Chapter

The Best Available Evidence for Life After Death

Authors:
To read the full-text of this research, you can request a copy directly from the authors.

Abstract

This chapter presents the main scientific evidence relevant to the hypothesis of survival of consciousness after the death of the body: studies on mediumship, near-death and out-of-body experience, and cases of the reincarnation type. First, we present a brief history and cultural aspects concerning these subjects. Then, the main scope of this chapter, we present and discuss the main scientific evidence encompassing studies from the second half of the nineteenth century until nowadays. Finally, we discuss the strengths and limitations of the main explanations alternative to the survival hypothesis (e.g., fraud, chance, neuropsychological automatisms or disorders, and extrasensory perception) regarding the presented studies. Well-conducted studies (with strict controls and statistical analysis) show that mediums can provide accurate information and demonstrate nonverbal skills and that these pieces of information hardly could be explained by leakage, chance, extrasensory perception, or emotional fragility of a bereaved sitter. Large longitudinal studies and in-depth consistent reports of sharp mental function and veridical perceptions in out-of-body experiences during near-death experiences, despite a severely dysfunctional or nonfunctional brain, corroborate the hypothesis of an independent mind. Thousands of similar cases around the globe of very young children who spontaneously start making accurate statements about alleged previous lives, exhibiting behavior, emotional reactions, skills, and birth defects in accordance with the alleged personality (often unknown to them) strengthen the hypothesis of survival of consciousness.KeywordsSurvivalSoulMindConsciousnessDeathMediumshipNear-death experienceOut-of-body experienceReincarnationLife after deathEvidencePast lives

No full-text available

Request Full-text Paper PDF

To read the full-text of this research,
you can request a copy directly from the authors.

ResearchGate has not been able to resolve any citations for this publication.
Article
Full-text available
This study reviews observational studies regarding alleged past-life memories published as scientific articles, and points out their bibliometric and methodological characteristics. Scientific databases were screened (Scopus, Web of Science, PubMed/Medline, PsycINFO, Scielo, and OpenGrey). The 78 included studies were classified by their methodological and bibliometric characteristics. The peak of publications occurred from 1990 to 2010 (45%), and Asia was the most investigated territory (58 studies); most of investigations were related to children (84%) and case report was the predominant study design (60%). Interview was the predominant methodological approach (73%), followed by documental analysis (50%). Claimed past-life memories (100%), unusual behaviors (74%) and birthmarks/defects (37%) were the most investigated variables. Investigations of past-life memories should be encouraged around all cultures, and future studies should consider previous methodological features and try to overcome their limitations.
Article
Full-text available
The notion that death represents a passing to an afterlife, where we are reunited with loved ones and live eternally in a utopian paradise, is common in the reports of people who have encountered a “Near-Death Experience” (NDE). NDEs are thoroughly portrayed by the media but empirical studies are rather recent. The definition of the phenomenon as well as the identification of NDE experiencers is still a matter of debate. To date, NDEs’ identification and description in studies have mostly derived from answered items in questionnaires. However, questionnaires’ content could be restricting and subject to personal interpretation. We believe that in addition to their use, user-independent statistical text examination of freely expressed NDEs narratives is of prior importance to help capture the phenomenology of such a subjective and complex phenomenon. Towards that aim, we included 158 participants with a firsthand retrospective narrative of their self-reported NDE that we analyzed using an automated text-mining method. The output revealed the top words expressed by experiencers. In a second step, a hierarchical clustering analysis was conducted to visualize the relationships between these words. It revealed three main clusters of features: visual perceptions, emotions and spatial components. We believe the user-independent and data-driven text mining approach used in this study is promising by contributing to the building a rigorous description and definition of NDEs.
