Article

Disclosing Near-Death Experiences to Professional Healthcare Providers and Nonprofessionals

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Abstract

Researchers examined 88 near-death experiencers' (NDErs') perceptions of 188 of their most noteworthy experiences disclosing their near-death experiences (NDEs) to professional healthcare providers—medical, mental, social, and spiritual/religious. Participants scored 7 or higher on the NDE Scale and were 72% female and 28% male; aged 21 to 81 years, mean age 56; 89% Caucasian, 3% Native American, 1% Black, 1% Hispanic, and 6% mixed or other; and 18% Protestant, 6% Roman Catholic, 2% Jewish, 1% Buddhist, 51% spiritual–not religious, and 21% no or other religious or spiritual affiliation. The Near-Death Experiencers' Experiences of Disclosure Scale (NEEDS) was developed to assess the extent that an NDEr perceived a confidante to have recognized their NDE and considered it at least potentially real and to have avoided pathologizing or demonizing the NDE or NDEr; the NEEDS proved valid and reliable. Results indicated that 19% of NDErs reported negative responses from all types of healthcare providers with no significant difference between professional groups, with no effect, F(3, 184) .67, p .57, p 2 .01 and no significant difference by year of NDE, with small effect (1934 –2010), R .01, F(1, 186) .02. Participants reported significantly more negative experiences of disclosure the sooner they disclosed, with a small effect, B .26, t 3.59, p .01, and the deeper their NDE, with a small effect (r .21, p .01). The researchers concluded that, to do no harm, all healthcare providers need to be better educated about NDEs.

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... This lack of knowledge prevents nurses from properly identifying and supporting NDErs who might disclose to them (Mandalise, 2013). This problem might be attributed to health profession training programs neglecting the recommendation to include the topic of NDEs in their curriculums (Holden et al., 2014). ...
... The response the NDEr receives after disclosing an NDE can have a long-lasting effect, because it can significantly influence how the NDEr integrates the experience into their lives (Greyson & Harris, 1987;Samoilo & Corcoran, 2020). Holden et al. (2014) found a persistence of negative initial NDE disclosure experiences after decades of research. According to Holden et al. (2014), that "indicates that current research-based information about NDEs is not reaching health professionals, at least in ways that make them less prone to doing harm" (p.285). ...
... Holden et al. (2014) found a persistence of negative initial NDE disclosure experiences after decades of research. According to Holden et al. (2014), that "indicates that current research-based information about NDEs is not reaching health professionals, at least in ways that make them less prone to doing harm" (p.285). ...
Thesis
Incidence of reported near-death experiences (NDEs) has increased over decades; however, they continue to be inappropriately pathologized or dismissed. These types of responses to disclosures of NDEs by patients can potentially lead to them having problems integrating the experience into their lives. The purpose of this study was to assess undergraduate nursing students’ levels of accurate knowledge of and attitudes towards NDEs and to determine the predictors of nursing students’ knowledge of and attitudes toward NDEs. Additionally, I explored the sources in which nursing students acquire NDE knowledge. I accomplished this by using a cross-sectional, correlational research study design. I obtained data from students enrolled in an undergraduate BSN program at a 4 year university using an online questionnaire to gather quantitative and qualitative data. I selected nursing students as the focus of this study due to the proximity and interaction these students will have with patients when they become nurses. Study participants had a low level of accurate NDE knowledge. In addition to the low knowledge level, just under two-thirds of participants could not identify at least one strategy to use when caring for patients who have or are suspected of having an NDE. The lack of sufficient knowledge and inability to identify appropriate strategies indicates a lack of preparedness to provide proper care to NDErs. Furthermore, participants had neutral to positive leaning attitudes towards NDEs. These positive leaning attitudes were evident in participants’ expressed desire to learn more about NDEs and their belief that the topic should be included in nursing education. The consensus among participants was a lack of formal education on NDEs within their nursing program. I concluded that the identified lack of preparedness has the potential to have a negative impact on patients’ NDE disclosures and overall care.
... Five of the thirteen were published in the 1980s, and four in the 1990s. There has only been one article on the topic published in the last decade (Holden, et al., 2014). Most of these articles which feature a quantitative aspect utilize questionnaires, which is a theme I will discuss in this chapter. ...
... NEEDs (Holden et al., 2014) is a 16-item questionnaire made to "assess the nature of an NDEr's experience of disclosing the NDE to a confidante" (p. 281). ...
... A mixed methods approach allows the research questions to be explored from multiple effective perspectives and would be best suited for this study. We see the effective usage of questionnaires in previous studies (Greyson, 1994 as shown in §2.5.3;Hoffman, 1995, andHolden, et al., 2014 as shown in §3.2.2), the latter using mixed methods in their questionnaire's analysis. The initial quantitative angle will answer how often certain variables occur (e.g., what impacts integration of NDEs) and the qualitative angle will provide answers into how the process of integration is expressed. ...
