Tag Archive: Out-of-body experiences

Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD, Research Fellow, Parapsychology Foundation

Hector Durville (1849–1923) was a well-known French student of magnetism and psychic phenomena. He founded the Société de Magnétisme de France and defended the existence of a magnetic force that could cause healing and other phenomena, a topic he discussed in his two-volume work Traité Expérimental de Magnétisme (2 vols., Paris: Librairie du Magnétisme, 1895–1896). In his book Le Fantôme des Vivants: Anatomie et Physiologie de l’Ame: Recherches Expérimentales sur le Dédoublement des Corps de l’Homme (The Phantom of the Living: Anatomy and Physiology of the Soul: Experimental Researches on the Doubling of Man’s Body; Paris: Librairie du Magnétisme, 1909), Durville focused on the projection of phantoms of the living, or what he termed doubling.

Hector Durville 2

Hector Durville

Durville Traite Experimental Magnetisme

Durville Les Fantome des Vivants

The first part of the book was about the history and conceptual aspects of the topic. This included the idea of subtle bodies and their manifestations.

The latter part consisted of OBEs as well as apparitions of the living with and without the consciousness of the person represented by the apparition. Durville concluded the section stating:

“The physical body is seen at the place that it really occupies; and at the same moment its phantom is seen at a distance. . . . The sensations felt by the phantom are reflected on the physical [body]. . . . The physical [body] is never in its normal state during doubling. The mystics are always in ecstasy; the sorcerers and nearly all the common people are more or less profoundly asleep, the mediums are in trance, the somnambules in a state of magnetic somnambulism and the dying delirious or in syncope . . . . Some of the doubled recollect perfectly everything that was seen, said, or that took place . . . ; others remember vaguely . . . , most others do not keep any recollection. . . .” (pp. 136–138; this and other translations are mine)

Durville believed that doubling showed that the thinking principle could leave the physical body while the person was alive and that this double could perceive and sometimes act on the environment.

In the second part of the book, Durville reported tests he conducted to study intentionally projected phantoms of the living. In this work Durville followed on the previous investigations of Albert de Rochas (1837–1914), a pioneer in the laboratory study of phantoms of the living and of the exteriorization of sensibility, in which the magnetized person’s tactile sensibility was projected around her body or to an external object or substance such as water.

Albert de Rochas 2

Albert de Rochas

Durville worked with several ladies whom he magnetized repeatedly, asking them to project their phantom in order to explore its perceptual and motor capabilities. He said very little about his participants but they were obviously sensitive to magnetization (or suggestion). One of the ladies in question, Mme. Lambert, was also studied by de Rochas. She was later described as a medium who had physical phenomena at home as well as in the séance room (Lefranc, L. Comment il faut étudier le probleme spirite. Le Monde Psychique,1911, 1, 162–172, 195–199).

Durville wrote that he considered the exteriorization of sensibility and doubling to be similar. The first was a state in which the sensibility was believed to radiate around the person, while the second was a state in which the sensibility was contained in the phantom. Durville wrote:

“We have seen that the subjects submitted to the action of magnetism . . . exteriorize . . . , all of them keep their usual state of consciousness, their sensibility which had disappeared at the beginning of somnambulism . . . radiates now around them, up to a distance that may reach a distance 2 m. 50 and even 3 meters. At some moment . . . such sensibility, which all the subjects see in the form of vapour, a whitish fluid, gray or grayish, sometimes with light iridescent shades, is condensed and localized on each side of them, at a distance that may vary from 20 centimeters . . . to 80 centimeters. . . .” (p. 178)

Several chapters contain descriptions of such aspects as the appearance of the phantom, its perceptual capabilities, influences on other persons, and physical effects presumably produced by it. The point of the studies was to obtain evidence that perceptions and physical effects could take place from a location distant from the physical body of the projected persons, at the place where the phantom was supposed to be. Because some aspects of Durville’s reports have been published in English in the Annals of Psychical Science, I will cite some descriptions from one of them to take advantage of the translations.