Article
Full-text available
Background: After an occurrence of a Near-Death Experience (NDE), Near- Death Experiencers (NDErs) usually report extremely rich and detailed narratives. Phenomenologically, a NDE can be described as a set of distinguishable features. Some authors have proposed regular patterns of NDEs, however, the actual temporality sequence of NDE core features remains a little explored area. Objectives: The aim of the present study was to investigate the frequency distribution of these features (globally and according to the position of features in narratives) as well as the most frequently reported temporality sequences of features. Methods: We collected 154 French freely expressed written NDE narratives (i.e., Greyson NDE scale total score � 7/32). A text analysis was conducted on all narratives in order to infer temporal ordering and frequency distribution of NDE features. Results: Our analyses highlighted the following most frequently reported sequence of consecutive NDE features: Out-of-Body Experience, Experiencing a tunnel, Seeing a bright light, Feeling of peace. Yet, this sequence was encountered in a very limited number of NDErs. Conclusion: These findings may suggest that NDEs temporality sequences can vary across NDErs. Exploring associations and relationships among features encountered during NDEs may complete the rigorous definition and scientific comprehension of the phenomenon.
Article
Full-text available
One of the main reasons that near-death experiences have gener- ated so much interest in recent years among the general public is because they seem to provide evidence that consciousness survives the death of the physical body. It is puzzling, therefore, that most researchers - both those interested in NDEs and those interested in survival research - have neglect- ed to address the question of whether NDEs do provide evidence for survival. We describe three features of NDEs - enhanced mentation, the experience of seeing the physical body from a different position in space, and paranor- mal perceptions - that we believe might provide convergent evidence sup- porting the survival hypothesis. We then describe 7 published cases and 7 cases from our own collection that contain all three features. These cases are all - with one possible exception - somewhat deficient with regard to their recording and investigation, but they exemplify the type of case that should be identified earlier and investigated more thoroughly than these have been, and that may then help us decide the extent to which NDEs can contribute to the evidence for survival of consciousness after death.
Book
Full-text available
Are near-death experiences (NDEs) just elaborate hallucinations produced by a dying brain? Or the exuberant fantasies of attention-seeking narcissists? As the accounts in this book abundantly demonstrate: Neither! This book contains over 100 reliable, often firsthand accounts of perceptions during NDEs that were later verified as accurate by independent sources. These near-death experiencers were everyday people from all over the world—many of whom were clinically dead, unable to see or hear, and yet able to perceive new vistas of a world beyond the senses and even beyond death. The Self Does Not Die is a trailblazing effort to present the most confirmed cases of consciousness beyond death ever compiled. In these cases, the authors have gone back to the original sources, the people involved in each case, whenever possible, rather than relying on secondhand sources. In so doing, they have assembled a unique collection of empirical data that any scholar worthy of the name must take into account.
Article
Full-text available
Near-death experiences (NDEs) are vivid experiences that often occur in life-threatening conditions, usually characterized by a transcendent tone and clear perceptions of leaving the body and being in a different spatiotemporal dimension. Such experiences have been reported throughout history in diverse cultures, and are reported today by 10% to 20% of people who have come close to death. Although cultural expectations and parameters of the brush with death influence the content of some NDEs, near-death phenomenology is invariant across cultures. That invariance may reflect universal psychological defenses, neurophysiological processes, or actual experience of a transcendent or mystical domain. Research into these alternative explanations has been hampered by the unpredictable occurrence of NDEs. Regardless of the causes or interpretations of NDEs, however, they are consistently associated with profound and long-lasting aftereffects on experiencers, and may have important implications for non-experiencers as well.
Article
Full-text available
Context: The examination of the accuracy and specificity of information reported by mediums addresses the existence of non-local information transfer. Objective: This study was designed to replicate and extend a previous methodology achieving positive findings regarding the anomalous reception of information about deceased individuals by research mediums under experimental conditions that eliminate conventional explanations, including cold reading, rater bias, experimenter cueing, and fraud. Design: Mediumship readings were performed over the phone under blinded conditions in which mediums, raters, and experimenters were all blinded. Participants: A total of 20 Windbridge Certified Research Mediums WCRMs participated in 86 readings. Main outcome measures: Accuracy and specificity were assessed through item scores, global reading scores, and forced-choice selections provided by blinded sitters. Results: (1) Comparisons between blinded target and decoy readings regarding the estimated percentage accuracy of reading items (n = 27, P = .05, d = 0.49), (2) comparisons regarding the calculated percentage accuracy of reading items (n = 31, P = .002, d = 0.75), (3) comparisons regarding hits vs. misses (n = 31, P < .0001 and P = .002 for different reading sections), (4) comparisons regarding global scores (n = 58, P = .001, d = 0.57), and (5) forced-choice reading selections between blinded target and decoy readings (n = 58, P = .01) successfully replicate and extend previous findings demonstrating the phenomenon of anomalous information reception (AIR), the reporting of accurate and specific information without prior knowledge, in the absence of sensory feedback, and without using deceptive means. Because the experimental conditions of this study eliminated normal, sensory sources for the information mediums report, a non-local source (however controversial) remains the most likely explanation for the accuracy and specificity of their statements.
Article
Full-text available
The nature of near-death-experiences (NDEs) is largely unknown but recent evidence suggests the intriguing possibility that NDEs may refer to actually “perceived,” and stored, experiences (although not necessarily in relation to the external physical world). We adopted an integrated approach involving a hypnosis-based clinical protocol to improve recall and decrease memory inaccuracy together with electroencephalography (EEG) recording in order to investigate the characteristics of NDE memories and their neural markers compared to memories of both real and imagined events. We included 10 participants with NDEs, defined by the Greyson NDE scale, and 10 control subjects without NDE. Memories were assessed using the Memory Characteristics Questionnaire. Our hypnosis-based protocol increased the amount of details in the recall of all kind of memories considered (NDE, real, and imagined events). Findings showed that NDE memories were similar to real memories in terms of detail richness, self-referential, and emotional information. Moreover, NDE memories were significantly different from memories of imagined events. The pattern of EEG results indicated that real memory recall was positively associated with two memory-related frequency bands, i.e., high alpha and gamma. NDE memories were linked with theta band, a well-known marker of episodic memory. The recall of NDE memories was also related to delta band, which indexes processes such as the recollection of the past, as well as trance states, hallucinations, and other related portals to transpersonal experience. It is notable that the EEG pattern of correlations for NDE memory recall differed from the pattern for memories of imagined events. In conclusion, our findings suggest that, at a phenomenological level, NDE memories cannot be considered equivalent to imagined memories, and at a neural level, NDE memories are stored as episodic memories of events experienced in a peculiar state of consciousness.
Article
Full-text available
In this article a concept of non-local consciousness will be described, based on recent scientific research on near-death experiences (NDEs). Since the publication of several prospective studies on NDEs in survivors of cardiac arrest, with strikingly similar results and conclusions, the phenomenon of the NDE can no longer be scientifically ignored. In the last thirty years several theories have been proposed to explain an NDE. The challenge to find a common explanation for the cause and content of an NDE is complicated by the fact that an NDE can be experienced during various circumstances, such as severe injury of the brain as in cardiac arrest to conditions when the brain seems to function normally. The NDE is an authentic experience which cannot be simply reduced to imagination, fear of death, hallucination, psychosis, the use of drugs, or oxygen deficiency. Patients appear to be permanently changed by an NDE during a cardiac arrest of only some minutes duration. According to these aforementioned studies, the current materialistic view of the relationship between consciousness and the brain as held by most physicians, philosophers, and psychologists is too restricted for a proper understanding of this phenomenon. There are good reasons to assume that our consciousness does not always coincide with the functioning of our brain: enhanced or non-local consciousness can sometimes be experienced separately from the body.
Article
Full-text available
Significance has been attached to the pineal gland in numerous different cultures and beliefs. One religion that has advanced the role of the pineal gland is Spiritism. The objective of the present study was to compile information on the pineal gland drawing on the books of Francisco Cândido Xavier written through psychography and to carry out a critical analysis of their scientific bases by comparing against evidence in the current scientific literature. A systematic search using the terms "pineal gland" and "epiphysis" was conducted of 12 works allegedly dictated by the spirit "André Luiz". All information on the pineal having potential correlation with the field of medicine and current studies was included. Specialists in the area were recruited to compile the information and draw parallels with the scientific literature. The themes related to the pineal gland were: mental health, reproductive function, endocrinology, relationship with physical activity, spiritual connection, criticism of the theory that the organ exerts no function, and description of a hormone secreted by the gland (reference alluding to melatonin, isolated 13 years later). The historical background for each theme was outlined, together with the theories present in the Spiritist books and in the relevant scientific literature. The present article provides an analysis of the knowledge the scientific community can acquire from the history of humanity and from science itself. The process of formulating hypotheses and scientific theories can benefit by drawing on the cultural aspects of civilization, taking into account so-called non-traditional reports and theories.
