Out-of-Body Experience Highlights Clues to Consciousness
Traumatic events are well known for producing a sense of unreality as we watch a disaster unfold. Most of us can also produce this state far more pleasurably, by getting drunk, for example. For the less fortunate, though, it is also a known, if quite controversial, psychiatric diagnosis of dissociation. This comes in two main flavors. Depersonalisation disorder (DPD) describes the state where people experience persistent or recurring feelings of detachment or disconnection from their own mental processes, emotions and/or body. DPD is frequently accompanied by derealization, where people feel that their external surroundings are unfamiliar, or that the world is “unreal”.
DPD and derealization are of great interest to researchers trying to home in on the mysteries of consciousness, as researchers Nick Medford and Heather Berlin explained at the Association for the Scientific Study of Consciousness conference in Brighton, UK.