Dreams and Hallucinations:
Lifting the Veil to Multiple Perceptual Realities (Reprinted from: Consciousness and the Universe,
Edited by Sir Roger Penrose, FRS, Ph.D., & Stuart Hameroff, Ph.D.
Cosmology Science Publishers, Cambridge, 2011)
by Rhawn Gabriel Joseph
Rhawn Gabriel Joseph, Ph.D.
KEY WORDS: Consciousness, dreams, hallucinations, alternate realities, near death, out of body experiences, dissociation, evolution, amygdala, hippocampus, limbic system, temporal lobe, serotonin, LSD.
1. Dreams of Life's Past
I walked further and further out to where the ocean had been, picking up giant shells some with wiggling living creatures still inside, and gazing in wonder at what the ocean had hidden but which was now revealed... and then, I heard screams... women and men and children were screaming... and in my dream, they were all running from the wet sand toward the dry shore...and people on the shore were also running... everyone was running away and screaming... and when I looked to see why they were running, I could see the ocean... it was still miles away--but it was a WALL OF OCEAN.. a WALL OF WATER looming up maybe 100 yards into the sky... and in my dream the wall of ocean was rushing forward, to where the ocean had been minutes before, toward where I was standing with sea shells in my hands... and I started running... like everyone else, running running running... and I could see, over my shoulder, behind me, the wall of ocean water coming closer, and closer... and faster faster faster... and I kept running... everyone was running and screaming...trying to get away... and then the towering WALL OF WATER was just behind me... then looming over me... and then it crashed down upon me... and the little boy that I was, in this previous life, drowned.... and then I awoke in my bed... the same boy who drowned, but a different boy...me...
I had this dream over and over... for years. The same dream...
Twenty years later, I learned, for the first time, about Tsunamis--- what I first dreamed about when I was 3 years old... was in fact exactly what happens if there is a giant Tsunami... the ocean pulls back and recedes... and people foolishly run out to where the ocean was... and then... the ocean comes rushing back as a wall of water drowning everyone who did not immediately run away...
How could I have dreamed so vividly about something 3-year old me, knew nothing about?
I have been here before... you have been here before... we will be here again...
According to Carl Jung (Jung, 1945, 1964), not all dreams are related to wish fulfillments or impressions from one's personal life. Some dreams contain very archaic elements which seem to have absolutely no bearing on the dreamer's personal experience. Instead these dreams consists of ancestral memories and archetypes, the residue of ancient impressions and profound experiences that somehow became litterally engraved into the mind and brain of humanity; ancestral memories which are recalled even thousands of years later in a dream.
Yet others have argued, and have presented considerable evidence to back up their claims, that some children in fact dream of a previous life and a previous death (Dossey, Greyson, Sturrock, Tucker 2011). The dream is thus, not a dream at all, but a personal memory, an experiential reincarnation, that is passed on through mechanisms as yet unknown.
2. Dreams of Genetic Destiny
Science of the future, would be perceived as magic, today. The science of today, would have been magic to those who lived just a few hundred years ago. Therefore, what seems to stretch the boundaries of science, and which then become confined to the realms of "the supernatural", may be explained by a science as yet unknown.
If a cutting of a plant is placed in water, takes root and blooms, is it a reincarnation? Or a continuation? Our genetic ancestry stretches backwards in time to the first creatures to take root on Earth. Memories, too, are presumably stored in DNA. And these genetic memories need not be passed down strictly from father/mother to daughter/son. Genes may be horizontally transferred between species, along with the information, the genetic memories they store.
3. But What of Those Who Dream of the Future?
Dreams serve a number of purposes, and at times are highly improbable and bizarre. However, they often reflect something significant about the mental and emotional life of the dreamer, as well as other issues of concern. For example, when subjects are awakened repeatedly over the course of several days when physiological indices indicated they were dreaming, often an evolving thematic pattern, an unfolding story, can be discerned (Cartwright et al., 1980). These patterns frequently reflect mental-emotional activity concerned with the solution of particular problems (Cartwright 2010; Freud, 1900; Joseph 1988a, 1992a; Jouvet 2001; Jung, 1945, 1964).
For example, one subject, a student, noted that "after being woken many times and seeing three or four dreams a night, I could realize there was a certain problem being worked out, like coping with responsibilities that were thrust upon me, but that weren't necessarily my own but I took on anyway. It was working out the feelings of resentment of taking somebody else's responsibility, but I met them well in my dreams. A good thing about spending time in the sleep lab was you could relate a common bond to some of the dreams" (Cartwright et al., 1980, p. 277). Similar patterns were, of course, recognized by Freud (1900) and Jung (1945) many years ago.
Given all the multiple forms of information one is exposed to on a daily basis, coupled with the personal concerns of the dreamer, not surprisingly this information may be analyzed during the dream, in dream-language, and the resulting dream may reflect not just the past, but one's future intentions. Dreams often instruct the dreamer, much in the way thinking serves the conscious mind (Joseph 2011a), and dreams may be predict the future based on what it has been perceived thereby creating probabilistic scenarios which can serve as rehearsals for future behaviors.
4. Abraham Lincoln Dreams of His Assassination
In some cases, dreams do no just fore tell the future, but may predict the death of the dreamer:
In April of 1865, the commanding general of the Confederate Army, Robert E. Lee, had surrendered to General Ulysses S. Grant, and the days of the South were numbered. John Wilkes Booth, an actor and southern sympathizer hoped to rally the remaining Confederate troops to continue fighting and plotted with several other men in a conspiracy to kill President Abraham Lincoln.
On April 2, 1865, President Abraham Lincoln dreamed of his own death by assassination. The dream troubled him deeply, and on April 11, 1865, three days prior to his assassination, Abraham Lincoln shared this dream with his wife and a few friends which included Ward Hill Lamon (1865/1994):
About ten days ago, I retired very late. I had been up waiting for important dispatches from the front. I could not have been long in bed when I fell into a slumber, for I was weary. I soon began to dream. There seemed to be a death-like stillness about me. Then I heard subdued sobs, as if a number of people were weeping. I thought I left my bed and wandered downstairs. There the silence was broken by the same pitiful sobbing, but the mourners were invisible. I went from room to room; no living person was in sight, but the same mournful sounds of distress met me as I passed along. I saw light in all the rooms; every object was familiar to me; but where were all the people who were grieving as if their hearts would break? I was puzzled and alarmed. What could be the meaning of all this? Determined to find the cause of a state of things so mysterious and so shocking, I kept on until I arrived at the East Room, which I entered. There I met with a sickening surprise. Before me was a catafalque, on which rested a corpse wrapped in funeral vestments. Around it were stationed soldiers who were acting as guards; and there was a throng of people, gazing mournfully upon the corpse, whose face was covered, others weeping pitifully. 'Who is dead in the White House?' I demanded of one of the soldiers, 'The President,' was his answer; 'he was killed by an assassin.' Then came a loud burst of grief from the crowd, which woke me from my dream. I slept no more that night; and although it was only a dream, I have been strangely annoyed by it ever since." -Abraham Lincoln
On April 14, 1865, President Lincoln was shot in the back of the head while watching the play "Our American Cousin" at Ford's Theatre in Washington, D.C. with his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln. He died the next morning.
5. Dreams of the Future
Among ancient societies dreams were seen as extremely important sources of information, not just regarding the past, but the future (Joseph, 1992a,b, 1996, 2001, 2002; Jung 1945). As possible harbingers of the future they had to be observed carefully interpreted.
In the ancient world, be it Greek, Rome, Egypt, or Babylon, it was believed that some dreams contain important information regarding not only the individual, but his friends, family, and even the entire clan, village, city, or nation (Freud, 1900; Joseph 1992a, 2001, 2002; Jung 1945, 1964): The "big dream" of a child, woman, or man, were taken seriously by highly sophisticated and cultured ancient societies and were even announced two thousand years ago in the Roman Senate. On one occasion a senator's daughter had a dream in which Minerva the Goddess, appeared and complained that her temple was being neglected by the Roman people. The dream was announced to the Senate which in turn voted funds for restoration of the temple.
The dreams of generals, kings, queens, emperors, and Pharaohs, were commonly scrutinized and their symbolism interpreted as they were believed to foretell the future:
But the predictions of these dreams came to pass.
...And it came to pass in the morning that his spirit was troubled and he sent and called for all the magicians and wise men of Egypt...but there was none that could interpret the dream...
....And Joseph said unto Pharaoh, God hath showed Pharaoh what he is about to do. The seven good kine are seven years.... and the seven thin and ill favoured kine that came up after them are seven years... Behold, there come seven years of great plenty throughout all the land of Egypt: And there shall arise after them seven years of famine: and all the plenty shall be forgotten and the famine shall consume the land....
6. The Quantum Future is Now?
Joseph was not the first to dream of the future, nor would he be the last. How can this be? Why did Lincoln dream of his assassination?
It may also be that the past, present, and future are a simultaneity but which are located in different regions of space-time, within the 4th dimension. And it may be that it is the mind which journeys along the dimension, journeying across space-time and encountering what is experienced as the ever present now which slips away as quickly as it is grasped, only to be replaced by a future which becomes the now--just as a DVD or CD contains the beginning and ending of a film or song simultaneously, but which is encoded in different locations within the medium.
And just as the ripples of a pond may strike distant shores, the quantum states of the future may also effect the distant shores occupied by what the mind experiences as the now.
If there is a quantum continuum, then why should it be confined to what our minds define as the present? If the 4th dimension is space-time, and if differences in time are related to movement through space and thus distance between locations, then within the quantum continuum, everything is connected: stars, planets, dogs, cats, and the future and the past.
If correct, this would imply that there may be something unique about the process of dreaming, which enables some dreamers to enter this quantum state and dream of an ancestral past, or to see what may lie ahead in the future.
Or, it may be that that those regions of the mind which subserve dreams, analyze the myriad details commonly experienced to make predictions about the future. Could this explain Lincoln's dream of his own death? Did his dream simply explain his own realistic fears? Or did he gain access to information about the future?
7. Genetic Destiny
The future can be predicted by the past. The future is in fact engraved into our genes. Have we not inherited our genes which determined what we have become, and does not this genetic ancestry leads interminable into the past? And so, too, life in the future, may also be encoded into ancestral genes, for it is these ancestral genes, passed on from mother/father, which code for what will be: genetic destiny.
Certainly genes interact with the environment. However, much of the information contained in our genome is hardwired. Dogs behave like dogs, cats like cats, and human like humans, not because of free will, but genetic destiny. The hardware which supports the software is hardwired into our genes.
Our lives and the future are shaped, at least in part, by genetic destiny and our genetic ancestry is certainly much older than this Earth (Joseph 2011b). Indeed, there is evidence of life in this planet's oldest rocks, dated to 4.2 bya (Nemchin et al. 2008; O'Neil et al. 2008), indicating life was present on this planet from the very beginning. Let us engage in a thought experiment and imagine life on Earth came from other planets, and these seeds of life contained the genes for the tree of life which took root on Earth. However, if the same genetic seeds landed on other Earth-like planets, the same trees of life may have evolved, such that, humans just like the humans of Earth may populate innumerable worlds; and just as dogs behave like dogs, and cats like cats, those humans of other worlds may act just like us; because their genes and our genes have a common source.
Or let us say there are multiple dimensions, a multiverse with multiple worlds, many of which are just like our own and where our own cosmic quantum twins may have evolved, and where they behave just like us--my multiverse twin writing this article, and your multiverse twin reading it. We behave the same on these multiple worlds, because we have the same genes. Consider the often reported instances of twins separated at birth, but who go on to lead nearly identical lives, even marrying women who look alike and have the same first names.
If the future is engraved within our genomes, then this would imply there is something unique about dreams, which unlock these genetic codes, revealing to the conscious mind what had had been concealed.
In fact, gene expression is enhanced during dream sleep which in turn has been correlated with increased activity and plasticity within neurons in the neocortex and limbic system (Ribeiro et al. 1999, 2002, 2008). Therefore, dream sleep is not only associated with the activation of otherwise silent genes which change the shapes of neural interconnections, but may unlock the secrets of changes yet to come.
Be it genetics, the quantum continuum, a multiverse, the unconscious dream analysis of myriad details, or the opening of windows to sensory capabilities which had been inhibited or suppressed, it appears that during dreams the veils are lifted, thereby enabling the mind to see and reveal what had been concealed.
8. The Neuroanatomy of Dreams: Overview
Sleep consists of five distinct stages, one of which is closely associated with the appearance of dreams (Hobson 2004, Monti et al., 2008; Steriade & McCarley 2005). It is during the course of the dream that the eyes begin to move quite rapidly as if the dreamer were observing some action. This is referred to as REM (rapid eye movement). The appearance of REM during sleep has been found to occur in a rhythmical fashion in all terrestrial mammals so far studied.
REM occurs during a sleep stage referred to as "paradoxical sleep." It is called paradoxical (or active sleep), for electrophysiologically the brain is aroused and quite active, similar to its condition during waking. However, the body musculature is paralyzed and motor functioning is all but abolished except in certain regions which control respiration, and eye movements (Hobson 2004, Hobson et al. 1986; Jouvet 2001; Monti et al., 2008; Steriade & McCarley 2005). This prevents the dreamer from acting out their dreams. The ability to perceive outside sensory events, normally received through the five senses, is also greatly attenuated (Hobson 2004, Monti et al., 2008; Steriade & McCarley 2005; Vertes 1990). In addition during the course of a dream, temperture control is lost, pain sensation is rare, and males tend to have an erection.
These REM dream cycles occur every 90 to 100 minutes. By contrast, non-REM (N-REM) periods occur during a stage referred to as "slow-wave" or synchronized sleep.
Thus, during REM dream sleep, the brain is in a state of heightened activity and arousal, indicating that considerable processing of information is taking place. Yet, simultaneously, the normal routes of sensory reception have been restricted. Yet, the brain of the sleeper does in fact receive and process sensory information.
Most individuals awakened during REM report dream activity approximately 80% of the time. REM dreams involve a considerable degree of visual imagery, emotion, and tend to be distorted and implausible to various degrees (Foulkes, 1962; Hobson 2004; Steriade & McCarley 2005).
When awakened during the N-REM period, dreams are reported approximately 20% of the time (Foulkes, 1962; Jouvet 2001; Monroe et al. 1965). However, the type of dreaming that occurs during N-REM is quite different from REM. For example, N-REM dreams (when they occur) are often quite similar to thinking and speech (i.e. lingusitic thought), such that a kind-of rambling verbal monologue is experienced in the absence of imagery (Foulkes 1962; Hobson 2004; Jouvet 2001; Monroe et al. 1965). It is also during N-REM in which an individual is most likely to talk in his or her sleep (Kamiya, 1961).
