No. 17: Fall 1981
NDEs (Near-Death Experiences) and OBEs (Out-of-the-Body Experiences) are rather common altered states of consciousness that are now the subject of considerable psychological research and public interest. OBEs, where one feels detached from his body and may even view it from afar, occur to many people who are not near death. Yet, the two phenomena have many features in common; so many that some psychologists have claimed that NDEs have no unique features at all.
Gabbard et al have examined hundreds of experiences of both kinds and support the contention that none of the curious features of the NDE are the exclusive province of the NDE. They go a step further, however, by trying to separate NDEs and OBEs statistically. The following experiences occur significantly more often in NDEs:
(1) Noises are heard early in the scenario; (2) The sensation of travelling through a tunnel; (3) The physical body is seen from a distance; (4) Other beings in nonphysical form are sensed, especially deceased people emotionally tied to the percipient; and (5) Encounters with communicative entities of a luminous nature.
(Gabbard, Glen O., et al; Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 169:374, 1981.)