Durville Annals

Some tests were performed to test for vision. In Durville’s words:

“The projected double can see, but rather confusedly, from one room into another. While I was at the end of my study with Edmée, whose double was projected, I asked three of the witnesses of the experiment . . . to go into the lecture room of the society and perform some simple and easily described movements, so that we could ascertain whether the double, which I would send there, could see anything. Dr. Pau de Saint-Martin stood near the window, between my study and the hall where the witnesses were, in order to see almost at the same time both the subject and what these experimenters were doing.”

First Experiment. — Mme. Fournier seated herself on the table. ‘I see,’ said the subject, ‘Mme. Fournier seated on the table.’ ”

Second Experiment. — The three persons walked into the room and gesticulated. ‘They walk and make gestures with their hands; I do not know what it means.’ ”

Third Experiment. — Mme. Stahl took a pamphlet from the table and handed it to Mme. Fournier. ‘The two ladies are reading,’ said the subject.”

Fourth Experiment. — The three persons joined hands, formed a chain and walked round the table. ‘How funny!’ said the subject; ‘they are dancing round the table like three lunatics.’ ” (Durville, H. (1908). Experimental researches concerning phantoms of the living. Annals of Psychical Science, 1908, 7, 335–343, p. 338).

Durville believed that the phantom emanated N-rays, a controversial form of radiation prominent during the first decade of the twentieth century that was eventually dismissed by the scientific community as being due to artefactual observations. To detect the projected phantom, he used screens covered with calcium sulphide, a substance believed to produce brightness in contact with the rays. Durville wrote as follows:

“The double of the subject having been projected, I took the three screens and showed them to the witnesses, who observed that they were completely dark. Laying the small screen aside for a moment, I placed one of the large ones on the abdomen of the subject and held the other in the phantom, which was seated on an armchair to the left of the subject.”

“The screen placed in the phantom became rapidly illuminated, and the one on the subject remained completely dark. After several minutes I took both screens and showed them to the witnesses, who were much astonished by the phenomenon. I then took the screen which had been on the subject, and remained dark, and placed it in the phantom. It immediately became illuminated like the first. I again showed them to the witnesses, who saw that they were sufficiently illuminated to allow them easily to count the spots of sulphide of calcium at a distance of a yard.”

“I then took the small screen which had not been used, and placed it on the abdomen of the subject for two or three minutes without obtaining the slightest trace of luminosity. I then placed it in the phantom, and it became very strongly illuminated. The witnesses found that it gave enough light to enable one of them to tell the time by a watch.”

Durville phantom

Photo of Screen with Shape of Phantom

“These experiments, repeated about ten times with seven or eight different subjects, always gave similar results, which were very intense when the screens had been well exposed to the sun, less so when the exposure had been insufficient.” (Durville, H. Experimental researches concerning phantoms of the living. Annals of Psychical Science, 1908, 7, 335–343, p. 341).

The double was said to be able to produce raps and movement of objects, which was taken by Durville to indicate its objective nature. This body, Durville wrote in his book, carried the “very principle of life, as well as will, intelligence, memory, consciousness, the physical senses, while the physical body does not have any faculty” (p. 354). This suggests that the subject’s awareness was out of the body, something that is not always clear throughout the experiments reported in the book.

The tests reported by Durville represent a historically important attempt to empirically study the topic through the induction of experiences, and one deserving further investigation. The book was repeatedly cited by later writers on the topic. Some aspects of his work were replicated and extended, but the reports have fewer methodological details than Durville’s (e.g., Lefranc, L. (1911). Les états du sommeil magnétique du fantôme du vivant ou corps ethérique. Le Monde Psychique, 1911, 1(2), 3–7).

Hector Durville

Hector Durville


Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD, Research Fellow, Parapsychology Foundation

Easton, S., Blanke, O., & Mohr, C. (2009). A putative implication for fronto-parietal connectivity in out-of-body experiences. Cortex, 45, 216-227.

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 fronto-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 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 frontoparietal connectivity. Results showed that OBE-individuals performed worse than non OBE 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 fronto-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.

