Categories: theory

Difference Between Out of Body Experiences and Near Death Experiences

Are Self-Induced Out of Body Experiences and Near Death Experiences the same?

What is the difference between an induced out of body experience, and one triggered by a Near Death Experience or NDE?

The question of whether these experiences are one and the same has had scientists, philosophers, occultists, New Agers, along with practitioners of all major religions pondering for many years.

There are certainly similarities.

But let’s look at the typical elements of an OBE triggered by a Near Death Experience.

Certain elements are common within a Near Death Experience, and transcend cultures, religions and gender. These are:

A sensation of (the soul) leaving the body

Frequently, the victim of an accident is able to remember the sensation of leaving their body. This is often, but not always, accompanied by them being able to look down upon their motionless body.

A feeling of great calm

Those people who have been clinically dead always seem to speak of a over-riding feeling of peace, love and forgiveness.

Even though the experience of death and dying should be supremely stressful, this isn’t what those who experience it and live to tell the tale actually remember.

This is even more strange, since those who have a Near Death Experience seem to only ever have experienced a violent death. It is always triggered by extreme trauma, be it drowning, being shot, a heart attack or an automobile accident.

Safe to say, no-one ever died peacefully in their sleep. Any thoughts why this may be…?

A bright light

A tunnel of light, a “living sun”, or both always seem to feature in the experience. Science has explanations for these, and why they should be so common.

“Guardian” figures

These are often key figures from the individual’s own religion. At other times, they may be key figures from the individual’s life, for instance a departed relative or friend. This is one of the main reasons that when someone has a near death experience, they return to life with an increased feeling of spirituality.


The only conclusion I can draw from comparing the phenomenon of NDEs and OBEs is that they are related, but not the same. The only element that can reliably be expected to occur in both types of experience is the
sensation of leaving the body. The other elements of an NDE may or may not occur in a deliberately self-induced OBE. I have had OBEs certainly where guardian figures have appeared, but more frequently they do not.

Likewise, a feeling of calm is not a given, and certainly not with the sense of resignation to fate that is invariably reported to accompany the NDE.

My sense of wonder during an OBE drives me to explore, to learn, and is never anything that could be described as a passive indifference!

Perhaps they are similar in the way that an ocean liner and a helicopter are similar – they are both man-made vehicles, that work because they are designed following the same fundamental laws of physics, but their
purposes are different.

C.Taylor :