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Near-death experiences in cardiac arrest survivors

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Abstract

Near-death experiences (NDEs) have become the focus of much interest in the last 30 years or so. Such experiences can occur both when individuals are objectively near to death and also when they simply believe themselves to be. The experience typically involves a number of different components including a feeling of peace and well-being, out-of-body experiences (OBEs), entering a region of darkness, seeing a brilliant light, and entering another realm. NDEs are known to have long-lasting transformational effects upon those who experience them. An overview is presented of the various theoretical approaches that have been adopted in attempts to account for the NDE. Spiritual theories assume that consciousness can become detached from the neural substrate of the brain and that the NDE may provide a glimpse of an afterlife. Psychological theories include the proposal that the NDE is a dissociative defense mechanism that occurs in times of extreme danger or, less plausibly, that the NDE reflects memories of being born. Finally, a wide range of organic theories of the NDE has been put forward including those based upon cerebral hypoxia, anoxia, and hypercarbia; endorphins and other neurotransmitters; and abnormal activity in the temporal lobes. Finally, the results of studies of NDEs in cardiac arrest survivors are reviewed and the implications of these results for our understanding of mind-brain relationships are discussed.

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... Typically, at least according to French (2005), it is clear that during the minutes that elapse between cardiac arrest and death of the brain stem, the mind experiences vivid and varied images. It seems that these lead into a final experience that totally resolves all personal conflicts, all unanswered questions, all emotional loose ends, all guilt remorse and sorrow, as the consciousness enters a state of warmth, joy and release from pain, characterised by NDEers as being overwhelmingly suffused with love. ...
... However it is the third broad category, organic studies, which has received increased attention in recent years, according to French (2005). ...
... Cardiac arrest survivors have been the chosen subject of at least four such studies because they provide the opportunity for a prospective approach, under clinical conditions, whereas retrospective accounts of NDEs are generally unsystematic, self-selecting, and often reported years after the event. From the prospective studies a best estimate for the incidence of NDEs among cardiac arrest survivors has been reckoned to be 10-12% (French, 2005). ...
Article
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Black hole event horizons provide us with an image of what the world looks like when it has been reduced to its smallest spatial components and all process has been squeezed out of it. It appears as a vast sheet of tiny, random dots. Since time is at the basis of 'process', the image highlights questions about temporality that also exercised philosophers, notably Henri Bergson and Alfred North Whitehead. Following a strategy suggested by Whitehead's approach to the questions leads to a possibility, which is also at the basis of a particular panprotopsychist theory ('SoS theory'), that the 'time' to which we ordinarily refer in everyday language may have two ontologically distinct but equally 'real' components-(a) the 'objective' metric spacetime of general relativity which refers to the organization of classical, causal relationships and (b) a 'subjective' sequence of 'nows' providing a basis for conscious experience-albeit 'nows' to which (usually very brief) objective durations can be attributed. If true, it is to be expected that macroscopic, conscious mind-related violations of energy conservation should occasionally manifest. There is a wide range of anecdotal evidence from 'psychic' phenomena suggestive of such violations. The main aim of this paper is to point to the potential value of investigating the energy budgets of candidate phenomena. © 2018 Society for Scientific Exploration. All rights reserved.
... Introduction such as those reported by cardiac arrest survivors, 3,4 raises questions about the real nature of consciousness, and the neurocognitive process happening upon the approach of death. Circulatory arrest is required to allow for a bloodless operative field, while hypothermia provides the brain and end-organ protection by significantly reducing the global metabolic demand. ...
... To identify NDE, Ring first developed the "weighted core experience index," which was further refined by Greyson,9 arguing that the components of Ring's scale lacked specificity. 3 The Greyson NDE scale has demonstrated good reliability and internal consistency and is commonly used in the literature. 13 Three major theories have been suggested in an attempt to explain the occurrence of NDE as follows: (1) the physiological changes that accompany the death process, (2) an adaptive dissociative mechanism in response to the death threat, or (3) the onset of a transcendental experience. ...
... The number of patients included in our study might also be too limited to evidence NDE, although the incidence rates reported among cardiac arrest survivors suggest that such cohort size should be adequate. 3 The level of hypothermia and the optional use of adjunctive cerebral perfusion during circulatory arrest might also play a crucial part. Keenan et al 23 monitored EEG during 71 aortic arch replacement with HCA and ACP. ...
Article
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Background Understanding near-death experiences (NDE) could provide a new insight into the analysis of human consciousness and the neurocognitive processes happening upon the approach of death. With a temporary interruption of systemic perfusion, aortic surgery under hypothermic circulatory arrest (HCA) may be the only available model of reversible clinical death. We present, herein, the results of an observational study designed to assess the incidence of NDE after aortic surgery. Methods We performed a prospective study including consecutive patients who underwent thoracic aortic surgery between July 2018 and September 2019 at our institution. Procedures without HCA were included to constitute a control group. The primary outcome was the incidence of NDE assessed with the Greyson NDE scale during the immediate postoperative course, via a standardized interview of the patients in the surgical ward. Results One hundred and one patients were included. Twenty-one patients (20.8%) underwent nonelective interventions for aortic dissection. Ninety-one patients had hemiarch replacement (90.1%). Sixty-seven (66.3%) interventions were performed with HCA, with an average circulatory arrest duration of 26.9 ± 25.5 minutes, and a mean body temperature of 23.7 ± 3.8°C. None of the patients reported any recollection from their period of unconsciousness. There was no NDE experiencer in the study cohort. Conclusion Several confounding factors regarding anesthesia, or NDE evaluation, might have impaired the chance of NDE recollections, and might have contributed to this negative result. Whether HCA may trigger NDE remains unknown.
... The etiology of NDEs remains unknown. Several theories and models have been proposed without satisfying scientific proof [8]. Much of the scientific and philosophic discourse centers around the archetypical mind-body problem. ...
... Activity within temporal lobes of the brain, notably the temporoparietal junctions, can evoke out-of-body experiences [57][58][59]. A higher frequency of temporal lobe dysfunction was found in patients with NDEs from life-threatening events [60], although this dysfunction might simply have been due to the severity of the brain injury which was not adjusted for in that study [8,56]. Also, it should be noted that out-of-body experiences are part of only a minority of all NDEs, that they can occur outside the context of NDEs, and that they also exist on a spectrum ranging from looking at one's own body from an entirely detached perspective to more subtle perceptions of a bodily dissociation [6,16,56,58,61]. ...
... Cerebral anoxia/hypoxia and hypercapnia may generate experiences resembling NDEs, e.g., tunnel vision, bright lights, out-of-body experiences [63][64][65], albeit possibly less intense [8]. Hence, blood gas measurements in cardiac arrest patients with and without NDEs have yielded somewhat discordant results. ...
Article
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Purpose of Review Near-death experiences (NDEs) are conscious perceptual experiences, including self-related emotional, spiritual, and mystical experiences, occurring in close encounters with death or in non-life-threatening situations. The origin of NDEs remains unknown. Here, we review recent advances in the understanding of NDE semiology and pathophysiology. Recent Findings Recent prospective studies confirm that NDEs reflect a spectrum of highly distinctive memories which are associated with negative or positive emotions and can be influenced by the nature of the causal event, but the temporal sequence with which these images unfold is variable. Some drugs, notably ketamine, may lead to experiences that are similar or even identical to NDEs. New models extend previous neural network theories and include aspects of evolutionary and quantum theories. Summary Although the factual existence of NDEs is no longer doubted and the semiology well-described, a pathophysiological model that includes all aspects of NDEs is still lacking.
... They usually involve experience with vivid memories and a great clarity of thought (Greyson, 2000a;Roe, 2001;Van Lommel et al., 2001;Bardy, 2002;Irwin, 2003 (Chapters 11 and 12, pp. 163-196) ;French, 2005;Parnia and Fenwick, 2002;Parnia et al., 2014). On the other hand, End of Life Experiences (ELEs) are altered experiences associated with the dying process itself and finally death (Osis and Haraldsson, 1977;Brayne et al., 2006Brayne et al., , 2008Fenwick et al., 2007;Fenwick and Fenwick, 2008;Fenwick, 2010). ...
... On the other hand, End of Life Experiences (ELEs) are altered experiences associated with the dying process itself and finally death (Osis and Haraldsson, 1977;Brayne et al., 2006Brayne et al., , 2008Fenwick et al., 2007;Fenwick and Fenwick, 2008;Fenwick, 2010). NDEs and ELEs provide new insights into the nature of consciousness (mainly into its nonlocal and non material aspects), and other functional mechanisms (Parnia et al., 2001;Parnia and Fenwick, 2002;French, 2005;Parnia et al., 2014). They challenge the classical scientific theories of consciousness, which propound it to be epiphenomenal; emerging as a result of specific neuronal activity in the brain (localized and compact structure). ...
