John C Lilly

John Cunningham Lilly, 1915 - 2001 (aged 86) from Los Angeles, California, USA

Floating, Float Tanks & Flotation Therapy were developed from the early work of Dr. John Lilly who was a neurophysiologist and psychoanalyst. In 1954 he conducted research into how the brain would react when it was denied external stimulation. 

John Lilly Quotes

I believe in our culture we need certain socially accepted places where we don’t answer the telephone, we don’t have to answer questions or agree with anyone on anything
— John C Lilly
All the average person has to do is to get into the tank in the darkness and silence and float around until he realizes he is programming everything that is happening inside his head. You are free of the physical world at that point and anything can happen inside your head because everything is governed by the laws of thought rather than the laws of the external world. So you can go to the limits of your conceptions.
— John C Lilly
 John C Lilly

John C Lilly

What is true in the province of the mind

In the province of the mind, what one believes to be true, is true or becomes true, within certain limits. to be found experientially and experimentally. These limits are further beliefs to be transcended. In the mind, there are no limits... In the province of connected minds, what the network believes to be true, either is true or becomes true within certain limits to be found experientially and experimentally. These limits are further beliefs to be transcended. In the network's mind there are no limits.

The Human Biocomputer (1974)

If you get into these spaces at all, you must forget about them when you come back. You must forget you're omnipotent and omniscient and take the game seriously so you'll engage in sex, have children, and participate in the whole human scenario. When you come back from a deep tank session — or a coma or psychosis —there's always this extraterrestrial feeling. You have to read the directions in the glove compartment so you can run the human vehicle once more.

Tanks for the Memories : Floatation Tank Talks (1995)

 John Lilly

John Lilly

At the highest level of satori from which people return, the point of consciousness becomes a surface or a solid which extends throughout the whole known universe. This used to be called fusion with the Universal Mind or God. In more modern terms you have done a mathematical transformation in which your centre of consciousness has ceased to be a travelling point and has become a surface or solid of consciousness... It was in this state that I experienced "myself" as melded and intertwined with hundreds of billions of other beings in a thin sheet of consciousness that was distributed acround the galaxy. A "membrane".


John C Lilly Books

  • Tanks for the Memories (1995)
  • John Lilly, So Far (1990)
  • The Scientist: A Metaphysical Autobiography (1988)
  • Communication Between Man and Dolphin: The Possibilities of Talking With Other Species (1978)
  • The Deep Self: Profound Relaxation and the Tank Isolation Technique (1977)
  • The Dyadic Cyclone: The Autobiography of a Couple (1976)
  • Lilly on Dolphins (1975)
  • The Centre of the Cyclone: An Autobiography of Inner Space (1972)
  • Programming and Metaprogramming the Human Biocomputer (1967)
  • The Mind of the Dolphin (1967)
  • The Dolphin in History (1963)
  • Man and Dolphin (1961)
  • Simulations of God: The Science of Belief (1956)

Early Float tank from John Lilly


"There were those who thought he was brilliant, and there were those who just thought he was insane. I, of course, thought he was a little bit of both," said Jennifer Yankee Caulfield, who worked on a Lilly-led project in the early 1980s to teach dolphins a computer-synthesized language.



 Omni, Interview with John C Lilly in Jan 1983 

Omni, Interview with John C Lilly in Jan 1983 

Photo's Of John Lilly

Man & Dolphin

 Original Sensory Deprivation Masks

Original Sensory Deprivation Masks

Man & Dolphin

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Research Papers

Lilly, John C. 1942. "The Electrical Capacitance Diaphragm Manometer." Rev. Sci. Instrum. 13:34-37 

Lilly; John C. 1946. "Studies on the Mixing of Gases Within the Respiratory System with a New Type Nitrogen Meter." (Abstract) Fed. Proc. 5:64

Lilly, John C., Victor Legallais and Ruth Cherry. 1947. "A Variable Capacitor for Measurements of Pressure and Mechanical Displacements: A Theoretical Analysis and Its Experimental Evaluation." J. Appl. Phys. 18 :613-628

Lilly, John C. 1950. "Physical Methods of Respiratory Gas Analysis" in Methods of Medical Research. Vol. 2:131-138. J. H. Comroe, Jr., Ed. Year Book Publishers, Inc., Chicago

Lilly, John C 1950. "Respiratory System: Methods: Gas Analysis." in Medical Physics. Vol. 2:845-855. O. Glasser, Ed. Year Book Publishers, Inc., Chicago

Lilly, John C. 1950. "Mixing of Gases Within Respiratory System with a New Type of Nitrogen Meter." Am. J. Physiol. 161 :342-351

