Float Away Anxiety - Excerpt 12

Float Away Anxiety - Excerpt 12

How does floating achieve such ultimate relaxation and reduce anxiety symptoms?

What theory can explain these effects?

Dr. Feinstein found an answer in the work of Joseph Wolpe: "Psychotherapy by reciprocal inhibition" from 1958, Stanford University, California. Wolpe, psychiatrist, is one of the most influential researchers in behavioral therapy.

His work is called "Reciprocal Inhibition Therapy" or "Treatment Strategies in Anxiety Disorders."

"If one can make a response antagonistic/contradictory to fear occur in the presence of fear-producing stimuli so that it is accompanied by a complete or partial suppression of the fear response, the link between these stimuli and the fear responses will be weakened."

Here's the simplified explanation:

In moments of fear, our breath falters and our heart beats our throat. We all know this, these are usually the effects that we are often the first to notice. And these are precisely the sensations we experience most during a float session: our breathing and our heartbeat. There is no other stimulus from the environment.

This is a strange paradox: we start to make contact with the very sensations we feel when we are anxious. And so we link our increased heart rate and breathing to unpleasant situations. But when we link those with relaxation, a new association can be made.

This can lead to results far beyond these 21 hours after a float session. This new association can go far beyond a float session and extend into ordinary life. Examples will follow in excerpt 13.

Wolpe had never heard of a float tank. If he were still alive he would certainly have said that the requirements for his theory are almost perfectly met in a float environment.

This is the 12th excerpt of 18 out of Dr Justin Feinstein's talk at Float Conference 2018, Float Away Anxiety. Research results can be found at: