Supersenses In Dreams

The question of whether we have supersenses is disputed in some scientific circles. Joseph Bullman, director of ‘The Secrets of Sleep,’ a recent UK Channel 4 TV series, gives an interesting comment on this. While researching the series Bullman travelled to America. Searching through the books on dreams in the Los Angeles Public Library he saw an entry called ‘Psychic Dreams’ that caught his eye. It was in a book titled The Encyclopaedia of Sleep and Dreaming, and the passage read:

“A woman who described herself as having frequent out-of-body experiences spent several nights being monitored in a sleep laboratory. One night she awakened from sleep and correctly reported a five-digit number that had been placed out of sight on a high shelf above her bed. She reported that she saw it while floating above her body.”

Bullman’s aim for the series was to report in a popular way what the experts knew and did not know about the subject of sleep and dreams. So in reading about a woman who was observed in laboratory conditions to read a hidden five-digit number while asleep, he wondered why the experiment wasn’t famous. Why wasn’t it seen as an enormous breakthrough, like Crick and Watson’s discovery of DNA structure? After all, the implications of what the woman did are astonishing!

It took Bullman six months to discover who did the experiment and track him down. In visiting sleep-lab after sleep-lab nobody had even heard of the experiment. Then one of his researchers found mention of it in an obscure academic journal. The author was Dr. Charles T. Tart who wrote the book Altered States of Consciousness.(6) Tart had wired ‘Miss Z’ – the subject – to an EEG machine to watch her brain wave patterns as she slept. He had taken a random number, written it on a piece of paper, sealed it in an envelope, climbed up a step-ladder, and placed the envelope on a shelf high above Miss Z’s head.

On the first three nights Miss Z reported that she had not been able to leave her body to view the envelope. On the fourth night she said she had managed and correctly told the number – 25132. Tart had also instructed Miss Z to look at the clock on the wall when she experienced leaving her body, so he could check this against the EEG reading. He describes the reading as, “ unlike anything anyone had seen before. The brainwave recordings on the EEG appeared to show that when she saw the five-digit number, her brain was both awake and asleep at the same time.” (7)

Not only does Tart’s experiment with Miss Z show there is a physiological and neurological basis for an out of the body experience – OBE – but it also shows how, in Bullman’s words,

“ scientists who come up with results that challenge conventional beliefs are ostracised by the academic establishment. This work, I discovered, did indeed have revolutionary implications for mainstream science. And, precisely because of this, it had been all but ignored.”

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