Article
Full-text available
During advanced meditative practices, unusual perceptions can arise including the sense of receiving information about unknown people who are deceased. As with meditation, this mental state of communication with the deceased involves calming mental chatter and becoming receptive to subtle feelings and sensations. Psychometric and brain electrophysiology data were collected from six individuals who had previously reported accurate information about deceased individuals under double-blind conditions. Each experimental participant performed two tasks with eyes closed. In the first task, the participant was given only the first name of a deceased person and asked 25 questions. After each question, the participant was asked to silently perceive information relevant to the question for 20 s and then respond verbally. Responses were transcribed and then scored for accuracy by individuals who knew the deceased persons. Of the four mediums whose accuracy could be evaluated, three scored significantly above chance (p < 0.03). The correlation between accuracy and brain activity during the 20 s of silent mediumship communication was significant in frontal theta for one participant (p < 0.01). In the second task, participants were asked to experience four mental states for 1 min each: (1) thinking about a known living person, (2) listening to a biography, (3) thinking about an imaginary person, and (4) interacting mentally with a known deceased person. Each mental state was repeated three times. Statistically significant differences at p < 0.01 after correction for multiple comparisons in electrocortical activity among the four conditions were obtained in all six participants, primarily in the gamma band (which might be due to muscular activity). These differences suggest that the impression of communicating with the deceased may be a distinct mental state distinct from ordinary thinking or imagination.
Book
Full-text available
- Reviews recent research findings from neuroscience and neurotechnology - Examines the relationship between mind and brain through both scientific and philosophical perspectives - Provides a unique window through which researchers can glimpse the intricate workings of the human brain - Explores the scientific advances – and limitations – that currently exist in understanding the human mind - Addresses controversial and challenging topics about the mind-brain problem often neglected in academic debates - Provides an excellent opportunity to gain a more precise and comprehensive understanding of the human mind The conscious mind defines human existence. Many consider the brain as a computer, and they attempt to explain consciousness as emerging at a critical, but unspecified, threshold level of complex computation among neurons. The brain-as-computer model, however, fails to account for phenomenal experience and portrays consciousness as an impotent, after-the-fact epiphenomenon lacking causal power. And the brain-as-computer concept precludes even the remotest possibility of spirituality. As described throughout the history of humankind, seemingly spiritual mental phenomena, including transcendent states, near-death and out-of-body experiences, and past-life memories have recently been well documented and treated scientifically. In addition, the brain-as-computer approach has been challenged by advocates of quantum brain biology, who are possibly able to explain, scientifically, nonlocal, seemingly spiritual mental states. Exploring Frontiers of the Mind-Brain Relationship argues against the purely physical analysis of consciousness and for a balanced psychobiological approach. This thought-provoking volume bridges philosophy of mind with science of mind to empirically examine transcendent phenomena, such as mystic states, near-death experiences and past-life memories, that have confounded scientists for decades. Representing disciplines ranging from philosophy and history to neuroimaging and physics, and boasting a panel of expert scientists and physicians, including Andrew Newberg, Peter Fenwick, Stuart Hameroff, Mario Beauregard, Deepak Chopra, and Chris Clarke the book rigorously follows several lines of inquiry into mind-brain controversies, challenging readers to form their own conclusions—or reconsider previous ones. It is essential reading for researchers and clinicians across many disciplines, including cognitive psychology, personality and social psychology, the neurosciences, neuropsychiatry, palliative care, philosophy, and quantum physics.
