Sunday, December 6, 2009

Remote viewing and OBEs

In the earlier books which I have read on OBEs, quite a few speak of the ability of individuals undergoing an OBE, to travel to a remote location and come back with some information they should not know by normal means.

The other day it struck me that this was also the claim for "remote viewing" - the ability to somehow go to a remote locality and return with information unobtainable by other means. I wondered if remote viewing was similar/the same as an OBE?

This explains why I have just read a book by Paul H Smith called "Reading the enemy's mind" published in 2005 by Forge, NY. ISBN 0-312-87515-0.

The blurb for the book states that the author is "...a retired Army intelligence officer and Operation Desert Storm veteran, spent seven years in the Department of Defence's remote-viewing program."

Description of a remote-viewing session. The person "...lay quietly, relaxing, slowing breathing and heart rate, approaching sleep..." A second individual read the tasking and took notes. p130.

"In ERV we tried to suppress noise by helping the viewer maintain hypnagogic state-the state at the edge between consciousness and sleep." Sometimes the monitor asked "Describe the target in question." Other times used geographic coordinates. Some times a photo was used but it was in a sealed envelope. The session could last an hour. p132.

Chapter 10 of the book is about the Monroe Institute named after Robert Monroe an OBE pioneer. In Monroes's OBEs some part of him separated from the body and went elsewhere.

There are two hemispheres to the human brain. By playing sound into both ears Monroe found the best frequency for getting the two hemispheres top become synchronised. "Thus hemi-sync (for "hemisphere synchnonization") was born." p140. "While the process couldn't directly cause an out-of-body experience, it was possible to set up a state of mind that was conducive for one."

"Some people confuse bilocation in remote viewing with out-of-body experiences, or OBE. But a bilocation doesn't seem at all like leaving the body...Bilocation happens when the viewer's attention is thoroughly captured by the sensations present at the target."

"That was that human consciousness is not locked within the narrow confines of our physical body, that it does not stop at the edge of our skin, but that within certain limits a human consciousness can roam virtually at will across the face of the planet, down the hallways of time and into at least some of the secrets of men." p470.

Did it work?

"Altogether, 183 reports were sent to the client, the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The JCS sent back several evaluations and a final report, documenting Det G's performance. Unfortunately, these remain classified." p111.

"...documenting Colonel Johnson's assignment to see if remote viewing really worked as an operational intelligence tool. The previously sceptical Johnson concluded unhesitatingly that, in fact, it did." 1990. p422.

After reading this book, I don't see that "remote viewing" is an OBE. The book doesn't speak of something leaving the body and travelling to a remote locality and observing that place. The viewer doesn't see his/her own body during remote viewing.

It seems that the viewer somehow arrives at the target and sees it and reports their impressions of what is there.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

OBEs and fantasy proneness

Several years ago I undertook some work with Dr Kathryn Gow of the Queensland University of Technology, and a number of her students. We took a look at Australian UFO abductees in respect of measures concerning fantasy proneness, paranormal beliefs and personality characteristics. The findings of our research are available to you at:

While conducting my recent survey of scientific journal articles on out-of-body experiences, I was pleasantly surprised to find another article by Kathryn Gow and students, but this time on OBEs. Their abstract of their paper is as follows:

Gow, K; Lang, T; Chant, D.
"Fantasy proneness, paranormal beliefs and personality features in out-of-body experiences."
Contemporary Hypnosis. 2004. 21(3):107-125.

"This study investigated the relationship between reported out-of-body experiences, certain psychological variables and personality characteristics."

"One hundred and sixty-seven participants completed a series of questionnaires to investigate differences amongst those participants reporting out-of-body experiences and those who were classified as believers or non-believers on fantasy proneness, paranormal beliefs, psychological absorption, psychological association, somatoform dissociation, certain personality characteristics and OBE experience sensations."

"The findings revealed that experients were more fantasy prone, higher in their belief in the paranormal and displayed greater somatoform dissociation."

" Psychological absorption and dissociation were higher for believers than for either experients or non-believers and in relation to experients, fantasy proneness, paranormal beliefs and the personality dimensions of institution and feeling were significantly related, as were psychological absorption, psychological dissocation and somatoform dissociation."

These kind of psychological studies are aimed at examining the differences between individuals who have experiences; whether they be OBEs or alien abductions, and others who do not.

Previous posts here, related to neurological studies of OBE experiencers, which again, are trying to determine why some persons experience OBEs and others do not.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

To sum up

(1) OBEs have been produced by electrically stimulating specific areas of the brain.
(2) OBEs are hypothesised to represent a breakdown of bodily-self sensations.
(3) OBEs have been artificially created in the laboratory by at least two different groups of researchers.

The implications of this body of work, for alien abduction accounts, is huge!

In alien abductions, individuals relate being "floated of their bed", "floated out of their car", "floated through windows and walls." Could it be that abductees never really leave their room/car and that the experience, sense of presence, figures in the bedroom; floating away etc is in fact all in the mind!

OBEs in the lab

Other 2007 work even made the headlines of the New York Times (23 August 2007). The NYT article reported upon the work of two separate groups.

Firstly, the work of Dr Olaf Blanke-a neuroscientist at Ecole Polytechnique Federale in Lausanne, Switzerland. Participants put on virtual reality goggles to view an image from a camera in the same empty room, which showed the person's back. The experimenter then stroked the participant's back with a stick, while at the same time projecting the stick's image on the illusory image of the participant's back. With synchronous strokes, participants felt their sens of self to be within the mannequin.

