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The Extraordinary Life of Dr Alexander Tanous – An Experiencer Ahead of His Time - Part-1

The prophesied birth of a psychic

Among the Out-of-Body Experiencers (OBErs) who achieved notoriety for their voluntarily induced Out-of-Body Experiences (OBEs), Dr Alexander Tanous ("Alex") (1926-1990) is possibly one of the most remarkable individuals. Truly, the man was out of the ordinary. His parents were both psychics. His birth was prophesied. Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931), the renowned Lebanese-American writer and poet, predicted in the early 1920s to Alex's father that he would have a son of: "exceptional gifts, of great abilities" (Tanous & Ardman, 1976).

Alex indeed became an extraordinary psychic with incredible OBE abilities who was studied by US government agencies, the American Society for Psychical Research (ASPR), the Institute of Bioenergetic Analysis and several Universities. His academic background was equally impressive, considering he studied for three Masters and a PhD. From it, Alex developed a general theory of paranormal abilities, which he has taught to allow others to emulate his skills. Really, the man became legendary.

Words not taken for granted

Alex's biography, which is reported in his book Beyond Coincidence: One Man's Experiences with Psychic Phenomena, transcribes an incredible account of his experiences. The book reports his words in a genuine spirit. They have not been taken for granted. Evidence of 22 transcripts of field research conversations, contacts and interviews conducted by Professor Fred M. Frohock, a researcher and Professor of Political Science at Syracuse University, who studied the life of Dr. Alexander Tanous, provides credible testimonies of researchers who had tested or testified how uncommon and true Alex's abilities were (Frohock, 1997)— a testament of his character and honesty. More so, Karlis Osis (1917-1997), who was a leading figure in OBE research, regarded Alex as:

"the real thing, and the best subject for OBEs that he had ever worked with or seen".

It's not a light comment considering Osis worked with OBE giants such as Blue Harary. Certainly, Alex became a recognized, sensitive, extensively tested laboratory Out-of-Body Experiencer (OBErs) subject and, most of all, a scholar.

The natural experiences of an OBEr

If Alex experienced remarkable OBEs, his experiences started at the age of 5 when he apparently saw his "other self" while jumping down some stairs with an autoscopic experience. At the age of 9, he reported having perceived his doctor's post-anaesthesia during an operation in his appendix, possibly being a Near-Death like experience. If these experiences intrigued him, this experiential onset was only a taste of things to come throughout his life.

Alex described his OBEs as: "a separation of my consciousness from [the] body, which is able to perceive on its own, in other words, it is able to see [the] body down here where [it is] lying or… go anywhere in the world and perceived what is there and bring back the information" (Auerbach, 2019). It was during what Alex described as "brief, instantaneous astral projections", that Alex made many descriptions. Some of these being later confirmed.

Alex during Osis and McKormic Experiment

Alex during an OBE experiment with electroencephalogram (EEG) recording at the ASPR

His accuracy led him to work with the Police, leading psychic investigations in more than fifty criminal cases. Alex even made descriptions of the death of a person while it was happening! This work inevitably led him to work in remote viewing experiments for the Army Intelligence, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Secret Service (Frohock, 1997).

Alex used OBEs in many ways: to detect archaeological artefacts and to explore the sea. For example, he reports having an OBE at the bottom of the Sargasso Sea carrying research for a documentary about the Bermuda Triangle. An experience where he talked of the possibly of meeting Alien species colonizing the sea in his astral body (Bond, 1979). More interestingly, from an experiential point of view regarding OBE benefits, and an often forgotten ability, Alex also saw astral projections as a tool an experienced person could use to heal people.

Alex became equally famous for his many bilocations: a condition whereby the projector appears to manifest physically away from the body while still being perceived in the physical body, which often remains in a static, motionless condition at the same time. Indeed, the physical manifestation of his astral body was testified to be seen by third parties on many occasions [1].

Alex also experienced four Near-Death Experiences (NDEs). In an interview recorded with Auerbach (2019), who worked for two years in the 1980s with Alex Tanous at the ASPR in New York, he described a text-book NDE starting with "a separation of energy, consciousness" and going "to another dimension" which he refers as an experience that "was so beautiful, it was energy, and this energy was coming towards me, just filling me up… I saw my grandfather which I had never seen. And suddenly I became all my life, and it was a very, very beautiful experience. I realized that I had to do something to it… And from that day on, I never feared death."

