Out of Body Experiences (OBEs) & Self Identity Valentina Pranjic

out-of-bod·y ex·pe·ri·ence

a sensation of being outside of one's own body, typically of floating and being able to observe oneself from a distance

Laura, 48

"I remembered [the OBE] the other day and I could remember it quite clearly. I can remember the feeling of just detachment which was actually quite powerful."

Laura had an OBE when she was in labour with her daughter Nicole. She had an anaphylactic shock during her labour in which she ended up losing consciousness. She then began floating over her physical self and was immediately aware that she was out of her body. She recounts that in the moment it felt as though it was all happening to someone else. After giving birth, she shared that she feels as if this experience saved both her and Nicole’s life. It was as if someone was looking out for the both of them that day.


This phenomenological research study explored and situated how out of body experiences play a role in shaping an individual’s life. I wanted to find a pattern of OBE occurrences within the lives of individuals to determine how it contributes to their self identity. The research was adapted according to the interview subjects and their personal OBEs. When conducting preliminary research on the topic, 83% of respondents admitted to experiencing an OBE which indicates that the OBE phenomenon is not as rare as one might think. This phenomenon is worth exploring as researchers haven't conceptualized OBEs in relation to self-identity and my research aimed to address this lack of knowledge.

Noah, 26

"Like I saw myself reach out and touch me and say “no, you can’t find this secret out yet.” Then I woke up saying “what the f***?"

Noah had a close call on his motorcycle one day which trigged his OBE. After this incident he noticed himself experiencing vivid lucid dreaming. He would find himself in a variety of different scenarios both in nature and in alternate universes where he was tasked with a mission. In his most vivid out of body trance, he entered a realm in which he saw another version of himself telling him he cannot know the secret just yet. Overall, he attributes these experiences as positive and notes that he’s experienced some pretty cool things!

Research Questions

How did individuals induce an out of body experience? How do these experiences contribute to their self identity? Are out of body experiences a cultural phenomenon and/or a regular practice in self awareness and identity?

Mia, 21

"So, I thought I was fully mobile but I just felt a bit separate. I didn’t think anything of it until they told me which made me realize okay, I did feel something different."

Mia had an anaphylactic shock and became unconscious for about 20 minutes when she had her OBE. When she began feeling out of body, she noticed a disconnect between her mental and physical state. In the hospital room she thought nurses and family heard her but it fell on deaf ears. She explains the feeling as being in a split screen with reality. Her OBE is thought to be a negative experience given her circumstances, however she has emerged from this stronger than ever.


The data was collected through qualitative in-depth interviews. A small sample of four individuals were chosen for the study, three women and one man. Preliminary screenings of the individuals required them to have already experienced an OBE one or more times. Interviews were then conducted on FaceTime or via phone calls. All interviews were then transcribed and analyzed based on similarities and differences in responses. This study allowed me to understand each individual through their subjective experience of the phenomenon as well as their objective experience as it related to the other subjects of the study.

Charlotte, 22

"Then like slowly things just started to look like they’re breathing around me. Like everything kinda started to seem alive if that makes sense. It felt like my reality was being altered. It felt like I was in the same world, but I was just seeing things differently."

Charlotte first experienced an OBE on psychedelic mushrooms when she was 19. Her first realization that she was out of body was when she saw things becoming distorted and more visually striking while watching from a birds eye view. Her second OBE was on acid a year later. During this acid trip she mentioned feeling very warm and euphoric, at ease and connected to the universe. Her OBEs allowed her to be fully accepting and aware of herself. She is open to having more induced OBEs as she believes many psychedelics are for this purpose alone.


Out of body experiences enlightened individuals and allowed them to find further meaning in their life. Most individuals attributed it as a positive experience that made them less judgemental and more connected to their innermost selves.

Common Themes

The six common themes associated with having an OBE.
Poster for my research on out of body experiences.

About Valentina

Valentina is graduating from the professional communication program with a double minor in public relations and film studies from Ryerson University. Working in marketing roles in the GTA, she has built on her creative and business skillset using programs such as Google AdWords, Adobe Suites and Microsoft Office. Abroad she worked as a Team Manager overseeing a group of creatives driving traffic to local businesses in Zagreb, Croatia as well as studying creative business for a semester in the Netherlands. She was also heavily involved with the Ryerson community by writing and speaking at events for Ryerson International, volunteering with Tri-Mentoring and Go-Global and being actively involved within her local Croatian community. She wishes to once more study abroad but this time to complete her masters degree. Valentina is excited to start her career and is excited to see what her future holds!

If you have any further questions or wish to learn more about the research, please feel free to contact me at valentina.pranjic@ryerson.ca or connect with me on LinkedIn.

Created By
Valentina Pranjic