Carruthers, G. (2013) Who am I in out of body experiences? Implications from OBEs for the explanandum of a theory of self-consciousness. Phenomenology and the Cognitive Sciences, DOI 10.1007/s11097-013-9332-0

Contemporary theories of self-consciousness typically begin by dividing experiences of the self into types, each requiring separate explanation. The stereotypical case of an out of body experience (OBE) may be seen to suggest a distinction between the sense of oneself as an experiencing subject, a mental entity, and a sense of oneself as an embodied person, a bodily entity. Point of view, in the sense of the place from which the subject seems to experience the world, in this case is tied to the sense of oneself as a mental entity and seems to be the ‘real’ self. Closer reading of reports, however, suggests a substantially more complicated picture. For example, the ‘real’ self that is experienced as separate from the body in an OBE is not necessarily experienced as disembodied. Subjects may experience themselves as having two bodies. In cases classed as heautoscopy there is considerable confusion regarding the apparent location of the experiencing subject; is it the ‘real mind’ in the body I seem to be looking out from, or is it in the body that I see? This suggests that visual point of view can dissociate from the experience of one’s own “real mind” or experience of self-identification. I provide a tripartite distinction between the sense of ownership, the sense of embodiment and the sense of subjectivity to better describe these experiences. The phenomenology of OBEs suggests that there are three distinct forms of self-consciousness which need to be explained.

De Foe, A., van Doorn, G., & Symmons, M. (2012). Auditory hallucinations predict likelihood of out-of- body experience. Australian Journal of Parapsychology, 12, 59-68.

An out of body experience (OBE) occurs when the centre of a person’s awareness appears to temporarily occupy a position which is spatially remote from their body. Prior research suggests that fantasy proneness factors are predictors of OBE likelihood, specifically prior auditory, visual, and kinaesthetic hallucinations. Three hundred and seventy participants completed an online questionnaire investigating variables that, potentially, contributed to their OBEs. Binary Logistic Regression identified one item that predicted whether or not a person had experienced an OBE: whether a participant had, or had not, previously experienced an auditory hallucination.

De Foe, A., van Doorn, G. and Symmons, M. (2012). Research note: Induced out-of-body experiences are associated with a sensation of leaving the body. Australian Journal of Parapsychology 12, 177-185.

Individuals who have had an out-of-body experience (OBE) report that the centre of their awareness appears to, temporarily, shift to a location that is spatially distinct from the location of their physical body. Research suggests that some OBErs report a sensation of leaving their physical body prior to their OBEs, while others instead report spontaneously finding themselves outside of their body. The present study evaluated data collected from 194 participants who claimed to have had an OBE. Instances of spontaneous and autonomously induced OBEs were considered. Binary Logistic Regression identified one item that predicted whether a participant was more likely to have had an induced, rather than a spontaneous, OBE: whether a participant had experienced a sensation of leaving their physical body prior to the OBE.

Gow, K., Lang, T., & Chant, D. (2004). Fantasy proneness, paranormal beliefs and personality features in out-of-body experiences. Contemporary Hypnosis, 21, 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 dissociation and somatoform dissociation.

Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD, Visiting Scholar, Rhine Research Center

Alvarado, C.S. (2011). On doubles and excursions from the physical body, 1876–1956. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 25, 563-580.

D'Assier Posthumous Humanity“This Essay Review is about the ideas of a group of authors who contributed to constructing and maintaining the concept that some principle inherent in human beings was capable of leaving the physical body, and thus accounted for phenomena such as apparitions of the living and what later came to be called out-of-body and near-death experiences. The authors in question believed the phenomena were explained by the projection of a spirit, or some sort of subtle body sometimes referred to as a ‘double,’ from the physical body.” The review includes “On the Trans-Corporeal Action of Spirit” by William Stainton Moses