Secondly, the work of Dr Henrick Ehrsson, Assistant Professor, neuroscience, Karolinska Institute, Helsinki. Participants in goggles saw an image of the back of themselves from a perspective 6 feet behind them. One stick was used to stimulate the participant's chest, while another was placed under the camera's lens. Synchronous stroking produced a sense of being outside their body-located where the camera lenses were. (Ehrsson, H H. 2007. The experimental induction of out-of-body experiences. Science 317:1048.)

Another 2007 study

De Ridder, D; Van Laere, K; DuPont.P; Menovsky, T and Van de Heyning, P.
"Visualizing out-of-body experience in the brain."
The New England Journal of Medicine. 2007. 357:1829-1833.

"An out-of-body experience was repeatedly elicited during stimulation of the posterior part of the superior-temporal gyrus on the right side in a patient in whom electrodes had been implanted to suppress tinnitus. Positron-emission tomographic scanning showed brain activation at the temporoparietal junction-more specifically, at the angular - supramarginal gyrus junction and the superior temporal gyrus-sulcus on the right side. Activation was also noted at the right precuneus and posterior thalamus, extending into the superior vermis. We suggest that activation of these regions is the neural correlate of the disembodiment that is part of the out-of-body experience."

The incidence and determinants...

Terhune, D B
"The incidence and determinants of visual phenomenology during out-of-body experiences."
Cortex. 2009 Feb;45(2):236-42

"The visual content of out-of-body experiences (OBEs) has received little attention but a number of theories of OBEs include implicit predictions regarding the determinants of this phenomenological feature. Hypnagogic imagery and unusual sleep experiences, weak synaesthesia and preference for employing object and spatial visual imagic cognitive styles were psychometrically measured along with the incidence of self-reported OBEs and the absence or presence of visual content therein, in a sample of individuals from the general population. "

"Seventy percent of individuals who had experienced an OBE reported that the experience included some form of visual content. These individuals exhibited greater scores on the measures of preference for object visual imagic cognition and weak synaesthesia than those who reported an absence of visual content during their OBE."

"Subsequent analysis revealed that the measure of weak synaesthesia was the stronger discriminator of the two cohorts. The results are discussed within the context of the synaesthesia model of visual phenomenology during OBEs (Brugger 2000; Irwin 2000.)"

"This account proposes that visual content appears during these experiences through a process of cognitive dedifferentiation in which visual hallucinations are derived from available non-visual sensory cues and that such dedifferentiation is made possible through an underlying characteristic hyperconnectivity of cortical structures regulating vestibular and visual representations of the body and those responsible for the rotation of environmental objects. Predictions derived from this account and suggestions for future research are proffered."

A putative implication for ....

Easton, S; Blanke,O; Mohr, C.
"A putative implication for fronto-parietal connectivity in out-of-body experiences."
Cortex. 2009 Feb;45(2):216-27.

"Self-processing has been related to the prefrontal cortex (PFC) and the temporo-parietal junction (TPJ) as well as to their connectivity. So far, out-of-body experiences (OBEs), impressive transient deviations of intact bodily self-integration, could be associated with the TPJ, but the mediation by the frontal lobe, and thus fronto-parietal connectivity, is yet unknown. Thus we assessed switching performance to assess frontal-parietal connectivity when healthy participants (11 reported previous OBEs (OBE-individuals); 36 reported no previous OBEs (nOBE individuals)performed two different mental own body imagery tasks. By using the same stimuli of a front facing and a back-facing human figure, a cue simultaneously presented with the target indicated to participants whether they Had to take the position of the depicted human figure (disembodied self-location mimicking an OBE) or had to imagine that the figure was their own reflection in a mirror (embodied self-location)."

"By repeating trials of the same task instruction for a differing number of trials (2-6 trials) we could assess switch costs when alternating between these two task instructions with switch costs being considered to be a behavioural indicator of frontal-parietal connectivity. Results showed that OBE-individuals performed worse than nOBE-individuals in switch trials but not in trials in which the same task instruction was repeated. Moreover, this reduced performance was specific to body positions that are normally considered easier (front-facing in the mirror condition; back-facing in the OBE mimicking condition.) These findings suggest that a front-parietal network might be implicated in OBEs, and that the flexible and spontaneous egocentric perspective taking of self-congruent body representations is hampered in individuals with previous OBEs."

The body unbound:...

Cheyne, J A; Girard, T A.
"The body unbound:vestibular-motor hallucinations and out-of-body experiences."
Cortex. 2009 Feb; 45(2):201-15.

"Among the varied hallucinations associated with sleep paralysis (SP), out-of-body experiences (OBEs) and vestibular-motor (V-M) sensations represent a distinct factor. Recent studies of direct stimulation of vestibular cortex report a virtually identical set of bodily-self hallucinations. Both programs of research agree on numerous details of OBEs and V-M experiences and suggest similar hypotheses concerning their association."

"In the present study, self-report data from two on-line surveys of SP-related experiences were employed to assess hypotheses concerning the causal structure of relations among V-M experiences and OBEs during SP episodes."