Lilly, John C. 1950. "A Method of Recording the Moving Electrical Potential Gradients in the Brain. The 25-Channel Bavatron and Electro-Iconograms." (A.I.E.E.-IRE Conf. on Electronic Instrumentation in Nucleonics and Medicine). Am. Inst. of Electr. Eng., New York. S-33:37-3

Lilly, John C. 1951. "Equipotential Maps of the Posterior Ectosylvian Area and Acoustic I and II of the Cat During Responses and Spontaneous Activity" (Abstract). Fed. Proc. 10:84

Lilly, John C., and Ruth Cherry. 1951. "Traveling Waves of Action and of Recovery During Responses and Spontaneous Activity in the Cerebral Cortex." Am. J. Physiol. 167:806

Lilly, John C., George M. Austin, and William W. Chambers. 1952. "Threshold Movements Produced by Excitation of Cerebral Cortex and Efferent Fibers with some Parametric Regions of Rectangular Current Pulses: (Cats and Monkeys)." J. Neurophysiol 15:319-341

Lilly, John C. and Ruth Cherry. 1952. "New Criteria for the Division of the Acoustic Cortex into Functional Areas" (Abstract). Fed. Proc. 11:94

Lilly, John C. 1953. "Significance of Motor Maps of the Sensorimotor Cortex in the Conscious Monkey." (Abstract). Fed. Proc. 12:87

Lilly, John C. 1953. Recent Developments in EEG Techniques: Discussion. (Third Int'l. EEG Cong. 1953. Symposia). EEG Clin. Neurophysiol. Suppl. 4:38-40

Lilly, John C. 1954. "Instantaneous Relations Between the Activities of Closely Spaced Zones on the Cerebral Cortex: Electrical Figures During Responses and Spontaneous Activity." Am. J. Physiol. 176:493-504

Lilly, John C., and Ruth Cherry. 1954. "Surface Movements of Click Responses from Acoustic Cerebral Cortex of Cat: Leading and Trailing Edges of a Response Figure." J. Neurophysiol. 17:521-532

Lilly, John C., and Ruth Cherry. 1955. "Surface Movements of Figures in Spontaneous Activity of Anesthetized Cerebral Cortex: Leading and Trailing Edges. J. Neurophysiol. 18:18-32

Lilly, John C., John R. Hughes, and Ellsworth C. Alvord, Jr., and Thelma W. Galkin. 1955. Brief. "Noninjurious Electric Waveform for Stimulation of the Brain." Science 121:468-469

Lilly, John C., John R. Hughes, and Ellsworth C. Alvord, Jr., and Thelma W. Galkin. 1955. "Motor Responses from Electrical Stimulation of Sensorimotor Cortex in Unanesthetized Monkey with a Brief, Noninjurious Waveform" (Abstract). Fed. Proc. 14:93

Lilly, John C. 1955. "An Anxiety Dream of an 8-Year-Old Boy and Its Resolution." Bull Phila. Assn. for Psychoanal. 5:1-4

Lilly, John C. 1955. Review of book by Robert G. Heath, et al. 1954. Studies in Schizophrenia: A Multidisciplinary Approach to Mind-Brain Relationships. Harvard Univ. Press. EEG Clin. Neurophysiol. 7:323-324

Lilly, John C., John R. Hughes, Thelma W. Galkin and Ellsworth C. Alvord, Jr. 1955. "Production and Avoidance of Injury to Brain Tissue by Electrical Current at Threshold Values." EEG Clin. Neurophysiol. 7:458

Lilly, John C. 1956. "Effects of Physical Restraint and of Reduction of Ordinary Levels of Physical Stimuli on Intact Healthy Persons." 13-20 & 44, in Illustrative Strategies for Research on Psychopathology in Mental Health, Symposium No. 2. Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry. New York. P. 47

Lilly, John C., John R. Hughes, and Thelma W. Galkin. 1956. "Gradients of Motor Function in the Whole Cerebral Cortex of the Unanesthetized Monkey" (Abstract). Fed. Proc. 15

Lilly, John C., John R. Hughes, and Thelma W. Galkin. 1956. "Physiological Properties of Cerebral Cortical Motor Systems of Unanesthetized Monkey" (Abstract). Fed. Proc. I5

Lilly, John C., John R. Hughes, and Thelma W. Galkin. 1956. "Some Evidence of Gradients of Motor Function in the Whole Cerebral Cortex of the Unanesthetized Monkey" (Abstract). Proc. 20th Int'l. Physiol. Congress. P. 567-568