William Stainton Moses

William Stainton Moses

(under the pseudonym M. A. Oxon; Human Nature, 10, 1876, 97–125, 145–157); Posthumous Humanity: A Study of Phantoms, by Adolphe D’Assier (London: George Redway, 1887); Le Fantôme des Vivants, by Hector Durville (Paris: Librairie du Magnétisme, 1909), The Case for Astral Projection by Sylvan J. Muldoon (Chicago: Ariel Press, 1936); Les Phénomènes de Bilocation, by Ernesto Bozzano (Paris: Jean Meyer, 1937); The Phenomena of Astral Projection, by Sylvan J. Muldoon and Hereward Carrington (London: Rider, 1951); “ESP Projection: Spontaneous Cases and the Experimental Method,” by Hornell Hart (Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 48, 1954, 121–146); and “Six Theories about Apparitions” by Hornell Hart et al. (Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, 50, 1956, 153–239).

Durville Les Fantome des Vivants


Muldoon Carrington Phenomena Astral Projection 2


Jason Braithwaite

Jason Braithwaite

Braithwaite, J.J., Samson. D., Apperly, I., Broglia, E., & Hulleman, J. (2011). Cognitive correlates of the spontaneous out-of-body experience (OBE) in the psychologically normal population: Evidence for an increased role of temporal-lobe instability, body-distortion processing, and impairments in own-body transformations. Cortex, 47, 839-853.

Recent findings from studies of epileptic patients and schizotypes have suggested that disruptions in multi-sensory integration processes may underlie a predisposition to report out-of-body experiences. It has been argued that these disruptions lead to a breakdown in own-body processing and embodiment. Here we present two studies which provide the first investigation of predisposition to OBEs in the normal population as measured primarily by the recently devised Cardiff anomalous perception scale (CAPS). The Launay-Slade Hallucination scale (LSHS) was also employed to provide a measure of general hallucination proneness. In Study 1, 63 University students participated in the study, 17 of whom (26%) claimed to have experienced at least one OBE in their lifetime. OBEers reported significantly more perceptually anomalies (elevated CAPS scores) but these were primarily associated with specific measures of temporal-lobe instability and body-distortion processing. Study 2 demonstrated that OBEers and those scoring high on measures of temporal-lobe instability/body-distortion processing were significantly impaired, relative to controls, at a task requiring mental own-body transformations (OBTs). These results extend the findings from epileptic patient studies to the psychologically normal population and are consistent with there being a disruption in temporal-lobe and body-based processing underlying OBE-type experiences.

Brandt, C., Kramme, C., Storm, H., & Pohlmann-Eden, B. (2009). Out-of-body experience and auditory and visual hallucinations in a patient with cardiogenic syncope: Crucial role of cardiac event recorder in establishing the diagnosis. Epilepsy and Behavior, 15, 254-255.

Out-of-body experience (OBE) and visual and auditory hallucinations can occur in a variety of medical conditions. We describe a 48-year-old male patient who experienced several paroxysmal events with different combinations of the aforementioned symptoms that could finally be attributed to cardiogenic syncope after subcutaneous implantation of an event recorder and that ceased after implantation of a cardiac pacemaker. Hallucinations and OBE are well-known phenomena in syncope. The special purpose of this report is to highlight the crucial role of implantation of the event recorder in establishing the diagnosis and the additional support of the diagnosis by the cessation after implanting the cardiac pacemaker.

Andra Smith

Andra Smith

Smith, A.M., & Messier, C. (2014). Voluntary out-of-body experience: An fMRI study. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 8:70. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2014.00070

The present single-case study examined functional brain imaging patterns in a participant that reported being able, at will, to produce somatosensory sensations that are experienced as her body moving outside the boundaries of her physical body all the while remaining aware of her unmoving physical body. We found that the brain functional changes associated with the reported extra-corporeal experience (ECE) were different than those observed in motor imagery. Activations were mainly left-sided and involved the left supplementary motor area and supramarginal and posterior superior temporal gyri, the last two overlapping with the temporal parietal junction that has been associated with out-of-body experiences. The cerebellum also showed activation that is consistent with the participant’s report of the impression of movement during the ECE. There was also left middle and superior orbital frontal gyri activity, regions often associated with action monitoring. The results suggest that the ECE reported here represents an unusual type of kinesthetic imagery.