"The results complement neurophysiological evidence and are consistent with the hypothesis that OBEs represent a breakdown in the normal binding of bodily-self sensations and suggest that out-of-body feelings (OBFs) are consequences of anomalous V-M experiences and precursors to a particular form of autoscopic experience, out-of-body autoscopy (OBA)."

"An additional finding was that vestibular and motor experiences make relatively independent contributions to OBE variance. Although OBEs are superficially consistent with universal dualistic and supernatural intuitions about the nature of the soul and its relation to the body, recent research increasingly offers plausible alternative naturalistic explanations of the relevant phenomenology."

The vestibular component in out-of-body experiences

Schwabe, L; Blanke, O.
"The vestibular component in out-of-body experiences:a computational approach."
Front hum Neurosci. 2008;2;17.

" Neurological evidence suggests that disturbed vestibular processing may play a key role in triggering out-of-body experiences (OBEs). Little is known about the brain mechanisms during such pathological conditions, despite recent experimental evidence that the scientific study of such experiences may facilitate the development of neurobiological models of a crucial aspect of self-consciousness: embodied self-location."

"Here we apply Bayesian modeling to vestibular processing and show that OBEs and the reported illusory changes in self-location and translation can be explained as the result of a mislead Bayesian interference, in the sense that ambiguous bottom-up signals from the vestibular otholiths in the supine body position are integrated with a top-down prior for the upright body position, which we measure during natural head movements. Our findings have relevance for self-location and translation under normal conditions and suggest novel ways to induce and study experimentally both aspects of bodily self-consciousness in healthy subjects."

Body ownership and embodiment...

Lopez, C; Halje, P; Blank, O.
Neurphysiol Clin. 2008 June; 38(3):149-161
"Body ownership and embodiment:vestibular and multisensory mechanisms."

"Body ownership and embodiment are two fundamental mechanisms of self-consciousness. The present article reviews neurological data about paroxysmal illusions during which body ownership and embodiment are affected differentially:autoscopic phenomena (out-of-body experience, heautoscopy, autoscopic hallucination, feeling of a presence) and the room tilt illusion."

"We suggest that autoscopic phenomena and room tilt illusion are related to different types of failures to integrate body-related information (vestibular, propioceptive and tactile cues) in addition to a mismatch between vestibular and visual references. In these patients, altered body ownership and embodiment has been shown to occur due to pathological activity at the temporoparietal junction and other vestibular related areas arguing for a key importance of vestibular processing. "

"We also review the possibilities of manipulating body ownership and embodiment in healthy subjects through exposition to weightlessness as well as caloric and galvanic stimulation of the peripheral vestibular apparatus. In healthy subjects, disturbed self-processing might be related to interference of vestibular stimulation with vestibular cortex leading to disintegration of bodily information and altered body ownership and embodiment. We finally propose a differential contribution of the vestibular cortical areas to the different forms of altered body ownership and embodiment."

Functional and neural mechanisms of embodiment....

Lenggenhager, B; Smith, S T; Blanke. O.
"Functional and neural mechanisms of embodiment:importance of the vestibular system and the temporal parietal junction."
Rev Neurosci. 2006; 17(6):643-57.

"Embodiment, the sense of being localized within one's physical body. is a fundamental aspect of the self. Recent research shows that self and body processing as well as embodiment require distinct brain mechanisms. Here, we review recent clinical and neuroimaging research on multisensory perception and integration as well as mental imagery, pointing out their significance for the coding of embodiment at the temporo-parietal junction (TPJ). Special reference is given to vestibular mechanisms that are relevant for self and embodiment and to methods that interfere experimentally with normal embodiment. We conclude that multisensory and vestibular coding at the TPJ mediates humans' experience as being embodied and spatially situated, and argue that pathologies concerning the disembodied self, such as out-of-body experience or autoscopic phenomena, are due to deficient multisensory integration at the TPJ."

The out-of-body experience: disturbed self-processing at the temporo-parietal junction

Blank, O; Arzy, S.
"The out-of-body experience: disturbed self-processing at the temporo-parietal junction."
Neuroscientist. 2005 Feb; 11(1);16-24.

"Folk psychology postulates a spatial unity of self and body, a "real me" that resides in one's body and is the subject of experience. The spatial unity of self and body has been challenged by various philosophical considerations but also by several phenomena, perhaps most notoriously the "out-of-body experience" (OBE) during which one's visuo-spatial perspective and one's self are experienced to have departed from their habitual position within one's body. Here the authors marshal evidence from neurology, cognitive neuroscience and neuroimaging that suggests that OBEs are related to a failure to integrate multisensory information from one's own body at the temporo-parietal junction (TPJ). It is argued that this multisensory disintegration at the TPJ leads to the disruption of several phenomenological and cognitive aspects of self-processing, causing illusory reduplication, illusory self- location, illusory perspective and illusory agency that are experienced as an OBE."

Out-of body experience, heautoscopy, and ....

Blanke, O; Mohr, C.
"Out-of-body experience, heautoscopy, and autoscopic hallucination of neurological origin implications for neurocognitive mechanisms of corporeal awareness and self-consciousness."
Brain Res Brain Res Rev. 2005 Dec 1; 50(1):184-199.

"Autoscopic phenomena (AP) are rare illusory visual experiences during which the subject has the impression of seeing a second own body in extrapersonal space. AP consist of out-of-body experience (OBE), autoscopic hallucination (AH) and heautoscopy (HAS). The present article reviews and statistically analyzes phenomenological, functional, and anatomical variables in AP of neurological origin (n=41 patients) that have been described over the last 100 years."

