Outer Body Experience Explained
According to (Lawson, 2007), 10-20 percent of the population are estimated to have experienced at least one, or outer body experience (OBE). This type of phenomenon has been reported as occurring during religious ceremonies, exposure to psycho disassociate drugs such as ketamine, during sensory deprivation, dehydration, near death, meditation, electrical stimulation of the brain, hypnotically induced, or spontaneously (Lawson, 2007). I can remember a similar experience of floating above my body, as a child, and thinking that it was a weird dream. Can people separate mind from body, rise above and objectively view the surrounding environment? Empirical research says no. Researchers have discovered that OBE’s are a type of hallucination is triggered by a neurological changes and is also related to claims of near death experiences. This was discovered when James Winnery of the U.S. Air Force, ran experiments on jet pilots to find an answer to the high number of fatalities caused by the physiological reaction to G Force. According to (Kotler, 2016), one thousand pilots were spun into gravity induced loss of consciousness (GILOC). During their debriefing, the pilots claimed to have had outer body experiences as they passed out, and went on to feeling as if they were having near death experiences as the spinning continued. As the circulation of blood to the brain is diminished with the centrifuge like action, the mind is tricked into the sensation of objectively floating, above one’s body, and with even less blood flow, the sensation of being close to death is experienced, as many of the pilots described the sensation of walking down a tunnel of light. Another study was conducted on a woman who claimed to be able to willfully place herself into an OBE. She was studied under functional magnetic resonance imaging (f MRI), while in that state by (Smith & Messier, 2014). The term OBE was referred to as extra-corporeal experiences (ECE) in this study, because this experience did not, involve an emotional trigger, which distinguished it from other accounts of OBE. The fMRI results were surprising, as there was a "strong deactivation of the visual cortex", and an "[activation]…of the left side of several areas associated with kinesthetic imagery," which delineated several specific areas of her brain associated with the minds sense of body position and movement in space (Main, 2014).
Kotler, S. (2016, March 13). How the U.S. Air Force Induced Out-Of-Body Experiences [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_lLe-J6ibqI
Lawson, T. J. (2007). Scientific Perspectives on Pseudoscience and the Paranormal: Readings for General Psychology. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey 07458: Pearson Education, Inc.
Main, D. (2014, March 6). The Woman Who Can Will Herself Out of Her Body. Popular Science. Retrieved from http://www.popsci.com/article/science/woman-who-can-will-herself-out-her-body
Smith, A. M., & Messier, C. (2014, February 10). Voluntary out-of-body experience: an fMRI study. Frontier of Human Neuroscience. http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2014.00070