Devin Blair Terhune

Devin Blair Terhune

Terhune, D.B. (2009). The incidence and determinants of visual phenomenology during out-of-body experiences. Cortex, 45, 236-242.

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 drawn 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 synaesthetic model of visual phenomenology during OBEs. 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.

Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD, Visiting Scholar, Rhine Research Center

Here is the first of a series of posts about fairly recent articles about out-of-body experiences. I will be including articles from different perspectives, among them neurological, parapsychological, and psychological. This will include reviews, conceptual, and research papers.

* * * *

Alvarado, C.S. (2009). The spirit in out-of-body experiences: Historical and conceptual notes. In B. Batey (Ed.), Spirituality, Science and the Paranormal (pp. 3-19). Bloomfield, CT: Academy of Spirituality and Paranormal Studies.

This paper focuses on selected aspects of the history of out-of-body experiences (OBEs), namely case work and discussions published between 1860 and 1956 in which its authors defended concepts such as the spirit and subtle bodies capable of going out of the physical body. The discussion centers on the writings of Scottish social reformer Robert Dale Owen’s (1801-1877), English reverend and medium’s William Stainton Moses (1839-1892), English journalist William H. Harrison, English classical scholar and psychical researcher Frederic W.H. Myers (1843-1901), French engineer Gabriel Delanne (1857-1926), Italian psychical researcher Ernesto Bozzano (1862-1943), and American sociologist Hornell Hart (1888-1967). All the discussions included veridical phenomena such as obtaining information about events taking place at a distance from the physical body, and being seen as an apparition in the location where the OBErs felt they were visiting while having the OBE. Some of these writings are evidentially problematic and suffer from lack of precise definition of the nature of the principle believed to be behind the phenomena. But regardless of conceptual problems the above mentioned OBE-related phenomena need to be considered by those who adhere to purely hallucinatory explanations of the phenomenon.

Dr. Jason Braithwaite

Dr. Jason Braithwaite

Braithwaite, J.J., Broglia, E., Bagshaw, A.P. and Wilkins, A.J. (2012). Evidence for elevated cortical hyperexcitability and its association with out-of-body experiences in the non-clinical population: New findings from a pattern-glare task. Cortex, 30, 1-13.

Individuals with no history of neurological or psychiatric illness can report hallucinatory Out-of-Body Experiences (OBEs) and display elevated scores on measures of temporal-lobe dysfunction (Braithwaite et al., 2011). However, all previous investigations of such biases in non-clinical populations are based on indirect questionnaire measures. Here we present the first empirical investigation that a non-clinical OBE group is subject to pattern-glare, possibly as a result of cortical hyperexcitability (Wilkins et al., 1984). Fifty-nine students at the University of Birmingham viewed a series of square-wave gratings with spatial frequencies of approximately .7, 3 and 11 cycles-per-degree, both black/white and of contrasting colours. The illusions and discomfort reported when viewing gratings with mid-range spatial frequency have been hypothesized to reflect cortical hyperexcitability (Wilkins, 1995; Huang et al., 2003). Participants also completed the Cardiff Anomalous Perception Scale (CAPS: Bell et al., 2006) which included experiential measures of disruptions in ‘Temporal-lobe Experience’. Participants who reported OBEs also reported significantly more visual illusions/distortions and significantly greater discomfort as a result of viewing the mid-frequency gratings. There were no such differences with respect to gratings with relatively lower or higher spatial frequency. The OBE group also produced significantly elevated scores on the CAPS measures of Temporal-lobe Experience, relative to controls. Collectively, the results are consistent with there being a neural ‘vulnerability’ in the cortices of individuals pre-disposed to some hallucinations, even in the non-clinical population.

Dr. Etzel Cardeña

Dr. Etzel Cardeña

Cardeña, E. and Alvarado, C.S. (2014) Anomalous self and identity experiences. In Cardeña, E. Lynn, S.J. and & Krippner, S. (Eds.), Varieties of Anomalous Experiences (2nd ed., pp. 175-212. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

This review paper has a section about OBEs covering survey and experimental studies, as well as clinical and theoretical issues. Some parts of the paper are: Prevalence, psychophysiological correlates, individual differences, medical and neurological variables, psychopathology, and parapsychological research.

