Sunday, May 22, 2011   5:41 PM

Out-of-Body Experiences in the Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease

Carlos S. Alvarado, Ph.D.

Atlantic University (

Over the years several authors have published reports and discussions of out-of-body experiences in theJournal of Nervous and Mental Disease(e.g., Alvarado, Blackmore, Ehrenwald, Irwin). The most recent contribution on the topic is a paper I coauthored with Nancy L. Zingrone and Etzel Cardeña.

We explored an idea that has been mentioned in the literature since the nineteenth-century: the tendency for OBEs to take place in inactive states. Furthermore, we studied the possible relationship of body activity and the number of OBE features.

Here is the reference, and abstract, and a link to the paper.

Zingrone, N.L., ALvarado, C.S., & Cardeña, E. (2010) Out-of-body experiences, physical body activity and posture: Responses from a survey conducted in Scotland.Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 198, 163-165.

Abstract: Although there have been studies of some factors related to the features of out-of-body experiences (OBEs), the effect of physical body posture and activity has not been systematically explored. Over the years research has suggested that OBEs are more frequent in states of low physical
activity and when the body is supine, in agreement with other findings related to alterations in consciousness. Thus, we predicted that OBEs would be associated with lying down and little or no physical activity, and that these factors would show a higher number of OBE features than OBEs in which
the person was physically active and/or standing. OBE cases were collected through appeals in published sources. Respondents provided a description of their only or most recent OBE and filled out a questionnaire about OBE features. The findings indicate that OBEs were associated with low physical
activity and being in a supine position. Those who had experiences under these conditions also obtained a higher number of OBE features than those who were active and standing at the time of the OBE.

We concluded that our results "are consistent with . . . models of OBEs . . . that posit that scant (or extreme) afferent stimulation may make OBEs more likely. Tart (1975) suggested that maintaining a state of consciousness requires ongoing stabilizing feedback, which in the case of the body can arise from the activity of the body within the environment . . . Of course, there may be additional factors related to OBEs such as changes of afferent stimulation through the habituation that occurs in repetitive motions . . . and perhaps the need for the individual to maintain a prolonged focus on inner experience rather than on, for instance, perceptual changes. Additional research projects could evaluate other possible mediating factors on the incidence and characteristics of OBEs. For example, it would be valuable to know
whether the results apply equally to induced as to spontaneous OBEs, and to assess the effect of benign . . . versus traumatic contexts . . . Rather than arguing that the OBE can be reduced to the previously mentioned factors, however, it should be understood that we are proposing the further exploration of the interaction of such variables including body activity and posture."

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