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Autoscopy is the experience in which an individual perceives the surrounding environment from a different perspective, from a position outside of his or her own body. Autoscopy comes from the ancient Greek αὐτός ("self") and σκοπός ("watcher").
Autoscopy has intrigued humankind from time immemorial and is abundant in the folklore, mythology, and spiritual narratives of most ancient and modern societies. Cases of autoscopy are commonly encountered in modern psychiatric practice.
Experiences - are characterized by the presence of the following three factors:
Laboratory of Cognitive Neuroscience, École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Lausanne, and Department of Neurology, University Hospital, Geneva, Switzerland, have reviewed some of the classical precipitating factors of autoscopie. These are sleep, drug abuse, and general anesthesia as well neurobiology. They have compared them with recent findings on neurological and neurocognitive mechanisms of the autoscopy. The reviewed data suggest that autoscopies are due to functional disintegration of lower-level multisensory processing and abnormal higher-level self-processing at the temporo-parietal junction. The researchers argue that the experimental investigation of the interactions between these multisensory and cognitive mechanisms in autoscopies and related illusions in combination with neuroimaging and behavioral techniques might further our understanding of the central mechanisms of awareness and self-consciousness.
A related autoscopy disorder known as negative autoscopy (or negative heautoscopy) is a psychological phenomenon in which the sufferer does not see his or her reflection when looking in a mirror. Although the sufferer's image may be seen by others, he or she claims not to see it. This was briefly and scientifically referred to as "Maartechen Syndrome" due to comments resulting from experiment that illustrated this disorder.