... Considering NDEs and ELEs in such studies offers a nonlocal and non material extension to the reductionist and deterministic models of modern science. Knowing the extent of implications these could have in the science of consciousness, numerous studies have been carried out to demystify the mechanisms and processes involved in the generation of NDEs and ELEs (Parnia et al., 2001;Bardy, 2002;Greyson, 2000a;Parnia and Fenwick, 2002;French, 2005;Mobbs and Watt, 2011;Parnia et al., 2014). But in vain, even to the present day we don't have any complete theoretical/experiment model that could explain and capture the spectrum of experiences associated with the abovementioned phenomena. ...
Article
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Reddy JSK., Biophoton emission be the reason for mechanical malfunctioning at the moment of death eISSN 1303-5150 www.neuroquantology.com 806 ABSTRACT Near­Death experiences (NDEs) and End of Life Experiences (ELEs) provides new insights into the nature of consciousness (mainly into its non­local and non­material aspects). Knowing the extent of implications these could have in the science of consciousness, numerous studies have been carried out to demystify the mechanisms and processes involved in the generation of NDEs and ELEs. One such phenomenon; well discussed in NDEs and ELEs literature, that received very less attention from the scientific community is malfunctioning of mechanical objects (such as clocks stopping, malfunctioning of TVs and other electronic devices, etc.) starting at the moment of death in the room of a dying person. On the other hand, there has been little evidence suggesting the bulk emission of biophotons during the time of devastation or death. Considering the results from few recent scientific investigations that demonstrate the role played by biophotons in triggering potential changes in the processing of mechanical objects, here we propose that specific mechanisms involving biophoton emission could probably be related to unexplainable phenomenon surrounding the moment of death. In this regard, the present note acts as a starting step and calls for more experimental investigations that could decode the mystery behind such events and thereby verify the present hypothesis.
... In contrast, some negative aftereffects can be observed: few experiencers declare encountering difficulties in integrating the experience into their current lives, leading in some cases, to distress and psychosocial impairment (Bush, 1991;Greyson, 1997). Moreover, a vast majority of experiencers report to feel frustrated at not being able to describe the high significance of the experience to others as they would wish (French, 2005). In this regard, NDEs appear to be ineffable (Knoblauch et al., 2001). ...
... Finally, as a more general matter, we believe that NDEs-like phenomena call for a reappraisal of the (more general) NDE phenomenon. As previously stressed by few authors (Facco & Agrillo, 2012;French, 2005;Lake, 2017), the label itself -NDE-does not appear to adequately describe the diversity of experiences. Because there is no clear universal definition of NDEs, an implicit consensus between investigators has emerged where NDEs are defined in terms of their commonalities (Greyson, 1999 To conclude, although it is reasonable to question the reliability of memories resulting from NDE, the existence of NDE and NDE-like phenomena is, to date, no longer debated in the scientific community. ...
Thesis
When facing a life-threatening situation –or a situation perceived as such, some people will report having lived various phenomenological experiences (e.g., out-of-body experiences, encountering deceased relatives) that are intriguing by their extra-ordinary aspect. These distinct perceptual experiences are commonly referred to as the phenomenon of “near-death experience” (NDE). To date, the scientific literature devoted to this phenomenon contains a predominance of opinion and review articles, while there is a lack of empirical investigations that try to understand its rich phenomenology. Through four data-driven studies, we had two main objectives: (1) to better characterize the memory of NDE, as well as (2) to better define the cognitive profile of their experiencers (i.e., people who have experienced a NDE).
... These distinct perceptual experiences are commonly referred to as "Near-Death Experiences" (NDEs). To explain NDEs and their phenomenal content, three main non-mutually exclusive explanatory models have been proposed (2,3). Spiritual theories assume a "dualistic" approach toward the mind-brain relationship (4), neurobiological approaches suggest that specific brain networks and functions might underlie NDEs (5,6), whereas psychological theories have advocated that NDEs are the result of a dissociative defense mechanism in response to extreme danger (7). ...
... In line with the present findings and as previously stressed (11), NDEs-like phenomena call for a reappraisal of the (more general) NDE phenomenon. The label itself-NDE-does not appear to adequately describe the diversity of experiences (3,6). Because there is no clear universal definition of NDEs, an implicit consensus between investigators has emerged where NDEs were defined in terms of their commonalities (40). ...
Article
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Little is known about the personality characteristics of those who have experienced a “Near-Death Experience” (NDE). One interesting candidate is fantasy proneness. We studied this trait in individuals who developed NDEs in the presence (i.e., classical NDEs) or absence (i.e., NDEs-like) of a life-threatening situation. We surveyed a total of 228 individuals. From those, 108 qualified as NDE experiencers (i.e., Greyson NDE scale total score ≥ 7): 51 had their NDEs in the context of a life-threatening situation; 57 had their NDEs not related to a life-threatening situation. From those who did not meet the criteria to be considered “experiencers”, 20 had their NDE in the absence of a life-threatening situation; 50 had faced death but did not recall a NDE and finally, 50 were healthy people without a history of life threat and/or NDE. All participants completed a measure of NDE intensity (the Greyson NDE scale) and a measure of fantasy proneness (the Creative Experiences Questionnaire). People reporting NDEs-like scored higher on fantasy proneness than those reporting classical NDEs, individuals whose experiences did not meet the NDE criteria and matched controls. By contrast, individuals reporting classical NDEs showed similar engagement in fantasy as matched controls. The reported intensity of the experiences was positively correlated with engagement in fantasy. Our findings support the view that strong engagement in fantasy by individuals recalling NDEs-like might make these persons more likely to report such subjective experiences when exposed to suitable physiological and/or psychological conditions (e.g., meditation, syncope).
... One should note that even though EEG patterns could serve as a means to represent and understand the brain activity, in general, this alone can't be considered as a sole governing variable. This is because; EEGs can only detect brain activity in one-half of the area of the cerebral cortex and hence we can't estimate the activity going on in the other half of the cerebral cortex and also in deeper structures of the brain (Paolin et al 1995;Bardy 2002;French 2005). That is connecting EEG patterns alone to consciousness ignores the genesis of EEG (where it requires synchronized polarization of apical dendrites in the cortex). ...
... Cardiac arrest cases are best exemptions to quote such situations (Van Lommel et al 2001, Parnia et al 2001, 2002, 2014French 2005). In Parnia and Fenwick (2002), they claim cardiac arrest to be the closest possible model near to the dying process and hence they could provide a glimpse into the experiences associated with the death and dying process. ...
Article
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In the present manuscript, we make few comments on the ideas proposed in Gardiner (2013), with little discussion and emphasis on Gardiner et al. (2010). In the latter article; which forms the base for Gardiner (2013), authors reviewed interesting research studies concerned with the fractal nature of the brain structure and its functional aspects and thereby proposed consciousness to be an emergent property occurring at higher dimensions. Even though above studies could be appreciated for their contributions in developing novel theoretical models and deeper understanding of consciousness, there exist few exceptions based on which their proposals may not be universally valid. Here, we consider the cases of 'Cardiac arrest' and 'Near-Death experiences (NDEs),' to comment and get deeper insights into such ideas. In this regard, present commentary serves as a useful contribution to any further studies along these lines.
... Near-death experiences (NDE) are "intense psychological experience of debated nature, characterized by an atypical state of consciousness occurring during an episode of apparent unconsciousness and usually in life-threatening conditions" (Palmieri et al., 2014). NDE have been reported by successfully resuscitated cardiac arrest patients where the NDE occurred during cerebral hypoxia (French, 2005) and patients where life support was discontinued (Auyong et al., 2010). Hallucinations and memory flashbacks in NDEs suggest the involvement of limbic structures like the hippocampus (French, 2005) and the temporal lobe (Vanhaudenhuyse et al., 2009), with oscillatory activity of NDE memories very similar to real life memory recall (Palmieri et al., 2014). ...
... NDE have been reported by successfully resuscitated cardiac arrest patients where the NDE occurred during cerebral hypoxia (French, 2005) and patients where life support was discontinued (Auyong et al., 2010). Hallucinations and memory flashbacks in NDEs suggest the involvement of limbic structures like the hippocampus (French, 2005) and the temporal lobe (Vanhaudenhuyse et al., 2009), with oscillatory activity of NDE memories very similar to real life memory recall (Palmieri et al., 2014). ...
