Altered States and floating

william hurt in the tank

Isolation tanks are guaranteed make you crazy, reckless, violent and eventually break down your genetic material. That’s the philosophy put forth by Altered States.

The 1980 film stars William Hurt as Eddie Jessup, who studies and experiments with different states of consciousness using an isolation tank. At first these floating sessions only produce hallucinations. Over time, and with the aid of hallucinatory drugs, Jessup experiences escalating side effects from the hours he spends inside the isolation tank. He begins to experience altered states of consciousness both inside and outside the tank.

It starts with waking hallucinations and eventually turns into physical manifestations of his altered states of consciousness. Jessop undergoes genetic regression at the same time as a direct result of his floating sessions in the tank. First, he regresses to a sub-human hominid and then finally morphs into an unborn state of cellular ooze.

hurt blob 2


At this point, Jessop barely survives his final session in the isolation tank. Even after being rescued from the isolation tank, he still experiences the waking hallucinations that plagued him before. He is only saved from his hallucinations and ultimately cured by the love and support of his wife.

This film of course is a completely fictional account, but Hollywood gets isolation tanks all wrong. Isolation tanks do not have the negative and horrific impact that movies like Altered States want you to believe.

Far from creating dangerous hallucinations, floating actually helps clear a cloudy mind and increase focus. Floating eases pain and aids in recovery from injuries. It frees the body and mind from the stress and trials of daily living.

Floating is neither a calm nor tranquil experience for Jessup. He finds himself in a waking nightmare from his time in the tank. This is just nonsense. Floating in an isolation tank will not cause people violently hallucinate outside of it.  

hurt monkey man

Jessup experiences a physical change that breaks his body down and erases his humanity. The physical changes found using an isolation tank are positive. Salt water offers benefits to the human body and floating relaxes muscles. The weightless of floating eases stress on joints. Floating is one of the best ways to relax body, mind and spirit.

If you are want to enjoy some rather strange entertainment on a Friday night, Altered States may be your answer. If you want a true depiction of floating, look elsewhere. The ideas presented here are foreign to anyone who spends time in an isolation tank.