Lilly, John C. 1956. "Distribution of 'Motor' Functions in the Cerebral Cortex in the Conscious, Intact Monkey." Science. 124 :937

Lilly, John C. 1957. "Some Thoughts on Brain-Mind and on Restraint and Isolation of Mentally Healthy Subjects. (Comments on Biological Roots of Psychiatry by Clemens F. Benda, M.D.)" J. Phila. Psychiatric Hosp. 2:16-20

Lilly, John C. 1957. "True Primary Emotional State of Anxiety-Terror-Panic in Contrast to a 'Sham' Emotion or 'Pseudo-Affective' State Evoked by Stimulation of the Hypothalamus" (Abstract). Fed. Proc. 16:81

Lilly, John C. 1957. "Learning Elicited by Electrical Stimulation of Subcortical Regions in the Unanesthetized Monkey." Science. 125:748

Lilly, John C. 1957. Review of book by Donald A. Scholl. 1956. The Organization of the Cerebral Cortex. Methuen and Co., Ltd., London and John Wiley and Sons, Inc., New York. Science. 125:1205

Lilly, John C. 1957. "'Stop' and 'Start' Systems" in Neuropharmacology. Transactions of the Fourth Conference, Josiah Macy, Jr., Foundation, Princeton, N.J. (L.C. 55-9013). P. 153-179

Lilly, John C. 1958. "Learning Motivated by Subcortical Stimulation: The 'Start' and 'Stop' Patterns of Behavior." 705-721. Reticular Formation of the Brain. H. H. Jasper, et al. Eds. Little, Brown and Co., Boston. P. 766

Lilly, John C. 1958. "Correlations Between Neurophysiological Activity in the Cortex and Short-Term Behavior in the Monkey," in Biological and Biochemical Bases of Behavior (Univ of Wis. Symposium. 1055) H. F. Harlow and C. N. Woolsey, Ed. Univ. of Wis. Press, Madison, Wis. P. 83-100

Lilly, John C. 1958. "Development of a Double-Table-Chair Method of Restraining Monkeys for Physiological and Psychological Research." J. Appl. Physiol. 12:134-136

Lilly, John C. 1958. "Simple Percutaneous Method for Implantation of Electrodes and/or Cannulae in the Brain." (Abstract.) Fed. Proc. 17:97

Lilly, John C. 1958. "Electrode and Carmulae Implantation in the Brain by a Simple Percutaneous Method." Science. 127:1181-1182

Lilly, John C. 1958. "Some Considerations Regarding Basic Mechanisms of Positive and Negative Types of Motivations." Am. J. Psychiat. 115 498-504

Lilly, John C. 1960. "The Psychophysiological Basis for Two Kinds of Instincts." J. Am. Psychoanalyt. Assoc. Vol. 8: P. 659-670

Lilly, John C. 1961. "Injury and Excitation by Electric Currents." Chapter 6 in Electrical Stimulation of the Brain. Daniel E. Sheer, Ed., Univ. of Texas Press for Hogg Foundation for Mental Health, Austin, Texas. P. 60-64

Lilly, John C. and Jay T. Shurley. 1961. "Experiments in Solitude in Maximum Achievable Physical Isolation with Water Suspension of Intact Healthy Persons." (Symposium, USAF Aerospace Medical Center, San Antonio, Texas, 1960.) in Psychophysiological Aspects of Space Flight. Columbia Univ. Press, New York. P. 238-247

Lilly, John C., and Alice M. Miller. 1961. "Sounds Emitted by the Bottlenose Dolphin." Science. Vol. 133, P. 1689-1693

Lilly, John C., and Alice M. Miller. 1961. "Vocal Exchanges Between Dolphins." Science. Vol. 134: P. 1873-1876

Lilly, John C. 1961. "Problems of Physiological Research on the Dolphin, Tursiops" (Abstract). Fed. Proc. 20:1

Lilly, John C. 1961. "The Biological Versus Psychoanalytic Dichotomy." Bul. of The Phila Assoc. for Psychoanal. Vol. 11: P. 116-119

Lilly, John C., and Alice M. Miller. 1962. "Operant Conditioning of the Bottlenose Dolphin with Electrical Stimulation of the Brain." J. Comp. & Physiol. Psychol. Vol. 55 P. 73-79

Lilly, John C. 1962. Cerebral Dominance in Interhemispheric Relations and Cerebal Dominance. Vernon Mountcastle, M.D., Ed. Johns Hopkins Press, Inc. Baltimore, Md. P. 112-114

Lilly, John C. 1962. A New Laboratory for Research on Delphinids. Assoc. of Southeastern Biologists Bul. Vol. 9, P. 3-4

Lilly, John C. 1962. "Interspecies Communication" in Yearbook of Science and Technology. McGraw-Hill. New York. P. 279-281

Lilly, John C. 1962. "The 'Talking' Dolphins" in The Book of Knowledge Annual. Society of Canada Limited, Grolier, Inc. (This article was updated in the 1969 Yearbook covering the year 1968, pp. 8-15.)

