Out-of-Body (OBEs) Experiences in the Screen Age | Samantha Lee Treasure

Samantha Lee Treasure is a British-Canadian medical anthropology student at SOAS University of London, and is currently based in Busan, South Korea. Inspired by childhood experiences on a (potentially) haunted farm, her research focuses on out-of-body experiences and sleep paralysis, and she has delivered talks on these topics since 2013 in the UK, Japan, Russia, and the UK. Her goal is to help de-stigmatize these experiences, while offering helpful information to people in an ethical and balanced way. Her first book, exploring the effects of technology and fiction on a variety of supernatural and hallucinatory experiences, is due to be released with Inner Traditions in 2023.


An out-of-body experience (OBE) is the experience of perceiving the world from a point of view outside of the physical body. It is generally explained by psychologists as the cognitive system switching from a sensory driven model to a backup model based on memory and imagination (Blackmore 1984, 1986). This can happen when it tries to reassert a stable perception of reality, made unstable by meditation, drug use, trauma, and other triggers. This process can be likened to the deployment of cache files to compensate for a weak Internet connection. This zombie webpage is the OBE environment, typically beginning from a near-facsimile of the immediate environment. It is textbook eerie, often void of characters, but with hints that there is someone, or something, behind the experience. Strikingly, OBE environments are recently proving to reflect our cultural shift towards the virtual and fictional. Floating computer screens, encounters with fictional characters and cartoon worlds will be discussed in this presentation, as well as the myriad ways that experiencers react to them. Are they hallucinations? Does this mean all OBE content is hallucinatory? Are they thoughtforms or sentient shapeshifters? This presentation will also explore the recent shifting trend that has taken social media by storm in the past few years, which embraces these elements. This practice involves astral projection-like techniques to enter the worlds of our comfort characters, and is particularly popular with the younger generations.


The Parapsychological Association is an international professional organization of scientists and scholars engaged in the study of psi (or ‘psychic’) experiences, such as telepathy, clairvoyance, psychokinesis, psychic healing, and precognition. The primary objective of the PA is to achieve a scientific understanding of these experiences.

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Published on September 6, 2023