Robert Monroe

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Robert A. Monroe
Robert Allan Monroe

(1915-10-30)October 30, 1915
Indiana, United States
DiedMarch 17, 1995(1995-03-17) (aged 79)
EducationOhio State University (B.A.)
Occupation(s)Radio broadcaster
Organization(s)Monroe Products and The Monroe Institute (founder),
Jefferson Cable Corporation (founder)

Robert Allan Monroe[1] (October 30, 1915 – March 17, 1995) was an American radio broadcasting executive who became known for his ideas about altered states of consciousness and for founding The Monroe Institute which continues to promote those ideas. His 1971 book Journeys Out of the Body is credited with popularizing the term "out-of-body experience".

Monroe developed Hemi-Sync which he claimed could facilitate enhanced brain performance.[2][3][4][5][6]

He was one of the founders of the Jefferson Cable Corporation, the first cable company to cover central Virginia.[7]


Robert Allan Monroe was born in 1915 in Indiana and grew up in Lexington, Kentucky, and Columbus, Ohio. His mother, Georgia Helen Jordan Monroe, was a non-practicing medical doctor, cellist, and piano player. His father, Robert Emmett Monroe, was a professor of Romance Languages who led summer tours to Europe. Monroe had two older sisters, Dorothy and Peggy, and a younger brother, Emmett, who became a medical doctor. Monroe had an early fascination with flying and music.[citation needed]

According to his third book Ultimate Journey,[8] he dropped out of Ohio State University in his sophomore year due to a hospital stay for a facial burn that caused him to fall behind in his studies. During almost a year away from college, a desire to find work led him to become a hobo who rode freight trains. He returned to Ohio State to graduate after having studied pre-med, English, engineering, and journalism.

He married Jeanette, a graduate student and daughter of a lawyer, in 1937, and divorced her in 1938 or 1939. He married Mary Ashworth, a divorcee with a daughter Maria, in 1950 or 1951. They had Bob's only biological child together, daughter Laurie. They divorced in 1968. He then married Nancy Penn Honeycutt, a divorcee with four children. They remained married until her death from breast cancer on August 15, 1992.

Monroe developed ulcers in young adulthood and so was classified 4F (unfit for service) during World War II. He spent the war years working for a manufacturing company that designed a flight-simulator prototype. He wrote for an aviation column in Argosy magazine and was given a job with the National Aeronautic Association (NAA), for whom he produced a weekly radio show called "Scramble!", the primary purpose of which was to interest youth in aviation.

In 1953 Monroe formed RAM Enterprises, a corporation that produced network radio programs, as many as 28 programs monthly, principally in dramatic and popular quiz shows.

In 1956 the firm created a Research and Development division to study the effects of various sound patterns on human consciousness, including the sleep state. Monroe was especially attracted to the concept of sleep-learning. This was a natural direction to take, applying to this new area the audio production methods used in the firm's commercial activity. The purpose was to find more constructive uses for such knowledge than was ordinarily available, and the results of this research have become internationally known.

First out-of-body experiences[edit]

According to his own account, while experimenting with sleep-learning in 1958 Monroe experienced an unusual phenomenon, which he described as sensations of paralysis and vibration accompanied by a bright light that appeared to be shining on him from a shallow angle. Monroe went on to say that this occurred another nine times over the next six weeks, culminating in his first out-of-body experience (OBE). Monroe recorded his account in his 1971 book Journeys Out of the Body and went on to become a prominent researcher in the field of human consciousness.[2][3][4][5] Monroe later authored two more books on his experiments with OBE, Far Journeys (1985) and Ultimate Journey (1994).

The Monroe Institute[edit]

In 1962 RAM enterprises moved to Virginia, and a few years later changed the corporate name to Monroe Industries. In this location it became active in radio station ownership, cable television, and later in the production and sale of audio cassettes. These cassettes were practical expressions of the discoveries made in the earlier and ongoing corporate research program.

In 1985 the company officially changed its name, once again, to Interstate Industries, Inc. This reflected Monroe's analogy of how the use of Hemi-Sync serves as a ramp from the "local road" to the "interstate" in allowing people to go "full steam ahead" in the exploration of consciousness, avoiding all of the stops and starts.