"This was carried out in order to further our understanding of the underlying mechanisms of AP, much as previous research into the neural bases of body part illusions has demystified these latter phenomena. Several variables could be extracted, which distinguish between or are comparable for the three AP providing testable hypotheses for subsequent research. "

"Importantly, we believe that the scientific demystification of AP may be useful for the investigation of the cognitive functions and brain regions that mediate processing of the corporeal awareness and self consciousness under normal conditions."

The out-of-body experience: precipitating factors and neural correlates

Bunning, S; Blanke, O.
The out-of-body experience:precipitating factors and neural correlates.
Prog Brain Res. 2005; 150:331-50.

"Out-of-body experiences (OBEs) are defined as experiences in which a person seems to be awake and sees his body and the world from a location outside his physical body. More precisely, they can be defined by the presence of the following three phenomenological characteristics: (1) disembodiment (location of the self outside one's body; (ii) the impression of seeing the world from an elevated and distanced visuo-spatial perspective (extracorporeal, but egocentric visuo-spatial perspective); and (iii) the impression of seeing one's own body (autoscopy) from this perspective. OBEs have fascinated mankind from time immemorial and are abundant in folklore, mythology, and spiritual experiences of most ancient and modern societies. Here we review some of the classical precipitating factors of OBEs such as sleep, drug abuse, and general anesthesis as well as their neurobiology and compare them with recent findings on neurological and neurocognitive mechanisms of OBEs."

"The reviewed data suggests that OBEs are due to functional disintegration of lower-level multisensory processing and abnormal higher-level self-processing at the temporo-parietal junction. We argue that the experimental investigation of the interactions between these multisensory and cognitive mechanisms in OBEs and related illusions in combination with neuroimaging and behavioural techniques might further our understanding of the central mechanisms of corporal awareness and self-consciousness much as previous research about the neural bases of complex body part illusions such as phantom limb has done."

Linking out-of-body expereince and self processing....

Blanke, O; Mohr, C; Michel, C M; Pascual-Leone, A; Brugger, P; Seeck, M; Landis, T; Thut, G.
Linking out-of-body experience and self processing to mental own-body imagery at the temporoparietal junction.
J Neurosci. 2005 Jan 19; 25(3):550-7.

"The spatial unity of self and body is challenged by various philosophical considerations and several phenomena, perhaps most notoriously the 'out-of-body experience' (OBE) during which one's visual perspective and one's self are experienced to have departed from their habitual position within one's body."

"Although researchers started examining isolated aspects of the self, the neurocognitive processes of OBEs have not been investigated experimentally to further our understanding of the self. With the use of evoked potential mapping, we show the selective activation of the temporoparietal junction (TPJ) at 330-400ms after stimulus onset when healthy volunteers imagined themselves in the position and visual perspective that generally are reported by people experiencing spontaneous OBEs."

"Interference with the TPJ by transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) at this time impaired mental transformation of one's own body in healthy volunteers relative to TMS over a control site. No such TMS effect was observed for imagined spatial transformations of external objects, suggesting the selective implication of the TPJ in mental imagery of one's own body."

"Finally, in an epileptic patient with OBEs originating from the TPJ, we show partial activation of the seizure focus during mental transformations of her body and visual perspective mimicking her OBE perceptions. These results suggest that the TPJ is a crucial structure for the conscious experience of the normal self, mediating spatial unity of self and body, and also suggests that impaired processing at the TPJ may lead to pathological selves such as OBEs."

Friday, October 23, 2009

Out-of-body experience and autoscopy of neurological origin

Blancke, O; Landis, T; Spinelli, L; Seeck, M.
Out-of-body experience and autoscopy of neurological origin
Brain. 2004 Feb; 127(Pt2):243-58.

"During an out-of-body experience (OBE), the experient seems to be awake and to see his body and the world from a location outside the physical body. A closely related experience is autoscopy (AS), which is characterized by the experience of seeing one's body in extrapersonal space. Yet, despite great public interest and many case studies, systematic neurological studies of OBE and AS are extremely rare and, to date, no testable neuroscientific theory exists. The present study describes phenomenological , neuropsychological and neuroimaging correlates of OBE and AS in six neurological patients.

"We provide neurological evidence that both experiences share important central mechanisms. We show that OBE and AS are frequently associated with pathological sensations of position, movement and perceived completeness of one's own body. These include vestibular sensations (such as floating, elevation and rotation), visual body-part illusions (such as the illusory shortening, transformation or movement of an extremity) and the experience of seeing one's body only partially during an OBE or AS. We also find that the patient's body position prior to the experience influences OBE and AS. Finally, in five patients, brain damage or brain dysfunction is localized to the temporo-parietal junction (TPJ). These results suggest that the complex experience of OBE and AS represent paroxysmal disorders of body perception and cognition (or body schema).

"The processes of body perception and cognition, and the unconscious creation of central representation (s) of one's own body based on proprioceptive, tactile, visual and vestibular information - as well as their integration with sensory information of extrapersonal space - is a prerequisite for rapid and effective action with their surroundings. Based on our findings, we speculate that ambiguous input from these different sensory systems is an important mechanism of OBE and AS, and thus the intriguing experience of seeing one's body in a position that does not coincide with its felt position.

