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Out-of-Body Experiences

  1. Mar 19, 2009 #1
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2009
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 19, 2009 #2

    Ivan Seeking

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    Re: Obe

    To my knowledge, no one has ever been able to produce one piece of qualified information that would validate their claim. Since there are people who claim to actually travel to different places on demand, evidence for the claim should be fairly easy to produce.

    Please note that we are most interested in discussing claims and evidence, not personal beliefs.
  4. Mar 19, 2009 #3

    Ivan Seeking

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    Re: Obe

    One caveat that I have no way to confirm directly. Long ago I worked with a person whose wife was a Professor of Psychology at UCLA. She claimed that there is evidence that people can put themselves under [for astral travel] and go without food or water for periods of time much longer than we would expect.

    Not evidence for astral travel, but I thought it was interesting.
  5. Mar 21, 2009 #4
    This is purely anecdotal and not meant as evidence:

    A few years ago i had an OBE (first one i ever had). It was quite an amazing experience and seemed very realistic, but having read about OBEs, i knew and thought it could all be a trick of the brain. I decided that if i ever had one again, i would try to verify it. I had already read about such experiments in OBE and NDE research. I decided that in my next OBE, i would look at my alarm clock to check the time. Its about the only illuminated thing in my room at night.

    Anyway, about two years later i had another OBE. It only lasted about 15 seconds total, and i think my attempt to verify it screwed up the quality and duration of it. I was laying face down on my bed, sleeping. The moment i felt this floaty feeling, i made myself (my floating self) turn around and watch the alarm clock. It felt as if i was floating just above the bed, and i was facing the alarm clock. It was difficult to open my eyes, and i only managed to squeeze one eye open, i saw the time was 18.15. Then i ended it and woke myself up and looked at the clock, which said 18.16. Sadly i didnt check the seconds (had to press a button to see those and was too sleepy/lazy to get up and do that), so i didnt know if it had just flipped from 18.15 to 18.16. I went to sleep at 16.30 btw.

    Im still not convinced it was proper verification. The mind keeps track of time so it could have known it would be about 18.15. Also, i think that my real body may have moved to peek at the clock. I could have twisted my neck and caught the time from the corner of my eye. The fact that i had to squeeze my eyelids open, is suspicious if i was out of my body... Also ive had about half a dozen "half-OBEs", which just consist of floating feelings, but never progressed further, and as soon as i opened my eyes then, i was just laying in bed.

    Too bad i have no control over when i get OBEs, and they are rare. I did get all of them when it was hot in the room, and i was sleeping face down. Havent had one in the last year.

    * one interesting thing: a few weeks after the alarm clock OBE, i saw a japanese movie called "the girl who leapt through time", and it had a scene where a girl was trying to jump through time while looking at an alarm clock that flipped from 18.15 to 18.16. I know this is not a distortion of memory(false memory), because i wrote my experience on another forum before watching the movie weeks later).

    Heres a screenshot from the movie:
    http://img181.imageshack.us/img181/5181/1816xa4.jpg [Broken]
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  6. Mar 21, 2009 #5
    ^ i also think that if OBEs could be verified like that, then people far more skilled than me should be able to do it easily, and have done it already.
  7. Mar 21, 2009 #6
    The OBE ("floating up out of your body") is known by neurologists to be an interruption of the sense of proprioception. This sense is one most people don't know they have or that they need. It is an internal sense of touch that allows us to know what position our body is in. There are dedicated nerve receptors for it and parts of the brain dedicated to processing the info from these receptors, located mostly in the parietal lobes. It is because of this sense that you can close your eyes, move your body and limbs into any position and still know what position you are in.

    My brother-in-law has MS which wiped out the proprioception in his feet. He does not know what position his feet are in unless he is looking at them, and he must look down and watch them when he walks.

    In The Man Who Mistook His Wife For A Hat by Oliver Sacks, one chapter is devoted to the story of a woman who completely lost her sense of proprioception due to a freak infection that destroyed the dedicated nerve receptors. She always feels like she is floating above her body, and when she closes her eyes has the hallucination of looking down on herself from above. Proprioception not only tell us what position our limbs are in but is responsible for the whole feeling that we are located in our body at all.

    Autoscopy, the experience of seeing yourself from the outside, is a common hallucination during an OBE, and many people report it. There are also many stories of people's point of view shifting back and forth between the sleeping body and the floating one.

