Accounting for out-of-body experiences

1984 Bulletin of the British Psychological Society 37 (abstract)

The out-of-body experience (OBE) is defined as an experience in which a person seems to perceive the world from a location outside his physical body. It has long been studied by parapsychologists but often dismissed by others as hallucination or imagination. Reasons for giving it serious study are (1) it is common, about 15 per cent of people report one; (2) it can profoundly affect people’s beliefs; (3) accounts are remarkably consistent.

It is argued that parapsychological theories are weak and that it is better to view the OBE as the natural result of the cognitive system trying to maintain a workable “model of reality” when sensory input is inadequate.