"We suggest that OBE and AS are related to a failure to integrate proprioceptive, tactile and visual information with respect to one's own body (disintegration in personal space) and by a vestibular disfunction leading to an additional disintegration between personal (vestibular) space and extrapersonal space (visual space.)"

Stimulating illusory own-body perceptions

This is the first of the scientific journal articles about OBEs which I found on my recent web crawl.

Blanke, O; Ortique, S; Landis, T; Seeck, M.
"Stimulating illusory own-body perceptions."
Nature, 2002 Sep 19; 419(6904):269-70.

"'Out-of-body experiences (OBEs) are curious, usually brief sensations in which a person's consciousness seems to become detached from the body and take up a remote viewing position. Here we describe the repeated induction of this experience by focal electrical stimulation of the brain's right angular gyrus in a patient who was undergoing evaluation for epilepsy treatment.

" Stimulation at this site also elicited illusory transformations of the patient's arm and legs (complex somatosensory responses) and whole body displacements (vestibular responses), indicating that out-of-body experiences may reflect a failure by the brain to integrate complex somatosensory and vestibular information."

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Is it all in the mind?

I have been taking a break from this blog, in order to focus on reading some of the scientific journal articles on OBEs; which have been published since 2002.

The research presented in these articles is in sharp contrast to the material I have posted in recent times.

I have been very surprised by the volume of scientific journal articles on this topic! Suddenly, science has discovered that you can indeed study OBEs.

So, to give you, the reader, an appreciation of this new literature, I will post abstracts in a series of posts over the next couple of weeks.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Alien abduction OBE?

Yet another book which I found in the Radcliffe Library of the Adelaide Theosophic Society was "More Astral Projections" by author Robert Crookal, published by Aquarian Press in London in 1964. From the number of books published on this topic around the 60's there must have been quite an interest in that era!

From the preface "While many dreams are pure fantasy, some,we maintain are astral projections."

This book is a study of 222 OBE cases drawn from letters to the author and 37 sent in to a newspaper called the "Daily Sketch."

Introduction "By astral projection is meant the belief that people possess a second, non-physical (and therefore invisible and intangible) body.

Here we find personal accounts of both the traditional OBE and of people apparently in more than one place at one time - bio-location.

Some cases, such as the 1954 case number ed 212 on page 27 describe what today would be called sleep paralysis, with associated sense of "presence."

A very interesting case , numbered 261 on page 57 is related to have happened in 1941-42.

"One night I woke up (and I am quite sure I did wake up) and, finding myself flat on my back, made to turn over to my side. To my consternation I found that I could not move at all. My body was paralysed. Then suddenly, I began to slide out of bed feet first..." This OBE experience would not be out of place in the description of the start of an alien abduction experience! On top of this, many years ago I interviewed a person who was having poltergeist like manifestations. They awoke one morning to find themselves being dragged off the bed feet first by an invisible something. here, the witness clearly associated the event with the paranormal, and nothing to do with alien abductions. However, one wonders whether or not all these type of phenomena have some fundamental link?

Saturday, September 5, 2009

A personal OBE

This post is a little aside from the book reviews I have been posting.

Some years ago, I was giving a talk at the Astronomical Society of South Australia when I had, what can only be described as an OBE.

I became aware, with no recollection of any discontinuity, that I was behind my physical self, watching and listening to myself, deliver my lecture!

I could see my physical self in front of the position I was observing from.

It felt like ten minutes went by, and then, again with no discontinuity, I was back in my physical form delivering the lecture.

In my 59 years of life, this is the only time I have ever experienced what could be considered an OBE.

Friday, September 4, 2009

"Journeys out of the body" 1

I am coming to realise that there are at least two types of books about OBEs. Firstly, there are the ones written by individuals who have experienced a number of OBEs and have experimented with them, e.g. Oliver Fox. Then there are studies of collections of OBE accounts, e.g. Celia Green.

The Theosophical Society's Radcliffe Library has another of the former type. I am in the process of reading "Journey's out of the body" by Robert A Monroe. Published in New York by Doubleday & Co in 1971. Monroe's institute featured in another book I read recently about Project Stargate, the US military's exploration of remote viewing in the 1980's to 1990's.

It was in 1958 that Robert Monroe's experiences began. He was lying on a couch when what he described as a beam of light came from the sky and struck his body. His body shook violently. He thought at first that it was epilepsy, or a brain tumor, then perhaps hallucinatory. He forced himself to move. He stood up and walked around. The clock showed that only a few seconds had passed. He had not closed his eyes. "I was utterly powerless to move." p 22.

"Within the following six weeks, the same peculiar condition manifested itself nine times." p23. "...The only common factor was that it began just after I had laid down to rest or sleep."

Page 24 gives another example. He lay down to sleep and two minutes later a "feeling" swept his entire body. He tried to remain calm. He could see the room and heard a roaring sound caused by the vibrations. After five minutes the sensation ceased.

One night he was lying in bed and it seemed as if during the vibrations, his hand went through the floor. He was wide awake, lying in bed with an arm through the floor. He pulled the arm back out of the floor. He got up, turned on the light and saw that there was no hole in the floor. He saw his wife sleeping in bed. p 25.