9. Right Hemisphere Dreams
REM is characterized by high levels of activity within the pons of the brainstem, the lateral geniculate nucleus of the thalamus, and occipital lobes; referred to as PGO waves (Hobson 2004; Monti et al., 2008; Steriade & McCarley 2005). It also has been reported that electrophysiologically the right hemisphere becomes highly active during REM, whereas, conversely, the left half of the brain becomes more active during N-REM (Goldstein et al. 1972; Hodoba, 1986). This may account for the striking differences in the content of dreams, with left hemisphere dreams being more "thought-like" and verbal, and right hemisphere dreams more emotional, vivid, and visual-spatial.
Measurements of cerebral blood flow have shown an increase in the right temporal and parietal regions during REM sleep and in subjects who upon wakening report visual, hypnagogic, hallucinatory and auditory dreaming (Meyer et al., 1987). Moreover, abnormal and enhanced activity in the right temporal and temporal-occipital area acts to increase dreaming and REM sleep for an atypically long time period (Hodoba, 1986). Similarly, REM sleep is associated with increased activity in this same region much more than in the left hemisphere (Hodoba, 1986). These findings indicate that there is a specific complementary relationship between REM sleep and right temporal-occipital electrophysiological activity.
Conversely, there have been reports of patients with right cerebral damage who have ceased dreaming altogether or to dream only in words (Humphrey & Zangwill, 1951; Kerr & Foulkes, 1978, 1981). For example, defective dreaming, deficits that involve visual imagery, and loss of hypnagogic imagery have been found in patients with focal lesions or hypoplasia of the posterior right hemisphere and abnormalities in the corpus callosum which would prevent transfer from the right to left hemisphere (Botez et al. 1985; Kerr & Foulkes, 1981; Murri et al. 1984).
An absence or diminished amount of dreaming during sleep also has been reported after split-brain surgery; i.e., as reported by the disconnected left hemisphere (Bogen & Bogen, 1969; Hoppe & Bogen, 1977). Similarly, a paucity of REM episodes have been noted in other callosotomy patients, although these particular individuals continued to report some dream activity (Greenwood, Wilson, & Gazzaniga, 1977).
On the other hand it has been reported that when the left hemisphere has been damaged, particularly the posterior portions (i.e. aphasic patients), the ability to verbally report and recall dreams also is greatly attenuated (Murri et al., 1984; Pena-Casanova & Roig-Rovira, 1985; Schanfald et al. 1985). Of course, aphasics have difficulty describing much of anything, let alone their dreams.
The differential activation of the right and left hemisphere during REM vs N-REM, is a major factor in the visual-emotional hallucinatory-mosaic experienced during the dream (Joseph 1988a, 1996). As has been well established, the right hemisphere is dominant for most aspects of non-verbal and visual-spatial perceptual activity as well as the expression and comprehension of social-emotional nuances. It is for this reason that the right hemisphere is sometimes thought to be the more intuitive half of the cerebrum.
As demonstrated in individuals who have had the two hemispheres surgically separated, the right half of the brain is able to draw conclusions, make predictions, selectively store certain images and experiences in memory, and can call on and act on these information at will (Joseph 1988a,b; 1996). Moreover, given its sensitivity to a host of non-social environmental variables (Joseph 1988a), it is able to assimilate and draw conclusions if not make predictions about this material which, conversely, the left hemisphere has difficulty processiing. In this regard, it is not at all surprising that during the course of a dream, when the right half of the brain is at a peak level of activity, that it may draw upon these capacities to arrive at certain conclusions or to make predictions regarding events, people, or the future, and that those aspects of consciousness associated with the language-dependent aspects of the mind (Joseph 1988a,b, 2011a) would view these cognitions as bizarre and inexplicable.
However, other factors may also be involved, including the perception of sensory and other information which is normally filtered out and suppressed. That is, the right hemisphere may be perceiving stimuli during the course of the dream, which during waking is not normally perceived.
10. REM-On, REM-Off & Serotonin
The visual-emotional hallucinatory aspects of dreaming occur during REM, and the activation of a variety of brain regions are involved, i.e. the amygdala, hippocampus, right temporal lobe, right occipital lobe, the lateral geniculate nucleus of the thalamus, and brainstem nuclei located in the lateral and medial pons. In addition, the production of REM sleep is mediated by cyclic fluctuations in the levels of various neurotransmitters, including, and especially serotonin which serves an inhibitory function and when at high levels suppresses REM sleep and the activity of neurons which contribute to the generation of dreams.
Specifically, cholinergic (ACh) neurons located in the lateral pons, and neurons located in the medial pontine reticular formation appear to be the locus for REM-on neurons which initiate and/or maintain the production of REM sleep and which produce muscle atonia so that dreamers do not act on their dreams (Lydic, et al., 1991; Monti et al., 2008; Steriade & McCarley, 2005; Vertes 1990). That is, during the production of REM and paradoxical sleep, there is increased cholinergic activity and the production of pontine, lateral geniculate, occipital activity; i.e. PGO waves. Whereas with the termination of REM, and with the onset of slow wave N-REM sleep these same neurons greatly reduce their activity. As ACh is also implicated in memory, this may well explain why recent memories tend to become incorporated in dreams.
In contrast, REM-off neurons, which tend to be located in the medial raphe nucleus (which contain 5HT neurons) and in the locus coeruleus (located at the midbrain-pons junction and which contain NE neurons) are highly active during waking but then significantly decrease their activity with the initition and onset of REM and the production of pontine, lateral geniculate, occipital activity; i.e. PGO waves (Hobson 2004; Monti et al., 2008; Steriade & McCarley 2005).
Hence, these REM-Off neurons appear to suppress REM and PGO activity and interfere with the onset of dreaming and paradoxical sleep, whereas REM-on neurons initiate the opposite sleep phase in which case the brain appears to be highly active and the individual begins to dream.
REM-on and REM-off neurons, therefore, appear to oscillate in a rhythmic fashion thus inducing sleep, dreaming, and waking. When the REM-off neurons cease to fire, the REM-on neurons (which are predominately cholinergic) become highly active until a REM episode is produced. However, as REM-on neuron activity decreases, REM-off activity increases, thus setting into motion a continuous 90 minute cycle of REM - Non-REM sleep.
11. Serotonin & Sensory Filtering
Low levels of 5HT are associated with REM sleep and dreaming (Hobson 2004; Monti et al., 2008) and thus with increased activity in the amygdala, hippocampus, and right hemisphere. 5HT in fact exerts inhibitory influences on a variety of brain structures, thereby suppressing incoming sensory input and the processing of sensory information from a variety of modalities simultaneously (Applegate, 1980; Jacobs & Azmita 1992; Soubrie, 1986; Spoont, 1992). That is 5HT restricts perceptual and information processing and in fact increases the threshold for neural responses to occur at both the neocortical and limbic level. In this way, attention can be focused and everything considered irrelevant may be filtered out. In fact, 5HT appears to be involved in learning not to respond to stimuli (Benninger, 1989). These signals are filtered out and suppressed.
