[Paleopsych] out of body experiences

Michael Christopher anonymous_animus at yahoo.com
Mon Apr 25 18:27:00 UTC 2005

Lynn says:
>>Actually, the ghosts are escaping from the 
machine. The interesting thing about OBEs is the
apparently veridical reports - persons reporting 
things during the OBE that they shouldn't be able 
to know if perception / awareness is an 'inside the
brain' phenomenon.<<

--I'm skeptical of that. How does one prove that
someone has learned something "out of the body" rather
than, say, from accumulated scraps of information
learned unconsciously from the environment? Especially
in an information-saturated environment, it seems like
jumping the gun to think that people gain information
from some supernatural channels. 

I don't assume anything is _literally_ "out of the
body" during the experiences (I've had a couple
myself). The perception of being in the body is a
product of the brain's mapping algorithms which attach
visual and kinesthetic perception into bundles.
Likely, people start out life without a solid map of
the body (more like a stream of disjointed perceptions
which gradually coalesce into a body-image) and OBEs
involve a dissociation from the parietal lobe and a
subjective sense of floating outside the body or
merging with the environment. This does not mean one
is literally outside the body. It means one's
perception of the body is altered or compartmentalized
out of awareness. Hypnotherapy can induce similar
experiences of watching the body from above. It's
common in psychedelic states as well.  

A lot of people seem to only count OBEs which confirm
their view of the soul, rather than looking at
experiences of merging with the environment (which is
too pantheistic for many Christians or Muslims) and
experiences in which one becomes many people. By
selectively excluding accounts which differ from the
accpeted script, OBEs are assumed to confirm various
religious views, but science would go with the
simplest explanation, that activating or deactivating
parts of the brain changes perception of self,
environment and body.


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