Four weeks later he again experienced vibrations while lying in bed before sleep. He felt something pressing against his shoulder. He touched it and it seemed to be a wall. He then realised that this wall was in fact the ceiling. He looked back at the bed and there were two figures in the bed. His wife and he. He "swooped down to my body and dove in." He opened his eyes and found he was back in bed. p28.

He later spoke to a psychologist and a psychiatrist about his experiences.

Monroe conducted some research and "Simply, I was performing 'astral projection.'"He found out about Oliver Fox and Sylvan Muldoon' books. p40.

He experimented with this OBE state and astrally visited someone; described the events to those he visited and confirmed his observations. You can see why the US military thought that there might be some use in this methodology when it undertook remote viewing experiments.

Monroe's extensive self experimentation with this OBE state led him to describe three locales or worlds in which he could find himself. These were:

Locale 1 - "Here-Now." People and places which exist. "Get out of the physical and into the second, then go visit George and make contact, come back into the physical and report." pp60-61.

Locale 2 - Non material environment.

Local3 - Physical matter world almost the same as our. No electrical devices.

Chapter 5 is about "sexuality in the second state." "It is mentioned here only because the most consistent physical reaction noted when returning from the second state is a penile erection."
To me this is a very interesting observation as it is well known that during REM (rapid eye movement) or dream sleep, in the human male there is a penile erection. This would seem to me to indicate that the OBE was occurring in REM sleep, i.e. he was asleep and dreaming at the time of the experience.

Chapter 6 describes how to have an experience.

1. Relaxation - by auto or self hypnosis; "Borderland sleep state" between sleep and wakefulness; induction by drugs. Then let go of rigid hold on borderland sleep sate. p207.

2. State of vibration. Body along North-South axis, head to magnetic north. Relax. Begin breathing through half open mouth. p210. Look into the darkness. Move your point of concentration further away from you. "From there, turn the point 90 degree upward, on a line parallel to the axis and reaching above the head. Reach for the vibrations at that spot. When you feel them, mentally pull them back into your head." p212.

3. Control the vibrations -get used to the vibrations, your body shakes, pulse them mentally. p213.

(a) Think of getting lighter, of floating. (b) Rotational technique-slowly try to turn over-rotate 180 degree face your own face then think of floating off. p216.

More notes later.

A book by Ralph Shirley

I have just read a book titled "The mystery of the human double" by Ralph Shirley. New York; University Books. 1965 originally published in 1938.

Ralph Shirley was born on 30/12/1865 and between 1892-1925 was director of the book publisher William Rider and Co. He published a number of books about OBEs as well as authoring this one.

My notes follow:

(1) The Society for Psychical research were impressed with "...the frequency of records of the apparent action of the human consciousness at a distance from the place where the physical form was at the time being located." p 15.

Examples are given of someone having been seen somewhere, when in fact they had died at about that time. However, my comment is, is this more along the lines of an apparition of the dead rather than an OBE. Still, I suppose that the title of the book is about the human double and not OBEs.

(2) There is a description of an incident which happened to someone called Goethe which I have read in several other places. "I saw myself coming to meet myself on the same road on horseback, but in clothes such as I have never worn." The author goes on to describe a number of cases where people have seen their own double. In Goethe's case he goes on to say that sometime later he did ride down that same road dressed in the clothes he had seen himself in during this unusual prior experience. This would seem to be a case of precognition-seeing the future?

(3) He then gives examples of what would be regarded as the more classic OBE in which the person saw things in the OBE that they had not previously know. pp71-74. These descriptions seem to indicate the author was suggesting that the astral form must have some awareness to transmit this to the mind back in the physical body of the individual experiencing the OBE. i.e. that the experience was in some sense "real."

(4) Chapter 5 is a recounting of the experiences of Sylvan Muldoon.

(5) "Another common cause leading to astral projection is the use of anaesthetics." p88.

(6) Describes experiences of Oliver Fox. p98.

All in all, the book covers a range of phenomenon which today might be decsribed as apparitions of the dead; precognition and autoscopy - seeing one's self.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Comments on the Oliver Fox book

(5) "Sometimes, just before falling asleep, I would see through my closed eyelids a number of small misty-blue or mauve vibrating circles..."

In later times, the appearance of coloured circles, faces and voices in this situation would receive the label of "hypnagogic and hypnopompic imagery."

(7) In 1902 dream with incorrect detail.

In later times, this experience of being aware that you are dreaming is referred to a having a "lucid dream."

(10) One dream - awoke paralysed.

Paralysis of this type is now associated with dream sleep (or rapid eye movement sleep). One of the proven methods of breaking the paralysis is mental willpower being used to move a finger, which breaks the paralysis

(11) Experienced a false awakening.

I have come across some excellent examples of false awakenings in my readings of the years, where someone believes they have awoken from their sleep in their bedroom; they look around the room and all seems normal, except for some small anomaly. They then realise they are still asleep and dreaming; then really wake up. I recall some stories where these false awakenings can seem to occupy several minutes and involve quite a long recollection which seems true at the time until you wake up. I will try and recall where I read some of these accounts and post them.

(12) One night his girl friend appeared to be in his room, when she was not physically present.
(13) The reverse, She awoke to find Oliver in her room, when he was not really there.

These examples imply evidence that the events took place in some real way, as the body of one person was seen by another person, although in reality they were not physically present.

Overall this book is an excellent account of early experimentation in deliberately inducing "astral projection."

Oliver Fox's book on OBEs

My second book to review, was published in 1962, but recounts experiences from the early 1900's.