Article
Full-text available
Since the dawn of time, Near-Death Experiences (NDEs) have intrigued and, nowadays, are still not fully explained. Since reports of NDEs are proposed to be imagined events, and since memories of imagined events have, on average, fewer phenomenological characteristics than real events memories, we here compared phenomenological characteristics of NDEs reports with memories of imagined and real events. We included three groups of coma survivors (8 patients with NDE as defined by the Greyson NDE scale, 6 patients without NDE but with memories of their coma, 7 patients without memories of their coma) and a group of 18 age-matched healthy volunteers. Five types of memories were assessed using Memory Characteristics Questionnaire (MCQ - Johnson et al., 1988): target memories (NDE for NDE memory group, coma memory for coma memory group, and first childhood memory for no memory and control groups), old and recent real event memories and old and recent imagined event memories. Since NDEs are known to have high emotional content, participants were requested to choose the most emotionally salient memories for both real and imagined recent and old event memories. Results showed that, in NDE memories group, NDE memories have more characteristics than memories of imagined and real events (p<0.02). NDE memories contain more self-referential and emotional information and have better clarity than memories of coma (all ps<0.02). The present study showed that NDE memories contained more characteristics than real event memories and coma memories. Thus, this suggests that they cannot be considered as imagined event memories. On the contrary, their physiological origins could lead them to be really perceived although not lived in the reality. Further work is needed to better understand this phenomenon.
Article
Full-text available
Despite increasing interest in pathological and non-pathological dissociation, few researchers have focused on the spiritual experiences involving dissociative states such as mediumship, in which an individual (the medium) claims to be in communication with, or under the control of, the mind of a deceased person. Our preliminary study investigated psychography - in which allegedly "the spirit writes through the medium's hand" - for potential associations with specific alterations in cerebral activity. We examined ten healthy psychographers - five less expert mediums and five with substantial experience, ranging from 15 to 47 years of automatic writing and 2 to 18 psychographies per month - using single photon emission computed tomography to scan activity as subjects were writing, in both dissociative trance and non-trance states. The complexity of the original written content they produced was analyzed for each individual and for the sample as a whole. The experienced psychographers showed lower levels of activity in the left culmen, left hippocampus, left inferior occipital gyrus, left anterior cingulate, right superior temporal gyrus and right precentral gyrus during psychography compared to their normal (non-trance) writing. The average complexity scores for psychographed content were higher than those for control writing, for both the whole sample and for experienced mediums. The fact that subjects produced complex content in a trance dissociative state suggests they were not merely relaxed, and relaxation seems an unlikely explanation for the underactivation of brain areas specifically related to the cognitive processing being carried out. This finding deserves further investigation both in terms of replication and explanatory hypotheses.
Article
Full-text available
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)
Article
Full-text available
The ubiquitous belief that, after death, our consciousness might persist in some discarnate form is fueled in part by phenomena like near-death experiences (NDEs) and deathbed visions, mystical experiences reported on the threshold of death. Some NDEs, called “Peak in Darien” experiences, include visions of deceased people who are not known at the time to be dead. Cases of this kind provide some of the most persuasive evidence for the survival of consciousness after bodily death.
Article
Context Mediumship is understood as a kind of spiritual experience in which a person (i.e., a medium) claims to be in communication with, or under the control of, spiritual beings. In the last decades there has been a resurgence of studies on psychological, psychiatric and neuroscientific aspects of mediumship, as well as studies assessing the claim that mediums can obtain anomalous information from deceased persons. Objective To assess the evidence for anomalous information reception about deceased people in texts produced through alleged mediumistic writing (psychographic letters) under strictly controlled experimental conditions. Method Eight mediums and ninety-four sitters participated in the study. Eighteen mediumistic writing sessions were carried out using blind proxy sitters. Later, each sitter received the target mediumistic letter and five control letters paired by gender and age. Sitters blindly scored the accuracy of the six letters both with a global score and for each of the objectively verifiable items of information presented on the letters. Scores from target and control letters were compared. Results There was no difference in global evaluation and specific fit scores between control and target letters. The mediums involved in the research were not able to show evidence for providing anomalous information about deceased people when under our strict controlled conditions. We argue for establishing a reasonable compromise between ecological validity and controlled condition.
