Beyond the Body

Glen O. Gabbard and Stuart W. Twemlow. With the Eyes of the Mind: An Empirical Analysis of Out of Body States. Praeger, 1984.
This book differs from others on the same topic in that the authors are medical men, rather than parapsychologists. They contrast the OOBE with autoscopy, depersonalisation, schizophrenic body-boundary disturbances and a variety of dream experiences. They insist that the OOBE represents a separate, vivid and non-pathological state, distinguishing it more sharply from dreams than do other writers.

Three chapters are devoted to near-death experiences, where they reject Sagan's assimilation of the NDE to birth memory, quoting C.D. Becker to the effect that: "newly born infants simply lack the capacity to distinguish visual memory of the birth experience. Moreover they have no conceptual framework on which to organise visual images." However, the possibility of non-literal rebtrth imagery is not explored. It is suggested that the 'being of light' encountered in OOBE's is in part an internalised image of the parent, "a heroic rescuer from catastrophe". Further analysis of imagery is not presented, and the presence of a culturally stereotyped 'rural elysium' as a regression to an idealised childhood is not explored.

Gabbard and Twenlow reject dualistic interpretations of the OOBE, and suggest that it represents an altered state of consciousness in which attention is removed from the body and surroundings. The imagery of the OOBE arises from the need to make sense of the 'disembodied' state. Written for the clinician, the book is dense with jargon, and psychoanalytical biases which prove hard to penetrate in places.  -- Peter Rogerson. Magonia 23, July 1986.

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