It has also been demonstrated that 5HT acts to suppress activity in the lateral (visual) geniculate nucleus of the thalamus and synaptic functioning in the visual cortex as well as the amygdala (Jacobs & Azmita 1992; Soubrie, 1986; Spoont, 1992). By contrast, substances which block 5HT transmission -such as LSD- results in increased activity in the amygdala (Chapman & Walter, 1965; Chapman, Walter, Ross et al., 1963) and in the sensory pathways to the neocortex (Purpura 1956), which induces complex hallucinatory experiences.
12. The Amygdala: Gateway to Multiple Perceptual Realities
The amygdala is exceedingly responsive to social and emotional stimuli as conveyed vocally, visually, through touch, or body language including the face (Gloor, 1997; Halgren, 1992; Kling & Brothers 1992; Morris et al., 1996; 1992) and contains neurons which respond selectively to smiles and to the eyes, and which can differentiate between male and female faces and the emotions they convey (Hasselmo, Rolls, & Baylis, 1989, Kawashima, et al., 1999; Rolls, 1984; Morris et al., 1996). Single neurons in the amygdala, in fact, can respond to multiple sensory modalities, simultaneously (Amaral et al. 1992; O'Keefe & Bouma, 1969; Perryman, Kling, & Lloyd, 1987; Rolls 1992; Sawa & Delgado, 1963; Schutze et al. 1987; Turner et al. 1980; Ursin & Kaasa, 1960). Overall, because emotional, motivational, and multimodal assimilation of various sensory impressions occurs in this region, it is also involved in attention, learning, and memory (Gloor, 1997; Halgren, 1992; Halgren et al., 1978).
The right amygdala (as well as the right hippocampus, and the right hemisphere in general) is also involved in the production of dream imagery as well as REM sleep (Broughton, 1982; Goldstein et al., 1972; Hodoba, 1986; Humphrey & Zangwill, 1961; Kerr & Foulkes, 1978; Meyer et al. 1987). Simulation of the amygdala triggers and increases ponto-geniculo-occipital paradoxical activity during sleep (Calvo, et al. 1987), which in turn is associated with REM and dreaming.
Presumably, during REM, the amygdala (and hippocampus) serve as a reservoir from which various images, emotions, faces, words, and ideas are drawn and incorporated into the matrix of dream-like activity being woven by the right hemisphere. Essentially, this increased activity, resulting in REM sleep and the productions of dreams is due in in large part to cyclic reductions in serotonin.
Serotonin, inhibits these multi-modal amygdala neurons, thereby suppressing their activity and preventing the reception and processing of a vast array of sensory impressions. However, if serotonin release or uptake is prevented, the amygdala and other structures are released from their inhibitory sensory prison, and in consequence, single amygdala neurons will process multi-modal properties simultaneously, such that individuals will dream.
13. Dreaming Backwards
During the dream state, the dominant sensory streams are suppressed prior to transmission to the neocortical receiving areas. However, subcortical and limbic structures continue to receive and process sensory information, and not uncommonly these sensations, experienced during sleep, will be incorporated into the dream and may even trigger the dream, in which case, the dreamer may dream backwards
"Julie" dreams she is walking in San Francisco lugging large bags of gifts. Feeling tired she sets them down on the sidewalk. She looks for a bus and see a cable car coming. As it pulls up the conductor begins to ring its bell. The sound of the bell grows louder and then jolts her awake. Fully awake she realizes someone is ringing her doorbell. In this regard, the hearing of the bell seemed to be a natural part of the dream, and it is. What seems paradoxical, however, is that the dream seemed to lead up to the bell so that its ringing made sense in the context of the dream.
The dream did not lead up to the bell; the bell initiated the dream. The dream was produced, via the unique language of the right hemisphere during sleep (as well as amygdala activation), so as to explain the sound of the bell. The bell was heard and the dream was instantly produced in explanation and association. The bell stimulated the dream which may have only last a second.
One individual (described by Freud, 1900) dreamt he was in 18th Century France in the midst of the French Revolution. After a trial in which he was been found guilty, he was being led down a street lined with yelling and cursing Frenchmen and women. At the end of the street he could see the gallows where the heads of various political criminals were being chopped off at the neck. Mad with fright he felt and saw himself led up the stairs and his head being placed in the yoke of the chopping block. The executioner gave the signal, the crowd screamed its approval, he could hear and sense the blade falling, and with a loud crack it struck him across the neck. Indeed, it struck him with such a jolt that he awoke to find that his poster bed had broke and that a railing had fallen and struck him across the side and back of his neck.
Thus, we see that although the perception of external stimuli by the five senses is greatly attenuated, external stimuli can still trigger a complex dream. The dream explains this external stimuli. However, what if this stimuli is not transmitted via the dominant sensory channels, and is conveyed through electro-magentic radiation, pheromones, DNA, quantum field fluctuations, or the dreams of other dreamers?
14. Damon Wells: Son of the Devil
The following is based on court, psychiatric, police, and investigative records, and interviews with many of the principles directly involved.
Witness (Stephen M): "Yes, sir."
D.A.: "You were stationed in Germany?"
D.A.: "And while in Germany, did you come to know a person by the name of Damon Wells?"
S.M.: "Yes, sir."
D.A.: "Do you recall when you first met Damon Wells?"
S.M.: "Yes. It was 1981."
D.A.: "How did he introduce himself?"
S.M.: "He said, 'My name is Damon Wells, son of the devil."
D.A.: "Did you become friends with Damon Wells?"
S.M.: "We were both soldiers, and it was a pretty isolated site. Pretty secluded on top of a mountain, so I had a lot of contact with him."
D.A.: "What type of duties did you perform?"
S.M. "I was a satellite technician. Wells was a mechanic, a motor mechanic."
D.A.: "What kind of worker was he?"
S.M. "He was a fantastic worker. One of the best mechanics we ever had up there. He'd fix vehicles and the electric generators which powered our site. We didn't have any electricity up there."
D.A. "Did you ever notice anything odd about Damon?"
S.M. "Sure. Many times."
D.A. "Such as?"
S.M. "Sometimes he would stop what he was doing and would say, The voices are here. Can you hear them?"
D.A. "Anything else?"
S.M. "Damon used to sit for hours on top of this mountain, looking down into the valley. It was totally remote and isolated and heavily forested, but sometimes you could see him from the communications tower. Sometimes he would meditate by these ruins on the side of this mountain.
"He'd sit for hours, like in a trance. His legs would be crossed. He'd be rocking, and chanting, mumbling about demons and angels from Hell. Even when it began to rain, or even snow, Damon would just sit there, trance-like. He'd be soaking wet or freezing, sometimes in just shirt sleeves. I had to go get him a few times."
D.A. "Did Damon ever show you a cave?"
S.M. "Yes, he did. He had found this cave, hidden deep in the woods, on the back side of a mountain across the valley. I don't know how he ever found it. He had a rope tied to a tree on the mountain top, and you had to climb, to rappel down the rope in order to get to this cave. It was really kind of creepy."
D.A. "Did you ever go inside this cave?"
S.M. "Yes, I did. There was a large stone slab, and some candles and gun powder, and a knife and some books inside. It was obvious he had spent a lot of time there."
D.A. "Did Damon ever tell you why he visited this cave?"
