Out of Body Experiences: Why 'Normal' People Have Them

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Out-of-Body Experiences

In a separate experiment, those who had an out-of-body experience were also more likely to have trouble using their own body to mimic the orientation of a figure on a computer screen than those who had never had such an experience. The scientists believe that shows a weaker grasp of the concept of "self," also an important part of hallucinations.

But the overall difference between those who had an out-of-body experience and those who hadn't was not all that great. There is very little research in this area that is focused on "normal" persons, so there are few other studies to bounce off of this one.

Other scientists in England were able to induce out-of-body experiences in healthy participants, but they used virtual reality goggles that convinced some subjects that their "self" had left their own body and taken up residence in a virtual body. Others have shown that a weak magnetic field can also do the trick. But that type of research has been criticized because the out-of-body experience was artificially induced.

Braithwaite's research at least drew conclusions based on non-artificial inducement. If he and his colleagues are right, it all boils down to is this: Some persons are more prone to hallucinations than others, and thus more likely to have an out-of-body experience, but their "proneness" is not different enough to remove them from the ranks of normal.

In other words, they are just like the rest of us, but their temporal lobes are a little less stable. They weren't really abducted by aliens. It just seemed so at the time.

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