Lilly, John C. 1962. "Vocal Behavior of the Bottlenose Dolphin." Proc. Am. Philos. Soc. Vol. 106. P. 520-529

Lilly, John C. 1962. Sensory World Within and Man and Dolphin. (Lecture to the Laity, New York Acad. of Med., 1962.) Scientific Report no. CRI-0162

Lilly, John C. 1963. "Critical Brain Size and Language." Perspectives in Biol. & Med. Vol. 6. P. 246-255

Lilly, John C. 1963. "Distress Call of the Bottlenose Dolphin: Stimuli and Evoked Behavioral Responses." Science. Vol. 139. P. 116-118

Lilly, John C. 1963. "Productive and Creative Research with Man and Dolphin." (Fifth Annual Lasker Lecture, Michael Reese Hospital and Medical Center, Chicago, III., 1962). Arch. Gen. Psychiatry. Vol. 8. P. 111-116

Lilly, John C. 1964. "Animals in Aquatic Environment. Adaptation of Mammals to the Ocean" in Handbook of Physiology. Environment 1, Am. Physiol. Soc., Wash., D.C. P. 741-757

Jacobs, Myron S., Peter J. Morgane, John C. Lilly and Bruce Campbell. 1964. "Analysis of Cranial Nerves in the Dolphin." Anatomical Record Vol. 148. P. 379

Lilly, John C. 1965. "Report on Experiments with the Bottlenose Dolphin." (Abstract) Proc. of the Int'l. Symp on Comparative Medicine, Eaton Laboratories, Norwich, Conn. P. 240

Lilly, John C. 1965. "Vocal Mimicry in Tursiops. Ability to Match Numbers and Duration of Human Vocal Bursts." Science Vol. 147 (3655). P. 300-301

Lilly, John C. 1966. "The Need for an Adequate Model of the Human End of the Interspecies Communication Program." IEEE Military Electronics Conference (MIL-E-CON 9), on Communication with Extraterrestrial Intelligence, Wash., DC. 1965. IEEE Spectrum 3, no. 3: P. 159-160

Lilly, John C. 1966. "Sound Production in Tursiops truncatus (Bottlenose Dolphin)." Conference on Sound Production in Man: Section on Phonation: Control and Speech Communication, New York Acad. of Sciences. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences. 1968

Lilly, John C. 1967. Dolphin's Mimicry as a Unique Ability and a Step Towards Understanding in Research in Verbal Behavior and Some Neurophysiological Implications. Kurt Salzinger and Suzanne Salzinger, Eds. Conference on Verbal Behavior, N.Y.C. 1965. Academic Press, New York City. P. 21-27

Lilly, John C. 1967. Dolphin Vocalization in Proc. Conf. on Brain Mechanisms Underlying Speech and Language. F. L. Darley, Ed. A Symposium held at Princeton, N.J. 1965. Grune and Stratton, New York City. P. 13-20

Lilly, John C. 1967. Basic Problems in Education for Responsibility Caused by LSD-25. Proc. of 17th Conf. on Science, Philosophy and Religion in their Relation to the Democratic Way of Life. Clarence H. Fause, Ed. Paper presented in section on Character Education of Scientists, Engineers and Practitioners in Medicine Psychiatry and Science with Strategies for Change. Loyola Univ., Chicago, Ill. 1966

Lilly, John C. 1967. "Intracephalic Sound Production in Tursiops truncatus: Bilateral Sources" (Abstract). Fed. Proc. 25, no. 2.

Lilly, John C., Alice M. Miller, and Henry M. Truby. 1968. Reprogramming of the Sonic Output of the Dolphin: Sonic-Burst Count Matching. Miami. Communications Research Institute. Scientific Report no. CRI 0267. J. Acous. Soc. of Amer. (See number 112.)

Lilly, John C., Henry M. Truby, Alice M. Miller, and Frank Grissman 1967. "Acoustic Implications of Interspecies Communication." Miami. Communications Research Institute. J. Acous. Soc. of Amer. Vol. 42: P. 1164. I10 (Abstract.)