Article
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Near-death experiences (NDE) are episodes of enhanced perception with impending death, which have been associated with increased high-frequency (13–100 Hz) synchronization of neuronal activity, which is implicated in cognitive processes like perception, attention and memory. To test whether the NDE-associated high-frequency oscillations surge is related to cardiac arrest, recordings were made from the hippocampus of anesthetized rats dying from an overdose of the sedative chloral hydrate (CH). At a lethal dose, CH caused a surge in beta band power in CA3 and CA1 and a surge in gamma band power in CA1. CH increased the inter-regional coherence of high-frequency oscillations within and between hippocampi. Whereas the surge in beta power developed at non-lethal chloral hydrate doses, the surge in gamma power was specific for impending death. In contrast, CH strongly suppressed theta band power in both CA1 and CA3 and reduced inter-regional coherence in the theta band. The simultaneously recorded electrocardiogram showed a small decrease in heart rate but no change in waveform during the high-frequency oscillation surge, with cardiac arrest only developing after the cessation of breathing and collapse of all oscillatory activity. These results demonstrate that the high-frequency oscillation surge just before death is not limited to cardiac arrest and that especially the increase in gamma synchronization in CA1 may contribute to NDE observed both with and without cardiac arrest.
... Nunn argues (personal communication) that the evidence for the occurrence of apparently disembodied states is actually quite strong, for example, near-death experiences (NDEs) (Blackmore, 1996;French, 2005). If this is true then this may not be a problem. ...
... […] (French, 2005) reviewed some possible explanations of NDEs: spiritual -consciousness detaches from neural substrate of brain providing glimpse of afterlife; psychological -defense mechanism in extreme danger; biological -cerebral hypoxia, anoxia, hypercarbia., causing release of endorphins and other brain neurotransmitters inducing hallucinations and temporal lobe hyperactivity. ...
Research
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General history of western metaphysics is given (Section 1.1) first then the history of dual-aspect monism is elaborated (Section 1.2). Western metaphysics is summarized in Section 2 along with the speculative comparison with eastern metaphysics. In western metaphysics, we categorize all entities in just two categories: mind and matter. All theist metaphysics, have built-in separability hypothesis between ‘soul’ and ‘body/brain’ at the time of death, i.e. mind and matter are NOT inseparable, rather mind and matter can be separated by the process of death and interact by the process of birth and the interaction is maintained during whole life (behaves as if mysteriously inseparable). Thus, they have 7 problems of interactive substance dualism. It is concluded that the ‘dual-aspect monism framework with dual-mode and varying degree of dominance of aspects depending on the levels of entities’ has the least number of problems compared to all religions and all types of metaphysics.
... Following NDEs, most people report losing their fear of death (Greyson, 2000). They view their NDE as one of the-or the-most important event in their life, and often change the way that they live (French, 2005). Though many reductionistic explanations have been proffered, NDEs appear very difficult to explain in terms of typical psychological or neurological mechanisms (Fenwick, 1997;French, 2005). ...
... They view their NDE as one of the-or the-most important event in their life, and often change the way that they live (French, 2005). Though many reductionistic explanations have been proffered, NDEs appear very difficult to explain in terms of typical psychological or neurological mechanisms (Fenwick, 1997;French, 2005). The Near-Death Experience Research Foundation has curated over 4,000 NDEs with stories told in 23 different languages (Near-Death Experience Research Foundation, 2019). ...
Article
This symposium includes twelve personal narratives from individuals who have had a near-death experience (NDE) in medical or surgical settings. It also includes three commentaries on these narratives by experts in NDEs, healthcare ethics, spiritual counseling, and chaplaincy. The stories and commentaries highlight how healthcare workers' reactions to NDEs may have long-term positive or negative effects on patients and their families. The symposium identifies gaps in care and provides a road map for nonjudgmental and supportive responses to NDEs.
... Nunn argues (personal communication) that the evidence for the occurrence of apparently disembodied states is actually quite strong, for example, near-death experiences (NDEs) (Blackmore, 1996;French, 2005). If this is true then this may not be a problem. ...
... […] (French, 2005) reviewed some possible explanations of NDEs: spiritualconsciousness detaches from neural substrate of brain providing glimpse of afterlife; psychological -defense mechanism in extreme danger; biologicalcerebral hypoxia, anoxia, hypercarbia., causing release of endorphins and other brain neurotransmitters inducing hallucinations and temporal lobe hyperactivity. ...
Research
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In the philosophies of some religions , such as the Geeta, Samkhya, Dvaita , Advaita and Vishishtadvaita philosophy of Hinduism, dualistic philosophy of Christianity, Islam, and Judaism, the metaphysical frameworks include interactive substance dualism where mind (includes all mental entities such as Buddhi, Ahamkāra, Atman, Purusha, Brahman and so on) and matter (both fermions and bosons) are on equal footing; they interact (such as Purusha ‘shines’ on Prakriti for creation of universe) with each other but each can exist without other, i.e., they are separable and independent (Vimal, 2011c). This is because theist religions assume that soul (mental entity) separates from the dead body (physical entity) after death, but interacts when we are alive (Vimal, 2011c). However, this framework has problems such as the association or mind-brain interaction problem, the problem of mental causation, the ‘Zombie’ problem, the ‘Ghost’ problem, the neurophysiological many-one/many relation problem, the causal pairing problem, and the developmental problem (Vimal, 2011c). Advaita Vedanta philosophy of Hinduism postulates non-duality in the sense that all souls are the same and are part of Brahman (Vimal, 2011b). In Adi Shankaracharya’s Advaita Vedanta (Ādi Śankarāchārya, 788-820a, 788-820b; Rosen, 2007), Brahman is the only truth, the world is an illusion, and there is ultimately no difference between Brahman and individual jîva (Brahma satyaṃ jagat mithyā, jīvo brahmaiva nāparah). It is unclear if the there is a distinction between God and matter, but, matter (such as dead body) is also a part of God; In addition there are problems related to Avidya (not-Knowledge) (Vimal, 2011b). Advaita’s problem was addressed by Vishishtadvaita, where Brahman is assumed to have dual-aspect (mental and physical) and is both cause and effect (implying ‘all in one and one in all’ view). However, this has the problem of theist-atheist phenomenon because Vishishtadvaita is theist’s framework (assumes Brahman as God) and unable to address atheist/science’s framework. We simply cannot ignore the contribution of science in our lives. Vishishtadvaita’s problem can be addressed by ‘dual-aspect monism with dual-mode along with varying degree of dominance of aspects depending on the levels of entities’; its theist version can be named as modified-Vishishtadvaita. We have now renamed it as the extended Dual-Aspect Monism (eDAM, Dvi-Pakṣa Advaita) framework (see Section 1.4). Here, it is assumed that theist-atheist phenomenon is a subject-specific because scientists seem to have speculated about the existence of ‘God gene’ (Hamer, 2005) (see also its review by (Doughty, 2005)), which when expressed entails subjects to be theist (it may also be acquired); otherwise subject is atheist. In other words, theist subjects can assume the dual-aspect Brahman as God and atheist can assume Brahman as dual-aspect entity at fundamental level (such as physicist’s vacuum, deep quantum potential or Bohm’s Implicate Order) from where all universes (including human beings) emerge via co-evolution. However, this framework has the problem of dual-aspect ‘brute’ fact (that is the way it is!), although it is justified as we clearly have neural-networks of brain (physical aspect) and related subjective experiences (mental aspect); however, it is indeed an assumption. This needs further research. Thus, it appears that the Truth is still unknown and we need to keep on researching! Other views, such mentalistic idealism, materialism and panpsychism also have problems. We propose modified-Vishishtadvaita framework in all religions, philosophy, psychology, neuroscience and all other sciences because it has the least number of problems. This framework is close to dual-perspective Trika Kashmir Shaivism (Shiva as mental aspect and Shakti as physical aspect), but perhaps these aspects could be separated. In this article, we have taken an example of Prana Pratistha concept of Sai baba who tried to unify all religions. His three major principles are: (1) Shradha (reverence, belief, respect, faith, trust on each other and on the metaphysics/framework), (2) Saboori (dhairya, patience, endurance, tolerance), and (3) ‘sabakaa maalik ek hae’ (all are one, unity among diversity). They are interpreted in the extended dual-aspect monism framework and it is emphasized that this will have dramatic effect in our daily lives if followed rigorously.
... Thus, the so-called 'disembodiment' becomes a real possibility' (Eerikäinen, 2000). Nunn argues (personal communication) that the evidence for the occurrence of apparently disembodied states is actually quite strong, for example, near-death experiences (NDEs) (Blackmore, 1996;French, 2005). If this is true, then this may not be a problem. ...
... (xii) (French, 2005) proposed the following explanations of NDEs: (a) Spiritually, consciousness detaches from its neural correlates that presumably provides a glimpse of the afterlife. (b) Psychologically, NDEs can be considered as the defense mechanism in extreme danger. ...
