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Northwest Floatation Center

The Science Fiction of Floatation Tanks in Altered States

Altered States

We all know that science fiction movies aren’t real. That’s the point, right? To explore imagined worlds and consider things that would be otherwise impossible.

No one would be tempted to call the 1980 sci-fi cult classic Altered States realistic. It rests squarely in the science fiction genre, with limited grounding in actual science. Nevertheless, Altered States was one of the first creative portrayals of sensory deprivation, making it an entry point into popular consciousness.

There’s a lot to critique (or even laugh about) in the films depiction of floatation. But despite its fantastic leanings, Altered States makes some interesting—and surprisingly accurate—points about the effects of floatation on memory, hallucination, and sensory overload.

Isolation Tank Plans

Homer Simpson and Isolation Tanks


Each person enjoys a different experience when they float in an isolation tank for the first time. The Simpsons offers a satirical take on isolation tanks when Homer Simpson gets to experience being in one for the first time in the 10th season episode “Make Room For Lisa.”

Homer takes Lisa to a new age store to find natural remedies for stress-induced stomach aches. She is experiencing these stomach aches after her room is converted into a communication tower by a local cell-phone company. While in the new age store, the clerk offers time in the isolation tanks as a method for reducing Lisa’s stress and ridding her stomach ache.

The experiences of Lisa and Homer in their respective isolation tanks are as different as night and day.