Out-of-body experiences, where subjects feel they are seeing their bodies from the outside, merit research because of the insight they could give into perception in general, according to the author of a new book.
Charles McCreery, who claims to have Oxford University's first DPhil in out-of-body experiences, says that up to a fifth of the population may experience them. His research has shown that those who experience them rate differently on psychological scales, showing a greater tendency towards episodes of heightened arousal or excitement -- hypomania.
He also wired up subjects and controls to electroencephalogram machines. He found that people who claimed to have out-of-body experiences showed greater activity in the right hemisphere of the brain, held to be more concerned with visual and spatial imagery.
Dr McCreery, who wrote Lucid Dreaming with Celia Green, said: "These experiences are often very helpful. They usually make people feel better afterwards. Normal people do have hallucinations."