Thesis
Full-text available
This thesis aims to identify challenging aftereffects of near-death experiences (NDEs), to explore how these are lived by near-death experiencers (NDErs), and to study the impacts of these challenging aftereffects on psychological wellbeing. This thesis also aims to identify what aids integration of these aftereffects, particularly so that when NDErs come to mental health professionals for help, these professionals have a framework with which to work. Per a review of the literature, there has been research on certain aspects of NDEs in relation to wellbeing, such as satisfaction with life or post-traumatic growth, but not as looking at factors that make up psychological wellbeing as a whole. Furthermore, the literature review identified only two studies which mapped challenging aftereffects with limited information on how the data were analyzed. Thus, a mixed-method study was developed to identify challenging NDE aftereffects and examine further the impact of these on wellbeing. A questionnaire utilizing the NDE Scale, multiple choice questions measuring wellbeing outcomes, and open response questions to further describe how challenges were experienced by participants was employed. The quantitative analysis discovered that the deeper the NDE, particularly if the NDE had a transcendental component, the more someone reports positive long-term changes in mood. It also identified that the more an NDEr reports positive changes in one’s current sense of happiness and life satisfaction, the more one reports ongoing positive changes in their perception of life’s purpose, social relationships, and mood. The analysis also presented the finding that people who had their NDE when they were teenagers or children report more struggles socially than compared to people who had their NDEs as adults. The thematic content analysis conducted on the written answers from the questionnaire illuminated the variety of psychological changes following an NDE and categorized them as negative, neutral, and positive depending on how the participants presented them. However, the thematic content analysis also showcased how even if changes are viewed positively, this does not negate the fact they could still be challenging to accommodate. For instance, the majority of participants discussed how discovering their life’s purpose through their NDE was a positive thing but trying to live their life’s purpose was often a struggle, particularly when, for example, they could not easily change jobs without sacrificing financial stability for their family. Interviews to further illuminate challenges experienced by the participants were conducted and analyzed via interpretative phenomenological analysis. The analysis showcased key themes while presenting and respecting the subtle nuances of each interviewee’s personal experience. Each theme had at least two subthemes: Relationship with Reality – “life is temporary; we are forever,” and, “life is an assignment/has purpose;” Relationship with NDE/Its Aftereffects – “community/sharing the experience,” and “time to comprehend the/live with it;” Relationship with Self – “strong sense of responsibility for/of Self,” and, “pursued integration/development;” and lastly, Relationship with Other People – “being compassionate with boundaries,” “family/friend support,” and “loneliness/hard to relate with other people.” These themes/subthemes were then placed within the framework of the Six-Factor Model of psychological wellbeing as a way to gauge how certain aftereffects impact wellbeing. This thesis is the first research to map challenges caused by NDEs using a multi-method approach involving statistical analysis, thematic analysis, content analysis, and interview examined via interpretative phenomenological analysis. It is also the first to frame these challenges within a wellbeing model. The findings of this thesis have pragmatic uses, particularly for mental health professionals when working with NDErs. It adds to the clinical as well as the parapsychological, thanatological, and health literature.
... Because these experiences can contradict experiencers' preconceived notions about the nature of reality and can result in psychological, spiritual, physical, and social aftereffects that experiencers may find challenging or even disabling, experiencers may benefit-or be harmed-by disclosing and processing their pSTEs in counseling. In addition to case studies chronicling harm to pSTE experiencers (pSTErs) who disclosed their pSTEs to health care providers, the only study published so far on this topic revealed that a substantial number of pSTErs were harmed by disclosing their pSTEs to health care providers-including counselors (Holden, Kinsey, & Moore, 2014). Thus, these health professionals failed in their most fundamental ethical obligation to their clients and patients: to do no harm. ...
... However, subsequent research (Holden et al., 2014), specifically with NDErs reporting on their most memorable experiences disclosing their NDEs to health professionals, indicated that 19% of those disclosure experiences-nearly one in five-were emotionally painful and harmful. NDErs perceived these disclosure experiences as negative because health care providers failed to recognize the NDE as such, failed to acknowledge even the potential reality of the experience, and pathologized and/or demonized the experience and/or experiencer. ...
... They might also fear that disclosure to a religious professional will engender such a judgment. Indeed, both case examples and research (Holden et al., 2014) indicate that counselors and other medical, mental, and spiritual/religious health care providers have pathologized and demonized pSTErs based on their pSTEs alone-even though empirical evidence does not substantiate such assessments. That is, pSTErs are no more mentally disordered than the general population, and their experiences tend to be spiritually benevolent, resulting ultimately in the "fruits of the spirit." ...
