What Really Happens In An ‘Out Of Body Experience’

oobeSome shocking results are revealed when science tries to explain near-death experiences (NDEs) and other out of body experiences (OBEs), writes Mario Beauregard, author of Brain Wars, at Salon:

…Tales of otherworldly experiences have been part of human cultures seemingly forever, but NDEs as such first came to broad public attention in 1975 by way of American psychiatrist and philosopher Raymond Moody’s popular book Life After Life: The Investigation of a Phenomenon–Survival of Bodily Death. He presented more than 100 case studies of people who experienced vivid mental experiences close to death or during “clinical death” and were subsequently revived to tell the tale. Their experiences were remarkably similar, and Moody coined the term NDE to refer to this phenomenon. The book was popular and controversial, and scientific investigation of NDEs began soon after its publication with the founding, in 1978, of the International Association for Near Death Studies (IANDS)—the first organization in the world devoted to the scientific study of NDEs and their relationship to mind and consciousness.

NDEs are the vivid, realistic, and often deeply life-changing experiences of men, women, and children who have been physiologically or psychologically close to death. They can be evoked by cardiac arrest and coma caused by brain damage, intoxication, or asphyxia. They can also happen following such events as electrocution, complications from surgery, or severe blood loss during or after a delivery. They can even occur as the result of accidents or illnesses in which individuals genuinely fear they might die. Surveys conducted in the United States and Germany suggest that approximately 4.2 percent of the population has reported an NDE. It has also been estimated that more than 25 million individuals worldwide have had an NDE in the past 50 years.

People from all walks of life and belief systems have this experience. Studies indicate that the experience of an NDE is not influenced by gender, race, socioeconomic status, or level of education. Although NDEs are sometimes presented as religious experiences, this seems to be a matter of individual perception. Furthermore, researchers have found no relationship between religion and the experience of an NDE. That is, it did not matter whether the people recruited in those studies were Catholic, Protestant, Muslim, Hindu, Jewish, Buddhist, atheist, or agnostic.

Although the details differ, NDEs are characterized by a number of core features. Perhaps the most vivid is the OBE: the sense of having left one’s body and of watching events going on around one’s body or, occasionally, at some distant physical location…

[continues at at Salon]


Majestic is gadfly emeritus.

Latest posts by majestic (see all)

19 Comments on "What Really Happens In An ‘Out Of Body Experience’"

  1. I cant wait to hear the opinions on this from people who never experienced such things, trying to understand it by a book they read

    • HopeForTheBlurst | Apr 23, 2012 at 3:14 pm |

      It’s all in your head.  There is nothing but material.  Live for the big house, die for the fast car.  The only real thrill in life is collecting more than your neighbors.  Money is real, tangible – “spiritual” claptrap isn’t.  My $100 bill is better than your $20 bill.  Why?  Cuz of the symbols on it, dumbass.  It proves I am superior because the symbols on your bill are different.  But fuck all that, my digital numbers are higher than yours too.  Therefore, I am right, and you are wrong.  I would never listen to you since you failed at materialism.  That makes you unqualified to speak of other things.

      • mannyfurious | Apr 23, 2012 at 3:39 pm |

        Well, I certainly agree with the overall sentiment of your post, but that’s not the kind of materialism these commentors are talking about.

        • emperorreagan | Apr 23, 2012 at 4:34 pm |

          The sentiment that the economic materialism dominant in American culture trumps spiritualism or the sentiment confusing philosophical materialism with economic materialism?

          The former argument is pretty poor.  Money itself has no intrinsic value, nor does a big house or a fast car.  Insofar as such things contribute to your happiness or well being they may have value, but there are a number of studies that show economic materialism positively correlates with negative psychological issues and negatively correlates with happiness.

          One can adhere to a materialist school of philosophy but reject economic materialism.  Likewise, there are a number of Christian sects in the US that wholeheartedly embrace economic materialism.  Confusing economic materialism with philosophical materialism is just an incoherent argument.

          • mannyfurious | Apr 23, 2012 at 5:40 pm |

            I agree with the sentiment that the economic materialism in this country trumps, for lack of a better phrase, “spiritual” cultivation. I agree that that’s how it is, not that it’s right. My thought was that the poster I was replying to was partaking in satire to point out how vacuous economic materialism is. I don’t think he was being literal, and therefore I agreed with the sentiment of what his satirical bent was getting to.