Article
Background and purpose: Mediumship is the ostensible phenomenon of human-mediated communication between deceased and living persons. In this paper, we perform a meta-analysis of all available modern experimental evidence, specifically from 2001 to December 2019, investigating the accuracy of apparently anomalously received information provided by mediums about deceased individuals. Methods: 14 papers passed our selection criteria, for a total of 18 experiments. Both Bayesian and frequentist random effects models were used to estimate the aggregate effect size across studies. Results: The overall standardized effect size (proportion index), estimated both with a frequentist and a Bayesian random effects model, yielded a value of .18 (95% C.I. = .12 - .25) above the chance level. Furthermore, these estimates passed the control of two publication bias tests. Conclusions: The results of this meta-analysis support the hypothesis that some mediums can retrieve information about deceased persons through unknown means.
Article
The scientific study of mediumship can contribute to the understanding of the mind-brain relationship. This study investigated a letter written by the influential Brazilian “medium” Chico Xavier, whose authorship was attributed to a deceased person. We identified the letter's pieces of information that were objectively verifiable, and we analyzed their accuracy based on documents and on interviews with the deceased's relatives, and the likelihood of Xavier's access to the information via ordinary means. All the 29 items of verifiable information conveyed on the letter were rated as “clear and precise fit.” The information conveyed was highly specific (e.g., names, dates, and specific events). Fourteen items (48.3%) conveyed information that was also very private. We concluded that ordinary explanations for accuracy of the information (i.e., fraud, chance, information leakage, and cold reading) were highly unlikely. We recommend further research on the phenomenon of mediumistic writing, particularly experimental controlled studies with exceptionally gifted mediums.
Article
Recent studies indicate high levels of psychotic experiences in the general population. Here, we report a functional imaging study with 8 mentally healthy spiritual mediums and 8 matched controls. The mediums entered a mediumistic-trance state using a standardized manner by closing their eyes and actively seeking to ignore external and internal stimuli to achieve a ‘state of emptiness’; in a control condition, they were instructed to re-enact the same mediumistic experience that they had during the mediumistic-trance condition but in a non-trance state (imaginative-trance). Both mediums and controls took part in a resting state session. The results indicate stronger activation in the lateral occipital cortex, posterior cingulate cortex (PCC), temporal pole, middle temporal gyrus and orbitofrontal cortex during the mediumistic-trance state. We also observe increased functional connectivity within auditory and sensorimotor Resting State Networks (RSN) during mediumistic–trance compared to resting and imaginative-trance conditions. Comparing spiritual mediums and controls, no differences in RSN were found. These data show preserved engagement of prefrontal cortex and connectivity of the default-mode network that indicate maintained introspective control over non-pathological psychotic-like experiences.
Article
Near-death experiences are vivid, life-changing experiences occurring to people who come close to death. Because some of their features, such as enhanced cognition despite compromised brain function, challenge our understanding of the mind-brain relationship, the question arises whether near-death experiences are imagined rather than real events. We administered the Memory Characteristics Questionnaire to 122 survivors of a close brush with death who reported near-death experiences. Participants completed Memory Characteristics Questionnaires for three different memories: that of their near-death experience, that of a real event around the same time, and that of an event they had imagined around the same time. The Memory Characteristics Questionnaire score was higher for the memory of the near-death experience than for that of the real event, which in turn was higher than that of the imagined event. These data suggest that memories of near-death experiences are recalled as “realer” than real events or imagined events.
Book
Frederic William Henry Myers (1843-1901) was a classical scholar who in mid-career turned to the investigation of psychic phenomena. After studying, and later teaching, Classics at Trinity College, Cambridge he resigned his lectureship in 1869, became an inspector of schools, and campaigned for women's higher education. With the encouragement of former colleagues he began a scientific investigation of spiritualism and related phenomena, and in 1882 he helped to found the Society for Psychical Research. This two-volume work, first published posthumously in 1903, contains the fullest statement of Myers' influential theory of the 'subliminal self', which he developed by combining his research into psychic phenomena with his in-depth reading about the latest advances in psychology and related fields. His deeply intellectual approach is evident throughout the book, which analyses a huge amount of interesting data. Volume 2 discusses apparitions, trances and bodily possession.