Article
After defining potentially spiritually transformative experiences (pSTEs) and reviewing empirical research on the contents and aftereffects of 2 well‐researched pSTEs commonly disclosed by clients, the authors summarize research on client harm due to counselors’ lack of knowledge, attitudes, and skills to address these experiences appropriately. The authors contend that clients with pSTEs meet criteria for multicultural difference and advocate for including the topic of clients with pSTEs in counselor education diversity course curricula so that counselors are empowered to provide ethical, culturally sensitive, and clinically appropriate services. The authors conclude with suggested content for this curriculum.
... 514). Examples of activities that may trigger an intense SE or SE(y) experience include childbirth, spirit attachment, near death experiences (NDE), dreams, peak experiences brought on by risk taking, out of body experiences (OBE), ecstatic dance/spontaneous movements, shamanic initiation, transcendent sexual experience, yoga, Qigong, stress and grief, sensory deprivation, meditation/prayer/chanting, Holotropic Breathwork, recreational chemical substances, entheogens (chemical substance typically of plant origin, that is ingested to produce a nonordinary state of consciousness for religious or spiritual purposes), metication, past-life regression, soul loss due to trauma, channeling, seeing spaceships or ETs, out of body travel, meeting other worldly beings, psi phenomena, or seeing ghosts or spirits (Brook, 2017(Brook, , 2019Gof & Grof, et al., 2010;Holden et al., 2014;Powel & Moseley, 2020;. Gruel (2017) suggests that SE and SE(y) may be triggered by the production of endogenous N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT), also known as the spirit molecule (Schultz et al., 2010). ...
... Differentiating Types of Spiritual, Religious, or Psychotic ConditionsNote. Aggregated table from several sources listed:Johnson & Armour, 2018;Sandage & Moe, 2013;Lukoff, 2011;Yamada et al. 2019; Johnson & Friedman, 2008, p. 507;Hobart, 2019;Holden et al. 2014;Wade, 2018;Arnaud & Cormier, 2017. ...
Thesis
Full-text available
As clinicians, we find ourselves in the role of helping others and collectively we have the systemic power to help improve the health and well-being of our communities through our clinical work and the inherited admonition to ‘do no harm.’ This help includes the support of life-changing and potentially life altering experiences that have the potential to change an individual’s worldview (Brook, 2017; Harris, 2018). Individually and as a society, we are moving forward into a new health and wellness paradigm never seen in human history (Johnson & Armour, 2018). At this time, there is a deeper understanding within the clinical community that we must rise to meet the needs of our clients. The new vision of clinical work is a more comprehensive view that includes the practice of a global psychotherapy that supports indigenous beliefs and practices honoring the emic ‘voices’ of indigenous knowledge of self, well-being, and spirituality while considering clinically proven methods of understanding behavior and health. The purpose of this compendium is to explore the intersection between spiritual and mental health experiences, to bring light to how the two are often confused by healthcare providers, and to provide clinicians with alternative models for treatment. This compendium supports competent clinical psychotherapy treatment that imparts the spiritual/religious/transpersonal (S/R/T) beliefs and practices of clients (Barnett, 2016). Therefore, understanding a client’s symptoms (e.g., cultural, spiritual, or religious) is important to developing competence in the delivery of effective and ethical clinical care (Barnett, 2016; Frisby, 2018; Hodge, 2018). Spiritual emergence (SE) and spiritual emergency SE(y) are categorized throughout this compendium under the broad term’s spiritual, religious, and transpersonal (S/R/T) experiences. In some cases, reference to spiritual emergence (e.g., SE) or spiritual emergency SE(y) will be used to specify a particular type of experience, and other times spiritual, religious, or transpersonal (i.e., S/R/T) will be used to define broader categories of spiritual emergence.
... 514). Examples of activities that may trigger an intense SE or SE(y) experience include childbirth, spirit attachment, near death experiences (NDE), dreams, peak experiences brought on by risk taking, out of body experiences (OBE), ecstatic dance/spontaneous movements, shamanic initiation, transcendent sexual experience, yoga, Qigong, stress and grief, sensory deprivation, meditation/prayer/chanting, Holotropic Breathwork, recreational chemical substances, entheogens (chemical substance typically of plant origin, that is ingested to produce a nonordinary state of consciousness for religious or spiritual purposes), metication, past-life regression, soul loss due to trauma, channeling, seeing spaceships or ETs, out of body travel, meeting other worldly beings, psi phenomena, or seeing ghosts or spirits (Brook, 2017(Brook, , 2019Gof & Grof, et al., 2010;Holden et al., 2014;Powel & Moseley, 2020;. Gruel (2017) suggests that SE and SE(y) may be triggered by the production of endogenous N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT), also known as the spirit molecule (Schultz et al., 2010). ...
