Differences in body image between people reporting near-death and spontaneous out-of-body-experiences.

Murray, Craig and Fox, Jezz (2006) Differences in body image between people reporting near-death and spontaneous out-of-body-experiences. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 70 (22). pp. 98-109. ISSN 0037-9751

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Abstract

Many people report having had an ‘out-of-body’ experience (OBE) in which they felt as if their phenomenal self was separated from their physical body. Previous work has found OBE experients (OBErs) to score higher on measures of dissociation (e.g. Richards, 1991) and to differ from non-experients (non-OBErs) with regard to the perceptual experience of their body (Irwin, 2000). These findings have been interpreted as supporting a dissociational theory of the OBE. More recent work has suggested that an examination of other dimensions of body experience might reveal further aspects of such dissociational experience (Murray & Fox, 2005a, 2005b). In this work, OBErs have been found to score higher on a measure of body dissatisfaction, and lower on a measure of confidence in their physical self-presentation than non-OBErs. However, this prior research did not distinguish between those who had had a spontaneous OBE or an OBE as part of a near-death experience (NDE). The circumstances surrounding the spontaneous OBE and the NDE which includes an OBE appear to be very different; the former usually takes place when the person is on the verge of being awake or asleep, while the latter usually occurs when the person is placed in very stressful and fearful circumstances in which they perceive themselves to be near to death, are by some objective criteria near to death, or both. Given the very different contexts in which these forms of OBE occur, in the present study it was hypothesised that the causes of the spontaneous OBE and the OBE which takes place as part of an NDE have different causal psychological mechanisms. If this was supported by research findings, this would suggest at least two pathways to the OBE and the need for research which distinguishes between these. It was predicted that people reporting a prior spontaneous OBE would score more negatively on a variety of dimensions of body-related experience than people reporting an OBE as part as an NDE. Not all of the hypotheses were supported, but spontaneous OBErs were found to score significantly higher on measures of somatoform dissociation, body dissatisfaction and self-consciousness. The findings reported here support the theory that there are pre-existing differences in the body experience of NDErs and spontaneous OBErs.

Item Type:
Journal Article
Journal or Publication Title:
Journal of the Society for Psychical Research
Uncontrolled Keywords:
/dk/atira/pure/researchoutput/libraryofcongress/r1
Subjects:
ID Code:
135819
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
26 Jul 2019 14:10
Refereed?:
Yes
Published?:
Published
Last Modified:
01 Oct 2020 00:21