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The Book of Floating: Exploring the Private Sea

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A thorough and absorbing summary of the healing and therapeutic uses of the floatation tank invented by Dr. John C. Lilli, the celebrated neuroscience researcher.

268 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1984

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About the author

Michael Hutchison

57 books13 followers
My first novel, "Ozone" was the winner of the James Michener prize awarded by the Copernicus Foundation, but sadly was destroyed in a fire before it could be published.After that I traveled throughout Central America which was then in the midst of revolutions and dictatorships which operated death squads. On two occasions I was arrested by government operated death squads and escape execution by sheer good fortune. I traveled with the revolutionary Sandinistas and participated in the overthrow of the Nicaraguan dictator Somoza and remember shooting an AK-47 at his helicopter as he escaped his famous "bunker." While most neuroscientists and all nonscientists thought the human brain stopped growing when it reached maturity, my now-classic "Megabrain" was the first book to reveal the recent scientific discovery that the human brain possessed "neuroplasticity," and could continue to grow (given the proper stimulation) until death. This revelation led to the publication of numerous books of how to make your brain grow larger, smarter, and more complex. While most people still believed that male and female brains were identical, my book "The Anatomy of Sex and Power" revealed that for evolutionary reasons male and female brains have numerous and substantial anatomical differences. This led to the publication of popular books like "Men are like Mars, Women like Venus."
My books have always been on the cutting edge or ahead of their time.

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5 stars
47 (36%)
4 stars
45 (34%)
3 stars
29 (22%)
2 stars
8 (6%)
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1 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 9 of 9 reviews
Profile Image for Bryan.
15 reviews1 follower
June 28, 2007
A book on the uses of the floatation tank. Written in the 80's and you can kind of tell. Is more scientific and does not give you too many practicals or even real good science, but almost feels like a big ad on floating. Though I'll have to re-read now that I have a fucking float tank in my living room. It's almost as good as a time machine in my closet. Bonus points if you got that.
Profile Image for Michael Burnam-Fink.
1,489 reviews223 followers
October 28, 2016
Sensory deprivation tanks are one of those strange retro things that never seem to go away. Invented in 1954 by the truly bizarre Dr. John C. Lilly, they experienced a surge of interest during the New Agey/human potential movement 70s, culminating in the sci-fi horror thriller Altered States. These days they're back, with cameos in the hit Netflix show Stranger Things. You too can try float therapy, with franchises and spas in every major cities.

As far as guides to floating go, this is apparently it. Hutchinson went in as a skeptic, and came out a true believer, and this book is a breathless pitch for the benefits of this type of therapy. You can do anything with a tank, from perfecting your golf swing to curing cancer. Hutchinson doesn't know how it works, but offers explanations using every pop-science understanding of the mind available in the 80s. All of these theories are probably Not Even Wrong, but if you accept the premise that the mind can affect the body, and that something like meditation affects the mind, then stripped of it's New Age vibes, floating is a great way for distracted and stressed people to unwind and focus.

Chapters 16 and 17, which focus on breathing exercises, self-hypnosis, and visualization, are the most useful for a novice floater, and strongly complemented the brief instructional video that my location provided. I'm not going to claim that float therapy is some sort of universal key for unlocking the human mind, but in the short term it has helped my neck pain and writer's block.
Profile Image for Catherine.
864 reviews
August 7, 2015
This was a very interesting read for someone like me who loves floating. The first half is an examination of why floating feels so healing and positive in effect, and the author explores a lot of plausible theories and studies -- albeit since this book dates from the 1980s, none of it is current information. The next third or do of the book is chock full of very detailed and helpful suggestions about how to deploy floating techniques to do such things as conduct body and mental self checks, gain confidence, improve athletic and work performance, and lose weight. The very last section of the book is modern, written after 2006, and it is a real surprise and quite thought provoking. One star off for no update of the earlier scientific information but otherwise this is a great and helpful read for floaters.
Profile Image for Greg.
649 reviews85 followers
August 17, 2007
This is a book from the 80's. It is a lengthy commercial for the benefits of float tanks. If you saw the movie Altered States, that was a float tank. They are isolation tanks filled with 10" of heated water and epsom salts (for buoyancy) and a hatch that shuts out all light and sound. The book could have been a 70 page pamphlet. It repeats itself chapter to chapter.
Profile Image for Triseugeny.
47 reviews
July 7, 2007
Didn't feel like the book was entirely based on facts that link to the floating tank. I feel like another book needs to be put out that is more so based on those scientific facts.
Profile Image for Alexi Parizeau.
284 reviews24 followers
July 1, 2015
A book about the effect of float tanks on the brain/body. This had quite a few ideas that I found insightful, so I'm glad I read it.
Profile Image for Claude Smith-Kenny.
23 reviews2 followers
March 14, 2023
I'm not saying I could write a more accurate and scientifically sound book on Floating, but... okay, yes I am saying that. While I'm thrilled Hutchison took the time and effort to compile this information, a lot of it is very subjective and he fails to cite sources on many claims throughout the book. Great intentions, poor follow-through, from a research perspective.
Profile Image for Joe.
59 reviews
November 3, 2018
2.5 stars rounded up. A thoroughly comprehensive overview of the many benefits of floating. Hutchinson's enthusiasm for floating makes the book great, his endless hyperbole and bad science makes it tough to take seriously at times. I think this book would be best enjoyed skimmed.
1 review
August 10, 2016
Great book to read before you get out there and hit a Flotation station.

Recommend it for anyone looking to Float for the first time, as well as those interested in the health benefits.
Displaying 1 - 9 of 9 reviews

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