I thought that this might give me a very early perspective on the topic. The author was Oliver Fox and the book titled: "Astral projection: a record of out-of-the body experiences." Published by University Books Inc of New York. The following are the notes I made as I read the book.

(1) "As a child I progressed from illness to illness..."p13.

(2) Until age 7-8 dreams were "...of the nightmare variety." p 14.

(3) Two recurrent nightmares were:

(a) Two identical "mothers" - the dream of the double.
(b) "Something in gradually stretched tighter and tighter." p16 - the extension nightmare.

(4) Age 4-5 fell into a reverie - "extension" occurred.

(5) "Sometimes, just before falling asleep, I would see through my closed eyelids a number of small misty-blue or mauve vibrating circles." Tiny, grinning faces appeared and mocking voices were heard, and then he had a nightmare. He learnt to manipulate this face into an ink pot and then found he did not have a nightmare. p19.

(6) As he got older the nightmares decreased in frequency. His youth "...was rich in dreams..." in "which I was exploring what appeared to be a marvellous celestial world..."p29

(7) In 1902 he had a dream where he noted a details which was wrong -something which was out of place. "Then the solution flashed upon me: though this glorious summer morning seemed as real as real could be, I was dreaming!" p53. The quality of the dream imagery changed-vividness increased a hundred fold. Then he awoke. "I think this first experience was a true projection and that I was actually functioning oputside my physical body." p 33.

(8) He experimented within these dreams and found that he could levitate, and pass through solid walls etc p36.

(9) At the end of this he experienced duality-still in the dream but also simultaneously aware that he was actually lying in bed. p 37.

(10) In one dream-he awoke completely paralysed. This paralysis was only able to be broken when he moved his little finger. pp39-40

(11) He experienced a "false awakening." He thought he was awake but something about his surroundings told him he was still dreaming. p48.

(12) One night he was asleep and had a false awakening. He saw "...a large, egg shaped cloud of intensely brilliant bluish-white light. " In the middle of this he saw his girl friend. He was paralysed. She vanished. p 57. He fell back to sleep. Next day she recalled having been in his room somehow, but not physically. She had projected herself there.

(13) Reverse-on another occasion in 1905 she awoke to find Oliver Fox apparently standing in her room. She was paralysed. He then vanished. p61.

(14) 1908 p66. He was lying on a sofa, in the afternoon, eye closed-left his body by "...willing myself out of it..." found himself in the countryside walking " body called me back."

(15) Found he could will himself out of his body.

(16) 1913-1915. His interest in projection increased. He had many experiences while lying down, trance, left body.

(17) He describes two methods of projection pp121-124.

(a) Take an interest in your dreams, try to recall them. While dreaming, note an incongruity and realise you are dreaming. Feet feel heavier. Moves as though struggling against an elastic cord attached between the shoulder blades. Gets a pain in top of head and centre of forehead. p123. On returning to the body finds it paralysed. Then may experience a false awakening-not awake but in trance condition. Try to sit up and leave your body.

(b) Way of self induced trance. Lie down-think of an imaginary trap door in your brain. Eyes closed. Numbness appears in feet; up legs, expands to entire body. Room appears lit by a golden pale radiance p127. Experience having two bodies. By will power force the fluidic body through the trapdoor. Fluidic body then gets out of bed and explores.

In the next post I will comment on these notes.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Comments on Celia Green's book

The following are my comments on the notes in the two previous postings:

"Thus subjects who are deaf or have poor eyesight may find themselves 'hearing' and 'seeing' clearly, in their ecsomatic experiences." p 23.

Isn't this an interesting observation? Deaf individuals hear in their OBE!

"Eighty-one per cent of the subject of 'single' ecsomatic cases stated that, while they were apparently out of their bodies, they seemed to see their physical bodies from outside." p 42.

So, in 19% of cases people did not report seeing their own physical body. How then did they know they were out of body?

"Subjects may find themselves behind, beside or above their physical bodies, but very rarely report having viewed their physical body from a position below it." P46.

It would be very good to take a look at the fine details of the cases where someone viewed themselves from below. In real life, very few people would ever be looking up at people, unless the person was on a staircase etc.

"If the ecsomatic experience takes place indoors, the subject frequently refers to his ecsomatic position as being near the ceiling." p47.

I wonder what the percentages are and what other viewpoints were in the survey? What does frequently mean? Greater than 50%?

"The data presented in the last chapter show that there is some reason to associate ecsomatic experience with decreased muscle tone. " p53.

When you are in dream/rapid eye movement sleep, your muscle tone falls to almost nothing.

"Nearly 5 per cent of subjects report apparent paralysis occurring at some stage of their ecsomatic experience." p 60.

As with the last note, in dream/REM sleep your are effectively paralysed- i.e. have no muscle tone.

"89.3% of the subjects of single cases stated that the tings they saw while out of the body looked just as they would do normally and 82.3% stated that things looked coloured in the normal way..."p71.

Another way of saying that the content/quality of the experience was as real as real, i.e. indistinguishable from conventional awake reality.

"Only 26.9 per cent of the subjects of single cases reported that they felt connected in any way to their physical body..."p100.

This goes against what I thought was the general impression of OBEs; that there was a silver cord connecting the physical and no physical bodies.

"In the majority of single cases there is no consciousness of any transition to or from the ecsomatic state." p 108.