The research subsidiary was divested and established as an independent non-profit organization, The Monroe Institute, later in 1985. Interstate Industries, Inc. remains a privately held company, now doing business as Monroe Products. His daughter, Laurie Monroe, continued her father's program until her death in 2006. Under the current direction of another of Monroe's daughters, Maria Monroe Whitehead, Monroe's stepson, A. J. Honeycutt, and Teresa West, president of Monroe Products, the company's objective is to continue to expand the Hemi-Sync line of products and their benefits into markets worldwide.

The Monroe Institute (TMI) is a nonprofit education and research organization devoted to the exploration of human consciousness, based in Faber, Virginia, United States.[9] Upwards of 20,000 people are estimated to have attended TMI's residential Gateway program during its first thirty years.[10] TMI claims a policy of no dogma or bias with respect to belief system, religion, political or social stance. The institute is housed in several buildings on 300 acres (1.2 km2) of land south of Charlottesville, Virginia, USA.

In 1978, the U.S. military evaluated TMI and arranged to send officers there for OBE training.[11] In 1983, it sent additional officers.[12][13]

The Institute has an affiliated professional membership, and also publishes scientific papers on a subset of its own studies of altered states of consciousness.[14]


In 1994, a front-page article in The Wall Street Journal reported confirmation from the former director of the Intelligence and Security Command of the U.S. Army sending personnel to the institute. It also stated the opinion of the head of the Zen Buddhist temple in Vancouver British Columbia that "Gateway students can reach meditation states in a week that took [me] 30 years of sitting".[15]

A reporter for The Hook, weekly newspaper for Charlottesville, Virginia, who visited The Monroe Institute said, "...with a few exceptions, the only 'normal' people with whom I could fully identify were the trainers, who seemed remarkably well-grounded for people whose day-to-day experiences include astral projection and disembodied spirits".[16]

The reporter also concluded that "there is something significant being developed at the Institute. Whether it's just a brilliant guided meditation complete with trance-inducing stereoscopic sound, or a doorway to a world of spirit entities, I cannot say".[16]


In 1975, Monroe registered the first of several patents[17][18][19] concerning audio techniques designed to stimulate brain functions until the left and right hemispheres became synchronized. Monroe held that this state, dubbed Hemi-Sync (hemispherical synchronization), could be used to promote mental well-being or to trigger an altered state of consciousness. Monroe's concept was based on an earlier hypothesis known as binaural beats and has since been expanded upon a commercial basis by the self-help industry.[20]

Hemi-Sync is short for Hemispheric Synchronization, also known as brainwave synchronization. Monroe indicated that the technique synchronizes the two hemispheres of one's brain, thereby creating a 'frequency-following response' designed to evoke certain effects. Hemi-Sync has been used for many purposes, including relaxation and sleep induction, learning and memory aids, helping those with physical and mental difficulties, and reaching altered states of consciousness through the use of sound.

The technique involves using sound waves to entrain brain waves. Wearing headphones, Monroe claimed that brains respond by producing a third sound (called binaural beats) that encouraged various brainwave activity changes.[16][21] In 2002, a University of Virginia presentation at the Society for Psychophysiologial Research examined Monroe's claim. The presentation demonstrated that EEG changes did not occur when the standard electromagnetic headphones of Monroe's setup were replaced by air conduction headphones, which were connected to a remote transducer by rubber tubes. This suggests that the basis for the entrainment effects is electromagnetic rather than acoustical.[22]

Replicated, double-blind, randomized trials on anesthetized patients have found Hemi-Sync effective as a partial replacement for fentanyl during surgery.[23][24] A similar study found it ineffective at replacing propofol, however.[25]