... A " near-death experience " is referred to an alteration of consciousness during a life-threatening condition (Greyson, 1980). Survivors of cardiac arrest have been amidst the first to communicate their experiences, and with the advances in medical technology, the number of people going close to death, but then resuscitated, will obviously increase (French, 2005). The first systematic collection and analysis of NDE started with Raymond Moody in 1975 (Moody, 1975). ...
... Nevertheless, even medical authors have been for a long time sceptical about the possibility to explain such phenomena merely based on the physiological changes that the brain might suffer during events leading to NDE, such as the cardiac arrest (Van Lommel, 2001). Complex as they are, NDE have been approached through three main theoretical frames (French, 2005). Thus, spiritual theories with the assumption that consciousness detaches from the brain represent the first approach. ...
Article
Near-death experiences have been described with a variety of forms and narratives. Such experiences were initially recollected from survivors of cardiac arrest. Nevertheless, almost all medical conditions leading to loss of consciousness or causing a restriction in the perceptive field have been related with the appearance of near-death experiences. A few literary narratives of these experiences are available, with fictional characters exposed to helplessness and despair during the impending death. A situation of near-death experience during impending demise is described in the last part of the seventh chapter of a well known Albanian novel ‘The castle’, of Ismail Kadare. The last two pages of this chapter describe the confusion (in mental terms) following the crash of a tunnel dug deep underground from Turkish soldiers, which aimed to reach inside the besieged castle. Despair and helplessness are the main characteristics of the literary discourse. Darkness-related hallucinations and restriction of cognitive field due to environmental factors will all of them be responsible of the aftermath following the deliberate crash of the tunnel, caused from the castle inhabitants, after fierce fighting during the siege. A fictional description of these experiences and of the psychological and physical agony will complete the rest. Near-death moments and respective descriptions have been an important field of medicine, humanities and forensic sciences. Only some writers have hazarded into describing such personal experiences of despair and helplessness during the agony and impending death.
... To explain such happenings in the blind, Ring and Cooper (1999) coined the term mindsight and sees it as a form of transcendental knowing often reported by both blind and sighted during extrasensory or out-of-body experiences (cf. French, 2005;Ring, 2001;Ring & Cooper, 1999). ...
Article
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The word soul in the cell-soul pathway does not have a scientific definition but has been hypothesized to be an indefinite, non-structured, massless energy made up of electromagnetic radiations that is confined in the cytoskeletal network of a living cell. It is a coherent, imperceptible, uncontainable and recyclable support pathway, which uses energy to promulgate consciousness in the cell supporting its functions (Pereira 2015). The pathway currently provides a mechanistic explanation of the flow of consciousness within the body, but the intent of this paper is to provide an arduous explanation of non-local consciousness or disembodiment observed in near-death experiences. The paper hypothetically subsets the cell-soul pathway with the presence of two forms of consciousness, consistent with a recently developed model by Reddy (2016b): bodily consciousness, which manages functions only at cellular level, and functional consciousness, which is present in the body but can get disembodied and perform non-locally; the two forms of consciousness represent the overall state of consciousness. The non-locality of subjective experiences observed in near-death cases can be related to the realm of quantum physics – quantum entanglement between the two forms of consciousness that can demonstrate the capability of storing information holographically within the void or vacuum with the ability to create memories beyond the limitations of the brain and body.
... Phenomenal content typical of NDEs has been reported in diverse states of consciousness, including so-called normal waking consciousness, dreams, trance states, medically induced unconscious states such as general anesthesia, prolonged coma, and persistent vegetative states, as well as in response to intense fear. Biological, psychological and transpersonal models have been proposed in efforts to explain NDE phenomenal content; however, there is still no consensus on a single best explanatory model (French, 2005;Greyson, 2009;Williams, Greyson, & Kelly, 2007;Persinger, 1983;Roberts & Owen, 1988). A neuropsychological model proposed over half a century ago by Werner may help explain some features of NDEs (Werner, 1948(Werner, , 1957. ...
Article
The near-death experience (NDE) raises important unanswered questions about changes in brain activity that take place in the moments before death, as well as in dreams and altered states in which similar experiences are reported to occur. The fact that NDEs take place in response to both life-threatening trauma and nonlife-threatening situations, suggests that multiple mechanisms underlie NDE phenomenology. In this paper, the NDE is considered in the context of recent advances in neuroscience, including the default mode network DMN and ?connectomics? theory. Findings of animal and human studies support that a surge of highly coherent electrical activity takes place in the brain moments before cessation of cardiac function. Starting from these findings, I propose a multifactorial model in which disparate physiological and psychological factors activate dynamically interconnected networks, resulting in phenomenal content retrospectively interpreted as NDEs. I develop 3 variations of a general model based on the assumption that networks can be activated as a single event, serially, or in parallel with other networks. Mechanisms postulated for the models differ with respect to the relative order of network dynamics involved. The phenomenal content of a unique NDE and its recall are constrained by multiple physiological factors that modulate neural network activity and affect encoding and decoding of information in cortical and subcortical brain regions. In conclusion, I propose a longitudinal research program using sophisticated electroencephalographic (EEG) and functional brain-imaging techniques and advanced data analysis methods.
... Medical and neurological conditions that have been associated with NDEs and that are associated with brain interference or brain damage are cardiac arrest, general anesthesia, temporal lobe epilepsy, electrical brain stimulation, and sleep abnormalities (e.g., REM intrusions). As more systematic studies have focused on the investigation of the frequency and intensity of NDEs in cardiac arrest patients ( Van Lommel et al., 2001;Parnia et al., 2001;Schwaninger et al., 2002;Greyson, 2003) we will start by reviewing these studies with respect to potential neurological mechanisms (see also French, 2005). ...
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Out-of-body experiences (OBEs) and near-death experiences (NDEs) are complex phenomena that have fascinated mankind from time immemorial. OBEs are defined as experiences in which a person seems to be awake and sees his body and the world from a disembodied location outside his physical body. Recent neurological and neuroscientific research suggests that OBEs are the result of disturbed bodily multisensory integration, primarily in right temporo-parietal cortex. NDEs are more loosely defined, and refer to a set of subjective phenomena, often including an OBE, that are triggered by a life-threatening situation. Although a number of different theories have been proposed about the putative brain processes underlying NDEs, neurologists and cognitive neuroscientists have, so far, paid little attention to these phenomena, although several experimental investigations based on principles from cognitive neuroscience are possible. This might be understandable but is unfortunate, because the neuroscientific study of NDEs could provide insights into the functional and neural mechanisms of beliefs, concepts, personality, spirituality, magical thinking, and the self. Based on previous medical and psychological research in cardiac arrest patients with NDEs, we sketch a neurological framework for the study of the so-called NDEs.
... When the brain's oxygen supply is reduced, it might react in ways that lead to a patient's NDE. Other circumstances, such as general anesthesia and medications such as ketamine, LSD, and cannabis, can cause pleasure, visual hallucinations, tunnel vision, and transcendental sensations (Ammermann et al. 2007;Blanke and Dieguez 2009;French 2005). Patients with aberrant temporal lobe EEG patterns may experience an intensification of emotions as well as a sense of personal destiny. ...
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There has been a continuous discussion of religious experience since William James, culminating in a rich and varied literature on the epistemology of religious experience in the late twentieth century. There has also been a burgeoning literature on near-death experiences (NDEs), largely on neurology and physiology and sometimes as possible counterevidence to naturalism. One important subject is largely missing, and that is a discussion of NDEs as religious experiences, and what light that might shed on their epistemic status. This paper is an attempt to fill that gap. In part one, we will delineate the topic of NDEs and what medical science has to say about them. In part two, we will lay out a general view of the epistemology of religious experience. In part three, we will apply that understanding of religious experience to NDEs and draw what lessons we may
... The phenomenon of NDEs has been approached through diverse theoretical frameworks (mainly spiritual, psychological, or organic hypotheses; French, 2005) and some theories may now, at least in part, contribute to the explanation of specific NDE features -such as OBE or seeing a bright light. Neurobiological theories have notably proposed the potential implications of REM-sleep intrusions (Nelson et al., 2006), pharmacological factors (Jansen, 1989), altered blood gas levels (Klemenc-Ketis et al., 2010) as well as paroxistic temporal lobe disorders (Blanke et al., 2004;Britton and Bootzin, 2004;Hoepner et al., 2013). ...
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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.
... However, prospective studies are expensive, heavy to set up, and only permit to recruit a narrower sample [35]. The prospective design have mostly been conducted among resuscitated patients after a cardiac arrest [3, 14,39,[50][51][52] and (albeit more rarely) in patients with severe traumatic brain injury [53]. According to the NDE scale, 2-13% of the resuscitated patients after a cardiac arrest report accounts that are compatible with a NDE when asked an open question regarding any memories that could have occurred during the period surrounding their cardiac arrest and period of unconsciousness [51,52]. ...