Dr. J.A. Cheyne

Dr. J.A. Cheyne

Cheyne, J.A., & Girard, T.A.  (2009). The body unbound: Vestibular–motor hallucinations and out-of-body experiences. Cortex, 45, 201-215.

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.

Dr. Bruce Greyson

Dr. Bruce Greyson

Greyson, B., Fountain, N.B., Derr, L.L. & Broshek, D.K. (2014) Out-of-body experiences associated with seizures. Frontiers of Human Neuroscience 8:65. doi: 10.3389/fnhum.2014.00065

Alterations of consciousness are critical factors in the diagnosis of epileptic seizures. With these alterations in consciousness, some persons report sensations of separating from the physical body, experiences that may in rare cases resemble spontaneous out-of-body experiences. This study was designed to identify and characterize these out-of-body-like subjective experiences associated with seizure activity. Fifty-five percent of the patients in this study recalled some subjective experience in association with their seizures. Among our sample of 100 patients, 7 reported out-of-body experiences associated with their seizures. We found no differentiating traits that were associated with patients’ reports of out-of-body experiences, in terms of either demographics; medical history, including age of onset and duration of seizure disorder, and seizure frequency; seizure characteristics, including localization, lateralization, etiology, and type of seizure, and epilepsy syndrome; or ability to recall any subjective experiences associated with their seizures. Reporting out-of-body experiences in association with seizures did not affect epilepsy-related quality of life. It should be noted that even in those patients who report out-of-body experiences, such sensations are extremely rare events that do not occur routinely with their seizures. Most patients who reported out-of-body experiences described one or two experiences that occurred an indeterminate number of years ago, which precludes the possibility of associating the experience with the particular characteristics of that one seizure or with medications taken or other conditions at the time.

Neppe, V. (2011). Models of the out-of-body experience: Etiological Phenomenological Approach. NeuroQuantology, 9, 72-83.

This paper compares several models of out‐of‐body experience (OBE) leading a new proposed multi‐etiological model. Broadly the unitary hypotheses propose several single broad causes and explanations, though each of these recognizes that any specific explanation may not be all encompassing. These are best divided into four groups: Psychological, Brain, Psychopathology, and Experiential. The psychological models of Blackmore (reality distortion), Palmer (body concept) and Irwin (absorption) are followed by the brain empirical descriptions of Penfield, Blanke, and the cerebral explanations of Persinger (vectorial hemsiphericity), Wettach (midbrain near‐death experiences), and Nelson (REM‐intrusion in near death experiences [NDEs]). Additionally, there is the psychopathological psychiatric perspective, plus the spontaneous and induced OBEs that occur in subjective paranormal experients, which appear phenomenologically quite different. OBE research has generally been based on single questions without detailed qualitative differentiation of the OBE. This creates the erroneous situation of potentially misinterpreting diverse experiences under a single etiological umbrella. Optimally, OBE evaluations require detailed screening for OBEs so that “like” is classified with “like” not “unlike.” The author motivates for a detailed phenomenological analysis model which could accommodate the multiplicity of causes and the different subpopulations. This shifts the model from the unitary etiological hypotheses to Neppe’s Multi‐etiological Phenomenological Approach. Detailed phenomenological analyses may demonstrate separate distinct kinds of out of‐body experience and therefore ensure that OBEs are appropriately phenomenologically classified in the context of the population samples being examined. This approach facilitates analyzing form, content, circumstance, and predisposed populations using a predominantly biopsychofamiliosociocultural approach and differentiating five possible legitimate hypothetical groups: 1. subjective paranormal experience (SPE) out‐of‐body experiences, 2. OBEs in SPE‐ non‐experients who may have psychological experiences, 3. seizure and brain linked OBEs, 4. psychopathology interpreted as OBEs, 5. the non‐OBE population.