Article
Children who claim to remember previous lives have been described in the research literature for over 40 years, and in many cases their families have identified a deceased individual whose life they believe the child is remembering. These cases have been criticized on the grounds that after the families of the child and the deceased individual meet and share information, they may end up attributing more knowledge about that individual to the child than he or she actually demonstrated. A case is presented in which the investigator recorded notes of a child's statements in Turkey and then subsequently found that they corresponded in great detail to the life of a man who lived in Istanbul 850 km away and who died 50 years before the child was born. A review of similar cases in which written records were made before the deceased individual was identified indicates that they present a significant challenge to the supposition that this phenomenon is due to falsely credited information.
Article
Among more than 750 cases of persons in Myanmar (formerly Burma) who as children claimed to remember a previous life, 24 said they had been Japanese soldiers killed in Burma during World War II. Unlike most Burmese subjects of such cases none of these children stated any personal names or addresses that might have permitted verification of their statements. However, they showed habits of dress, food preferences, industriousness, insensitivity to pain, and other behaviors unusual in Burma, but typical of Japanese people, especially Japanese soldiers during their occupation of Myanmar (Burma). The oppressive rule in Burma of the Japanese Army during World War II makes it unlikely that any Burmese parent would instigate or encourage a child to behave like a Japanese soldier. Genetic factors cannot account for the children's unusual behavior because all of them were (with two exceptions) born after 1945, when there were no Japanese in the villages of Burma. The behavioral features of these children suggest a third factor (additional to genetic ones and known environmental influences) in personality.
Book
To find out more about Gregory Shushan's work, to download free articles, or to contact him, please visit www.gregoryshushan.com. To support his work, please visit https://www.patreon.com/gregoryshushan. In an original and innovative piece of comparative research, Gregory Shushan analyses afterlife conceptions in five ancient civilizations (Old and Middle Kingdom Egypt, Sumerian and Old Babylonian Mesopotamia, Vedic India, pre-Buddhist China, and pre-Columbian Mesoamerica). These are considered in light of historical and contemporary reports of near-death experiences, and shamanic afterlife 'journeys'. Conceptions of the Afterlife in Early Civilizations is a significant study, for it presents a comprehensive new comparative framework for the cross-cultural study of myth and religion, while at the same time providing a fascinating exploration of the interface between belief and experience - as well as a challenge to post-modern scholarly attitudes concerning cross-cultural comparisons in the study of religions. The book was nominated for the 2011 Grawemeyer Award. www.gregoryshushan.com
Chapter
Mediumship, an experience widespread throughout human history, can be defined as an experience in which an individual (the so-called medium) purports to be in communication with, or under the control of, the personality of a deceased. Since the nineteenth century, there is a substantial, but neglected tradition of scientific research about mediumship and its implications for the nature of mind. This chapter will review studies investigating the origins, the sources of mediumistic communications. Since one crucial aspect of mediumistic experience is the claim for the persistence of mind activity and the communication of personalities after bodily death, I discuss what would be the evidence for personal identity and its persistence beyond the brain. After that, empirical evidence provided by studies on mediumship is presented and analyzed, including a brief biography of two very productive mediums: Mrs. Leonora Piper and Chico Xavier. Finally, I discuss the implications of these data for our understanding of mind and its relationship with the body. Applying contemporary research methods to mediumistic experiences may provide a badly needed broadening and diversification of the empirical basis needed to advance our understanding of the mind–body problem.
Article
In this article we explore the correlation of several variables with the depth of the near-death experience (NDE) as measured by Ring's Weighted Core Experience Index (WCEI). For this purpose we analyzed fifty-one NDE cases presented by Sutherland in tabular form in her book Reborn in the Light [1]. To test for the possibility that older cases are embellished as time goes on we predicted that we would find a positive correlation between the WCEI and the time elapsed between the experience and Sutherland's interview. Other exploratory analyses attempted to relate the WCEI to sex, age at the time of the experience and at the time of the interview, and type of medical crisis during which the experience took place. None of the analyses conducted obtained significant results. There was a non-significant trend for surgical NDE cases to have higher scores in the WCEI than other conditions.