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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 anecdotal reports of people who have encountered a “near-death experience” (NDE). These experiences are usually portrayed as being extremely pleasant including features such as a feeling of peacefulness, the vision of a dark tunnel leading to a brilliant light, the sensation of leaving the body, or the experience of a life review. NDEs are increasingly being reported as a clearly identifiable physiological and psychological reality of clinical and scientific significance. The definition and causes of the phenomenon as well as the identification of NDE experiencers are still matters of debate. The phenomenon has been thoroughly portrayed by the media, but the science of NDEs is rather recent and still lacking of rigorous experimental data and reproducible controlled experiments. It seems that the most appropriate theories to explain the phenomenon tend to integrate both psychological and neurobiological mechanisms. The paradoxical dissociation between the richness and intensity of the memory, probably occurring during a moment of brain dysfunction, offers a unique opportunity to better understand the neural correlates of consciousness. In this chapter, we will attempt to describe NDEs and the methods to identify them. We will also briefly discuss the NDE experiencers’ characteristics. We will then address the main current explicative models and the science of NDEs.
... This can create an erroneous a sense of events spanning a greater period of time than has actually passed and appears to be a function of recollection, not perception of time (Stetson et al. 2007). Another particularly interesting case of alterations in time perception could be occurring during near-death experiences (French 2005). Anecdotal evidence suggests that time intervals during a near-death experience are perceived to be much longer than they actually are. ...
Article
Mathematical models of population extinction have a variety of applications in such areas as ecology, paleontology and conservation biology. Here we propose and investigate two types of sub-exponential models of population extinction. Unlike the more traditional exponential models, the life duration of sub-exponential models is finite. In the first model, the population is assumed to be composed of clones that are independent from each other. In the second model, we assume that the size of the population as a whole decreases according to the sub-exponential equation. We then investigate the "unobserved heterogeneity," i.e., the underlying inhomogeneous population model, and calculate the distribution of frequencies of clones for both models. We show that the dynamics of frequencies in the first model is governed by the principle of minimum of Tsallis information loss. In the second model, the notion of "internal population time" is proposed; with respect to the internal time, the dynamics of frequencies is governed by the principle of minimum of Shannon information loss. The results of this analysis show that the principle of minimum of information loss is the underlying law for the evolution of a broad class of models of population extinction. Finally, we propose a possible application of this modeling framework to mechanisms underlying time perception.
... To explain such happenings in the blind, Ring and Cooper (1999) coined the term mindsight and sees it as a form of transcendental knowing often reported by both blind and sighted during extrasensory or out-of-body experiences (cf. French, 2005;Ring, 2001;Ring & Cooper, 1999). ...
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The word soul in the cell-soul pathway does not have a scientific definition but has been hypothesized to be an indefinite, non-structured, massless energy made up of electromagnetic radiations that is confined in the cytoskeletal network of a living cell. It is a coherent, imperceptible, uncontainable and recyclable support pathway, which uses energy to promulgate consciousness in the cell supporting its functions (Pereira 2015). The pathway currently provides a mechanistic explanation of the flow of consciousness within the body, but the intent of this paper is to provide an arduous explanation of non-local consciousness or disembodiment observed in near-death experiences. The paper hypothetically subsets the cell-soul pathway with the presence of two forms of consciousness, consistent with a recently developed model by Reddy (2016b): bodily consciousness, which manages functions only at cellular level, and functional consciousness, which is present in the body but can get disembodied and perform nonlocally; the two forms of consciousness represent the overall state of consciousness. The nonlocality of subjective experiences observed in near-death cases can be related to the realm of quantum physics – quantum entanglement between the two forms of consciousness that can demonstrate the capability of storing information holographically within the void or vacuum with the ability to create memories beyond the limitations of the brain and body.
... The scientific study of the neural correlates of NDEs represents a major challenge since the genuine subjective experience occurring during coma cannot be replicated in controlled settings. Empirical studies of NDEs after life threatening situations have mostly been conducted in cardiac arrest survivors (French, 2005;Greyson, 2003;Klemenc-Ketis et al., 2010;Parnia, Waller, Yeates, & Fenwick, 2001;Schwaninger, Eisenberg, Schechtman, & Weiss, 2002; van Lommel, van Wees, Meyers, & Elfferich, 2001) and much less after severe brain injury of traumatic or other origin (Hou, Huang, Prakash, & Chaudhury, 2013). We recently observed that the etiology of coma (i.e., anoxic, traumatic or other) does not seem to significantly influence the intensity or content of NDEs (Charland-Verville et al., 2014). ...
... An overview of possible arguments on both believers' and sceptics' sides will clarify the problem of proof. French (French, 2005) reviewed some possible explanations of NDEs: spiritual -consciousness detaches from neural substrate of brain providing glimpse of afterlife; psychological -defense mechanism in extreme danger; biologicalcerebral hypoxia, anoxia, hypercarbia ., causing release of endorphins and other brain neurotransmitters inducing hallucinations and temporal lobe hyperactivity. ...
Article
Quantum mechanics arose to explain wobbles in predicted effects of Newtonian physics, such as the stability of electron orbitals. Similarly, scientifically verified phenomena in the field of neuroscience which contradict known theories of brain function, could give weight and credibility to neuroquantology, stimulating new research and discovery. The existence of consciousness outside the physical brain, often recounted anecdotally in various forms, if verified, could be such a phenomenon. Accounts of Out of Body Experiences (OBEs), often incorporating Near Death Experiences (NDEs) have accumulated over many years, with believers in the empirical actuality of the OBE/NDE, and sceptics entrenched. After an overview of explanations and theories on both sides, with counter-arguments, we make the case for a new approach, for identifying verifiable cases, if any. This would allow critical appraisal of evidence, according to scientific methodology, though with certain inescapable limitations. Using a specific, much-cited case, we show how distorted accounts of NDEs may be used to support supposedly scientific arguments. We propose an algorithm, to discount unsuitable cases, identify verifiable features, and allow further reputable scientific study, and an online cache, of suitable cases. Verifying out-of-brain consciousness would stimulate new technology, for medical science, and even communication between brains - and new science to explain it, conceivably using quantum models, as it is impossible according to current neuroscience. It would advance arguments about defining death, even survival after death. However slim the chance of verifying OBEs, the potential benefits and advances in scientific and biomedical knowledge make the attempt worthwhile.
... We know that death often follows acute situations that can influence brain function, eg, cardiac arrest, general anesthesia, and some sleep abnormalities. Imaging studies on cardiac patients who survive near-death experi-ences, have shown damage in both gray and white matter without brainstem impact (4,5). Apparently, these and other studies reveal common areas involved in the neardeath experiences that include the occipital cortex, frontal lobes, hippocampus, basal ganglia, amygdala, and, often, the temporal/parietal junction (6). ...
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The cycle of life starts with conception and progresses to birth, maturity, old age, and death. We know a significant amount about what happens during most of these stages; however, the final step, death, defies many of our attempts to study and comprehend it. The cultural rituals that surround death attest to our fascination with this concluding stage of life. Cultures often look at death as a transitional stage that sends us on to the next stage of existence, a new reality and consciousness (1). As such, it is only natural that we have significant interest in near-death experiences, where individuals who experienced life-threatening situations report identifiable features of their dying process.
... The dissociative experiences often seem so genuine that users are not sure that they have not actually left their bodies" (Grinspoon & Bakalar, 1979). It has been shown that OBEs are frequent in NDEs associated with cardiac arrest (French, 2005), as well as in other kinds of NDEs (Charland-Verville et al., 2014), supporting a link to NMDA receptor blockade via an endogenous ketaminelike compound. ...
... The infinite-light when criss-crossed by the finite-light (co-exist in the dark room) and when oxygen molecules, air or particles forming the wall inside that dark room are perceived as waves or light, a whole frequency inside the dark room is still in perceivable finite frequency range (oscillating) and hence, can be sensed by our brain or contributes a bit to "a background brainwaves" when asleep, in coma or even at rest with eyes close. Finally, one may attest a true presence of an infinite-light through stories told by most near death experience (NDE) persons who saw the light when having (near) flattened brainwaves (Drab, 1981;French, 2005). Figure 6 illustrates the methods. ...
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An Infinite Light and Infinite Frequency in Cosmology and Neurosciences Can click to Direct Link at https://www.scirp.org/Journal/PaperInformation.aspx?PaperID=92586
... Sie könnte z. B. auch während der Zeit erlebt worden sein, bevor die Person in den kritischen Zustand hineingeriet, oder auch während der Regenerationsphase nach der Krise (siehe auch French, 2005French, , 2009). Allerdings geht er dennoch davon aus, dass zumindest AKE üblicherweise in Echtzeit stattfinden. ...