  • Monroe, Robert (1971). Journeys Out of the Body (1st ed.). Garden City, New York: Doubleday. p. 297. ISBN 978-0385008617. OCLC 207277.
  • Monroe, Robert (1985). Far Journeys (1st ed.). Garden City, New York: Doubleday. p. 290. ISBN 978-0385231824. OCLC 11755227.
  • Monroe, Robert (1994). Ultimate Journey (1st ed.). Garden City, New York: Doubleday. p. 303. ISBN 978-0385472081. OCLC 28721578.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Russell, Ronald (2007). "1". The Journey of Robert Monroe: From Out-of-Body Explorer to Consciousness Pioneer (Hardcover). Hampton Roads Publishing Company. p. 3. ISBN 9781571745330.
  2. ^ a b Monroe, Robert A (1977) "Journeys Out of the Body", Anchor Press, ISBN 0-385-00861-9
  3. ^ a b Russell Ronald (2007) "The Journey of Robert Monroe: From Out-Of-Body Explorer to Consciousness Pioneer", Hampton Roads Publishing, ISBN 1-57174-533-5
  4. ^ a b Stockton Bayard (1989) "Catapult: The Biography of Robert A. Monroe", Donning Co.,ISBN 0-89865-756-3
  5. ^ a b Mayer, Robert A. (2007) "The Intrigue of the Possible", AuthorHouse, ISBN 1-4343-0829-4
  6. ^ Randolph Keith (1983) "The Truth about Astral Projection", Llewellyn Worldwide, ISBN 0-87542-350-7
  7. ^ Barling, Stephen (2003-02-13) "Cosmic degrees: Out of body at the Monroe Institute", The Hook (Charlottesville), Issue 206
  8. ^ Ultimate Journey, published 1994 by Doubleday
  9. ^ The Monroe Institute
  10. ^ R. Russell, Journey of Robert Monroe: From Out of Body Explorer to Consciousness Pioneer, Deep Books, July 2007, p105. ISBN 978-1-57174-533-0
  11. ^ Gondola Wish Assessment Report, 902d Military Intelligence Group, 25 August 1978.
  12. ^ Remote Viewers: The Secret History of America's Psychic Spies, Jim Schnabel, 1997, p292-3. ISBN 978-0-440-61405-0
  13. ^ INSCOM log for August 1983 to January 1984
  14. ^ "Accessing Anomalous States of Consciousness with a Binaural Beat Technology", F Holmes Atwater, Journal of Scientific Exploration, Vol 1, No 3, 1997, p263-274[unreliable source?]
  15. ^ Bob Ortega, "Research institute shows people a way out of their bodies", The Wall Street Journal, September 20, 1994, pp. A1, A8.
  16. ^ a b c Stephen Barling, "Cosmic degrees: Out of body at the Monroe Institute". The Hook. February 13, 2003.
  17. ^ US Patent 3884218: "Method of inducing and maintaining various stages of sleep in the human being"
  18. ^ US Patent 5213562: "Method of inducing mental, emotional and physical states of consciousness, including specific mental activity, in human beings"
  19. ^ US Patent 5356368: "Method of and apparatus for inducing desired states of consciousness"
  20. ^ Sheikh, Anees A.(2003) "Healing Images: The Role Of Imagination in Health", Baywood Publishing, ISBN 0-89503-208-2
  21. ^ "[1]". The Effects of Hemi-Sync on Electrocortical Activity, Sadigh and Kozicky
  22. ^ Chandra Stone, Phyllis Thomas, Dennis McClain-Furmanski, & James E. Horton (2002). "EEG oscillations and binaural beat as compared with electromagnetic headphones and air-conduction headphones", Psychophysiology vol 39, pp. S80
  23. ^ Kliempt P, Ruta D, Ogston S, Landeck A, Martay K (August 1999). "Hemispheric-synchronisation during anaesthesia: a double-blind randomised trial using audiotapes for intra-operative nociception control". Anaesthesia. 54 (8): 769–73. doi:10.1046/j.1365-2044.1999.00958.x. PMID 10460529.
  24. ^ Lewis AK, Osborn IP, Roth R (February 2004). "The effect of hemispheric synchronization on intraoperative analgesia". Anesthesia and Analgesia. 98 (2): 533–6, table of contents. doi:10.1213/01.ane.0000096181.89116.d2. PMID 14742401. S2CID 25176260.
  25. ^ Dabu-Bondoc S, Drummond-Lewis J, Gaal D, McGinn M, Caldwell-Andrews AA, Kain ZN (September 2003). "Hemispheric synchronized sounds and intraoperative anesthetic requirements". Anesthesia and Analgesia. 97 (3): 772–5. doi:10.1213/01.ane.0000076145.83783.e7. PMID 12933400. S2CID 31719837.

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