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Currently reading about psychedelic experiences, and it is noted in Wikipedia that:

Level 4 psychedelic experience

Strong hallucinations, i.e. objects morphing into other objects. Destruction or multiple splittings of the ego. Things start talking to you or you find that you are feeling contradictory things simultaneously. Some loss of reality. Time becomes meaningless. Out-of-body experiences and ESP type phenomena. Blending of the senses. Can be achieved with strong doses of LSD, strong doses of psilocybin mushrooms, strong to heavy doses of peyote, and common to strong doses of ayahuasca.

Notice the italicized parts. My hypothesis is: If someone has an out-of-body experience/ESP experience, then he/she is having strong imaginative visuals about being in a certain environment - particularly, the current environment because that someone has dissociated with reality to some extent

I don't know much about the biochemistry of anesthetic effects on the brain. However, I suppose that the anesthetics in a surgery environment, for example, can have dissociative effects once administered intravenously. From the reports I've read, during the surgery, the individual can describe the environment perfectly while he/she is "asleep" - or being operated on.

A person under the influence of psychedelics also dissociates from reality, similarly indeed; the senses blend and the ego disappears, much like in a sleep state. Unlike sleep, anesthetics or psychedelics don't easily bring the person back to reality due to the person being under the influence.

My inference is that these individuals can "wake up" during surgery, for example, in the sense (or lack thereof) that they aren't able to feel pain or some external stimuli. They also can't open their eyes. I suppose that it may have something to do with their brain waves on why they are able to possess the ESP quality, or why they are having an out-of-body experience (which, I hypothesize, entails the person being awake but perceiving nothing).

My conclusion is then that the person is awake, is not perceiving anything, AND (most importantly) is using the brain to visualize the environment - much like we imagine things when we daydream. Perhaps the person is even dreaming!

So as a corollary I propose the person is dreaming in certain cases where ESP is reported, but under the influence of meditative states and/or drugs (of some kind).

Question

Is the out of body experience or ESP caused by a form of day dreaming, hallucination, or altered state of consciousness?

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I tried to distill what you were saying into a concise question. I'm not sure whether I succeeded or not, but if not feel free to edit to a concise question –  Jeromy Anglim Aug 28 '13 at 23:29
    
@JeromyAnglim indeed that is better –  Jossie Aug 29 '13 at 0:11
    
@WhyDoYouThinkThatIsTrue give it a shot! –  Jossie Aug 29 '13 at 12:24
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2 Answers

up vote 3 down vote accepted
+100

Some of the experiences you are describing (e.g., psychedelic states, daydreaming and sleep) are examples of Altered States of Consciousness. These states may share common features but it is probably not useful to try and reduce them to all being instances of the same phenomenon. Charles Tart wrote extensively on this topic in the 1960s and 1970s and his book 'Altered States of Consciousness' is a classic text in this area. He described altered states as discrete phenomena that involve variations in the activity of a range of psychological subsystems (e.g., sense of time, memory, attentiveness, space perception). Tart recorded many objective and subjective measurements of these subsystems in non-clinical participants whilst they were in varying states of consciousness and plotted the results in a series of two dimensional charts comparing various combinations of subsystems like this:

Tart's concept of experiental space

So it seems likelt that OBEs and the subjective experience of ESP may occur in a range of altered states of consciousness. OBEs themselves might even be considered an altered state of consciousness. Some of these effects could probably be described as hallucinations and they might sometimes occur in dayreaming but it doesn't seem they are the same thing.

Tart references:

Tart, C. T. (1975). States of Consciousness (1st ed.). New York: E. P. Dutton.

Tart, C. T. (1990). Altered States of Consciousness (3rd ed.). San Francisco: Harper.

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It says ordinary consciousness has a high level of irrationality; I don't understand. @mob –  Jossie Sep 3 '13 at 19:24
    
Nice pick up @Jossie! I found that image on the net and it may have been misproduced incorrectly. Here is what the text says: –  mob Sep 3 '13 at 23:38
    
>Let us call the horizontal dimension ability to be rational, to think in accordance with the rules of some logic. We are not now concerned with the cultural arbitrariness of logic, but simply take it as a given set of rules. This dimension varies from a low of making many mistakes in the application of this logic, as on days when you feel rather stupid and have a hard time expressing yourself, to a high of following the rules of the logic perfectly, when you feel sharp and your mind works like a precision computer. –  mob Sep 3 '13 at 23:38
    
>Ordinary consciousness (for our culture) is shown in the lower right-hand corner. It is characterized by a high degree of rationality and a relatively/ low degree of imaging ability. We can usually think without making many mistakes in logic, and our imaginings usually contain mild sensory qualities, but they are far less intense than sensory perceptions. Notice again that there is variability within the state we call ordinary consciousness. Logic may be more or less accurate, ability to image may vary somewhat, but this all stays in a range that we recognize as ordinary, habitual, or normal. –  mob Sep 3 '13 at 23:39
    
>At the opposite extreme, we have all experienced a region of psychological space where rationality is usually very low indeed, while ability to image is quite high. This is ordinary nocturnal dreaming, where we create (image) the entire dream world. It seems sensorily real. Yet we often take considerable liberties with rationality. –  mob Sep 3 '13 at 23:40
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In some form yes if patient is mesmerized by visual heartbeats, acording to Sciencedaily. Also is connected to someones beliefs. But in my opinion could also be induced by drugs in mices.

So, out of body experience could be umbrella term for more than one phenomenon. Some of them could be caused by hypnotics, some not. I'm not sure if those experiments could negate afterlife, because all of them are conducted while subject is alive. It is not that kind of experimental design.

1) Jane Aspell and Lukas Heydrich. Turning body and self inside out: Visualized heartbeats alter bodily self-consciousness and tactile perception. Psychological Science, 2013

2) University of Manchester. "'Out-of-body' Experiences May Come From Within." ScienceDaily, 24 Aug. 2005. Web. 1 Sep. 2013.

3) Jason J. Braithwaite, Dana Samson, Ian Apperly, Emma Broglia, Johan Hulleman. 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, 2011;**

4) Disturbances In Brain." ScienceDaily, 6 Mar. 2007. Web. 1 Sep. 2013.

5) http://www.pnas.org/content/110/35/14432

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