My latest book, tentatively titled THE SECRETS WE KEEP, deals with a girl who has an out-of-body-experience, or OBE. During this OBE Lyndsay, my main character, sees old Mr. Jenkins, her neighbor and head janitor at her high school, moving a dead body. The next morning she gets proof what she witnessed wasn’t a dream. And thus begins the mystery – did he or didn’t he commit murder? And if he did, can she prove it? So I thought it would be fun to do a post on what an out of body experience actually is.
An out-of-body-experience typically involves the sensation of floating outside of one’s body and, in most cases, being able to perceive this separation from the physical body. Stories of out-of-body-experiences, also called astral projections or bi-location, have been around for centuries. Events of bi-location involving several Saints and other religious figures have even been recognized by the Catholic Church. OBEs have been reported across all cultures, belief systems and social classes.
Scientists estimate one in ten people has an out-of-body-experience once, or more commonly, several times in his or her life. The perceived phenomenon can occur spontaneously as a result of physical or mental trauma, dehydration, sensory deprivation, sensory overload, sleep deprivation, or the use of dissociative drugs to induce an OBE. Some scientists believe an OBE may be a natural defense mechanism of our bodies, designed to deal with turmoil, the threat of physical harm, or even death. In addition, some researchers believe this defense mechanism may also be triggered accidentally for any of the reasons I just listed above. For example, a large percentage of reported OBE cases occur in situations where sleep was not particularly deep due to illness, over-tiredness, emotional stress, or noises in other rooms. Other cases seem to be experienced when the person has been near-death, such as during a drowning, heart attack, coma, major surgery, or some similar physical peril.
Whether it is our mind, our energy, or our ‘soul’ that detaches from our physical body has been the subject of serious debate. No matter what your belief on the matter though, the perceived phenomenon is quite fascinating and was even the subject of the recent book and movie, If I Stay.
So are they fact or fiction? Can they be proven scientifically? While the scientific jury is still out on a definitive answer, the research they’ve uncovered may astound you. I’ve included two recent articles below that you may find intriguing.
In addition, it is interesting to note that our own US government spent more than twenty million dollars between the 1970’s and 1995 to investigate the possibility of using OBEs for both domestic and military applications. The project, conducted by the CIA and US Defense Intelligence Agency, was called Stargate, a Remote Viewing Military Intelligence Program. The theory being that if we could induce an out-of-body-experience in a subject, we might be able to use them to remote view, events, sites, or information, from a great distance. In other words, use it as a spy technique.
Still think it’s a lot of baloney? Well, consider this. Synesthesia — the condition in which people hear colors or smell sounds — which was once thought of as “out there” has become widely accepted in the last few decades.
Who knows, what we think of as science fiction may one day be recognized as science fact. So, do you think you’ve ever had an out-of-body-experience? And if so, what did you see?