... Differentiating Types of Spiritual, Religious, or Psychotic ConditionsNote. Aggregated table from several sources listed:Johnson & Armour, 2018;Sandage & Moe, 2013;Lukoff, 2011;Yamada et al. 2019; Johnson & Friedman, 2008, p. 507;Hobart, 2019;Holden et al. 2014;Wade, 2018;Arnaud & Cormier, 2017. ...
... Despite the fact that for many years NDEs have been well known in the psychiatric literature as normal, clinical practice has not caught up with the literature. NDEs are still readily dismissed, trivialized, or pathologized by clinicians (Holden, Kinsey, & Moore, 2014). Particularly when an NDEr states one's experiences honestly and accurately and states that the experiences were taken as real, a clinician can readily misdiagnose the condition as mental illness requiring treatment. ...
... 38) Although the events of this account occurred several decades ago, this scenario is very common still today, particularly in the U.S. military (Moore, 2017). In a recent study of 88 NDErs, Janice Holden, Lee Kinsey and Travis Moore (2014) found that 19% of NDErs reported negative responses from all types of healthcare providers, with no significant difference between professional groups and no significant difference by the year of the NDE. ...
Article
Full-text available
In Near-Death Experiences: Understanding Visions of the Afterlife, authors John Martin Fischer and Benjamin Mitchell-Yellin (2016) argued for purely physicalist explanations of near-death experiences (NDEs) and against “supernatural” explanations involving objects and events— out-of-body experiences, heavenly realms, meeting deceased relatives— that have no physical reality. In our critique, we identify two major weaknesses to their argument: heavy reliance on ad hoc hypotheses and frequent appeal to “promissory materialism.” Fischer and Mitchell-Yellin applied the term “hallucination” to NDEs because, by definition, they “do not correspond to reality.” We found use of this term problematic for several reasons: that NDE perceptions are phenomenologically different from hallucinations, that NDE perceptions of the physical realm are nearly always veridical, and that labelling NDEs “hallucinations” pathologizes a normal, subjective experience, with potentially harmful psychological outcomes. Although Fischer and Mitchell-Yellin argued against a theory of NDEs that invokes only one explanatory factor, we argue for a likely common proximate cause for all NDEs and that the nonphysical “mind-entity theory,” in which the nonmaterial mind separates from the physical body in an NDE, is a likely candidate theory with good explanatory power. We believe that ultimately the theory explaining NDEs will be corrected through the normal process of scientific inquiry, resulting in an expansion of current physicalist theory to include what is now considered supernatural, thus becoming an extended, transmaterial naturalist theory.
... Despite the fact that for many years NDEs have been well known in the psychiatric literature as normal, clinical practice has not caught up with the literature. NDEs are still readily dismissed, trivialized, or pathologized by clinicians (Holden, Kinsey, & Moore, 2014). Particularly when an NDEr states one's experiences honestly and accurately and states that the experiences were taken as real, a clinician can readily misdiagnose the condition as mental illness requiring treatment. ...
... 38) Although the events of this account occurred several decades ago, this scenario is very common still today, particularly in the U.S. military (Moore, 2017). In a recent study of 88 NDErs, Janice Holden, Lee Kinsey and Travis Moore (2014) found that 19% of NDErs reported negative responses from all types of healthcare providers, with no significant difference between professional groups and no significant difference by the year of the NDE. ...
Article
Full-text available
In "Near-Death Experiences: Understanding Visions of the Afterlife," authors John Martin Fischer and Benjamin Mitchell-Yellin (2016) argued for purely physicalist explanations of near-death experiences (NDEs) and against "supernatural" explanations involving objects and events—out-of-body experiences, heavenly realms, meeting deceased relatives—that have no physical reality. In our critique. we identify two major weaknesses to their argument: heavy reliance on ad hoc hypotheses and frequent appeal to "promissory materialism." Fischer and Mitchell-Yellin applied the term "hallucination" to NDEs because, by definition, they "do not correspond to reality." We found use of this term problematic for several reasons: that NDE perceptions are phenomenologically different from hallucinations, that NDE perceptions of the physical realm are nearly always veridical, and that labelling NDEs "hallucinations" pathologizes a normal, subjective experience, with potentially harmful psychological outcomes. Although Fischer and Mitchell-Yellin argued against a theory of NDEs that invokes only one explanatory factor, we argue for a likely "common proximate cause" for all NDEs and that the nonphysical "mind-entity theory," in which the nonmaterial mind separates from the physical body in an NDE, is a likely candidate theory with good explanatory power. We believe that ultimately the theory explaining NDEs will be corrected through the normal process of scientific inquiry, resulting in an expansion of current physicalist theory to include what is now considered supernatural, thus becoming an "extended, transmaterial naturalist theory." Includes the response by Benjamin Mitchell-Yellin and the rejoinder by Robert Mays and Suzanne Mays.
