Epilepsy Talk

People Talk About Their Out-Of-Body Experiences | December 14, 2018

Alterations of consciousness are critical factors in the diagnosis of epileptic seizures. Some people report sensations of separating from the physical body, experiences that may, in rare cases, resemble spontaneous out-of-body experiences.

New research has linked these experiences to instabilities in the temporal lobe, and to errors in the body’s sense of itself — even in healthy individuals.

With simple partial seizures, some people report having out-of-body experiences. Time may seem distorted as well.

These out-of-body experiences (OBE) can vary from person to person, but they often involve the sense of floating above one’s actual body and looking down. For neuroscientists, the phenomenon is a puzzle and an opportunity: Understanding how the brain goes awry can also illuminate how it is supposed to work.

Among the patients who have had out-of-body experiences, some reported “being attracted by a spiral, like in a tunnel.” Others described “entering my body, like in an envelope, from the top.”

“Seems to be that all of us can be placed somewhere along a sliding scale, based on how unstable or erratic our temporal lobe is, and some people are more prone to these experiences,” said study researcher Jason Braithwaite of the University of Birmingham.

People speak of their own experiences:

“The best way I can describe it is that it was like watching television in your mind.”

“First experience: Young teenager, lying on my bed,  focused on a point on the wall, felt myself floating, went through a wall like in the movie Ghost.”

“I used to have ‘night terrors’ starting at around age 6 until age 9 or 10, always after some sort of feverish state. I would go to sleep and soon awaken to the feeling of my body expanding and vibrating beyond it’s apparent physical limitations, this would be accompanied by a rumbling sound, gradually growing louder in my head. It was like the engines of a jumbo jet starting up until eventually it would drop into a continuous high pitch tone which would finally fizzle.”

“This paralysis lasts for a few minutes. I then return to normal. I have no warning when these episodes will occur. They do not link in to any particular life event, illness, etc. I have experienced them over more than three decades, but not for the last couple of years.”

“My back was on the ceiling and I was looking at my body laying there, and it was very freaky. While out-of-body I was just staring at my nose and freaking out a little but something told me you are gonna be alright.”

During these times I was out-of-body 6 to 8 hours and felt a great sense of urgency to get back asap. I could not go into buildings, homes or cars. I could see or sense the essence in those locations. I could locate a person very fast if I had something personal of theirs, especially if they wore or had it on the person recently. I could sense what I call their essence. It was more of a floating experience.”

“I saw the trees get smaller, then I knew I was in space because I saw the earth, then I saw our solar system, the speed increased to a point where there was no speed. I was in a new place so far away in locale from Earth that none of our published research has disclosed.”

“I found myself in a tunnel whose walls were fuzzy, like a white thick fog and slightly illuminated, like under a cloudy overcast. I was stationary. I asked myself if there was an end to this tunnel. Then I was transported through this long tunnel of which I first saw no end, then an extremity of a blackness of space, then a star, then several. I got out of the tunnel to find myself in a space full of stars.”

“I looked up to my bedroom window and in the next moment I was standing next to me.”

“The floating feeling feels like something is taking me away. I don’t know how else to explain it. Taking me away, or trapping me, and immediately I have an overpowering urge to fight it. That’s where the paralysis part comes in. I feel like I’m under a hundred feet of water, or like I have chains around me. I try to move my arms and legs and I can’t or if I do manage to, it’s with an incredible lethargy and it’s so slow, so feeble, that it’s useless. Sometimes I try to shout or scream, and I can’t make any sound come out. “

“Almost anyways, my body locked and it felt like i just slipped out of my body. My surroundings were blue and I was standing beside my bed and it looked the same as reality but I woke in excitement.”

“It’s the weirdest thing ever. It’s like your hypnotized.”

“Interestingly though, several years ago around 2002/2003 I went through a phase of a span of about 2 to 3 years of having intense OBEs multiple times a week, and sometimes multiple times per night. But over the years and currently, they have become less frequent (or my awareness of them have decreased). It’s almost like I “been there, did that” kind of thing, almost as if I needed to have those experiences at that time in my life. I accept and embrace the OBE experience for what it is, very real to me and a life/belief changing experience.”


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  1. I wonder if these are feelings one can get after a severe concussion, from having a hard hit to the hard in a GRAND MAL seizure. Feelings I now have had for more than 6 years never have happened before.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by CD — December 14, 2018 @ 5:04 PM

  2. I think that’s entirely possible.

    I know that when I had my worst concussion, I felt like I was in a time tunnel.

    And, of course, I saw stars.

    But who doesn’t see stars when they wack their head on a brick walkway?


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — December 14, 2018 @ 5:11 PM

  3. At one point when my seizures were really out of control I began having the same nightmare numerous times per night. It was so real I felt it was a warning it was actually going to happen. The nightmare was “I was looking down on myself from above. I had had a grand mal and was laying in the hospital with my parents around the bed crying as the doctor tells them the seizure had left me in a vegetative state.”

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Greg Van De Moortele — December 16, 2018 @ 12:07 PM

    • That’s really scary.

      Almost like prescience, “knowing” what was going to happen in the immediate future.

      Not that it DID happen, but the nightmares were real and the knowledge of your seizures was inevitable.

      The good news is that the hospital and vegetative part did NOT happen, even if you dreamed of it in the future out of fear.


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — December 16, 2018 @ 12:54 PM

  4. I never left the body, however I became another person inside my body. In one case I was windsurfing and had a seizure. I fell into the water and could not swim. I was standing by my eye, looking out of the window, as my arms floated and it got darker as I sank into the ocean. I was at total peace until I heard a voice tell me it was not my time. Suddenly, I became aware of the situation and my ability to swim came back. I thought my lungs would burst as I broke the surface. For twenty more years I was in a battle with my brain, struggling for control, during a seizure. This was one of the reasons why I elected to have a lobectomy.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Jon Sadler — December 17, 2018 @ 8:03 PM

    • How absolutely terrifying.

      But the good news is that you came back.

      And probably had the surgery you needed.


      Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — December 17, 2018 @ 9:43 PM

    • for slightly over a year I was having the same nightmare several times a night. I was always looking down at myself from above with the doctors telling my family the grand mal I’d had left me a vegetable. It was so real I actually believed it was a warning and going to happen. These stopped the following year when I had my second Amygdala-Hippocampectomy on the left temporal lobe. I don’t know if this was associated with the nightmares, but that year I had the most seizures I’d ever had in a single year 111.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Greg Van De Moortele — December 18, 2018 @ 6:58 AM

  5. I definitely think the prescience like experience occurs in tandem with the seizures.

    Especially temporal lobe seizures. I know that was the case with me.

    The worse the number and severity of the seizures, the worse the prescient like experiences.

    For me, once my seizures got better, so did the prescience.

    I hope it’s the same for you.


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — December 18, 2018 @ 8:52 AM

  6. I often have a similar experience when I am having a cluster. It feels as if my head is still attached, but my body is trying to float away feet-first. Kind of like a anchored balloon on a windy day.

    Liked by 1 person

    Comment by Liz Caldwell — November 2, 2019 @ 12:44 PM

  7. Boy, that be scary…and feel weird!


    Comment by Phylis Feiner Johnson — November 2, 2019 @ 5:12 PM

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    About the author

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    Phylis Feiner Johnson

    I've been a professional copywriter for over 35 years. I also had epilepsy for decades. My mission is advocacy; to increase education, awareness and funding for epilepsy research. Together, we can make a huge difference. If not changing the world, at least helping each other, with wisdom, compassion and sharing.

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