S.M. "Yeah. He told me he went there to talk to the voices. The voices, from his point of view, came from the devil. He said he could communicate with the devil, and that the devil would appear in this cave and speak with him."
D.A. "Did he every talk to you about sacrifices?"
S.M. "Yes, he did. Especially after I pointed out what looked like animal bones, and blood stains on this big slab of rock. In fact, he showed me this book of black magic and it had a picture of a naked woman lying spread eagle on a rock. Standing over her was a hooded man with a big knife. Damon said that was how the devil would sacrifice his victims. Damon said, that since he was a slave of the devil, he was supposed to sacrifice victims the same way, on this rock."
D.A. "And what did you tell him after he said and showed these things to you?"
S.M. "I told him he had a serious problem, that he needed help. In fact, I suggested a few times that maybe he should see a psychiatrist or a priest."
D.A. "And what did he say when you told him he should see a priest?"
S.M. "He laughed and began talking about voodoo and demons. About how he could project his thoughts, and with the help of the demons, he could harm his enemies. He said that priests were enemies of the devil, they couldn't help him. Besides, he said, I have everything under control. The Demons do as I tell them.'"
D.A. "Did Damon ever tell you he had committed a serious crime? That he had sacrificed anyone to the devil?"
S.M. "Yes sir, he did. A few months later. He said he picked up a hitchhiker, drove her to the woods, and then killed her because the devil had told him to. He said the devil took control over him, and he killed her and had sex with her."
D.A. "Did you believe him?"
S.M. "No. He was really mixed up, confused like he was two people. He seemed possessed. I thought he was flipping out. When I asked if he had really killed someone, he just said, They're taking me over, Steve. They are taking me over."
That same afternoon, Tanya Z, a very attractive, dark haired, 21-year old woman, had just left work at a Santa Cruz bank and was accompanied to her car by a female friend and coworker. Tanya was chattering away and showing her friend a birthday card for her fiance and explaining that she was going shopping for a birthday present. However, first she would have to drive over the Santa Cruz mountains, on Highway 17, to stop at her house in Santa Clara County.
At the same time, Damon was also walking to his car, talking with the Devil who was urging him on, explaining what to do. A neighbor in the next yard overhead the mumble speech and thought Damon might have been talking to him? "What did you say?" he asked?
Damon looked at him: "Don't you hear them?"
"The voices are here. Can you hear them?"
"The Devil," Damon replied. He got into his car and drove into the Santa Cruz mountains.
Tanya had just made it over the summit, the highest point on Highway 17, when her car began to stall, and then it died. She pulled over to the side of the busy highway, and then repeatedly attempted to get it to start, but to no avail. She had run out of gas.
It was then that Damon drove by. According to Damon, the voice of the Devil told him that this woman was to be the sacrifice that He required. Damon pulled up, introduced himself, and offered her a ride to the nearest phone. She agreed, and got in. Instead, he took her deep into the mountains, attacked her, beat her until she was nearly unconscious, and then dragged her down a heavily wooded mountainside, and then pushed away some branches which hid a trail leading to a huge rock. Damon dragged her to the rock, laid her out sacrificial style, killed her, sexually assaulted her, and then left the dead body lying naked on the rock.
That evening Tanya's father and fiancee began searching for her. They found only the abandoned car near the summit of highway 17. They contacted the police, who, however, could find no evidence of a crime. There was no body. No blood. No signs of a struggle. Just an abandoned car.
That evening, Damon, still experiencing the after-affects of the LSD, could not stop visualizing the murder. It played over and over in his mind, even after he fell asleep. But once he began to dream, the victim, Tanya, did not stay dead, but appeared to him, accusing him, showing him what he had done. His victim had become an angry avenging spirit.
That same night a woman named "Sunshine" a nudist who lived in a nudist colony, Lupin Lodge, situated in the Santa Cruz Mountains, had a nightmare: A woman was being brutally murdered. The next day, Sunshine read the story of Tanya's disappearance in the local newspaper, and that night, and the night following, she had the dream again, but this time the victim appeared to her. It was Tanya. But she was no avenging spirit. According to Sunshine, Tanya showed her the road off highway 17 where Damon had taken her, and then the spot where Damon had parked his car and attacked her. Next she led Sunshine down a rather steep incline, and then along a trail, and pointed out her naked body, lying spread eagle on this huge slab of rock. Sunshine had this same dream repeatedly.
Sunshine was not the only dreamer dreaming of the murder. Damon dreamed of the horrible crime night after night. But his victim would not stay dead. She haunted his dreams, accusing him. It was an unending nightmare for Damon Wells, who called himself: Son of the Devil.
On the morning of 9/15/84, having dreamed of the murder, and with the victim's help, Sunshine was convinced she knew where Tanya's body lay hidden. She contacted Tanya's family, told them of her dreams, and that same day led them and the police to the the side road Tanya had showed her, and then to the very spot where she had dreamed of the murder. The police climbed down the steep incline, and just as Sunshine had dreamed, they found the trail. But, there was no body.
That night Sunshine had another dream and this time Tanya took her to the same spot, down the same trail, then pointed at and emphasized a little trail that forked off to the right and which led directly to the body. The next day, Sunshine and the family met again, and then climbed down the incline, took the trail to the right, and there was Tanya's body laid out exactly as revealed to Sunshine when dreaming.
The murder remained unsolved, however, until 2/7/88 when Damon Wells, beset by horrible nightmares, sought psychiatric treatment. He confessed and hoped the psychiatrist could help him escape the dreams and visions which tormented him.
14.1 Dreams and Wondering Spirits. Souls and spirits were believed by ancient humans to wonder about while people sleep and dream (Brandon 1967; Frazier 1950; Harris 1993; Jung 1945, 1964; Malinowkski 1990). Some believed the soul could escape the body via the mouth or nostrils while dreaming and that the soul could wonder away from the body and engage in various purposeful acts or interact with other souls including the soul or spirit of those who had died. The spirit and soul were believed to hover about in human-like, ghostly vestiges, at the fringes of reality, the hinterland where day turns into night (Campbell 1988; Frazier 1950; Jung 1964; Malinowski 1954; Wilson 1951). It was also believed that even after death souls continued to interact with the living, and could haunt their dreams, and that the spirits of the dead might visit the dreams of the living, to convey knowledge and important information. Of course these are all silly superstitions. Certainly it is not possible Tanya Z's spirit was in fact haunting the dreams of Damon Wells and Sunshine.
In 1970, Ullman and Krippner reported statistically significant findings from a dream lab where dreamers were targeted with specific images from art prints, such as "School of the Dance" by Degas, depicting a dance class of several young women. The subject's dream reports included phrases as "I was in a class made up of maybe half a dozen people; it felt like a school." "There was one little girl that was trying to dance with me" (Krippner 1993). Could it be that Damon's dreams effected the dreams of Sunshine? Or perhaps it was all a coincidence.
15. LSD, 5HT, Dreams & Hallucinations
Damon Wells had consumed LSD on the afternoon of the murder. LSD blocks the release and uptake of 5HT (Bennett & Snyder, 1976) including in the amygdala (Gresch et al., 2002). LSD also acts directly on the amygdala and hippocampus (Bennett & Snyder, 1976; Gresch et al,, 2002), the right amygdala (and hippocampus) in particular. In consequence, once serotonin release or uptake is reduced or blocked, the amygdala will process multi-modal stimuli simultaneously, and the person will see sound, taste colors, and all aspects of perceptual processing will be greatly enhanced:
It was 1967, the "summer of love" and I am my friends made the trek to Haight-Ashbury where I acquired pure LSD created by Stanley Owsley. I was about to take my first "trip."