... Despite their meaningfulness and life transforming potential, EHEs are often misunderstood not only by experiencers but also by those from whom experiencers may seek advice or guidance (Braud, 2012;Palmer & Hastings, 2013). Few theorists or researchers have examined the issue of disclosure of EHEs in the context of the psychiatristpatient dyad (Holden, Kinsey, & Moore, 2014). ...
... More recently, a research team analyzed 88 NDErs' reports regarding 188 of their self-identified "most noteworthy" experiences of disclosure to healthcare providers (Holden et al., 2014). They found that NDErs labeled their disclosure experiences as positive, emotionally pleasurable, and helpful when they perceived the confidant to have recognized the experience as an NDE, considered it at least potentially real, and avoided pathologizing or demonizing either the experience or the experiencer; conversely, they labeled their disclosure experiences negative, emotionally painful, and harmful when they perceived the opposite of those four features in the confidant. ...
Article
Although a burgeoning literature exists on the subject of anomalous death-related phenomena, relatively little attention has been given to understanding or describing case studies of disclosures of such phenomena within the therapeutic context, particularly that of a general psychiatric practice. During a period of 18 months in the first author’s general adult psychiatric clinic, two patients disclosed a history of near-death experiences, and three patients disclosed other anomalous experiences relating to the deaths of loved ones. Presented are the clinical contexts in which these disclosures occurred; the patients’ views about the disclosures, solicited from subsequent reflections with the psychiatrist; and the psychiatrist’s observations of the patients’ subsequent presentation following their disclosures. The findings are discussed in the context of the existing literature. Implications for psychiatrists and other mental health professionals are then discussed as well as possible future research directions.
... Some people, however, may have negative ESEs, and processing those experiences can help patients overcome that additional burden to their hospital course. Nevertheless, dismissing or pathologizing a patient's ESE, even a negative one, can be felt as a compounding harm (Holden et al., 2014). Some ESEs are, of course, coincidental with mental illness, but differentiating them from symptoms of a mental health crisis is feasible. ...
Article
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This overview of the current literature of spirituality and health and the role of professional chaplains specifically considers intensive care unit survivorship, instead of the more common focus on end-of-life circumstances or family support on an ICU. The purpose is to enhance clinicians’ understanding and use of spiritual resources for patient care and outcomes. It is a product of comprehensive daily monitoring of the Medline database from 2002 to 2022 for all publications indexed by the terms “spiritual,” “religion,” and “chaplain.” A case will be used throughout, to illustrate spirituality dynamics. Also, a practical strategy, developed by the authors from clinical experience, will be outlined for clinicians’ spiritual support of patients, requiring little time or specialized knowledge and avoiding the blurring of professional roles and boundaries, while potentially yielding clinical benefits suggested in the medical literature.
... For instance, immediately after an NDE, some NDErs report a sense of "confinement" to the physical body, a physical discomfort resulting from having formerly been free of the body (Noyes et al., 2009, p. 54). As well, many NDErs who perceive themselves to have returned to embodied life are not sure how to interpret the experience and seek social acceptance from others; almost always believing that the experience was absolutely real, if they confide in someone who responds with skepticism, they come away feeling sadness, frustration, and a sense of having been psychologically harmed (Holden et al., 2014). Long-term aftereffects, on the other hand, are more varied (Holden, 2017, p. 92). ...
Article
Full-text available
Among the phenomena of near-death experiences (NDEs) are what are known as aftereffects whereby, over time, experiencers undergo substantial, long-term life changes, becoming less fearful of death, more moral and spiritual, and more convinced that life has meaning and that an afterlife exists. Some supernaturalists attribute these changes to the experience being real. John Mar-tin Fischer and Benjamin Mitchell-Yellin, on the other hand, have asserted a naturalist thesis involving a metaphorical interpretation of NDE narratives that preserves their significance but eliminates the supernaturalist causal explanation. I argue that Fischer and Mitchell-Yellin's psychological thesis fails as an explanation of NDEs.
... For instance, immediately after an NDE, some NDErs report a sense of "confinement" to the physical body, a physical discomfort resulting from having formerly been free of the body (Noyes et al., 2009, p. 54). As well, many NDErs who perceive themselves to have returned to embodied life are not sure how to interpret the experience and seek social acceptance from others; almost always believing that the experience was absolutely real, if they confide in someone who responds with skepticism, they come away feeling sadness, frustration, and a sense of having been psychologically harmed (Holden et al., 2014). Long-term aftereffects, on the other hand, are more varied (Holden, 2017, p. 92). ...
