Sensory isolation in floatation tanks as a method for promoting psi-conducive imagery

Research output: Contribution to ConferenceAbstract


The late Dr John Lilly (1972, 1977) employed floatation techniques in isolated environments, which are now typically referred to as “floatation tanks”, with other co-founders of this technique referring to it a “Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy”, or REST for short (Suedfeld, et al. 1990). Lilly not only documented the types of imagery that people experience when inside the tanks (see Lilly & Gold, 2001) but also encouraged parapsychologists to use this technique in much the same way as the ganzfeld to facilitate the production of psi imagery (Lilly, 1969). Conceptually the floatation tank technique is in league with the ganzfeld in terms of its ability to promote altered states of consciousness (see Tart, 1975), but the presence of psi occurring within this particular scenario requires further exploration (see Roe, 2009).

It appears that few acted on Lilly’s suggestion in employing the tanks as an alternative methodology for exploring the psi hypothesis, with some of the main reasons for this being due to the cost associated with the tanks and the time and effort required to sufficiently maintain them. Despite these issues, Rogo (1980) attempted a pilot study using the tanks following a similar protocol employed within the ganzfeld telepathy studies of the time, with an agent trying to send a randomly selected image they were viewing to a person under sensory deprivation floating in the tank. Although Rogo’s study did not produce findings suggestive of psi taking place, the sample was too small with too few trials to draw meaningful conclusions. The study did, however, identify several methodological concerns regarding the use of the tanks, which perhaps further explains why no further studies employing the tanks were published within parapsychology.

This paper will provide a brief overview of Lilly’s and Rogo’s suggestions and applications of floatation tanks in psi research, and will also report on a pilot study which is currently in progress, further investigating the use of floatation tanks in producing imagery attributed to psi.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sept 2017
Event41st SPR International Annual Conference - Horsely Estate, East Horsley, United Kingdom
Duration: 1 Sept 20173 Sept 2017
Conference number: 41


Conference41st SPR International Annual Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
CityEast Horsley


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