About half hour after I ingested the drug I forgot I had taken it, and instead I noticed how all the colors of the trees and plants were much brighter, more colorful and luminous. I was walking toward a park and stopped to touch a green leaf which was sparkling with emerald light, and I could feel the life inside the leaf, I could taste it's "greenness" through my fingers, and then my eyes became like a microscope and I could see the fine cellular structure of the leaf and then inside the leaf... and my attention turned to my hand... and I could see the fine cellular structure of my skin, then beneath my skin, and then I could see a blood vessel and then inside the vessel and I could see the red and white blood cells swishing past inside the vessel--and I was totally amazed and kept wondering: How come I never noticed this before! It was as if my eyes had become a tunneling microscope--and this was 15 years before its invention!
This was the first hour of my experience on LSD.... as the experience wore on I could see sound, I could see sound waves. I could taste colors. And I was able to see through the Santa Cruz mountains to what was on the otherside: the ocean and a jet plane and then the jet flew over the top of the mountain. And no, I do not think I was hallucinating per se. LSD blocks 5HT, which is an inhibitor. Structures such as the amygdala are inhibited by 5HT, and many amygdala neurons are multi-sensory, a single amygdala neuron can process sound, touch, taste, and vision, simultaneously---but this information is inhibited and filtered out as we would be overwhelmed if we were constantly tasting colors or seeing inside our skin...So LSD blocks 5HT which turns off the filtering... I was 17 years old when I took LSD. At the end of the experience I felt as if my intelligence had increased by 20 IQ points and my consciousness, understanding, and awareness of the world was certainly much greater. My mind had expanded and from the day forward I saw the world with open eyes.
As is well known, LSD can elicit profound hallucinations involving all spheres of experience. Following the administration of LSD, high-amplitude slow waves (theta) and bursts of paroxysmal spike discharges occur in the hippocampus and amygdala (Chapman & Walter, 1965; Chapman et al., 1963), but with little cortical abnormal activity. In both humans and chimpanzees in whom the temporal lobes, amygdala, and hippocampus have been removed, LSD ceases to produce hallucinatory phenomena (Baldwin et al., 1955, 1959; Serafetinides, 1965). Moreover, LSD-induced hallucinations are significantly reduced when the right versus left temporal lobe has been surgically ablated (Serafetinides, 1965). Dreaming is sometimes abolished with right but not left temporal lobe removals (Kerr & Foulkes, 1981). Likewise, Penfield and Perot (1963) report that the most vivid hallucination tend to be triggered from the right not the left temporal lobe.
LSD is structurally similar to serotonin, but acts as a serotonin antagonist and acts both pre-synaptically (Montigny and Aghajanian 1977) and post-synaptically (Bennett & Snyder, 1976) by blocking 5-HT secretion and 5-HT receptors (Bennett & Snyder, 1975), thereby preventing serotonin from exerting its normal inhibitory effects on sensory reception and multi-modal sensory processing. Further, LSD acts on the brainstem raphe nucleus (Strahlendorf, et al., 1982) which produces serotonin, thereby preventing this structure from exerting inhibitory influences not just on the amydgala, but in the pons, lateral geniculate, and visual cortex--structures which become highly active during dreaming.
Moreover, LSD acts on the frontal lobes (Gresch et al., 2002), which exert controls over the rest of the brain and sensory processing in the neocortex through inhibition (Joseph 1996, 1999a). Thus, following adminstration of LSD and suppression of 5-HT influences, sensory inhibition is significantly attenuated throughout the brain, such that neurons which are normally suppressed begin processing information normally filtered out, all of which is then experienced by the conscious mind.
16. Day Dreams, Hallucinations, Out-of-Body Consciousness, and Alternate Realities
Hallucinations are typically defined as the "Perception of visual, auditory, tactile, olfactory, or gustatory experiences in the absence of an external stimulus coupled with a compelling sense of their reality." The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association also defines hallucinations as occurring "without external stimulation of the relevant sensory organ."
According to definition, hallucinatory experiences under LSD, insofar as they are based on external stimulation and perceptions freed of inhibitory restraint, are not necessarily hallucinations. Of course, this supposition could be dismissed by attributing the experience to the LSD. However, this dismissal fails as it is not the LSD which induces the experience, but the reductions in 5-HT, as also occurs during REM sleep. Therefore, it could be said that strictly speaking they are not hallucinating. Just as external stimuli may trigger a dream during REM sleep, that during waking and under reduced 5-HT external stimulation also produced a dream, what is experienced could be likened to a day-dream.
In fact, There is some evidence to suggest that during the course of the day and night the two cerebral hemispheres oscillate in activity every 90 to 100 minutes and are 180 degrees out of phase --a cycle that corresponds to changes in cognitive efficiency, the appearance of day dreams, REM (dream sleep), and, conversely, N-REM sleep (Bertini et al. 1983; Broughton, 1982; Hodoba, 1986; Klein & Armitage, 1979; Kripke & Sonnenschein, 1973). That is, like two pistons sliding up and down, it appears that when the right cerebrum is functionally at its peak of activity, the left hemisphere is correspondingly at its nadir. Day dreams also correspond to this cycle, such that when dreaming at night, or during the day, the dream is association with increased right hemisphere and reduced left hemisphere activity (Joseph 1988a, 1992a, 1996).
Day dreams, like night dreams, and LSD, are all associated with differential and increased right hemisphere activation. Likewise, in studies of hallucinations secondary to cerebral tumors or seizure activity, although simple hallucinations are likely following damage to either hemisphere, complex hallucinations are usually associated with right rather than left cerebral lesions (Teuber et al., 1960; Mullan & Penfield, 1959; Hecaen & Albert, 1978; Joseph 1996).
Moreover, direct stimulation of the neocortex and the amygdala, also produce complex hallucinations . For example, electrical stimulation of visual association areas 18 and 19 can produce complex and vivid images of men, animals, various objects and geometric figures, liliputian-type individuals (Hecaen & Albert, 1978; Joseph 1996; Tarachow, 1941). Those who experience these hallucinations may also have the illusion that their vision has telescoped such that they can see objects and people which are exceedingly far away, or existing in another reality or dimension. However, just as often, what they see may appear right before then and may not be unusual and no different from any other perception. For example, one patient saw a butterfly then attempted to catch it when area 19 of the visual cortex was electrically stimulated. Another hallucinated a dog and then called to it, denying the possibility that it was not real (Joseph 1996).
However, under conditions of exceedingly heightened activity or other disturbances in the temporal lobes and underlying amygdala and hippocampus, the hallucination may become exceedingly vivid and unusual and include images of threatening men, naked women, sexual intercourse, demons and ghosts and pigs walking upright dressed as people (Bear 1979; Daly 1958; Gloor 992; Halgren 1992; Horowitz et al. 1968; Joseph 1999, 2002; Penfield & Perot 1963; Slater & Beard 1963; Taylor 1972; Trimble 1991; Weingarten, et al. 1977; Williams 1956). Often the experience could best be described as "other worldly" as if seeing into another supernatural dimension or entering into another reality.
