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Observations placeholder

The OBE case histories of Dr John Palmer at John F Kennedy University - 01 Using sensory deprivation and relaxation



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

David Scott Rogo - Leaving the Body: A Complete Guide to Astral Projection

Some of the most pertinent experimental research has been that of John Palmer at John F. Kennedy University in Orinda, California. Dr. Palmer began experimentally studying the OBE during the mid-l970s when he was a research associate at the University of Virginia. Palmer has long argued that if the OBE is a human potential, it should be possible to induce the experience in volunteer subjects by having them follow certain "training" procedures. He was impressed by the fact that many of those very special people who can voluntarily undergo OBEs begin by relaxing, entering into an OBE-conducive state of altered consciousness, and then imagine themselves leaving the body as a prelude to inducing the experience. So the young psychologist began training people in these procedures. His project led to some curious successes.

Palmer soon replicated his experiment by testing 40 additional subjects. Also conducted at the University of Virginia, this research project was designed along the lines of the first experiment, but several refinements were introduced. The subjects for this test were first relaxed through the use of progressive muscle relaxation, but Palmer …. taped halved ping-pong balls over the students' eyes and had them stare into a red light. "White noise" was played into their ears through headphones. This setting, technically called "ganzfeld [homogeneous field] stimulation," is known to produce slight disorientation and day-dreamlike imagery. Palmer felt that this state of sensory isolation might be more powerful than the spiral disc in helping his subjects feel as if they were "leaving the body."

…. he also instructed his volunteers to "visit" an adjoining room and see what picture had been placed there on a table.  As an added part of the experiment, however, Dr. Palmer instructed only 20 of his subjects actually to leave the body during the test. The others were merely asked to "image" about the picture in the next room.

This precaution was taken to discover the relative roles that out-of-body travel and "normal" ESP might play in the experiment.

The results of this test were more straightforward than Palmer obtained during his first experiment. No fewer than 13 out of the 20 subjects who were specifically told to leave their bodies during the ganzfeld stimulation reported OBEs. However, four of the "control" group reported spontaneous OBEs. The subjects who reported the OBEs tended to describe the target picture with some degree of success and more consistently than did the other volunteers. This would, of course, indicate that during the test these people really had been able to leave their bodies and visit the next room.

The source of the experience

Rogo, D Scott

Concepts, symbols and science items



Science Items

Activities and commonsteps



Sensory deprivation