I was meeting with a doctor friend of mine who happens to be one of the world’s experts on narcolepsy, a sleep disorder. He’s published over 100 articles on the subject in medical journals and he is often invited to medical schools to guest lecture on the topic. During his visits he regularly finds himself in the situation where a medical student will present a case of narcolepsy in front of an audience with the narcoleptic patient present. My friend is then supposed to look brilliant and ask the patient an uncommon question that brings something of interest to light to further the discussion.
Typically, the medical student will have missed an important consideration in the presentation and my friend will only need to ask the patient a question or two that a more experienced practitioner would have asked. However, during one such presentation, the student’s presentation was complete. As an expert my friend had one of two choices – congratulate the medical student on a fine presentation and admit that, as the expert, he had nothing to add or ask the patient a question that is considered taboo in medical circles.
His ego got the better of him. Not wanting to look as though he, the expert, was no smarter than the student, he asked the patient, “Please tell us about your out-of-body experiences.” The patient was quite surprised, as was the audience, but she was glad to respond. No doctor had ever asked her that question before.
Narcoleptics fall asleep at inappropriate times, suffer from cataplexy during which strong emotions cause loss of muscle tone in part or all of the body, have sleep onset dreaming and have a condition called sleep paralysis, which I’ll describe in more detail. During dream sleep a group of neurons is activated that prevents muscle activity to prevent the dreamer from moving. This is a protective mechanism that restricts the dreamer so they can’t leave their bed and act out their dream and potentially harm themselves in the process. In narcolepsy, the activation of that group of neurons persists for an additional minute or two after the dream has ended.
So, imagine if a narcoleptic awoke right out of dream. Typically they would experience paralysis and not be able to move for a minute or so, which is quite frightening until they learn that it won’t persist. But what if they awoke from a dream and realized that they were late for school and needed to jump right out bed. That’s when it happens – they jump right out of their body and experience what it’s like to be an energetic being free of their physical constraints. For most of us, that’s hard to imagine, but not for most narcoleptics and some other folks for reasons, present-day medicine does not understand or like to discuss.
to be continued…