Bending and Mending the neurosignature: frameworks of influence by floatation-rest

Posted on February 5, 2015

For the academics, a doctoral dissertation by Sven-Åke Bood.

The conclusions are cited here, read more if interested @

The overarching purpose of the current thesis was to assess the long term
effects of a documented treatment program involving flotation-REST for the
experience of pain, from the point of view of variables connected with
Melzack´s neuromatrix theory, and to examine the extent of a potential
attention-placebo effect in connection with flotation-REST. An additional
purpose was to explore whether neuromatrix theory constitutes a functional
frame for an understanding of the empirical results of the current studies.
The results from the three experiments (Paper I, Paper II and Paper III) are in
agreement with those of earlier studies regarding the ability of the flotation-
REST technique to reduce stress, as shown in a recent meta- analysis (van
Dierendonck & te Nijenhuis, 2005). Furthermore, the results support those of
earlier studies of the ability of the flotation-REST method to alleviate pain
(Kjellgren et al., 2001). A previous study (Norlander, Kjellgren & Archer, 2001)
showed that the flotation-REST method is not particularly affected by an
expectancy-placebo, and the results of Paper II showed that this notion is also
true of an attention-placebo. Taken together, Papers I, II, III and IV have
contributed the following to the flotation tank research: (1) The patients were
treated for longer periods of time than they were in previous studies, (2) a
standardized treatment program was tried out, (3) patients were followed up
four months after the end of treatment, (4) a new test of pain was developed,
(5) the role of attention was examined directly for the first time, (6) the
combination of flotation-REST and therapy was tested for the first time for the
duration of a year through case studies, and the effects were compared to a
follow-up 18 months later, (7) the work designed to look for biological markers
has continued, and prolactin appears to be an interesting possibility, and (8) the
variables used have all shown relevance with regard to Melzack´s neuromatrix.
Given more empirical work and more systematic research, it is time for
flotation tank research to become more theoretically anchored. Hopefully, the
current thesis will constitute such a first step.
In all papers, the conclusion was drawn that flotation tank therapy
is an effective and non-invasive method for the treatment of stress-related pain,
and that the method is not affected more by a placebo than by other methods
currently used in pain treatment. The treatment of both burn-out depression
and pain related to muscle tension constitutes a major challenge for the patient
as well as the care provider, an area where great gains can be made if the
treatment is effective. An important aspect of such treatment is finding
methods, which involve rest and recovery and an increased ability to experience
happiness and hope. Flotation tank therapy may constitute an integral part of
such treatment.