From the ancient Greek autos (self) and skopeein (to see) meaning 'seeing oneself', Autoscopy it is the alleged phenomenon and experience — or perhaps visual hallucination or psychotic episode — of seeing one's face, upper or whole body in external space from within one's physical body, or from an external point of view (out-of-body experiences, OBEs). The 'double' may also be felt, but not seen, in peripersonal space in the feeling of a presence (FOP).
Generally, Autoscopy is the incident of seeing yourself from a position outside of your body.
Autoscopy comprises a tetrad (seeing oneself, doubling, OBEs and FOPs) of loosely related experiences. These experiences are sometimes co-occurrent in some disorders or anomalous conscious states but are thought to involve different underlying cognitive-neural mechanisms.
This peculiar phenomenon has puzzled humankind from time immemorial and is abundant in the folklore, mythology, and spiritual narratives of most ancient and modern societies. Descriptions of the phenomena date back to Aristotle, but medical accounts, however, began in the mid-nineteenth century.
Autoscopy is associated with astral travel, astral projection, doppelganger effect, and near-death experiences. The word itself, dating from the Mesmeric age, was coined by neurologist Charles Féré, and originally he applied it to the vision his patients saw of their double in a morbid state. This is external Autoscopy, as contrasted by Baron du Potet to internal Autoscopy: selfdiagnosis in a trance. Dr. Sollier wrote a monograph, Les Phénomènes D’Autoscopie (Paris, 1903), on the subject. Eventually the term came to denote the power of somnambules to see their own organs and give a description of their state.
Autoscopy and out of body experiences sometimes share symptoms with pathological conditions such as schizophrenia. Some people who experience OBEs worry that they are "going mad." Modern research conducted by Dr Susan Blackmore and published in 1986 suggested that there was no proven statistical link between schizophrenia and experience of "classic" out of body experiences.
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Sources: (1) Spence, Lewis, An Encyclopedia of Occultism, Carol Publishing Group; (2) Muldoon, Sylvan Joseph and Carrington, Hereward, Projection of the Astral Body, Kessinger Publishing; (3) Blackmore, Susan, Out-of-Body Experiences in Schizophrenia, Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease (1986); (4) Schmicking, Daniel and Gallagher, Shaun (Editors), Handbook of Phenomenology and Cognitive Science, Springer Publishing.
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