Does heaven exist? With well over 100,000 plus recorded and described spiritual experiences collected over 15 years, to base the answer on, science can now categorically say yes. Furthermore, you can see the evidence for free on the website allaboutheaven.org.

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This book, which covers Visions and hallucinations, explains what causes them and summarises how many hallucinations have been caused by each event or activity. It also provides specific help with questions people have asked us, such as ‘Is my medication giving me hallucinations?’.

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Paralysis, amputation and nerve system damage

Category: Illness or disabilaties



Introduction and description

Hallucinations can be caused by damage to various parts of the brain or the nervous system itself.  Damage to the eye or damage to the optic nerve or sight processing areas of the brain, for example, can cause hallucinations of a visionary sort.  The absence of any signal from the organ or from the function of sight causes the perception system to seek images from elsewhere.

The same effect may be caused by damage to the nervous system.  Thus when damage is caused to the nervous system, by amputation for example, resulting in a complete loss of signals from the organ, people may experience phantom limbs.

Phantom limbs

A phantom limb is an hallucination.  It is the sensation that an amputated or missing limb is still attached to the body – is ‘there’.

Some people experience a phantom limb as though it was normal in size and shape, much as it was before they lost the limb.  Yet others feel as though the limb was distorted in some way – larger or smaller, for example.  Drs Ramachandran and Blakeslee describe one patient who reported that her phantom arm was about "6 inches too short".


Often the limbs act and feel in all senses as though they were ‘there’.  The limb might gesticulate as they talk. Some people will feel it itching, or twitching.  Occasionally the limb acts as though they were not in control of it and it takes on a life of its own.

Phantom sensations may also occur after the removal of body parts other than the limbs, e.g. after amputation of the breast, or extraction of a tooth.

But perhaps the worst aspect of phantom limbs is that they very often cause excruciating pain, as though the pain of amputation or traumatic loss had been imprinted somewhere and was simply being replayed over and over again. About  60 to 80% of individuals with an amputation experience phantom sensations in their amputated limb, and the majority of the sensations are painful.  

Occasionally, the pain can be made worse by stress, anxiety, even weather changes. Phantom limb pain is usually intermittent. The frequency and intensity of attacks usually decline with time.

Phantom pains can also occur in people who are paralyzed. It is often described as a burning or similarly strange sensation and can be extremely agonizing for some people, but the exact sensation differs widely for individuals. Other induced sensations include warmth, cold, itching, squeezing, tightness, and tingling.


Doctors have used drugs, surgery and any number of other extremely drastic ways to try to treat what is in the end an hallucination. 

Perhaps the only treatment that shows any signs of success is that of the ‘mirror box’ developed by Dr Ramachandran and colleagues.  The person sees his undamaged limb as a reflection and by ‘seeing’ it as a whole, he is able to manipulate it and gradually reprogram himself or herself into believing the damaged or non existent  limb is actually OK and should therefore cause no pain.  It is trickery of the brain – reprogramming – but it works.  Repeated use of the box has led to permanent  improvement in some people, and in one exceptional case, even to the complete elimination of the phantom limb between the hand and the shoulder.

The success of the mirror method inspired a team of researchers at the University of Manchester in England to provide the same sort of effect but by using a computer and virtual reality.  The sufferer's real limb is attached to an interface that allows them to see two limbs moving in a computer-generated simulation. This works on the same principle as the mirror box technique, except that the computer created illusion is thought to be stronger.

The mirror box treatment used these days to help treat phantom limbs that are causing pain.

How it works

To understand what is happening you need to have looked at three things

If we look at the model, we can see that only one sensory input has gone, but just as blindness serves to open the door to the Composer to provide images, it would appear that damage to the nervous system opens the door for the composer to bring us new nervous sensations. And unfortunately it brings us the sensations we had at the time of amputation and it uses the perceptions log to do it.  So it is the perceptions log that is used to trigger the pain.  But where do the phantom sensations of the limb or organ itself come from?

We have to think in terms of software here.  All the functions in the model are functions, emotions are functions, creativity is a function, or if you prefer ‘programs’.  Programs that enable us to walk and jump and move our limbs have to have something to work on that enables them to eventually send nervous signals to the extremities.  So the functions have to have data input and the data that is input appears to be a series of templates.

There are three templates held in the spiritual world of every form. In the case of a human being

  • the template of the human body that is the archetypal form
  • the template that the person himself or herself possesses which is the form he/she will have [the occurrence]
  • and the actual template at that point which expresses the state of the body all its illnesses, ravaged parts, broken links and so on. 

 This is shown on the right hand side of the diagram.  There are also three sorts of function.  There are archetypal functions – the sum total of all human function, then the functions the person was allocated that made them, then finally all the functions the person has at any one time  – allocated, learnt, acquired, and so on.

All this remember is ‘software’ - spiritual.

In cases of sudden or traumatic damage to the nervous system, or amputation and paralysis, I believe that the human being ‘system’ carries on as if the actual processes and actual template are as they were at the time of the sudden damage.  In effect, the system does not recognise that there has been a change because signalling ceases extremely quickly and there is no time for the healing or other repair processes to recognise what has happened.  The mind is actually working using the wrong templates.

Some proof of the fact that all this is just ‘software’ and that the templates can be manipulated is to be found with drug users.  Lewis Carroll took opium as well as, it would seem, quite a number of other things and his books are a record of all the ways he knew of to get a spiritual experience as well as the effects.

In Alice in Wonderland Carroll mentions quite a number of times the idea of limb distortions and body image changes.

Alice in Wonderland – John Tenniel drawings

Many people during spiritual experience that their body has changed shape, limbs elongated, other parts in some way contracted or elongated.  The template is thus being distorted.  Our body image undergoes software transformation and comes out of it different.

References and further reading

This is inspiring

Hugh Herr: The new bionics that let us run, climb and dance

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