CHAPTER 8 - The Science of Altered States

Author: Tom Campbell. Link to original: (English).
Tags: Campbell, всеобщая теория Submitted by pollynevergirl 09.04.2012. Public material.
Part of "My Big TOE" book by Tom Campbell. We're translating it with author's permission. In this chapter Tom Campbell tells his story of working with Robert Monroe.

Translations of this material:

into Russian: Глава 8. Наука об изменённых состояниях сознания. Translated in draft, editing and proof-reading required.
Submitted for translation by pollynevergirl 09.04.2012


The lab building contained, among other rooms, a control room and three isolation chambers. One chamber had been constructed with complete electromagnetic shielding so the earth’s magnetic field and other stray radiation would not wash-out or overpower the effect that carefully controlled electromagnetic fields might have on altered states of consciousness. Each chamber was constructed to provide as much sensory deprivation as possible and was connected to the control room by audio and a host of measuring devices.

I borrowed some unused, sophisticated and expensive electrostatic sensing equipment and audio signal generators and Bob purchased a complete EEG (electroencephalograph) setup and a professional audio mixer. Bill Yost brought in an exceptionally sensitive high input-impedance voltmeter. Dennis and I designed and made a device for tracking Galvanic Skin Response (GSR). Before long we had a reasonably well-equipped lab to work in, even if it did have solder splatters all over the floor.

We measured Bob. He measured us. One key datum Bob had derived from his personal study of out-of-body experience (OOBE) was the perception of a 4 Hz oscillation within his body and consciousness just before exiting his body and sometimes just after returning to it. Experimentation showed that when an instrumented person was caught in that pulsation state in our lab, the EEG indicated the brainwaves collected by multiple pairs of electrodes were unusually coherent (in phase), collectively synchronized, and modulated at 4 Hz. The GSR reading would begin oscillating at 4 Hz as well. Bob intuitively knew that this pulsation state was a key artifact, and we set out to reproduce it – capture it and hold it steady, on demand, and under our control.

A literature search had turned up a few old scholarly studies of out-of-body experience, which was also known as “astral projection.” A half dozen highly respected, well-credentialed, medical and technical professionals had been seriously studying out-of-body experiences for decades, mostly around the turn of the last century. A book by Dr. Hereward Carrington and Sylvan Muldoon entitled The Projection of the Astral Body, published in 1929 by Samuel Weiser of New York, suggested the pineal gland was somehow involved. Astral Projections: Out of the Body Experiences, by Oliver Fox and The Study and Practice of Astral Projection by Dr. Robert Crookall (University Press, 1960); agreed that the pineal gland was perhaps a key organ affecting the out-of-the-body experience.

We were in the cut and try mode of operation and would try anything at least once. Dennis and I always applied any unusual experimental devices to ourselves first. Only after we tested how it affected us, and became convinced of its worth and safety, would we try it on others to gain a wider sample – friends, visitors, passers by, anyone, we were not picky. We were looking for something that would work with anybody and everybody.

For example, one of the things we tried was to shake the pineal gland at 4 Hz. We built a huge capacitor with 2-ft2 plates to generate a uniform and strong electric field. We were committed and dedicated to the pursuit of our quest – risk taking was not an issue. With something like a 250,000 volt, 4 Hz AC signal being fed to the plates, I stuck my head between them and tried to reach a working altered state. I stayed there about an hour or so experimenting with different voltages and frequencies against different altered states, hoping for a resonant effect to occur that would have a dramatic affect on the state of my consciousness. Suddenly I began to feel woozy. My head started to wobble dangerously between the exposed metal plates. The experiment was stopped. I had a terrible headache for about three weeks.

We worked with negative ion generators to provide controlled backgrounds, and used ultra-high impedance input volt meters to study the changing electrical potentials generated by a body in an altered state vs. a normal one. We measured the dynamic buildup of static charge around our heads with borrowed equipment as we eased in and out of various brain-wave configurations measured by the EEG.

It may seem a little like mad scientists toiling in their hilltop laboratory at the midnight hour but we were as serious, sober, and straight as our counterparts working traditional problems in universities everywhere. We were careful about our science. Our methodology was good. Were we cautious and conservative? No, we were not cautious. If there was any reasonable chance of gaining knowledge, we took it. We were hard driven to find honest answers – real, verifiable, repeatable results. We wanted to know, and this was the chance of a lifetime to find out. We were fearless in our pursuit of truth because the risks were totally invisible to us – sometimes, the naivete and brash enthusiasm of youth has its advantages.

Meanwhile, while Dennis and I were working in and on the lab, Bob was leading us and teaching us to experience and explore the nonphysical. He would first lead us into a deep relaxation state, then using visualization we would begin to focus our thoughts, center our attention – let go of our bodies and the environment. These exercises produced various states of consciousness that were similar to the meditation state I had learned to achieve with TM. Bob thought that perhaps there was opportunity on the boundary between being awake and asleep. We practiced hovering on that edge. Put the body asleep and keep the mind awake simultaneously. Eventually we got good at it and it did not take us long to get there. After developing a basic competency in defining and establishing willful repeatability of a half dozen altered states of consciousness, we began experimenting and exploring the functionality of each state. Each mind-state had its own unique functionality – things you could do, abilities you had, while in that state.