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Noch immer sind die physiologischen und psychologischen Grundlagen von Nahtod-Erfahrungen (NTE) nicht geklärt. In diesem Aufsatz zeigen wir, dass bislang auch für "kriti-sche" NTE, die nach einem Herzstillstand auftreten, zwei verschiedene neuro-physiologische Modelle aufgestellt wurden, die in der Literatur jedoch nicht gebührend voneinander getrennt worden sind. Im ersten Modell wird postuliert, dass auch in kritischen NTE noch genügend Restaktivität im Großhirn bestanden hat, um die NTE gewissermaßen in Echtzeit zu generieren. Im zweiten Modell wird hin-gegen angenommen, dass sich kritische NTE aufgrund der herrschenden Sauerstoffunterversorgung nicht in Echtzeit ereignet haben können, sondern dass sie später während der Regenerationsphase des Gehirns rekonstruiert worden sind. Um die Plausibilität der beiden Modelle zu analysieren, ziehen wir die Phänomenologie der Selbstschau des eigenen Körpers heran (Autoskopie), die NTE häufig einleitet. Nebst der verfügbaren Literatur greifen wir hierfür auch auf Originalschilderungen von Au-toskopien zurück, die im Rahmen einer in 2015 durchgeführten Online-Befragung gewonnen wurden. Insgesamt zeigt sich, dass das Rekonstruktionsmodell bislang durch keine empirischen Befunde ge-stützt wird und dass einige Befunde sogar gegen es sprechen. Hierzu zählt u.a. das vollständige Fehlen von Autoskopieberichten, die sich auf die Zeit der Regenerationsphase des Gehirns beziehen, obwohl im Rekonstruktionsmodell gemäß dem gegenwärtigen Forschungsstand zu Autoskopien genau solche Berichte erwartet werden müssten. Zukünftige Diskussionen um Erklärungsmodelle von NTE soll-ten sich daher vornehmlich mit dem Echtzeit-Modell sowie einem dritten Modell befassen, wonach Autoskopien und NTE auch in relativer Unabhängigkeit von den jeweils herrschenden neurophysiolo-gischen Prozessen im Gehirn auftreten können.
... The temporal lobe and limbic system could also play a role, mostly because it has already been demonstrated that the stimulation of these parts of the brain induces NDE-like experiences. (14,15) So far, none of the studies and theories have completely explained the phenomenon of NDEs. The aim of this study was to investigate the association of various factors that are a part of cardiac arrest and resuscitation with the incidence of NDEs. ...
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Aim. To determine the effect of several factors, that are a part of cardiac arrest and resuscitation, on the incidence of neardeath experiences (NDEs). Methods. We conducted a prospective observational study in the three largest hospitals in Slovenia in a consecutive sample of patients after out-of-hospital primary cardiac arrest. The presence of NDE was assessed with the self-administered Greyson's near-death experiences scale. The electrocardiogram pattern at the beginning of resuscitation was recorded. Main outcome measure was the presence of near-death experiences. Univariate analysis was used. Results. The study included 52 patients. There were 42 (80.8%) males in the sample; median age ± standard deviation of the patients was 53.1 ± 14.5 years. Near-death experiences were reported by 11 (21.2%) patients. Patients with ventricular fibrillation had significantly less NDEs than other patients (12.2% vs. 54.5%, P = 0.006). Patients with pulseless electrical activity had significantly more NDEs than others (60.0% vs. 11.9%, P = 0.003). Patients with asystole and pulseless electrical fibrillation had significantly more NDEs than patients who had ventricular fibrillation and ventricular tachycardia (60.0% vs. 11.9%, P = 0.003). Patients with at least one defibrillation attempt had significantly less near-death experiences than others (62.5% vs. 13.6%, P = 0.007). Conclusion. Our study found a possible correlation between electrocardiogram pattern in cardiac arrest patients and the incidence of near-death experiences. Further studies should address this problem in larger samples.
... ." The appearance of such thinking in various altered states of consciousness has been well documented in the recent literature (e.g., French, 2005;Glicksohn and Lipperman-Kreda, 2007;Greyson, 2006). Nevertheless, we wish to note an insight offered by Lancaster (1991): ...
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Rapaport (1951) made a strong claim regarding the pivotal role of reflective awareness in characterizing both cognition and consciousness. It is suggested that the transition between a state of trance to one of transcendence entails a shift in reflective awareness from awareness' apparent absence (trance) to its apparent multiplicity (transcendence). It is further suggested and demonstrated that it is the balance in EEG alpha-theta activity along the anterior-posterior axis that accompanies this transition.
... Christopher French (2001), for instance, stressed in a commentary on the critical NDE involving the patient's dentures (van Lommel et al., 2001) that ultimately, nobody can know exactly at what time such an NDE occurred. He asserted that the patient could have had the autoscopy experience during the time before he entered the critical state or during reconstruction in the post-crisis regeneration phase (see also French, 2005French, , 2009). However, French still allowed for the possibility that OBEs can take place in real time. ...
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The physiological and psychological underpinnings of near-death experiences (NDEs) are not yet understood. In this article, we show that for "critical" NDEs reported after cardiac arrest, two different neurophysiological models have been proposed that, in the literature so far, have not been adequately distinguished from each other. In the real-time model, it is postulated that during critical NDEs, residual activities in the cerebrum were sufficient to generate NDEs in real time. In the reconstruction model, it is assumed that due to severe oxygen deficiency, critical NDEs could not have occurred at the time in question but were reconstructed later during the regeneration phase of the brain. To assess the plausibility of these two models, we analyzed the phenom-enology of the view of one's own body from above (autoscopy) that frequently occurs in the beginning of NDEs. In addition to the available literature, we used original descriptions of autoscopies obtained in an online survey conducted in 2015. We found that the reconstruction model is not supported by empirical findings and that some findings even speak against it. We therefore conclude that future discussions of explanatory models of NDEs should focus primarily on the neurophysiological real-time model and a third alternative according to which autoscopies and NDEs occur in relative independence from the prevailing neuro-physiological processes in the brain.
... The scientific study of the neural correlates of NDEs represents a major challenge since the genuine subjective experience occurring during coma cannot be replicated in controlled settings. Empirical studies of NDEs after life threatening situations have mostly been conducted in cardiac arrest survivors (French, 2005;Greyson, 2003;Klemenc-Ketis et al., 2010;Parnia, Waller, Yeates, & Fenwick, 2001;Schwaninger, Eisenberg, Schechtman, & Weiss, 2002; van Lommel, van Wees, Meyers, & Elfferich, 2001) and much less after severe brain injury of traumatic or other origin (Hou, Huang, Prakash, & Chaudhury, 2013). We recently observed that the etiology of coma (i.e., anoxic, traumatic or other) does not seem to significantly influence the intensity or content of NDEs (Charland-Verville et al., 2014). ...
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Memories of Near-Death Experiences (NDEs) most often are recounted as emotionally positive events. At present, no satisfactory explanatory model exists to fully account for the rich phenomenology of NDEs following a severe acute brain injury. The particular population of patients with locked-in syndrome (LIS) provides a unique opportunity to study NDEs following infratentorial brain lesions. We here retrospectively characterized the content of NDEs in 8 patients with LIS caused by an acute brainstem lesion (i.e., "LIS NDEs") and 23 NDE experiencers after coma with supratentorial lesions (i.e., "classical NDEs"). Compared to "classical NDEs", "LIS NDEs" less frequently experienced a feeling of peacefulness or well-being. It could be hypothesized that NDEs containing less positive emotions might have a specific neuroanatomical substrate related to impaired pontine/paralimbic connectivity or alternatively might be related to the emotional distress caused by the presence of conscious awareness in a paralyzed body. Copyright © 2015 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
... Special interest was given to patients with severe anaphylactic reactions grade III and grade IV with intense "near-death" experiences. These recollections correspond quite well to similar reports from intensive care medical situations or from neurosurgical patients [1,5,10,12] with the feelings of "standing outside oneself", "tunnel experience" or "very bright light". It is of interest that the "near-death" experiences were often described with a positive feeling. ...
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Almost all anaphylactic reactions are associated with subjective symptoms, which are also referred to “prodromi”, and are often not taken seriously. In 100 patients categorized with different severity grades, subjective symptoms were investigated in a personal interview with free/open questions regarding subjective feelings and symptoms (duration 5–90 min). After the interview, the patients were asked to complete a questionnaire about the exact occurrence of the reaction. Special focus was given to near-death experiences in severe reactions. Patients described feelings of “elevation”, “looking at themselves from outside”, “tunnel experiences” and “bright light”. In the kinetics of the anaphylactic reaction, cutaneous symptoms were most often reported as the first or second symptom, while cardiovascular and airway symptoms were also reported as the 3rd, 4th or 5th symptom. In 37% of the patients with severe reactions, everyday life has changed since suffering the anaphylactic episode.
