Science and the "Out of Body Experience"

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posted on Aug, 26 2014 @ 01:35 PM
I came across an article on Yahoo today which discusses OBEs and astral projections:

Here is the meat of the article and the research it refers to:

Claude Messier of the School of Psychology at the University of Ottawa in Canada studies how the brain works and has attempted to analyze an out-of-body experience in a 24-year-old graduate student who claimed that she could induce one at will.

Messier (along with colleague Andra Smith) published the findings, titled “Voluntary Out-of-Body Experience: An fMRI Study” in the journal Frontiers in Human Neuroscience earlier this year.

According to the paper, the subject told the researchers “she was able to see herself rotating in the air above her body, lying flat, and rolling along with the horizontal plane. She reported sometimes watching herself move from above but remained aware of her unmoving ‘real’ body.”

Messier and Smith used a scanning technique known as fMRI to measure activity in different parts of the young woman’s brain during a self-induced out-of-body experience.

The findings appear to give some credence to her claims. Though she remained completely still during the test, the brain scans showed activity in areas of her brain that would typically be active only if she were moving, according to Messier.

But what was actually going on? Messier said that "out-of-body experiences are real ... but that it depends how you define it."

The impression of being outside your body or seeing your body from above “is an illusion – albeit for some people, a very lifelike one,” he told Yahoo Health.

Messier pointed out that people can fly and do other impossible things in their dreams, so the brain is definitely capable of creating strange visions and sensations. He said he believes that “the out-of-body experience is just a special illusion that happens when awake,” and “there is no implication of mental illness.”

And that's good news for many of the people who have written to him noting that they are not very happy with their abilities: Some reported that the experience was scary or that they worried that they were going mad. “They appeared reassured that the out-of-body experience could have a logical and benign explanation,” he said.

Messier emphasized that more research is needed, but he said that other researchers (Henrik Ehrsson and Olaf Blanke) have used virtual reality to induce mild versions of out-of-body experiences.

If you have the time, it's well worth reading the comments section. (I usually find the Yahoo comments section to be rather depressing... but this time around, there are lots of excellent personal experiences being shared.)

I think there was a lot of bias in this article and in the conclusion of the researchers. Seeing evidence that the brain reacts to an OBE shouldn't be taken as evidence that OBEs are purely an illusion. That is a faulty and disconnected conclusion. Also, it completely fails to address the most compelling anecdotes (yes, anecdotal evidence... but mountains of it!) of people who see things during an OBE that they would otherwise have no way of knowing.

So...what do you all think of this latest research into OBEs? I think it is an exciting finding, but disagree with the conclusion that it shows OBEs to be just an illusion.

posted on Aug, 26 2014 @ 01:51 PM

originally posted by: VegHead

I think there was a lot of bias in this article and in the conclusion of the researchers. Seeing evidence that the brain reacts to an OBE shouldn't be taken as evidence that OBEs are purely an illusion. That is a faulty and disconnected conclusion. Also, it completely fails to address the most compelling anecdotes (yes, anecdotal evidence... but mountains of it!) of people who see things during an OBE that they would otherwise have no way of knowing.

I agree and was thinking the exact same thing.

First it's:

Messier said that "out-of-body experiences are real ... but that it depends how you define it."

Then backpedals with

The impression of being outside your body or seeing your body from above “is an illusion"

I mean what do you want? The evidence shows that her claims are valid, her experience is valid, but then it's just cast off as a fancy "illusion?"

Well gee, what's not an illusion then? If I look at myself in the mirror, isn't that just an illusion too?

I'm glad these researchers are here to find evidence of a not-fully-understood phenomenon, and then quickly call it a daydream.

edit on 26-8-2014 by NarcolepticBuddha because: (no reason given)

posted on Aug, 26 2014 @ 01:51 PM
That will be a long read but I induce sleep paralysis , and have seen weird things and heard them too , but only got as far as the blinding flash .
Interesting stuff

posted on Aug, 26 2014 @ 01:58 PM
i had one when I was very young about 4 years old. I was looking at myself from the ceiling, I was sat upright with my teddy (can still vividly remember the teddy). I never told anyone because I was probably to young to explain it and wasn't aware that it was unusual.
never happened again and as I was so young I don't know whether to trust the memory as real or not.

posted on Aug, 26 2014 @ 01:59 PM
Yeah, not buying the illusion explanation.

