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Farrell, D. (1986). With the Eyes of the Mind—An Empirical Analysis of Out-Of-Body States: By Glen O. Gabbard and Stuart W. Twemlow. New York: Praeger Publishers. 1984. Pp. 272.. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 67:512-514.

(1986). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 67:512-514

With the Eyes of the Mind—An Empirical Analysis of Out-Of-Body States: By Glen O. Gabbard and Stuart W. Twemlow. New York: Praeger Publishers. 1984. Pp. 272.

Review by:
Dennis Farrell

In The Eyes of the Mind, Gabbard & Twemlow undertake a psychological study of the out-of-body experience (OBE). This phenomenon—the old term for it was astral projection—has no doubt been more familiar to readers of the popular press and to students of parapsychology than to psychoanalysts. The present contribution should correct that situation, for her we have for the first time a sophisticated psychiatric and psychoanalytic study of this esoteric subject, as thought-provoking as it is informative. Readers may, in fact, be stimulated as much by questions raised, but not answered, by this study as by that which the authors are successful in explaining.

The authors began their research with an interview in a national periodical in which readers were asked whether they had ever had an experience 'where you felt that your mind or awareness was separated from your physical body'. Of 420 valid returns, 339 reported out-of-body experiences; the remaining 81 were used as a control group. By means of a questionnaire survey of these subjects, the authors arrived at some surprising findings, which they illustrate later in the book by means of detailed case studies.

Commonly, OBEs reported by the research population were relatively simple, lacking mystical and fantastic elaboration. The majority of these cases, which the authors designate as the 'mundane' variety, typically occurred when the subject was awake but in a calm, relaxed mental and physical state. The experience of suddenly becoming detached from one's body, the self typically felt to be floating above and looking down on the body, is accompanied by a strong sense of reality; even when occurring in the course of a dream, the out-of-body state is 'more real than a dream'.

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