... Other theories of NDE include spiritual theories which presume that consciousness has an independent existence with a belief in after life16 or that NDE could be described as birth memories.17 Yet cultural beliefs18 and expectations9 modify the accounts of NDE. ...
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Background: Near-Death experience (NDE) following a severe head injury, critical illness, coma, and suicidal attempt has been reported. Purpose: Purpose of study was to examine why a few patients report NDE after survival, do cultural and socio-demographic factors may play a role? Methods: The details of 3 cases of patients who reported near-death experience (NDE), is presented here. Several theories regarding the reasons, of the various components of the experiences, are discussed with a brief review of literature. Results: All the three patients report the out of body experience OBE. All the three patients reported to remember initially the events that took place during this time, but after some time all three patients could not recall exactly the events that had happened. Conclusion: Whether these are only hallucinations or a proof of 'after life' will remain debatable until more data is communicated.
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Wstęp W artykule nie zajmuję się rozstrzyganiem, czy stan badań nad doświadcze-niami z pogranicza śmierci (near-death experiences – NDE) albo różne relacje z tego typu doznań dowodzą istnienia życia po śmierci bądź istnienia niema-terialnej duszy. Nie omawiam też wyczerpująco wszystkich aspektów związa-nych z NDE. Interesuje mnie natomiast metodologiczny problem empiryczności badań nad NDE. Artykuł rozpoczynam od przedstawienia popularnego ujęcia podziału kom-petencji nauki i religii. Cały obszar rzeczywistości podlegający badaniom empi-rycznym zarezerwowany jest w nim dla nauki. Religia związana jest jedynie z obszarem zagadnień niepoddających się empirycznemu badaniu, które doty-czą występowania w naukowym obrazie świata tak zwanych luk epistemolo-gicznych, metafizycznych i aksjologicznych. Ujęcie to akceptowane jest wśród przedstawicieli tak zwanego teizmu naturalistycznego i wiąże się z postulo-wanymi przez nich dwoma cechami tego nowego teizmu, to jest antyinterwen-cjonizmem i orientacją monistyczną. Ta postać teizmu wiąże się z akceptacją jego zwolenników dla założenia naturalizmu metodologicznego postulującego stosowanie w nauce jedynie takich wyjaśnień, które odwołują się do zdarzeń i obiektów ugruntowanych w przyrodzie. Wspomniane założenia teizmu naturalistycznego są więc efektem akceptacji dla naturalistycznego obrazu świata.
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The research in the field of Near-Death-Experiences (NDE) shows us various reports of the process of dying which contradict the widely shared medical opinions in the past. Based on these observations, Raymond Moody developed and differentiated specific stages in the process of dying. Although these stages cannot be empirically proven, for some of the described stages scientific ex-planations can be found. For example, NDE have been reported in the terminal phase of life-threatening diseases, which can be explained by neurobiological changes of transmitter substances in dying person's brains. Further explanatory models fall back on other influences, e.g. side effects of sedative medication, psychedelic drugs, meditation, epilepsy, migraine or oneiroid psychosis. The large number of different visual experiences (tunnel vision, encounter with close relatives, bright lights, God, flowering gardens etc.) which appear in the course of a NDE, can be interpreted as visu-al hallucinations or oneiroid dreams as a consequence of medication or endogenous opioid production; in addition, a genetic predisposition could play an essential role. A NDE possibly is a final protective mechanism of the brain in agonizing patients, which leads to feelings of euphoria and experiences of hallucinations, caused by the explosive release of neurotransmitters. Positive emphasis should be given to the fact that in periods of increasing secularization the investigations of NDE have provided new hope of a life after death in the past 30 years. For many patients, caregivers, physicians and nurses, Moody's book was a great help in overcoming fears of dying and death. In spite of all legiti-mate criticism, the "nine elements of the Near-Death Experiences", still inspires researchers to have a different look on the process of dying.
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Darkness, the direct opposite of lightness, is defined as a lack of illumination, an absence of visible light, or a surface that absorbs light, such as black or brown. Referring to a time of day, complete darkness occurs when the Sun is more than 18° below the horizon, without the effects of twilight on the night sky. In this research, Biblical verses dealing with the darkness are described. The circadian rhythm, the effect of melatonin, the characteristics of the dark sky, the response to darkness, the safe evacuation related to the darkness, various mental disorders, and adaptation to the darkness are presented. The Research also describes the sleep-wake pattern characteristics, sleep and sleep homeostasis, pattern of rapid eye movement (REM) sleep occurrence, sleep and mood during a winter in Antarctica, nurses' sleep, sleeping under light, breast cancer patients with sleep pattern. In addition, numerous additional parameters related to darkness are presented. This research has shown that the awareness of the darkness has accompanied human during the long years of our existence.
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Near-death experiences (NDEs) are an intriguing and somewhat awkward topic in the scientific medicine. They can be defined as the memory of impressions occurring during life-threatening conditions, including a number of special elements such as out-of-body experiences, pleasant feelings, seeing a tunnel, a light, deceased relatives, or a life review. Their transcendent tonality leads one to consider them a priori as doubtful or non-existent, not relevant, or a matter of psychiatric or organic disturbances at most. The available interpretations of NDEs, despite being scientifically sound, so far remain only speculations or, at best, clues without any demonstration, while others are not even plausible or neglect facts incompatible with the ruling mechanistic and reductionistic view, showing the deep epistemological implications of their explanation. In the past few decades NDEs, hypnosis, relaxation, and meditation have been included among the so-called altered states of consciousness (ASC), together with other physiological and pathological conditions, such as dreaming, sensory deprivation, hypnagogic states, epilepsy, effects of hallucinogens, and psychotic symptoms. However, the very term ASC, semantically suggesting abnormality, looks to be questionable for physiological mind activities like hypnosis and meditation. NDEs and hypnosis appear as two entirely distinct phenomena, but some common processes probably tinge them. Hypnosis has seldom been used to evoke previous NDEs in an attempt to relive them; conversely, NDE-like experiences have been induced in hypnosis in the context of psychotherapy with the aim of approximating their transformational therapeutic aspects and facilitating both first- and second-order patient changes. Fortunately, an increasing dissatisfaction has emerged in recent years with our merely organic medicine, which has been paralleled by a growing interest in consciousness, subjectivity, and spirituality. There is an increasing need to reappraise our paradigm and the still mysterious mind-brain-world relationship; the so-called ASC also call for a broader approach, to reappraise them in a perspective, including their still misunderstood physiology, merging mechanisms, contents, and meanings in a whole without prejudices, not even scientific ones.
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Survivors of large burns may face positive and negative psychological after-effects from close-to-death injuries. This study is the first to examine their near-death experiences (NDEs) and posttraumatic growth (PTG) and life satisfaction afterwards. With an available sample of 92 burn survivors, half met the criteria for an NDE using an objective scale. Those who indicated religion was a source of strength and comfort had high scores on life satisfaction, PTG, and the NDE Scale. Individuals with larger burns reported greater PTG than those with smaller total body surface area burned (TBSA). There were no significant differences on life satisfaction, PTG, or NDEs when examined by gender or years since the burn injury. Elements of the NDE most frequently reported were: An altered sense of time, a sense of being out of the physical body, a feeling of peace, vivid sensations, and sense of being in an "other worldly" environment. Social workers and other health providers need to be comfortable helping burn survivors discuss any NDEs and process these through survivors' spirituality and religious belief systems as they recover.
Article
Background: Cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) remains the key intervention following cardiac arrest because of its ability to continue circulation. Recent focus on high quality compressions during CPR has coincided with more frequent encounters of CPR Induced Consciousness (CPRIC). CPRIC represents a poorly understood patient experience during CPR and defined as signs of consciousness and pain perception during CPR. Methods: Articles were selected using PubMed, MEDLINE, CINAHL and Scopus search for the keywords "cardiopulmonary resuscitation", "consciousness", "awareness", "resuscitation", "cardio-cerebral resuscitation", "agitation" and "patient experience" yielding 336 articles. Results and their references were assessed for relevance. Articles were filtered by English language and the keyword. Case reports and case series were included. All remaining articles were reviewed and findings were discussed. Results: A total of ten articles were selected, which included data on 123 cases. Sample size varied per study from 1 to 112. Studies included cases of out-of-hospital cardiac arrest and in hospital cardiac arrest. Compressions were manually provided in most cases. Patient total recall was reported in 40% of cases. Use of sedation was reported in 40% of cases. Conclusions: There is need for continued research to better describe, explain and manage the phenomena of CPRIC. From the articles reviewed here, it is clear that further investigation has the potential to properly elucidate the patient experience including lasting psychological effects of CPRIC. Importantly, there is need for more than recognition of CPRIC from national authorities. Future research efforts should focus on establishing guidelines for the use of sedation and physical restraints, as well as the potential impact of treating CPRIC on survival.