There are some very interesting books by Chris Carter, regarding this, but they delve into quantum physics and were a bit tough for me to understand the first time through, so, had to do them again. Worth the wading through, if your really into this subject.

posted on Aug, 26 2014 @ 02:19 PM
If anyone is curious to see it, here is a link to the full original paper (it is a PDF document):

posted on Aug, 26 2014 @ 02:21 PM
When I was a child and up until the age of 30 I could induce an OBE. I began by focusing on my hand (usually) but sometimes my image until I felt a slipping away feeling. Focusing on my hand was always easiest/fastest to detach. I never left the room I was in because it kind of scared me to do this and I was afraid that I wouldn't find my way back if I left sight of my body. I think for me, this was done as a defense mechanism. I still sometimes feel that slipping away feeling if I stare at my hand too long, but I stop it now and I'm not sure I could still do this, as it doesn't quite feel the same.

It's weird to note that while I focused on my hand/face, I repeatedly ask myself "who am I?" over and over and that would help me detach faster.

I don't know what OBE's really are or whether they are an illusion. I never have researched it, but this was very interesting to read and gives me something to think about, which is always a good thing.

posted on Aug, 26 2014 @ 02:26 PM
Good for the aknowledgement about obe's in the article, but it aint an illusion.
Of course the brain is "working" during an obe, duh.

I've had obe'S and it is real.
I've stood by my bed watching my physical body sleep,
felt how it is to leave the physical body and how it feels to enter it again.

Other things too.

posted on Aug, 26 2014 @ 03:27 PM
I have these all of the time, but they are on accident and very quick.

Just a week ago...I finally felt myself about to pull away and I was able to realize that I was in that situation for the first time! Instead of getting scared I kept trying to get all of the way out. I was sitting up, but I could not get my legs out. Finally I decided to try to just "wake up" so I tried slamming my body back in, but it didn't work. What worked was I made myself (my astral self) roll off of the couch. As soon as I did...I woke up.

I was so freaking excited that this was the first pleasant experience I have been able to do and actually know what was going on!

I definitely do not think that this is an illusion. There is definitely something real about this.

posted on Aug, 26 2014 @ 09:20 PM
a reply to: VegHead

I don't buy into the illusion concept, at least not for a "true" projection. Now, if we are talking a lucid dream, in which I am aware that I am dreaming, this holds merit.

Had several OBE's myself, some controlled, some not, and while there is plenty I can classify as an illusion, there is equally plenty I cannot.

For example, I cannot explain how, on one of my trips, I caught an accurate glance of a friend's bedroom, a friend that I recently met, and was never in or near her house (no, I wasn't purposely sneaking into her bedroom; the thought on my mind was to try to find where she lived...I didn't realize that would mean I'd get a glimpse of the room). This was when cell phones couldn't send photos, so no, I never saw an image of her room, but I could describe it back to her.

The problem here, is that most scientists will try to find a reason for the phenomenon, using the tools that they know, and do everything by the book. To me, that's fine & all, but it calls to mind the same people that argue ghosts do not exist - those of us that have experienced one (or more), well, we see it in a different reality. Now, were I a scientist, I'd be using the MRI results to help me find the best time to try & project.

posted on Aug, 27 2014 @ 09:51 AM
a reply to: VegHead

Checking back to see the progress of discussion on this thread. I'm sorry it didn't get more input and attention. I find this topic highly fascinating and thank you, VegHead, for posting it

I, too, am capable of initiating the 'vibrational state' and going OOB. I find that sleep paralysis is sometimes a step in this process, but not always (seems everyone has slightly different methods.)

