Autoscopy (psychological effect): when you see yourself “from the outside”

The brain is still one of the most enigmatic organs, if not the most, in the entire human body.. Although it knows practically all the tasks it performs, from allowing us to perform physical processes for the activity of our body to all intellectual and psychological processes, the brain still contains many mysteries concerning its functioning in it. -even.

Autoscopy belongs to that category of phenomena in which the brain “lies” the person. Specifically, getting the person to perceive themselves from the outside, as if they were another person, to see and feel outside their own body.

What is autoscopy? Definition and characteristics

Autoscopy or autoscopic phenomenon as such is a subjective mental experience. Specifically, it refers to a series of sensory experiences in which the person feels like they are seeing their own body from an extracorporeal perspective.

In other words, the subject also appears to be looking at himself in a mirror, even though he thinks he is awake.

Characteristics of autoscopic phenomena

For an autoscopy to be classified as such, these three factors must be provided:

  • disembodiment: To experience the exit of his own body.
  • Impression of seeing the world and from another angle, but with an egocentric visual-spatial point of view.
  • See the body itself from this perspective.

There is one experiment, classified as an autoscopic phenomenon which has gained considerable fame thanks to both literature, film and television, is the so-called “ extracorporeal experience ”, in which the person refers to having left their body and observed it from above.

But there are several types of autoscopies that are categorized differently, depending on the person’s awareness of their own body. We explain them below.

Types of autoscopies

Four types of autoscopic experiences are known depending on what the person perceives. They are as follows.

1. Autoscopic hallucination

In this type of hallucination, the person can see themselves twice as much but without identifying with them.. That is, during this experience, the person does not perceive that his consciousness has left his body, but rather perceives it as a double, as if it were another independent person. There is even the possibility that he will come to perceive him as another version of the same person; which can be varied well-being younger, older or with some different specific facial characteristics.

2. Extracorporeal experience (OBE)

In the extracorporeal or extracorporeal experience, the subject has the sensation of floating projected out of his body.. During this experience the person feels that he is out of where he should be, that his “I” is outside his own body.

Unlike autoscopic hallucination, in extracorporeal experience the person identifies the body they are seeing as their own.

A very characteristic feature of this experience, and similarly related in all people who have had this experience, is that they observe themselves from a higher point of view, as if they were supported on their own body.

This phenomenon is closely associated with different types of meditation and near death experiences.

3. Heautoscopy

Heautoscopies are phenomena in which the person experiences a form of intermediate hallucination between autoscopy and extracorporeal experience. The subject can perceive a double self but is not able to discover which body to identify with, he does not know exactly which body he is in.

People who have already experienced this phenomenon say that they feel in control of both body and head.

4. Sense of presence

There is extensive debate on whether or not such experiences should be classified as autoscopic.. However, among the four types of phenomena, this one can be the most common or the most experienced in the population.

In the sense of presence, people do not see a duplicate of their body, but perceive the physical presence of another person very close to them.

Symptoms perceived by the affected person

Experiencing any of these events is a very complex thing, as there are many systems, perceptions, and sensations involved.

Having an autoscopic experience with all its intensity takes more than just seeing something that the person knows is not real. In addition to the visual hallucination as such, other auditory and even tactile sensory variables must appear.

Also, during the phenomenon of autoscopy, the hallucinations described above are accompanied by hallucinations of the vestibular system. It is the system which, along with other proprioception systems, it informs us about the position of our body in space. In these experiments, this system seems to deceive the person; make her feel in another place or another position that does not correspond to the real one.

Finally, alongside all these phenomena, a strong feeling can appear that the consciousness is in another place, as if it had moved to another place.

Causes and associated disorders

Experiencing a mirage as curious as autoscopy does not necessarily mean that there is psychopathology associated with it. These hallucinations can appear without warning for several reasons:

  • Lack of sound
  • Diseases that occur with very high fever
  • neurological damage
  • Substance use
  • Transient imbalance in body chemistry

The study of these autoscopic phenomena suggests that there is something flexible about the way the brain perceives our bodily being, so it is able to modify it.

Regarding the neurobiological origin of this class of experiences, the type of experience indicates that areas of sensory association are involved. These theories are based on the fact that autoscopy is a rich, comprehensive and convincing experience; that is, it would be an altered perception derived from different sensory systems.

Specifically, there are some more specific areas of the brain such as the temporoparietal junction which supports vestibular system processes and multisensory information. In addition, it also participates in the information of the limbic system and thalamic connections, so that everything indicates that this is an essential area for an altered walk of the same to end up drifting in all this kind of phenomena.

Associated disorders: negative autoscopy

Knowledge of a related psychiatric disorder called negative autoscopy or negative heautoscopy. It is a psychological manifestation in which the patient fails to see his reflection when looking at himself in a mirror.

In these cases, although the people around him can see the image, and even show it, the person says they cannot see anything.

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