Some individuals report communing with spirits, angels or gods, or receiving profound knowledge from the Hereafter, following temporal lobe activation (Daly 1958; MacLean 1990; Penfield & Perot 1963; Williams 1956). Some have visualized and have seen ghosts, demons, angels, and even God, or claim to have left their body (Bear 1979; Daly 1958; Gloor 1992; Horowitz et al. 1968; MacLean 1990; Mesulam 1981; Penfield & Perot 1963; Schenk & Bear 1981; Slater & Beard 1963; Subirana & Oller-Daurelia, 1953; Trimble 1991; Weingarten, et al. 1977; Williams 1956).
Some individuals have described feelings such as elation, security, eternal harmony, immense joy, paradisiacal happiness, euphoria, completeness. Between .5 and 20% of such patients claim such feelings (Williams, 1956; Daly, 1958). One patient of Williams (1956) claimed he was overwhelmed by "sudden feeling of extreme well being involving all my senses. I see a curtain of beautiful colors before my eyes and experience a pleasant but indescribable taste in my mouth. Objects feeling pleasurably warm. the room assumes vast proportions, and I feel as if in anothe world."
A patient described by Daly (1958) claimed his seizure felt like "a sunny day when your friends are all around you." He then felt disociated from his body, as if he were looking down upon himself and wathcing his actions.
Penfield and Perot (1963) describe several patients who claimed they could see themselves outside their body engaging in various activity. One woman stated that "it was though I were two persons, one watching, and the other having this happen to me," and that it was she who was doing the watching as if she was completely separated from her body. According to Penfield, "It was as though the patient were attending a play and was both actor and audience.
Williams (1956) describes a patient who claimed that during an aura she experienced a feeling that she was being lifted up out of her body, coupled with a very pleasant sensation of eleation and the sensation that she was "just about to find out knowlede no one else shares, something to do with the line between life and death."
Subirana and Oller-Daurelia (1953) described two patients who experienced ecastic feelings of either "extrraordinary beatitude" or of paradise as if they had gone to heaven and noted that his fantastic feelings lasted for hours.
Other patients have noted that feelings and things suddenly become "cyrstal clear" or that they have a feeling of clairvoyance, or of having the truth revealed to them, or opf having achieved a sense of greater awareness and of a new awarness such that sounds, smells and visual objects seemd to have a greater meaning and sensibility (Joseph 2001, 2002).
It has frequently been reported that as compared to other cortical areas, the most complex and most forms of hallucination occur secondary to temporal lobe involvement (Malh et al., 1964; Horowitz et al., 1968; Penfield & Perot, 1963; Tarachow, 1941) and that the hippocampus and amygdala (in conjunction with the temporal lobe) appear to be the responsible agents (Gloor 1992, 1997; Horowitz et al., 1968; Halgren et al., 1978). Thus, the same brain regions implicated in the generation of the dream are also linked to hallucinations following the administration of LSD or abnormal activation or direct electrode stimulation.
17. Out-of-Body and Near Death Experience
Some children and adults who have been declared "clinically" dead but who subsequently return to life, have reported that after "dying" they left their body and floated above the scene (Eadie 1992; Joseph, 1996; Rawling 1978; Ring 1980). Typically they become increasingly euphoric as they float above their body, after which they may float away, become enveloped in a dark tunnel and then enter a soothing radiant light. And later, when they come back to life, they may even claim conscious knowledge of what occurred around their body while they were dead and floating nearby. Similar experiences are detailed in the Egyptian funery texts and "book of the dead," written almost 6000 years ago (Budge 1994) as well as by otherwise completely "modern" and sophisticated humans.
"Lisa" for example, was a 22 year old college coed with no religious background or spiritual beliefs, who was badly injured in an auto accident when the windshield collapsed and all but completely severed her arm. According to Lisa, when she got out of the car her was blood spraying everywhere and she only walked a few feet before collapsing. Apparently an ambulance arrived in just a few minutes. However, the next thing she noticed was that part of the time she was looking up from the ground, and part of the time she was up in the air looking down and could see the ambulance crew working, picking up her body, placing it on a gurney and into the ambulance.
According to Lisa, during the entire ride to the hospital it was like she was half in and half out of the ambulance, as if she were running along outside or just extending out of the vehicle watching the cars and tress go by. When they got to the hospital she was no longer attached to her body but was floating up and down the halls, watching the doctors and nurses and attendants. One doctor in particular drew her attention because he had a big belt buckle with his name written on it. She could even read it and it said "Mike."
According to Lisa, she was "tripping out, bobbing up and down the halls, just checking everything out" when she noticed a girl lying on a gurney with several doctors and nurses working frantically. When she floated over and peered over the shoulder of one of the doctors to take a look she suddenly realized the girl was her and that her hair and face were very bloody and needed to be washed. At that point she realized she was floating well above her body and the doctors and that she looked to be "dead." However, according to Lisa she did not feel afraid or upset, although the fact that her hair was dirty bothered her.
As detailed by Lisa, she soon floated up and outside the Emergency room and was enveloped in a total blackness, "like I was passing through a tunnel at the end of which was a vague light which became brighter and more billiant, radiating outward." The light soon enveloped her body which made her feel exceedingly happy and very warm. A few moments later she heard the voice of her grandmother who had died when Lisa was a young girl. Although Lisa had no memory of this grandmother, she nevertheless recognized her and felt exceedingly happy. However, as Lisa approached, her grandmother very sorrowfully told her it was "too soon", she would have to "go back." Lisa didn't want to go back, but had no choice. She was drawn away from the light and felt herself falling only to land with a painful thump in her own body. At this point she moved her hand which alerted one of the emergency room staff that Lisa was no longer dead.
It is noteworthy that Lisa had never heard of "near death experiences" (she was injured in 1982) and that after returning to life she only reluctantly explained what had happened when she was questioned by one of her doctors. Lisa also claimed that while she was dead and floating about the emergency room that she saw, heard and is able to recall everything that occurred up to the point when she was enveloped in darkness. She was able to accurately describe "Mike" as well as some of the staff who first attended her, the conversations that occurred around her as well as some of the other patients.
Indeed, similar "after death" claims of leaving and floating above the body, and seeing everything occurring below, are common (Eadie 1992; Moody 1977; Rawling 1978; Ring 1980; Sabom 1982; Wilson 1987), and, as noted, are even reported in the 6,000 year old Egyptian Book of the Dead (Budge 1994), as well as the Tibetan Book of the Dead (the Bardo Thodol) which was composed over 1,300 years ago. Approximately 37% of patients who are resuscitated report similar "out of body" experiences (Ring 1980).
Consider for example, the case of Army Specialist J. C. Bayne of the 196th Light Infantry Brigade. Bayne was "killed" in Chu Lai, Vietnam, in 1966. He was simultaneously machine gunned and struck by a mortar. According to Bayne, when he opened his eyes he was floating in the air, looking down on his crumpled, burnt, and bloody body, and he could see a number of Vietcong who were searching and stripping his him: "I could see me... it was like looking at a manikin laying there... I was burnt up and there was blood all over the place... I could see the Vietcong. I could see the guy pull my boots off. I could see the rest of them picking up various things... I was like a spectator... It was about four or five in the afternoon when our own troops came. I could hear and see them approaching... I could see me... It was obvious I was burnt up. I looked dead... they put me in a bag... transferred me to a truck and then to the morgue. And from that point, it was the embalming process. I was on that table and a guy was telling a couple of jokes about those USO girls... all I had on was bloody undershorts... he placed my leg out and made a slight incision and stopped... he checked my pulse and heartbeat again and I could see that too...It was about that point I just lost track of what was taking place.... [until much later] when the chaplain was in there saying everything was going to be all right.... I was no longer outside. I was part of it at this point" (reported in Wilson, 1987, pp 113-114; and Sabom, 1982, pp 81-82).
