Cannot Hear Sounds during NDE-OBE

©G.M. Woerlee, 2005–2024

After returning to physical consciousness subsequent to having undergone a near death experience, or an out-of-body experience, many people report having “heard” subsequently verifiable sounds and speech while ostensibly disembodied. For example, Penny Sartori, a near-death experience researcher, once published an account of her interview of a man resuscitated for cardiac arrest in the hospital where she worked. This man described hearing verified spoken speech while his conscious mind was apparently disembodied during an out-of-body experience.

Penny: On the monitor next to your bed was something hidden on top. Could you see what it was?
[Patient:] No, I’ll be honest with you, Pen, I didn’t look. I didn’t twist my head back that way; I was just looking at my side. I could see you and the doctor and two to three others around me. Pen, if that’s death, it’s wonderful, there’s no pain at all.
Penny: Do you recall hearing anything while in this state?
[Patient:] Only the words that my father spoke, and the gentleman saying, “He isn’t ready yet.” Going back … I heard voices down below but couldn’t make out what they were saying. Only thing … something about my eye, life there. … I don’t know what he meant by that.
Penny: I remember that. It was the consultant actually, and he looked in your eye and he shone a torch and he said, ‘“Yes they are reacting, but unequal.”
[Patient:] Yes, something like that, and then to my father, “He isn’t ready yet; he’s got to go back.” (page 74 in Sartori 2006, square brackets [Patient:] inserted by author for clarity)

Another example was related by a woman called “Dawn” who underwent a out-of-body experience when her breathing stopped while desperately ill due to pneumonia.

The next thing I was above myself near the ceiling looking down. One of the nurses was saying in what seemed a frantic voice, ‘Breathe, Dawn, breathe.’ A doctor was pressing my chest, drips were being disconnected, everyone was rushing round. I couldn’t understand the panic. I wasn’t in pain. Then they pushed my body out of the room to the theatre. I followed my body out of the ITU and then left on what I can only describe as a journey of a lifetime. (page 35 in Fenwick 1996)

Solid matter and the nature of sound

The disembodied soul, or separable consciousness of a person undergoing an out-of-body experience does not interact with physical matter at all. We know this, because it can effortlessly pass through the solid matter of the body, as well as through solid walls and even the reinforced concrete floors of a relatively modern hospital (Case 1 in Ring 1993).

She told me how she floated up over her body, viewed the resuscitation effort for a short time and then felt herself being pulled up through several floors of the hospital. She then found herself above the roof and realized she was looking at the skyline of Hartford. She marveled at how interesting this view was and out of the corner of her eye she saw a red object. It turned out to be a shoe… (Case 1. in Ring 1993)

Sounds forming speech and other sounds are no more than air pressure variations varying in intensity from subtle to powerful. We hear these air pressure variations as sound, because the eardrums of our physical ears move back and forth in response to these pressure variations. But if disembodied souls can pass effortlessly through the very dense and solid physical matter of reinforced concrete, or other solid matter, this means that the separated soul is unresponsive to pressure variations transmitting and forming sounds in air. Accordingly, the disembodied soul, or separable consciousness, is effectively deaf to physical sounds such as speech, music, or other sounds transmitted through air.


So if there is a soul, or separable immaterial consciousness, then it can only perceive sounds heard and verified by other people through the senses of the body. This is a logical conclusion derived from known physical laws.


  1. Fenwick P, Fenwick E, (1996), The Truth in the Light: An Investigation of Over 300 Near Death Experiences, published by Headline Book Publishing, ISBN 0 7472 4668 8.
  2. Ring K, Lawrence M, (1993), Further evidence for veridical perception during near-death experiences. Journal of Near-Death Studies, 11: 223-229.
  3. Sartori P, et al, (2006), A prospectively studied near-death experience with corroborated out-of-body perceptions and unexplained healing. Journal of Near-Death Studies, 25: 69-84.

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