First introduced by Neuro-psychiatrist John C. Lilly in 1954 A Sensory Deprivation Chamber is a light-less, soundproof enclosure, filled with salt water that is kept at skin temperature. In this chamber a person will float weightless on the water with their senses deprived (Hence the name Sensory Deprivation Chamber). They are unable to see or hear anything, all while because of the water being the same heat as your body, subjects have been noted to have said “it all just fades away” and all that’s left is the mind.
Remind you of something?
In the DS9 episode “In The Cards” Dr Elias Giger had a very similar pod in his quarters on the station. According to its designer, the chamber was designed to keep cells energized by “teaching” them “new mitochondrial tricks”. The chamber functioned by transmitting biogenic energy on a chromoelectric wavelength, to send “uplifting and entertaining” messages to cellular nuclei. Giger predicted that, by spending eight hours a day in the machine, one’s life span could be extended indefinitely – effectively bestowing immortality on the user.
In the real world example, in this pitch black pod, you float on the surface of a pool of water set at body temperature. Sight, sound and eventually touch are all muted so only your thoughts remain. It is an experience that makes the user feel weightless.
It’s first use was in Neuro-physiology, to answer a question as to what keeps the brain going and the origin of its energy sources. One hypothesis was that the energy sources are biological and internal and do not depend upon the outside environment. It was argued that if all stimuli are cut off to the brain then the brain would go to sleep. Lilly decided to test this hypothesis and, with this in mind, created an environment which totally isolated an individual from external stimulation. From here, he studied the origin of consciousness and its relation to the brain.
From then on it has been used for various treatments such as Stress Therapy, Alternative Medicine, and Meditation.
Research at the Human Performance Laboratory at Karlstad University concludes that regular flotation tank sessions can provide significant relief for chronic stress-related ailments. Studies involving 140 people with long-term conditions such as anxiety, stress, depression and fibromyalgia found that more than three quarters experienced noticeable improvements.