Keith Harary (1953-) became widely known as a gifted Out-of-Body Experiencer (OBEr), researching the topic at Duke University in the 70s as their primary experimental subject. Truly, having had Out-of-Body Experience (OBE) since childhood and being known to be able to induce OBEs at will, Harary was the perfect subject. Indeed, Harary was considered rational and ingenious—a maverick in more sense than one. OBE researcher Scott Rogo, having worked with Harary between 1965 and 1967, reported the following about his personality:
"[He] is neither theatrical nor boastful of his abilities. He is intrigued with them, yet he purposely avoids reading the reports of others in order to keep from being influenced by them. He views himself as an experimenter… [He] is shy, retiring, sensitive, intelligent, and compassionate…. He rarely talks about his experiences unless asked".
Known at the time as Stuart Blue Harary and often called Blue because of his love for peaceful skies and water, Harary was not only a research participant but an integral member of the research team at Duke having helped design the research protocols he participated in as an undergraduate. In that sense, the groundbreaking OBE research conducted at Duke University played a crucial role in establishing participant researchers' credibility, strongly establishing that one cannot fully comprehend certain human experiences without firsthand experience. Within that context, Duke's research paved the way for a deeper understanding of the complexities of the human mind and consciousness.
From his undergraduate years as an undergraduate at Duke University to his PhD graduation in psychology, Dr Harary carried advanced psychological research continuing his experimental work with hundreds of students, cowriting dozen of articles and books on the subject, including teaching to a wide audience, OBEs and other non-ordinary states, such as lucid dreaming, based on his personal experiences. His career is certainly impressive. He was a research consultant with the American Society for Psychical Research, where he carried research as a subject and a consultant at the Foundation for Research on the Nature of Man, an institution outgrowth of the former Parapsychology Laboratory at Duke University in Durham and intended to act as a clearinghouse for research and a psi training base. His consulting work included working on remote viewing for the famous Stargate project and working at the renowned Menlo Park, California, think tank Stanford Research Institute International (SRI). He organized and was the chairman of the first national "Psychology of Extended Abilities" conferences at the Esalen Institute, a non-profit American retreat centre and community in Big Sur, California, focusing on alternative humanistic education. He worked with giants in the field, carrying experiments with American Physicist Russel Targ at SRI, psychologist Dr Robert Morris, director of the Psychical Research Foundation, and experimental researcher Janet Lee Mitchell.
Dr Harary conducted interesting laboratory experiments with all these researchers, including estimated and precise Out-of-Body (OB) perceptions and was detected by animals and humans during experimental OB settings. More interestingly, Electrophysiological research carried out by Dr Harary and colleagues provided interesting results, although never replicated. The study of the physiological variables associated with OBEs indicated that brain waves during OBEs could not conclusively be classified as light sleep or Rapid Eye Movement (REM). The sleeping subject lacked delta waves in Non-REM stage 3 and 4 (old terminology).
The fact that much of Keith Harary's research on OBEs was not replicated presents an interesting aspect to consider. While replication is a crucial component of scientific inquiry, it is not uncommon for certain phenomena to be challenging to replicate consistently due to their subjective and complex nature. OBEs, in particular, involve highly individualized experiences and although similar phenomenologically they can be influenced by various factors, including personal beliefs, mental states, and environmental conditions. The lack of replication in Harary's research does not diminish the value of his contributions. Instead, it highlights the intricate nature of OBEs and the need for further exploration and investigation. More importantly, although not replicated, Harary's experimental work provided valuable insights into the physiological and perceptual aspects of OBEs. It offered a foundation for future researchers to build upon and encouraged a deeper understanding of the human mind and consciousness.
In conclusion, Keith Harary's perspective on OBEs emphasizes the importance of understanding these phenomena within the framework of normal human experience and the potential of research of mainstream science. His extensive research and personal experiences as an experimenter-researcher led him to believe that if a "higher perceptual, communicative, and thinking capability exists within us, then it cannot be consigned to the psychic and paranormal. It must be understood within the context of normal experience and achievable human potential and considered within the emerging framework of mainstream science".
Dr Keith Harary and psychologist Dr Robert Morris
Harary's work – much like mine – sought to bridge the gap between extraordinary experiences and the modern scientific exploration of human potential. By shedding light on the complexities of the human mind and consciousness, he advocated for a broader understanding of these phenomena and their place within the evolving landscape of scientific inquiry. Ultimately, Harary's contributions have paved the way for a more comprehensive exploration of human capabilities and the integration of extraordinary experiences into our understanding of normal human potential.
Sleep Consciousness Researcher,
Hartwell, J., et al. (1975). A study of the physiological variables associated with out-of-body experiences. Research in Parapsychology 1974. M. J. D., W. G., Roll., The Scarecrow Press, Inc. 4: 127-129.
Harary, K. and P. Weintraub (1989). Have an out-of-body experience in 30 days : the free flight program. New York, St. Martin's Press.