    Spontaneous OBE's aren't limited to the time before falling asleep. Another common trigger is intense fear. I've heard of it caused by frightening things from threat of impending death to mere stage fright. One woman I met told me that driving way up on highway overpasses made her leave her body. She floated above the car looking calmly down on her terrified self (through a now transparent car roof) driving along. The German writer, Goethe, reported a strange incident of autoscopy he had while standing in front of a class he was teaching. (I read it a long time ago and don't recall the details but I think this was reported in his autobiography.)
  8. Mar 22, 2009 #7
    Very informative Zoobyshoe, I'm genuinely impressed. I've never heard such a convincing explanation of the OBE effect.
  9. Mar 22, 2009 #8
    From that, one could argue that the OBE is completely a product of the brain. It doesnt necessarily follow though. One other view is that, if the In-Body-Experience is the result of the brain, then an experience not involving those brainparts would result in an OBE. Then the IBE is artificial, and the OBE would be a more default, unfiltered state of mind (with input that would otherwise have been filtered out). A similar example is the woman who had a stroke and talks about it on video (Jill Taylor, youve probably seen it), and describes the experiences she had with one side of her brain (something like that) not functioning properly. What i mean is that disturbances in the brain can make one more aware of the raw sensory input.
  10. Mar 22, 2009 #9
    Does anyone know if THC causes similar effects to OBE's?
  11. Mar 22, 2009 #10
    You mean weed?(sorry I cant spell the proper name for it)
  12. Mar 22, 2009 #11
    Here's a nice, readable article.


    It points out balance as another of the interoceptive senses. Everyone knows they have a sense of balance, and that they need it, yet it is very interesting to me that it is never included in a list of senses. Proprioception is more elusive: most people don't know they have such a sense, or that such a sense is even necessary. One reason for that is that there's no built in way to occlude it, as we can with vision by shutting our eyes, and unlike touch or hearing it seems to work perfectly in all temperatures and situations. However, the proprioception of people with Asperger's and Autism is believed to be somewhat dysfunctional, explaining their propensity to physical clumsiness rather than a motor coordination deficit. (That's an assertion I've read, anyway, without having read any formal studies that might show how one effect is distinguished from the other.)
  13. Mar 22, 2009 #12

    Seem to be a lot of anecdotal reports of this, yes.

    edit:This one seems to be some sort of academic paper:


    and it says, about this:

    Last edited: Mar 22, 2009
  14. Mar 22, 2009 #13
    Ive read that there are 16 senses. But newscientist once had an article saying there are 24. Ive tried to manipulate my proprioception sense (didnt know it had a name) a few times, by laying down and just imagining that i was looking downwards from the ceiling. It was too hard and i achieved no effect at all. I think you need to be really focused, or in an altered state of mind, and able to ignore the other senses that indicate your location. Acoustic sounds, the feeling of balance/gravity, the weight of your body going in a certain direction, the touch of the bed against your back.

    I dont know if this is the proprioception sense, but a smaller experiment that everyone is capable of is rotating yourself rapidly and with the eyes closed. Then stand still and guess which direction you are facing. My guess is often wrong when i do that.
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2009
  15. Mar 22, 2009 #14
    Do you know if they attempted to verify what she saw during those hallucinations?
  16. Mar 22, 2009 #15
    I just re-read the story and see that I either misremembered or misinterpreted what she said. She wasn't reporting the experience of seeing herself from above her body, as in other OBE reports. She was talking about having to look down on her "disembodied" self from the perspective of her normal eyes to know what position it was in, and in order to move things where she wanted them. I should have re-read the story before posting my dusty memories of it.

    Regardless, the OBE is known to be neurological:




    I don't know much about OBE's following strokes but I have read a lot about them as simple-partial seizures and in association with Migraine. Today, I find, they are also very common among pot smokers, apparently. Once we know about the neurological cause all the "mystical" explanations passed down kind of become moot and it seems pointless to cling to them hoping that some "authentic" non-neurological OBE will be demonstrated to exist along with the neurological ones.
  17. Mar 22, 2009 #16
    I think the best way to establish that OBEs are not about truly floating outside the body, is to have people report such experiences and then verify if they correspond to external reality or not. If most of them do not correspond, then although the possibility of a true OBE is not falsified, one at least gets a picture of how often they are hallucinations.

    The trigger of the OBE, whether it is drugs, epilepsy, malfunction in the sense of proprioception, doesnt really address that question.