... Alireza reported that his attempts to disclose his NDE to others were met with substantial disbelief and discounting-to which he responded by discontinuing disclosure except with a very few people whom he discerned to be open and accepting. Other NDErs have described this type of disclosure experience and reaction (Holden, Kinsey, & Moore, 2014). Although Holden et al. found that more disclosure harm was reported by those who had relatively deeper NDEs and who disclosed relatively sooner following their NDEs, they did not ask whether NDErs experienced more disclosure harm if they had distressing rather than pleasurable NDEs. ...
Article
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In this article we present a distressing near-dear experience (NDE) that a 23-year-old Iranian Shi'ite Muslim man described having experienced five years previous, during coma following a serious car accident. Given that very few Muslims, especially Iranians, have reported NDEs, one of our aims in presenting this case was to begin to fill this void in the near-death studies literature. We provide extensive quotations from our 40-minute interview with this experi-encer, in which he described the NDE itself as well as aftereffects of it, including experiences of disclosing it to others. We conclude with a discussion about the relationship between his NDE and Islamic beliefs as well as what his case can offer regarding an understanding of the role of culture in NDEs. KEY WORDS: religion, Qur'an, case study, distressing near-death experience, Iran After surviving a close brush with death due to actual or anticipated illness or injury, approximately 10% of people report that during the close brush they had a typically real and lucid experience of their con-Alinaghi Ghasemiannejad Jahromi, PhD, is a couple therapist at Tooba Mental Health Institution in Isfahan, Iran. In pursuit of his primary area of scholarly inquiry-the nature, content, and aftereffects of near-death experiences (NDEs)-he founded and now leads the Department of Near-Death Studies in Isfahan to promote research and to educate Iranians about NDEs. Ali Imaninasab, MA, is a master's student of theology at the University of Quran and Hadith in Qom, Iran. His primary area of scholarly inquiry is research into NDEs and the post-mortem destiny of non-Muslims from the viewpoint of Islamic sources. The authors wish to thank Mr. Alireza for the valuable information that he provided about his NDE.
... Given the similarity of some NDE features-such as seeing deceased others, visiting otherworldly realms, and having an OBE-to some criteria used to diagnose mental illness-including visual and auditory hallucinations and dissociation-and their deviation from currently accepted norms of reality, some arguments suggest NDEs are anomalous and therefore fall within the realm of pathology. Indeed, NDErs who report greater quantity and intensity of NDE features as assessed by the NDE Scale also report a greater likelihood of distressing and harmful experiences disclosing their NDEs to health professionals (Holden, Kinsey, & Moore, 2014). This tendency to pathologize persists despite the aforementioned absence of evidence of correlation between NDE and mental illness and analyses clearly differentiating NDEs from altered states of consciousness such as hallucinations and dreams (Sartori, 2014). ...
Chapter
Near-death experiences (NDEs) have been reported across time and cultures and more recently with increased frequency, in part due to improved survival rates from near-fatal encounters. As anomalous psychological phenomena often occurring in near-death situations, NDEs represent a radical departure from everyday normative experiences and are typically characterized by their transcendence of space, time, and perceptual boundaries. Although consensus regarding a definition of NDEs is yet to be achieved, less disputed is the profound impact such experiences effect in the lives of those who have them, particularly in regard to notions of religiosity and spirituality. This chapter will consider NDEs and their influence. After defining NDEs, considering causal explanations, and identifying cultural and motivational factors influencing the social reporting of NDEs, the chapter will explore the impact of NDEs on religious faith and spirituality and provide some explanatory propositions for reflection.
... Most of those individuals in Davis et al.'s (1991) study who had had a peak experience, for example, admitted that they had only divulged that fact to a few people and a common explanation was a fear of being devalued or being disbelieved. Holden, Kinsey, and Moore (2014) asserted that concerns about having such a negative experience are not entirely unfounded. They found that 19% of NDErs reported negative responses from all types of health care providers with no significant difference between professional groups. ...
Article
In this paper, we present the case of a 40-year-old woman who—after a considerable delay, of some 3 or more years—was eventually diagnosed by a psychiatrist as suffering from the physio-kundalini syndrome. After a presentation of the facts of the case, the paper will go on to explore the possible reasons for the delay in diagnosis. Although the classic Western literature on kundalini awakening and spiritual emergency emphasizes the need to distinguish the physio-kundalini syndrome from various psychiatric disorders, especially psychosis, this case highlights the need to distinguish the physio-kundalini syndrome from various physical disorders. It was predominantly physical complaints with which the client presented, repeatedly, to the emergency room, and it was predominantly medical differential diagnoses, rather than psychiatric ones, that were entertained. This paper reflects on the question of how a delay in diagnosis could have been avoided. Many scholars in the field have argued for greater awareness about the physio-kundalini syndrome among therapists and mental health professionals. We entirely endorse that suggestion but we argue, based on the experiences of the client presented in this case report, that there should be more awareness of spiritual emergency and the physio-kundalini syndrome in the general medical and nursing communities as well.
