Dissertation Title:

Psyche’s Bath: A Hermeneutic Inquiry Into the Phenomenology of Flotation-REST


Christy Gardner

Date, Time & Place:

May 6, 2021 at 9:00 am


This hermeneutic study was an exploration of the fecund relationship between Jungian depth psychology and phenomena experienced in flotation tank therapy, establishing an explicit bridge between these fields to answer the question: What are the archetypal themes, patterns, and motifs (implicit or explicit) in float therapy experiences, ranging from the terrifying to the paradisiacal?  The 66 years of research into flotation demonstrates the activation of diverse transpersonal and perinatal experiences while offering therapeutic support for symptoms of stress, anxiety, depression, and pain.  This research encompassed a close reading of records of flotation experiences with emphasis on the accounts of flotation-tank pioneer John Lilly.  Symbolically imagined, flotation offers a unique vessel and environment for deep, introspective reflection—a practice largely absent in modernity.  The study was an attempt to develop understandings of float therapy by bringing it into relationship with Jung’s theory of archetypes and the collective unconscious.  Jung held that humanity’s most challenging task is to become conscious of the contents arising from the unconscious.  The research suggests that float therapy could help accomplish this task.  As this inquiry shows, the numinous images and experiences occurring during float sessions may be amplified via Jungian approaches, including active imagination.  Through inclusion of the cognate approaches of James Hillman’s archetypal psychology and Stanislav Grof’s transpersonal psychology, this study suggests that float-tank therapy can be understood as a process of psychospiritual transformation.

  • Program/Track/Year: Depth Psychology Jungian Archetypal Studies, N, 2012
  • Chair: Dr. Keiron Le Grice
  • Reader: Dr. Jonathan Young
  • External Reader: Dr. Anette Kjellgren
  • Keywords: Jungian Psychology, Flotation-REST, Archetypes, Symbols, Active Imagination, Individuation, Perinatal, Shadow, Nonordinary States Of Consciousness