condition usually occurs after more than 20 minutes of free hanging. The victims may be able to fight it for a while by using their leg muscles, but eventually they will faint in an upright position and die. Seems like it would be hard to stay alive even for a day.

On the "upside" how ever, if your villain is aware of this risk, he could avoid it by putting the victims in a safer position.


Assuming that they have access to oxygen, my biggest concerns would probably be muscle atrophy and compression around the chest which would stop their lungs from expanding properly. They'll also likely develop varicose veins from weakened valves causing blood pooling, which can lead to hemodynamic changes that cause certain cardiovascular diseases.

If the villain is so intent on keeping his captured trophies alive, could something along the lines of trophy cases work instead? Rather than have the victims encased in concrete, he could have them in decorative cases which are displayed throughout the room. There would also be consequences to this, especially of the psychological kind, but it would make meeting physiological demands a lot easier.


Assuming that the poor victim survives the threats from the other answers (he'll probably die of heatstroke just from the cement curing because there isn't a good way for heat to be released), deep vein thrombosis may kill him.

Even having your legs still for a long airplane trip can cause a blood clot to form in the legs. This can cause swelling and pain, but those aren't the real problem.

Clots tend to break off and travel through the bloodstream. They can end up in the lungs causing a variety of extremely unpleasant symptoms. Imagine major coughing fits while in the concrete prison. These clots will eventually reduce the victim's lung capacity. Expect many of these things to form and eventually kill the victim.

Congratulations. You've found a method of torturing somebody to death far worse than anything I've ever done to a fictional character.


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