Article
Persons who come close to death but survive catastrophic accidents sometimes report very vivid experiences during times when their survival was in doubt, when they were believed to be dead, and during resuscitation efforts. This qualitative study builds upon existing research on near-death experiences (NDEs) by focusing on the oral accounts from a sample of individuals with large and life-threatening burns. The NDE accounts were obtained from burn survivors attending the Phoenix Society’s World Burn Congress and are similar to reports by notable researchers (Greyson, 2003; Moody, 1975; Ring, 1980) while reflecting the uniqueness of the individual survivor’s experiences. Six major themes are reported. Counselors and health professionals need to be aware of and educated about NDEs as these experiences can have profound effects upon the individual. Patients who have had NDEs may need to discuss them but fear professionals will reject their stories as being crazy.
Article
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Near-death experiences (NDEs) have been described consistently since antiquity and more rigorously in recent years. Investigation into their mechanisms and effects has been impeded by the lack of quantitative measures of the NDE and its components. From an initial pool of 80 manifestations characteristic of NDEs, a 33-item scaled-response preliminary questionnaire was developed, which was completed by knowledgeable subjects describing their 74 NDEs. Items with significant item-total score correlations that could be grouped into clinically meaningful clusters constituted the final 16-item NDE Scale. The scale was found to have high internal consistency, split-half reliability, and test-retest reliability; was highly correlated with Ring's Weighted Core Experience Index; and differentiated those who unequivocally claimed to have had NDEs from those with qualified or questionable claims. This reliable, valid, and easily administered scale is clinically useful in differentiating NDEs from organic brain syndromes and nonspecific stress responses, and can standardize further research into mechanisms and effects of NDEs.
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As the worldwide population ages, and modern medical techniques for resuscitation advance, near-death experiences (NDEs) are more and more frequently reported. NDEs include more than the popular notions of moving through a tunnel or seeing a light at the end. They also include people, once revived, knowing things the knowledge of which can't currently be explained. Co-editor Janice Holden tells us, for example, about a woman who was brought to the hospital clinically dead. After revival, said she said that during her death state, she had "seen" a shoe on a ledge outside a sixth floor window of a second building of the hospital campus. A social worker checked. The shoe was still there, not visible from the street, and on the opposite side of the campus from where the woman had been brought in by ambulance. Great controversy exists in the medical and psychological fields surrounding such NDEs, which have been reported by adult, teen, and child patients after life-threatening crises including heart attack, stroke, blood loss from car accidents, near-drownings, anaphylactic shock, and attempted suicide. Are NDEs caused by physiological changes in the brain or are they biological reactions to oxygen loss or impending death? Are they a product of changing states of consciousness? Or are they caused by something else altogether? In this unique volume, experts from around the world and across the U.S. share the history and current state of NDE research, controversies in the field, and their hopes for the future of investigation into this fascinating phenomenon. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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This study was designed to develop a conceptual framework for the near-death experience (NDE), reflecting its nature and meaning for the patient and the critical care nurse. The study used naturalistic inquiry to examine the question: What is the nature and meaning of an NDE and how has it influenced the individual's view of the self, the future, and feelings and beliefs about life and death? The NDE Scale (Greyson, 1983) was used with patients and semi-structured interview guides were used with both nurses and patients to explore the NDE from a comprehensive perspective. An NDE was defined as the report of unusual recollections associated with a period of unconsciousness during either serious illness or injury, or resuscitation from a cardiac or respiratory arrest. The sample included 12 patients who experienced an NDE and 19 nurses who cared for patients who experienced NDEs. This study highlighted the emotional aspects of the NDE. Patients described how the NDE transformed their lives and nurses reported how their experiences with patients changed them personally and professionally.
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Near-death experiences (NDEs) have been described consistently since antiquity and more rigorously in recent years. Investigation into their mechanisms and effects has been impeded by the lack of quantitative measures of the NDE and its components. From an initial pool of 80 manifestations characteristic of NDEs, a 33-item scaled-response preliminary questionnaire was developed, which was completed by knowledgeable subjects describing their 74 NDEs. Items with significant item-total score correlations that could be grouped into clinically meaningful clusters constituted the final 16-item NDE Scale. The scale was found to have high internal consistency, split-half reliability, and test-retest reliability; was highly correlated with Ring's Weighted Core Experience Index; and differentiated those who unequivocally claimed to have had NDEs from those with qualified or questionable claims. This reliable, valid, and easily administered scale is clinically useful in differentiating NDEs from organic brain syndromes and nonspecific stress responses, and can standardize further research into mechanisms and effects of NDEs.
