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Observations placeholder

Ralph Shirley - The Mystery of the Human Double – Atonia and Going out of body by lying on your back



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

The Mystery of the Human Double – Ralph Shirley

The view that this state of paralysis was due to the sleeper lying on his back was voiced by a medical reader, who observed:

"The great blood sinuses in the skull pass downwards and backwards draining the blood away from the brain and are more assisted by gravity in this position than in any other, if the cerebral circulation is slow as it is in sleep. Unless pressure is maintained by increased arterial activity there must follow a temporary anaemia of the higher centres.

Anaemia causes at first increased excitability and later loss of sensibility. Cerebral anaemia, aggravated by lying upon the back, causes first the excitability and nightmare effect and, if more pronounced, the loss of sensibility at those places where the blood supply is most deficient. The motor and sensory areas of the cerebrum are in such a position that they would be naturally among the first to be drained of their blood supply. "

Yet another writer described her experiences of the kind as terrifying to her, and stated that just before the struggle began she was always conscious of being entirely out of her body and could see everything in the room, including her own body in bed.

Here again, as in the case of an earlier correspondent, she spoke of the experience under discussion as occurring when the spirit was returning to the body after having left it during sleep, a view which in her own case seems to have been justified and which was endorsed by a clairvoyante to whom she spoke of it.

She had fancied herself, while in this state, shrieking to her friend to shake her and rouse her from her lethargy, but had found when she came to that she had not uttered a sound.

The source of the experience

Shirley, Ralph

Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items


Activities and commonsteps