Article
Context The study of mediumship is important because if mediumistic abilities are real, they would provide empirical support for non-reductionist theories of the mind, thus having major implications to our understanding of the mind-brain relationship. This study investigated the alleged mediumship of Chico Xavier, a very prolific and influential ‘medium’ in Brazil. Objective To investigate the accuracy of the information conveyed in Xavier’s ‘psychographed’ letters (i.e., letters allegedly authored by a deceased personality) and to explore the possible explanations for it. Method After a systematic search for Xavier’s psychographed letters we selected one set of 13 letters allegedly written by a same spiritual author (JP). The letters were initially screened for the identification of items of information that were objectively verifiable. The accuracy of the information conveyed by these items and the estimated likelihood of the Xavier’s access to the information via normal means were rated using Fit and Leak scales based on documents and interviews carried out with the sister and friends of JP. Results We identified 99 items of verifiable information conveyed on these 13 letters; 98% of these items were rated as ‘Clear and Precise Fit,’ and no item was rated as ‘no Fit.’ We concluded that normal explanations for accuracy of the information (i.e., fraud, chance, information leakage, and cold reading) were only remotely plausible. These results seem to provide empirical support for non-reductionist theories of consciousness.
Article
It has been proposed that some normal-psychological factors may explain why some children speak of having had a previous life. Some of these and other psychological factors, which may further our understanding of children claiming prcvious-life memories, =ere ihe siibjeci of this siudy. Psychological tests were administered to 30 children in Sri Lanka, aged 7 to 13, who at an earlier age had claimed to remember a previous life, and a con- trol group of equal size. Children claiming previous-life memories show a higher level of cognitive functioning; perform much better in school, have a larger vocabulary, obtain higher scores on the Raven Progressive Matrices (brief test of intelligence), have better memory, and are not more suggestible than their peers. As a group they are gifted children. Parents found them to argue a lot, prefer being alone, be more nervous and stubborn than their peers, more perfectionistic, and more concerned about cleanliness. Teachers found them excellent to be pupils. As research continues the alleged memories of these children are found to be only one part of a pattern of characteristics that so far seem to defy a normal explanation.
Article
Among 278 cases of children who claim to remember previous lives, 66 (23.7%) engaged in play that was unusual for their families and had no model in family members or other obvious normal stimulus. This paper re- ports 25 examples of such atypical play. The play accorded with claimed memories of previous lives expressed by the children when they could speak. The child' s unusual play sometimes gave its parents the first indication they had that the child was possibly remembering a previous life. In 22 cases the child' s statements were found to match events in the life of a specific de- ceased person. In such cases the play was also found to correspond to some aspects of that deceased person' s life, such as his or her vocation, avocation, or mode of death.
Article
In order to examine stability over time in the features of cases of the reincarnation type in Turkey, 45 cases studied by one investigator were compared with 45 later cases studied by another investigator. The two sets of cases occurred about a generation apart. On the side of the subject 9 features were compared; on the side of the concerned deceased person (the " previous personality" ) 3 features were compared. Overall, the two groups of cases showed closely similar features. Three differences appear due to dissimilar emphases on the part of the investigators when they interviewed informants. A fourth difference — a lower incidence of homicide in the later series — re- flects increased peacefulness among the Alevis of south central Turkey in the last few decades.
Article
When comparisons were made between reincarnation type cases (36 Ss born before 1936 and 54 Ss born in 1965 or later) on 54 variables including demographic data, features of the cases, and the investigation of the cases, significant differences occurred in only 5 variables. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
An earlier version of this paper was presented at the Centenary-Jubilee Conference of the Society for Psychical Research and the Parapsychological Association held in Cambridge, England, in August 1982. Data are presented from 856 solved and unsolved reincarnation cases in 6 cultures. The ratio of solved to unsolved cases varied among the cultures studied, as did the frequency with which the previous personality was identified as someone already known to the S's family. In both types of cases, Ss began to speak about the previous life at about the same age, mentioned the mode of death of the previous personality with about the same frequency, showed a phobia related to that mode of death with about the same frequency, and referred to a death that was violent with high frequency. Ss of unsolved cases stopped talking about the previous life earlier than did Ss of solved cases, and they mentioned the previous personality's name less frequently than did Ss of solved cases. In all cultures examined the incidence of violent death among the previous personalities of unsolved cases (as claimed by the S) was significantly higher than that among previous personalities of solved cases. The possible relevance of these findings to the interpretation of unsolved cases is discussed. (7 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)