The life of a sensitive-projector

But Alex wasn't only a famous OBEr; he was equally a sensitive projector – an OBEr who developed Extra-Sensory Perceptions (ESP) – expressing extreme polyvalence with his ESP abilities [2].

During his student years, he entertained students with psychic readings using psychometry to read information from objects [3]. During the entirety of his life, Alex predicted many events, some years before they occurred (pre-cognition), including the uncanny perception of many deaths of unknown people, as well as many famous personalities such as Robert Kenedy. He predicted the unsuccessful landing of Apollo 13 that he reported would be due to an explosion in October 1969—an announcement made life in front of an auditorium of more than 9000 individuals and re-affirmed to the National Enquirer, printing the prediction on January 18th, 1970, before the Apollo mission was held [4].

Alex further demonstrated capacities for producing telekinetic effects (e.g., stopping watches and moving objects at will) and had verified experiences of retro-cognitions (i.e., perception of the past) describing historical events where he was not physically present and that were confirmed by third parties who had personally testified the events he described. More so, Alex expressed mediumistic capacities such as clairvoyance, relaying important information from departed persons to the living and manifested ectoplasmic capacities (e.g., inducing physical manifestations of many sorts).

Not the least, Alex was a healer who diagnosed illness and healed patients in cases where conventional medicine had failed. In most of these cases, Alex would enter into spontaneous energetic syntony with the person, a condition which would yield insights into the diagnosis and prognosis of the illness. And it as a healer that Alex, like shamans before him, spoke of "battles" with "spirits and ghosts" as well as the "de-psyching" of haunted houses occupied by poltergeists.

Nonetheless, Alex never sought fame. In fact, there were many times in his life when he would have relinquished his gifts willingly. Nevertheless, from the 70s, his reputation as a psychic led to many more invitations to lecture at major universities and organizations around the world, becoming the focus of magazines and newspaper articles, being the guest on many radio and television shows, and participating in numerous documentaries on psychic phenomena [5].

The life of a scholar

Alex's ESP achievements cannot be overlooked by his intellectual accomplishments. The expression of those certainly cannot highlight more his pursuit of the truth. Alex held three master's degrees and a PhD in Divinity [6] ― he completed his master's degree in philosophy in 1961, his master's degree in theology in 1964, his Doctorate in Divinity in 1965 and then pursued another master's degree in counselling, completed in 1973.

Between 1965 and 1967, Alex taught theology at Manhattan College and St. Johns University, making many live demonstrations, testing his students for ESP with some remarkable successes, and then at St. Anselm's Catholic college up to 1969. Alex equally taught the first ESP course at the Thornton Academy, which became one of the first elective courses with a parapsychological emphasis, giving credit for entering University.

The life of a leading precursor as a psychic-psychologist

Alex equally worked as a certified school psychologist in the State of Massachusetts, becoming a leading precursor of the advent of psychic psychotherapy, where patients are diagnosed through psychic means and offered a psychological diagnosis, working alongside psychiatrists and psychologists (For more information, see Tanous et al., 2019). It is within this period that Alex was carrying out research at the Holy Ghost Hospital in Boston with the terminally ill to understand better OBE states near-death—an interest triggered by the description of his brother's own OBE before he died.

The call of destiny

This research led Alex to meet Dr Karlis Osis from the ASPR, who, at the time, was researching deathbed visions of physicians and nurses. This meeting steered his association as a researcher-experiencer with the ASPR from 1968 until he died in 1990, an association that was motivated by the fact that both researchers believed that successful OBE research might provide new evidence for the survival of death. More so, because Alex intimately recognized that research into OBE experiences could lead experiencers to recognize their "immorality" and, as such, fulfil their destiny as part of the human race (Auerbach, 2019).

The life of an experiencer-researcher

During that period, the ASPR's researchers began detailed studies of Alex in a lab setting. Alex believed these conditions were crucial for advancing OBE research. He thought this approach would not only enhance OBE studies and overall scientific understanding by integrating different fields of study but also offer researchers valuable perspectives on conducting research from the viewpoint of someone who experiences these phenomena. More so, Alex equally understood that science would lead these experiences to be more factual to people until they had their own experiences (Auerbach, 2019).