Also thanks to the members who have chimed in with their experiences with OOBE

If it is just an "illusion," it's one that is definitely worthy of MUCH more study, understanding, and open-mindedness.

edit on 27-8-2014 by NarcolepticBuddha because: (no reason given)

posted on Aug, 31 2014 @ 11:48 PM

originally posted by: VegHead

Also, it completely fails to address the most compelling anecdotes (yes, anecdotal evidence... but mountains of it!) of people who see things during an OBE that they would otherwise have no way of knowing.

Great thread and assessment - your inclusion of the above was the first thing on my mind once I started reading.

I'm gonna go all 'conspiracy' on this. I think the world of science is under the control of "TPTB" to such an extent that astral projection, OBEs, and remote viewing have already been quantified, and stuck in a file cabinet, right next to "The Lost Ark".

The way I'd describe this 'conspiracy' is that anything 'paranormal' is a Pandora's Box. Once something 'weird' is given credence by the world of empirical science, it's only a few steps away from tearing at the very fabric of the belief systems that hold the control grid in place.

The OBVIOUS test, for anyone seeking to know whether an OBE is "real" or an "illusion", would be to have the subjects describe something that actually exists in another room which they hadn't seen before.

If money is being directed towards research of this subject that DOESN'T involve this VERY SIMPLE TEST, then this alleged 'research' is simply bogus, or part of a deliberate misinformation campaign.
edit on 8/31/2014 by Teratoma because: (no reason given)
edit on 8/31/2014 by Teratoma because: I don't need no stinking reason!

posted on Apr, 30 2015 @ 10:53 PM
I had an experience obe its very similar to the ones who had it still can remember it was something I can't really explain but remember it clearly not like a dream shot explanation I really felt like I died I just gave up on life and accepted death my vision went in to spriral then calmly I was staring at my body from the corner of the room watching my body sleep when I realized it was me thas when I woke up in panic my heart was racing but had not told anybody till now and also remember seeing a man kneeling down in front of my bed I can easily tell it wasn't a dream I can tel if I am dreaming but don't understand in my dream I was driving on a road then forgot to make a turn then went into the river that's when I knew I was dead that's when every thing went in to spriral its like I gave up on life

posted on May, 9 2015 @ 02:35 AM
I had one experience in my life which for me was so out of the ordinary that I still remember it today. I must have been 8 or 9 years old. I was sleeping in my bed, not sure how deep. I suddenly had the sensation I was floating. I floated out my bedroom, to the stop of the staircare. I was quite aware of this though I don't remember looking back at my bed. There, I stood for a moment and then 'jumped' down the stairs, can't describe it any other way. it really felt like I flew down. Then right as I hit the bottom of the staircase it felt as if my body was slammed into my bed and I woke up, wondering what just happened. I never had this experience and sensation again.

posted on May, 9 2015 @ 03:18 AM
Dr. Charles Tart has some papers online of research he did with the (somewhat legendary) Robert Monroe on this topic decades ago.

It's easy to claim this experience is an 'illusion' but so is everything our brain perceives. Trees aren't trees, they're vibrating masses of energy, and only the massive filtering by our wetware and then our brain creates the illusion we consider a tree.

I had regular out of body experiences all my life from the time I was a small child. Many at will. It may merely be a perceptual issue instead of literal, but it's a bit difficult to say since sometimes the experience/information reflects a reality you weren't officially present for unless you give credence to either psi or the OBE.

Sometimes it just seems to shift one into an overlappingly-similar but slightly more archetypal version of 'reality' similar to (or perhaps literally) what Casteneda might have termed the second-attention. Like a nearby parallel.

I was also profoundly lucid in dreams, at will since early childhood, and this (lucidity and OBE) seem to be associated. For the individual the experiences are as real as anything else so they tend to be impactive.


posted on May, 9 2015 @ 03:24 AM
Teratoma - the psi-or-obe test (describing something out of physiological perception, during OBE state) overlaps with the lucid dream state somewhat since LD can be a jumping off point for OBE. One iteration with LD was done with legendary viewer Joseph McMoneagle. He describes that in one of his books, I think maybe it was the stargate chronicles, and its odd side effects. One of the Tart papers noted above with Monroe as the subject also tested that. I've had plenty of that info as have many others.

