Clinical and Experimental Restricted Environmental Stimulation

pp 113-120

Effects of Chamber REST, Flotation REST and Relaxation on Transient Mood State

  • Arreed Barabasz
  • , Marianne Barabasz
  • , Rebecca Dyer
  • , Noël Rather

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Restricted Environmental Stimulation Therapy (REST) formerly labeled sensory deprivation still suffers from misunderstanding and misconceptions. Suedfeld (1990) noted that most people learn about REST from psychology text books that report the effects of REST on the basis of early research such as the McGill studies which were confounded by such anxiety-laden procedures that it is not surprising that subjects experienced high levels of stress. The early studies produced subject reports of disorientation, tearfulness, nightmares, depression, bouts of anger, feelings of hopelessness and hallucinations (Suedfeld, 1980). In order to protect subjects, Sanders (1967) developed observational criteria for terminating REST. These include craving for stimulation, emotional lability, and impaired secondary process. With the advent of modern REST procedures, which address the experimental demand characteristics that once cued Ss to expect stressful reactions, a vastly different view of REST has emerged. Recent research and anecdotal data indicates that most subjects currently find the REST experience quite pleasant. In a review of the research, Suedfeld (1980) noted that early termination of chamber REST is rare. Rank and Suedfeld (1978) exposed alcoholic Ss to eight hours of lying on a bed in a dark sound attenuated chamber.