I'd like to see some examples of ones where people do recall the transition.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Celia Green's book on OBEs part 2

"If the ecsomatic experience takes place indoors, the subject frequently refers to his ecsomatic position as being near the ceiling..."p 47.

Posture of subject's physical body - Lying down 73.3%; sitting 17.6%.

"The data presented in the last chapter shows that there is some reason to associate ecsomatic experiences with decreased muscle tone." p 53.

"Nearly 5 per cent of subjects report apparent paralysis occurring at some stage of their ecsomatic experience." p 60.

Sensory modalities involved - single cases - sight 93.2%; hearing 33.5% p 67.

"89.3 per cent of the subjects of single cases stated that the things they saw while out of the body looked just as they would do normally and 82.3 per cent stated that things looked coloured in the normal way." p71.

"Only 29.6 per cent of the subjects of single cases reported that they felt connected in any way to their physical body...p100.

"In the majority of single cases there is no consciousness of any transition to or from the ecsomatic state." p 108.

ESP. "A characteristic form of apparent extra-sensory perception associated with ecsomatic states is 'travelling clairvoyance' - i.e. the subject appears to travel to as distant place and to obtain information about the state of affairs at that place, which he could not have acquired by normal means." p126.

End of my notes.

Celia Green's book on OBEs

The first book I looked at was "Out-of-the-body experiences" by Celia Green. It is the Proceedings of the Institute of Psychophysical Research Volume 2. Isbn 0900076011, and was published in 1968.

My notes are as follows:

This book contains the results of a study conducted in 1966. Two questionnaires were sent to about 400 persons who responded to a media appeal. 326 replied to the first and 251 to the second. Gender wise, 68% were female and 32 % male.

It should be noted that OBEs are referred to as 'ecsomatic' experiences in this work.


"We define an 'ecsomatic experience' as one in which the objects of perception are apparently organized in such a way that the observer seems to himself to be observing them from a point of view which is not coincidental with his physical body." p 17.

Ecsomatic experiences occur in a number of situations; while apparently asleep; under anaesthesia; while walking; while sitting alone or in company.

12% of 'single" cases occurred while asleep. 32.4% of 'single' cases while anaesthetised or unconscious.

60.9% of subjects reported only one experience - i.e. a "single' case.

Ages - "...are reported as occurring at almost all ages, although they are less frequently reported later in life." p 23.

Duration - "...the majority of 'single' cases last no more than a matter of minutes." p 24.

"The psychological circumstances which precede ecsomatic experiences, particularly 'single' ecsomatic experiences, are frequently characterised by the presence of some identifiable form of stress." p 25.

"Thus subjects who are deaf or have poor eyesight may find themselves 'hearing' and 'seeing' clearly, in their ecsomatic experiences." p 32.

800% of subjects of single cases report they appeared to be 'a disembodied consciousness." p 34.

"Many subjects comment on their feelings of well-being and reality, in their new position apart from their physical body..." p 39.

"Eighty-one per cent of the subjects of 'single' ecsomatic cases stated that, while they were apparently out of their bodies, they seemed to see their physical bodies from outside. " p42.

"Subjects may find themselves behind, beside or above their physical body, but very rarely report having viewed their physical body from a position below it." p 46.

(To be continued)

Friday, August 21, 2009

Reading, reading

The two books I selected from the Radcliffe Library are:

(1) "Out-of-the-body experiences" by Celia Green, published in 1968 in the U.K. Celia was the Director, Institute of Psychophysical Research, at Oxford in England.

(2) Astral projections: a record of out-of-the body expereinces" by Oliver Fox, published in 1962, in New York.

Celia's book is a study of a large number of OBEs, while Oliver's concerns his own, personal OBEs.

I am in the process of reading and making notes on both books.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

As I sat in the Radcliffe Library of the Theosophical Society yesterday, surrounded by several thousand books on a variety of esoteric subjects, I wondered where to start? I thought back over the range of topics which I have studied, and recalled that recently I had come across a scientific study on "out-of-body experiences (OBEs)", which from memory, claimed that it might go some way towards a scientific explanation of these experiences. So, I have decided that I will review the topic of OBEs as my first foray.

I went to the relevant section of the Radcliffe Library and found two older books on the topic, as I felt that I initially needed to ground myself in what people thought about the topic 30-50 years ago, before reading current research findings.

Hopefully, my next post will review the first of these books.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Welcome notes

It has now been some seven months since I decided to retire from the field of "UFO research." My 40 year saga in this arena of human knowledge was long enough.

Refreshed from the break, I have decided to return to an exploration of other topics which could broadly fit into the area of "Anomalies." Although, over the years, my main interest was the study of UFO reports; I always kept an eye on such topics as "out-of-body experiences"; "near-death experiences"; falls of "Angel hair";and various Fortean phenomena.

Along the way, I read widely as a lay person, in various aspects of psychology, and especially the application of knowledge about hypnopompic and hypnagogic imagery; the fantasy-prone personality; and sleep paralysis to the topics listed above.

I am currently volunteering my time in the Adelaide Theosophical Society's invaluable Radcliffe Library on South Terrace, Adelaide. This library, which is open to public membership, holds some 4000 volumes on a diverse range of topics, which would keep any researcher busy for many years.

The purpose then, of this blog, is to document my research interests; my readings; research papers and musings.

Happy reading!