            However, I believe the true conversation re: this article is the materialist vs. metaphysical philosophical debate. 

          • emperorreagan | Apr 23, 2012 at 7:07 pm |

            I’m being grumpy and taking everyone literally.  I didn’t even think to read it like that.

  2. Tchoutoye | Apr 23, 2012 at 11:28 am |

    “What Really Happens In An ‘Out Of Body Experience’ ” (sic, without question mark)
    “Near death, explained”

    I wish media would stop suggesting they’re providing the solution to a mystery when they know they’re doing nothing of the sort. Disinfo should rise above such lameness.

  3. Monkey See Monkey Do | Apr 23, 2012 at 12:04 pm |

    Clearly it’s evident that there is a near-death-life.

  4. Ricky Jazzercise | Apr 23, 2012 at 1:30 pm |

    It’s good that science is finally studying this stuff and it’s getting press. The materialist world view will eventually be proven hilarously wrong (might take another three hundred years). Despite the sexiness of God-Helmets and deep neurological brain stimulation, it’s easy to forget that Robert Monroe came up with a way of replicating out of body experiences back in the 70’s by just playing sound patterns designed to seperate brain hemispheres in the listener’s ear through headphones. Everyone ignores this research because it wasn’t done at a traditional scientific institution.

    For those who think science has explained these things, go try it yourself and see if they have. In my experiences using Monroe’s techniques, I never had the traditional experience where I was out of my body and above looking down. One time I tried to roll out of my body from a sleep paralysis state and the sensation was so off putting, I immediately fled back into my body due to sheer terror. In another I got my arms out, requested assistance (this is a technique Monroe recommends, not my idea) and was pulled into what I can only describe as a sky temple and educated as to the mysteries of our existence by my higher self . This experience still sticks with me to this day. I remember it like I remember anything else that’s ever happened to me.

    Moreover, what really started happening is that spirit guides started showing up while I was unintentionally shifting into the sleep paralysis state and projecting visions into my spirit. Easy to dismiss but they were giving me info that turned out to be clairvoyant on numerous occasions. Thaaaat’s what fucking happened. Still happens to this day. Try it.

    • HopeForTheBlurst | Apr 23, 2012 at 3:07 pm |

       I’d rather just sit in my comfy chair and scoff at you.  Materialism FTW

      • semi-reticent mystic | Apr 24, 2012 at 10:19 am |

        It’s all there black and white, clear as crystal… You get NOTHING. You Lose! Good Day, Sir!

  5. I had one once. Aleister Crowley came to me, and we went back in time to ’82 to see Ozzy perform. I’m the one who switched the rubber bat for a real one.

    Crowley was not amused. I think he was a tree hugger or something.

  6. Great article. Stories of OBEs and NDEs serve as evidence to the spiritual nature of our existence. 

  7. Gregory Wyrdmaven | Apr 24, 2012 at 9:01 am |

    I didn’t read this article because of the title… it includes the phrase “What Really Happens.”  But none of us know what is really happening…isn’t science supposed to question everything (except itself apparently).  It also puts the subject it’s talking about in quotation marks which immediate reveals the bias against there being anything real to Out of Body Experiences.  So this is a typical fail in which one KNOWS something isn’t real and then works backwards to solve that conclusion, which isn’t science, it’s fundamentalist ideological crap and has the same validity as a preacher’s sermon in which he goes on for 45 minutes about how you’re supposed to live based on his interpretation of a few verses of scripture

    Nothing is really happening, everything is plausible.

    Fiat lux

    • semi-reticent mystic | Apr 24, 2012 at 10:20 am |

      You can’t judge a book by it’s cover, and you can’t judge an article by it’s title. You should read it because your comment is off base.

  8. rus Archer | Apr 24, 2012 at 2:03 pm |

    the title doesn’t fit the article
    the article just lists ATTEMPTS at scientific explanations that FAILED

  9. justagirl | Apr 25, 2012 at 3:52 pm |

    try getting HALF pulled out.  now that is some scary shit.

Comments are closed.