But of the most interesting OBE research, among the many that were either documented or experimentally tested during his years serving as one of the leading ASPR OBE subjects, is certainly the demonstration of his astonishing perceptual OBE capacities, which, not the least, in my opinion, provided the most credible evidence for the objectivity of the metaphysical body (i.e., astral body) while being captured by strain gage during his OBEs.

At the time, the ASPR's objective was to seek scientific evidence supporting the existence of the soul, notably that something—if at all—would leave the body. Indeed, the conclusion of the study led by the ASPR and researchers Osis and McCormick (1980) and published in the Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research could be considered historical, considering it was the first known experiment of the kind carried under rigorous experimental conditions that would provide proof of the extrasomatic hypothesis (Montenegro, 2015).

The experiment was remarkably simple. In this experiment, Alex was requested to go out of his body, localize himself in a shielded chamber containing extremely sensitive strain-gauge sensors, and look through the window of the optical image device that displayed visual targets. The subject was given the overt task of identifying randomly selected targets displayed in the optical image device while unknown to Alex, the strain-gauge sensors would register any changes in pressure (Osis & McCormick, 1980). The experiment consisted of 197 trials and resulted in 114 hits where the average activation levels showed a significantly higher degree of activation if compared to the 83 misses, extending over 20 sessions. Quite extraordinary.

The worldwide impact of this experiment

To grasp the impact such an experiment had at the time, one can only refer to the fact that the experiment was reported in The Daily News, one of the most widely circulated papers in the United States at the time (Picture Below). The reporter accounted in 1978 the experimentation describing Alex's OBE in the following words: "I recently watched psychic Alex Tanous "leave" his body in an isolation booth at one end of the building, "travel" to a different room and "jump" up and down on two electrically-sensitive boxes that left an impression of his presence". It was quite a statement.

Daily News 1978

To conclude this first part of the exploration into the life and experiences of Dr. Alexander Tanous, we have journeyed through his extraordinary psychic abilities, his impactful collaborations with various research organizations, and his profound out-of-body experiences. His life's narrative intertwines the non-ordinary with the scientific, challenging the boundaries of our understanding of consciousness and human potential. In the second part of this blog, we will delve deeper into the psychology and essence of Alex Tanous as a true experiencer. We will explore his unique personality, his theories on psychic phenomena, and how his experiences and insights offer a transformative perspective on human capabilities and the interconnectedness of all existence.

PhD Candidate,

MSc. Neuroscience,

Sleep Consciousness Researcher.


Auerbach, L. (2019). Remembering Alex Tanous with Archival Video and Loyd Auerbach Youtube, Jeffrey Mishlove

Bond, B. (1979). Alex Tanous: Time, Space and UFOs. Beyond Reality, 10-56.

Frohock, F. H. (1997). Alex Tanous life Research Project.

Montenegro, R. (2015). The Out-of-Body Experiences – An Experiential Anthology (First ed.). Imagens & Letras.

Osis, K., & McCormick, D., L. (1980). Kinetic Effects at Ostensible Location of an Out-of-Body Projection During Perceptual Testing. The Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 74, 319-329.

Tanous, A., & Ardman, H. (1976). Beyond coincidence: one man's experiences with psychic phenomena (1st. ed.). Doubleday.

Tanous, A., Schwinge, E., & Bambrick, A. F. (2019). Psi in Psychotherapy - Conventional and Nonconventional Healing of Mental Illness. White Crow Books.

[1] Although, strictly speaking, some of his accounts of bilocation were not exactly bilocation by the definition provided. [2] If one is possible without the other as indeed such abilities – much like in Near-Death Experience – seem to be necessarily developed and become a true measure of the reality of one’s experience. [3] Alex discovered he was able to absorb the information contained in books by placing them under his pillow at night, which apparently helped him successfully complete some exams (a kind of subconscious psychometric reading). [4]Apollo 13 was the seventh crewed mission in the Apollo space program and the third that was meant to land on the moon. The mission was held between April 11th and 17th, 1970. [5] Indeed, at the time many news paper made articles reporting his predictions. [6] A PhD in Divinity can be described as an interdisciplinary program focused on scholarly and practical mastery of religious traditions, languages, and ministerial skills for diverse leadership roles in religious, social, and academic fields.

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