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For those with true near-death experiences (NDEs), Greyson's (1983, 1990) NDE Scale satisfactorily fits the Rasch rating scale model, thus yielding a unidimensional measure with interval-level scaling properties. With increasing intensity, NDEs reflect peace, joy and harmony, followed by insight and mystical or religious experiences, while the most intense NDEs involve an awareness of things occurring in a different place or time. The semantics of this variable are invariant across True-NDErs' gender, current age, age at time of NDE, and latency and intensity of the NDE, thus identifying NDEs as 'core' experiences whose meaning is unaffected by external variables, regardless of variations in NDEs' intensity. Significant qualitative and quantitative differences were observed between True-NDErs and other respondent groups, mostly revolving around the differential emphasis on paranormal/mystical/religious experiences vs. standard reactions to threat. The findings further suggest that False-Positive respondents reinterpret other profound psychological states as NDEs. Accordingly, the Rasch validation of the typology proposed by Greyson (1983) also provides new insights into previous research, including the possibility of embellishment over time (as indicated by the finding of positive, as well as negative, latency effects) and the potential roles of religious affiliation and religiosity (as indicated by the qualitative differences surrounding paranormal/mystical/religious issues).
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"Near-death experiences," commonly reported after clinical death and resuscitation, may require intervention and, if reliable, may elucidate altered brain functioning under extreme stress. It has been speculated that accounts of near-death experiences are exaggerated over the years. The objective of this study was to test the reliability over two decades of accounts of near-death experiences. Seventy-two patients with near-death experience who had completed the NDE scale in the 1980s (63% of the original cohort still alive) completed the scale a second time, without reference to the original scale administration. The primary outcome was differences in NDE scale scores on the two administrations. The secondary outcome was the statistical association between differences in scores and years elapsed between the two administrations. Mean scores did not change significantly on the total NDE scale, its 4 factors, or its 16 items. Correlation coefficients between scores on the two administrations were significant at P<0.001 for the total NDE scale, for its 4 factors, and for its 16 items. Correlation coefficients between score changes and time elapsed between the two administrations were not significant for the total NDE scale, for its 4 factors, or for its 16 items. Contrary to expectation, accounts of near-death experiences, and particularly reports of their positive affect, were not embellished over a period of almost two decades. These data support the reliability of near-death experience accounts.
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In April 2006, an important article appeared in a respected medical journal suggesting a relationship between near-death experiences (NDEs) and the body's arousal system, specifically the phenomenon of rapid eye movement (REM) intrusion. In March 2007, the same authors published another article in the same journal, expanding on the previous article's findings and suggesting a relationship between out-of-body experiences (OBEs) and the arousal system. These articles presented lines of evidence and a study to support the hypothesized relationship. In this paper, we acknowledge the viability and potential value of the hypothesis underlying both articles, but identify substantial weaknesses in both the presented lines of evidence and the studies. We conclude with recommendations for future research that would address the hypothesis and would promote a better overall understanding of NDEs and OBEs.
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In a retrospective study contrasting the near-death encounters of 183 persons who reported near-death experiences and 63 persons who reported no near-death experience, the two groups did not differ in age, gender, or time elapsed since the near-death encounter. Near-death experiencers reported all 16 items of the NDE Scale significantly more often than did nonexperiencers.
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Although often ignored, reliability is critical when interpreting study effects and test results. Accordingly, this article focuses on the most commonly used estimate of reliability, internal consistency coefficients, with emphasis on coefficient alpha. An interpretive framework is provided for applied researchers and others seeking a conceptual understanding of these estimates.
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Approximately 3% of Americans declare to have had a near-death experience. These experiences classically involve the feeling that one's soul has left the body, approaches a bright light and goes to another reality, where love and bliss are all encompassing. Contrary to popular belief, research suggests that there is nothing paranormal about these experiences. Instead, near-death experiences are the manifestation of normal brain function gone awry, during a traumatic, and sometimes harmless, event.
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The neurophysiologic basis of near death experience (NDE) is unknown. Clinical observations suggest that REM state intrusion contributes to NDE. Support for the hypothesis follows five lines of evidence: REM intrusion during wakefulness is a frequent normal occurrence, REM intrusion underlies other clinical conditions, NDE elements can be explained by REM intrusion, cardiorespiratory afferents evoke REM intrusion, and persons with an NDE may have an arousal system predisposing to REM intrusion. To investigate a predisposition to REM intrusion, the life-time prevalence of REM intrusion was studied in 55 NDE subjects and compared with that in age/gender-matched control subjects. Sleep paralysis as well as sleep-related visual and auditory hallucinations were substantially more common in subjects with an NDE. These findings anticipate that under circumstances of peril, an NDE is more likely in those with previous REM intrusion. REM intrusion could promote subjective aspects of NDE and often associated syncope. Suppression of an activated locus ceruleus could be central to an arousal system predisposed to REM intrusion and NDE.
Distressing Western near-death experiences: Finding a way through the abyss
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