Moreover, some surgery patients also claim to "leave their bodies" and recall seeing not just the events occurring below, but in one case, dirt on top of a light fixture (Ring 1980). "It was filthy. And I remember thinking, 'Got to tell the nurses about that."
Did the above surgical patient or Lisa or Army Specialist Bayne really float above and observe their bodies and the events taking place below? Or did they merely transpose what they heard (e.g. conversations, noises, etc.) and then visualize, imagine, or hallucinate an accompanying and plausible scenario? This seems likely, even in regard to the "filthy" light fixture. On the other hand, not all those who have an "out of body" hear conversations, voices, or even sounds. Rather, they may be enveloped in silence.
"I was struck from behind...That's the last thing I remember until I was above the whole scene viewing the accident. I was very detached. This was the amazing thing about it to me... I could see my shoe which was crushed under the car and I thought: Oh no. My new dress is ruined... I don't remember hearing anything. I don't remember anybody saying anything. I was just viewing things...like I floated up there..." (Sabom, 1982; p. 90). Moreover, even individuals born blind experience these "near death" hallucinations.
18. Fear and Out-of-Body Experiences
"The next thing I knew I wasn't in the truck anymore; I was looking down from 50 to 100 feel in the air." "I had a clear image of myself... as though watching it on a television screen." "I had a sensation of floating. It was almost like stepping out of reality. I seemed to step out of this world" (Noyes and Kletti 1977).
19. Hippocampal Hyperactivation and Astral Projection
Feelings of fear and terror are mediated by the amygdala, whereas the capacity to cognitively map, or visualize one's position and the position of other objects and individuals in visual-space is dependent on the hippocampus (Nadel, 1991; Joseph, 1996; O'Keefe, 1976; Wilson and McNaughton, 1993). The hippocampus contains "place" neurons which are able to encode one's position and movement in space.
The hippocampus, therefore, can create a cognitive map of an individuals environment and their movements within it. Presumably it is via the hippocampus that an individual can visualize themselves as if looking at their body from afar, and can remember and thus see themselves engaged in certain actions, as if one were an outside witness (Joseph, 1996). However, under conditions of hyperactivation (such as in response to extreme fear) it appears that the hippocampus may create a visual hallucination of that "cognitive map" such that the individual may "experience" themselves as outside their body, observing all that is occurring.
Again, it has been repeatedly demonstrated that hyperactivation or electrical stimulation of the amygdala-hippocampus-temporal lobe, can cause some individuals to report they have left their bodies and are hovering upon the ceiling staring down (Daly 1958; Jackson and Stewart 1899; Joseph, 1996; Penfield 1952; Penfield and Perot 1963; Williams 1956). That is, their ego and sense of personal identity appears to split off from their body, such that they may feel as if they are two different people, one watching, the other being observed.
20. The Evolution of Dream Consciousness
That so many people, regardless of culture or antiquity, have similar dreams and hallucinations, is presumably due to all possessing a limbic system and temporal lobe that is organized similarly. Of course, many of these experiences are also colored by one's cultural background and differences in thinking patterns.
However, we should ask: is it really a hallucination if someone experiences a dissociation of consciousness and floats above their body and can later accurately described what was taking place and the appearance of those around them? Is it really a hallucination if an individual can see inside his hand and watch the blood cells swishing through his blood vessel? If one of the great presidents in the history of the United States dreams of his death 13 days before he is assassinated, was it just a dream?
There are numerous reports of individuals who claim to have dreamed about future events which then took place, including deaths, tragedies, mass murders, horrific accidents, and environmental catastrophes (Barker 1967; Jung 1945, 1964; Wiseman 2011). Yet, given that six billion people dream multiple dreams every night, it could be argued that we should not be surprised that a few of these dreams just happen to accurately coincide with what takes place. These are just chance coincidences, which, when considering the billions of dreams dreamed nightly, should be dismissed as meaningless and of no significance (Wiseman 2011). Since so few people have these dreams, it should not be concluded that these dreams represent an important cognitive capacity. However, if we apply the same criteria to Einstein's theory of relativity, or the music of Mozart or Beethoven, then the absurdity of this position becomes clear. Certain cognitive capacities are well developed in just a few people.
Another question should also be asked: Why would the brain evolve capabilities which are suppressed? Why did neural structures evolve which can process multiple sensations simultaneously, but then come to be inhibited by serotonin? Why would activation of specific brain areas result in the sensation of having left their body, or being privy to cosmic wisdom, or witnessing events and entities which appear to be from other dimensions or realities?
These experiences are made possible by the brain. They must serve an adaptive function. These capabilities must have evolved following natural selection. Why would we evolve the ability to hallucinate or dream about that which supposedly does not exist? Why should we have evolved the ability to hallucinate that we have left our bodies, or can see inside our hands, or dream that a friend will tragically die days before his accidental death?
One possibility is the human brain is de-evolving, and has lost or is losing capabilities which served a more adaptive purpose in ancient humans 30,000 to 10,000 years ago--ancient humans (the Cro-Magnon) whose brain was 1/3 larger in size than the modern brain! The Cro-Magnon men stool 6 ft tall on average, and the Cro-Magnon people created the magnificent underground cathedrals of art which first began to appear 30,000 years ago.
Comparison of modern human skull superimposed on Cro-Magnon skull (Left). Cro-Magnon skull (Right). The Cro-Magnon brain was 1/3 larger on average, than the modern human brain.
Conversely, it may be that these are capacities which are still evolving, but which at the present stage of human evolution, the human brain is unable to utilize adaptively. Consider, the evolution of language. Certainly, Australopithecus, Homo habilis, Homo erectus, and Neaderthals did not engage in complex conversations (Joseph 1996, 2000, 2001). We can surmise based on indirect evidence, that the language capabilities of these ancient hominids and humans may have been limited to grunts, groans, screams, and a variety of emotional sounds (Joseph 2000). Whatever language abilities ancestral species evolved prior to 100,000 years ago were primitive manifestations of what was yet to evolve, i.e. grammatical speech, reading, writing, and associated modes of abstract thinking, such as math. Although the rudimentary foundations had been laid long ago, these were only primitive steps toward what was later to more fully evolve.
It can be surmised that if humans continue to evolve, that maybe 100,000 years from now they will possess a brain which is able to fully utilize capacities which the modern brain is, as yet, unable to master. Or, just as the brain has shrunk by 1/3 in size since the ending of the Paleolithic, that it may continue to lose capacities due to advances in technology which will increasingly render reading, writing, speaking, or creative endeavors obsolete.
Based on the evidence marshaled here and elsewhere, it can be inferred that not all dreams and hallucinations are dreams and hallucinations. They are mental capabilities which are de-evolving or still evolving, and which are or were destined to serve a specific purpose: Lifting the veil so we can gaze deeply into the past, the future, and the unknown.
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