    Id be very interested in any info on that.
  18. Mar 22, 2009 #17
    In other words, you strongly lean toward believing they are "real", that human consciousness can leave the body.
  19. Mar 23, 2009 #18

    Im being thorough. If you are interested in my opinion then just read my posts in this topic.
  20. Mar 23, 2009 #19
    I have:

    One would expect that, if the IBE were the artificial experience then any sudden unconsciousness would lead to the default OBE. But this is not the case. Being knocked out results in total unconsciousness. So do absence seizures, when the seizure activity interrupts the thalamo-cortical connections for sudden, brief periods, and the person has the strange experience of things having jumped forward in time like watching a film with a couple seconds cut out of a shot.

    Your "other view" is not really a view at all, but speculation in the service of preserving the possibility of an "authentic" OBE. In order for it not to be speculation there would have to be some specific scientific evidence indicating that we are not actually ever located in our bodies.
  21. Mar 24, 2009 #20
    I had an OBE when I took too many magic mushrooms one time. This was in my truth-finding, youth-filled mind some 12 years ago. The believability of the effect is amazing. Something that you can only understand by experience. I was undecided whether I really did sink through the floor into my friend's flat below and then come back up the stairs to see myself lying on the bed with my headphones on, for years. I don't recommend it to anyone, especially since I was having a rather unpleasant wall-bending 'Jo-90' technicolor spinning experience just before hand. Best wishes.
  22. Mar 24, 2009 #21
    It is the case with NDE's. Even so, it doesnt have to be that all ways leading to unconsciousness must result in OBEs. For one, going unconscious doesnt mean the parts of the brain associated with proprioception are always affected in the same way. Also, memory may be impaired and even if one had an OBE, one might not remember any of it. The OBE may also be a temporary state of experiencing the world, one that doesnt last very long. Or it may only happen in concordance with other senses, so they would still have to be functioning somewhat.

    About the defaultness of the OBE: an OBE is not exactly the opposite of an IBE, just like the experience of being in Japan is not the opposite of the experience of being in China. In both cases it is still the experience of being somewhere. The real opposite of an IBE would be more like a total lack of the-experience-of-being-in-a-location (a No Body Experience), something which is reported during some mystical experiences, and sometimes in NDEs.

    The evidence is that people have the experience of being outside their bodies. I dont see why one should not be thorough in establishing whether or not this is actually the case. It should be simple to do set up an experiment to determine the (in)accuracy of OBE perceptions, so i expect it to have been done already.
    Last edited: Mar 25, 2009
  23. Mar 25, 2009 #22
    This experimental testing has been done for hospital patients who have undergone NDE's. I saw it discussed on a TV programme some years ago. A proponent of 'afterlife' was doing the research. Unfortunately, clear cut evidence wasn't found.
  24. Mar 25, 2009 #23
    No. Here there is obviously some inner consciousness, as when dreaming. A totally unconscious person is pure and simply unconscious of any inner or outer experience.
    Once again you are speculating in every direction in the service of preserving the possibility of a "real" OBE.
    There is a saying: "The plural of 'anecdote' is not 'data'. All the stories do not combine to constitute "evidence". All they say is that this experience is not unique. The kind of testing you want to do might be justified if no one had ever been able to link the OBE to any physical or neurological cause, but that isn't the case.

    A "feeling" of something can be pure illusion resulting from the way the senses work and how the brain processes things. It obviously does not always accurately and literally reflect what's going on. Many people experience pain in various places where they have no injuries. Trigeminal neuralgia, for example, causes excruciating unilateral facial pain where there is no injury to the facial tissue at all. The trouble is with the nerves that serve the facial tissue, and not with the tissue itself, despite the fact that the slightest touch on the skin is horribly painful. You might want to research synaesthesia, the strange and interesting condition some people have where imput to one sense results in a reaction by that sense, but also another sense as well. For such people sounds can have visual results! Actually manifest themselves as shapes and colors in the visual field. I think by your logic this would constitute evidence that vibrating air emits EM at some frequency only visible by synesthetes.
  25. Mar 25, 2009 #24
    Did you physically walk up the stairs or "float"? How did you rejoin with yourself on the bed?

    A friend of mine says she had a very scary trip on mushrooms. The pattern of the sofa cover reminded her of a blueberry muffin, and after the shrooms kicked in she, herself, merged with the sofa and became a giant blueberry muffin.
  26. Mar 25, 2009 #25
    A combination of both a walking and floating sensation. The intellectual realisation when I saw myself was quite amazing, I felt awake at the time. The batteries of my personal stereo started to fade (I think) and I remember turning and floating to rejoin my body. I awoke with a sharp jolt, and found myself in the same situation as just before I went 'under'. I could tell that the wall-gyrating effect had subdued and knew that I just had to wait before I became my normal self again.

    They're are not for everyone. I had some great times that summer, but all good things must come to an end.
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