Unfortunately there is no way to evidence OBE as separate from what might be psi (a warehouse word with no decent meaning so let's just say 'anomalous cognition'). In a research sense since neither are discretely measurable experience but only experientially reportive -- and are part of the same or similar spectrum of such perceptual experiences -- there's just no way to separate them.


posted on May, 9 2015 @ 03:30 AM
a reply to: RedCairo

I sometimes wonder what a 'legitimate' fMRI scan would need to be to be evidence of OOBEs?

For example, if our consciousness actually leaves the body behind, wouldn't that raise the possibility that brain activity would be significantly reduced? One might expect brain activity to scale back to the bare basics of vital organs, circulation and respiration.

If that was the case, looking for unusual brain activity could be a red herring. Looking for something very ordinary might be the key and how do we spot that?

In the case of this OP, the brain activity suggests to me that it could entirely imaginary. I seem to recall reading an article that showed brain activity in areas responsible for physical movement. The article noted that people with 'phantom limbs' still show activity when the body part no longer exists. This might be related to imaginary OOBEs and particularly so when the fMRI registered more instead of less activity.

posted on May, 9 2015 @ 10:55 PM
I think I got a little lost in your logic at the end there. Are you saying that if the brain is not registering 'physical' movement that this may imply the "perception of one's point-of-awareness being outside-the-body" is a misperception? Or were you just saying that was the original article assumption?

I believe we are part of a frequency spectrum (OBE is a smaller portion of that spectrum). People often think they 'go' somewhere even in anomalous experiences but I think "Perception is the moving point."

OBE is simply so obvious, so unquestionable as a subjective experience. Not saying it has to be true, just saying that usually anybody in armchair philosophy about it just hasn't had it, certainly not regularly, since it seems like a no-brainer if one has. Note: it happens while asleep as well as while awake (unlike the article's reference) although I suppose people could claim that anything while sleeping is 'to be called dreaming' and hence doesn't count.

I think this topic, like many 'anomalous' topics, reminds me a little of the communication problems when it comes to 'shared experiences.' Like love and sex for example: anybody who has truly felt love for someone they made love to with that being central, has had a different experience than someone who has only had sex and never had that other "depth of experience." There is no tangible evidence for love being real or existing at all, only biochemical excuses and behavioral observations. One could try to talk about the deeper experience but if the person you're talking to hasn't had it, they just cannot possibly "get it:" communication requires shared experience for true understanding, and the experience in that case just hasn't been shared. It's like a foreign word they are never going to be able to properly translate.

One humorous thing is that studies that think to test or explain anomalous experience often have vastly, vastly more 'assumptions' built into them than any actual parapsychology-type study would ever be allowed.

On a larger level (not so much one study as the tendency on how to treat this kind of study in the mainstream science world), I think what this dominantly attempts to undermine (by accident or design) is that there is any such thing as mind as an emergent property of (or anything not 100% limited to) the brain.


posted on May, 10 2015 @ 12:53 AM
a reply to: RedCairo

No, you didn't get lost in my logic, I was aiming my thoughts somewhere else. There's been a recent news story about induced OOBEs and I thought this thread was discussing it. Whatever passed for logic was in the wrong thread : )

My thoughts were directed at this story. Also written up on Science Daily.

posted on May, 10 2015 @ 04:14 AM
I've been experiencing OBEs for around 20 years now, the impact changes with time but its still there. The head roar, the vibrations, the weightlessness, the primal fear, the exhilaration and sense of wonder... All things associated with the experience... But the one thing that stands out for me is the sense of them being realer than real. That is going in the opposite direction of a dream based reality.

I never 'woke up' from an OBE, just opened my eyes once back in, with no break of consciousness.

One experience helped my understanding of the physical properties. When I drifted towards my window and through the wall with a radiator attached, blue sparks appeared all around just like the static from taking nylon clothes off.

So couple with the vibrations and sometimes sleep paralysis, this seems to be an electrical phenomena.

Electric consciousness.

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