Article
The growing body of research on near‐death experiences (NDEs) is an indication of the large number of people claiming such experiences. A surprising feature of the research is that conceptually there is no agreement on what an NDE is and consequently a large number of definitions characterize this field of research. In order to address the definitional quagmire, a first step consists of making sense of NDE definitions. An analysis of existing definitions shows that the term is currently used for at least three distinct phenomena: a cluster of experiences encountered in the process of dying, for that cluster of experiences in circumstances of fear‐death and danger, and for that cluster of experiences independently from any life‐threatening circumstances. Secondly, the nested assumptions that characterize identified patterns in NDE research are identified. It is shown that pro‐survivalists see NDEs as a unitary entity with a single explanation, while others restrict the study of NDEs to life‐threatening circumstances and see them as a cluster of composite experiences. Based on this analysis it is argued that the pattern of experiences labeled NDEs can be modified to circumstance specific alterations of consciousness.
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This study attempts to answer the question: “Is hearing the last to go?” We present evidence of hearing among unresponsive actively dying hospice patients. Individual ERP (MMN, P3a, and P3b) responses to deviations in auditory patterns are reported for conscious young, healthy control participants, as well as for hospice patients, both when the latter were conscious, and again when they became unresponsive to their environment. Whereas the MMN (and perhaps too the P3a) is considered an automatic response to auditory irregularities, the P3b is associated with conscious detection of oddball targets. All control participants, and most responsive hospice patients, evidenced a “local” effect (either a MMN, a P3a, or both) and some a “global” effect (P3b) to deviations in tone, or deviations in auditory pattern. Importantly, most unresponsive patients showed evidence of MMN responses to tone changes, and some showed a P3a or P3b response to either tone or pattern changes. Thus, their auditory systems were responding similarly to those of young, healthy controls just hours from end of life. Hearing may indeed be one of the last senses to lose function as humans die.
Article
Résumé Objectifs Nous proposons dans cet article une analyse des Expériences de Mort Imminente (EMI) afin de mieux comprendre les processus psychiques qui les caractérisent, leurs effets après-coup et la manière d’accompagner au mieux les personnes qui les rapportent. Méthode Une brève revue de littérature concernant les EMI et les différents modèles explicatifs qui tentent d’en rendre compte introduisent ce travail. L’analyse d’entretiens de recherche menés auprès de dix personnes qui ont vécu une EMI selon une approche phénoménologique et psychodynamique est ensuite proposée. Notre objectif fut ainsi de préciser le contexte d’émergence de l’EMI, son inscription subjective et ses effets après-coup en explorant la vie psychique du sujet au-delà de l’expérience elle-même. Résultats L’EMI apparaît comme une solution psychique spécifique en lien avec différentes formes de vécus traumatiques. Les éléments qui composent l’EMI témoigneraient du processus de symbolisation de ces vécus selon une réponse graduelle en fonction de la profondeur de l’expérience. Plusieurs éléments phénoménologiques des EMI (sorties hors du corps, revue de vie et rencontre avec un être spirituel) seraient plus précisément la conséquence du déploiement du processus de symbolisation par une auto-représentation des processus réflexifs ainsi qu’une dissolution des catégories usuelles de l’expérience. Ces processus engendrent fréquemment de profonds remaniements psychiques dont le destin dépendra du potentiel symboligène de l’expérience, celui-ci étant en attente du passage par un objet « autre-sujet » pour déployer pleinement ses effets. Discussion Les EMI apparaissent comme une constellation phénoménologique complexe à la rencontre de facteurs biologiques, psychiques et culturels. Elles représentent un organisateur expérientiel qui rassemble des éléments phénoménologiques épars en un ensemble cohérent. Lorsque certaines conditions de l’expérience et son élaboration après-coup sont réunies, les EMI produisent des processus transformationnels donnant parfois lieu à de véritables métamorphoses subjectives. L’EMI apparaît ainsi comme une expérience de réanimation psychique qui permet de « réanimer » la psyché en parallèle de la réanimation du corps qui lui est parfois simultanée. Conclusion Les EMI représentent une forme extrême de solution paranormale dont la survenue est favorisée par certains facteurs de personnalité et un contexte traumatique. Lors de cette expérience, la relance du processus de symbolisation et l’appropriation subjective d’expériences laissées en souffrance induisent de potentielles transformations du sujet dans son rapport à lui-même et aux autres. Comme toute expérience aux limites du processus de symbolisation, l’EMI nécessite la rencontre avec un autre afin que puisse advenir entièrement ce potentiel symboligène. Il conviendra donc que les cliniciens confrontés à ces vécus accompagnent leur intégration avec contenance et ouverture.
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This project examined, by qualitative investigation, the actual content and mechanics of ghost beliefs in Britain today. Through questionnaire, personal interview, and email correspondence, the beliefs and experiences of 227 people were assessed, and considered against historical and international analogous material. The research began with some basic questions: who believes; what do they believe; how do they narrate their stories; and how do they understand this in the context of other beliefs? This research found a broad social spread of ghost belief. The circulation of ghost narratives takes place within social groups defined in part by their seriousness about the discussion. This does not preclude jokes, disagreements or the discrediting of specific events, so long as the discussion considers ghosts attentively and seriously. Informants brought a sophisticated range of influences to bear on narratives and their interpretation, including some scientific knowledge and understanding. Informants discussed a broad range of phenomena within a consideration of ‘ghosts’: there is no easy correlation of a narrator’s interpretation and the kind of manifestation being described. Some accounts were related as polished stories, but this did not impact directly on their belief content. The interrelationship between oral narrative and artistic representation highlights the shaping and exchange of stories to accommodate belief content. This ability to adjust between apparently different registers of discussion also illustrates how ghost beliefs fit the structures of other, more institutional, belief systems held by informants. A key finding, considering sociological discussions of secularisation and historiographical associations of heterodox beliefs with political radicalism, is that personal folk beliefs are slower developing and more conservative than institutional forms, which respond more quickly to socio-economic changes. Immediate institutional responses to changed conditions may not, therefore, correlate directly with a corresponding change in ghost belief.
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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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This commentary on Karl Jansen's ketamine model for the near-death experience expands upon and raises additional questions about several issues and hypotheses: self-experimentation as a source of data; ketamine's similarities to and differences from classical hallucinogens; the need for quantification of unusual subjective states; clinical research and toxicological implications of this model; drugs as gateways to “religious” states; and “evolutionary” versus “religious” significance of naturally occurring compounds released in the near-death state. I suggest future research that could help explicate several of these areas.
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Ten survivors of a cardiac arrest who had been treated in a cardiac monitor unit were studied by psychiatric interviews six weeks or more after arrest. Not a single patient could face the full implications of the arrest and called forth various defense mechanisms to control the anxiety evoked by this experience. Frightening and violent dreams belied their often tranquil appearance. The patients developed various theories and explanations to enable them to integrate the experience of "having been dead and reborn." The arrest survivors as well as ten comparative patients without arrest who had been treated in the same monitor unit showed long-standing emotional problems including insomnia, irritability, and a restriction of their activities often beyond what was medically appropriate.
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Hypothesized that near-death experiencers are characterized by a dissociative response style engendered by severely traumatic childhood experiences. A postal survey of 121 Australian university students failed to identify a dissociative response style in the 10 Ss designated as experiencers, but these Ss did evidence a distinctive history of traumatic events in childhood. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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B. Honegger (1983) has suggested that out-of-body experiences (OBEs) are lucid dreams in which the specific imagery is due to a fetal OBE occurring during birth. This leads to the prediction that people born by Caesarean section should be less likely to have OBEs. A questionnaire on dreams, OBEs, and type of birth was completed by 254 Ss (mean age 35.3 yrs). Honegger's hypothesis was not supported. OBEs and lucid dreams were significantly associated with each other and with having hypnagogic imagery, falling dreams, false awakenings, and the ability to control dreams. Findings suggest that some factor involved in the ability to control one's pleasant dreams may also aid in having lucid dreams and OBEs. (18 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
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Looking back on ten years of involvement with near-death studies and with the International Association for Near-Death Studies, I review some of the major questions and accomplishments of that decade both in our understanding of the near-death experience and in our service as an organization.
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The commentators on my paper raised several interesting issues. Set and setting do influence drug effects, but they also influence near-death experiences (NDEs). Some NDEs are very anxiety-generating, just like some ketamine experiences, though frightening NDEs have been ignored by most researchers. High frequency, compulsive ketamine use is rare. While dimethyltryptamine (DMT) may induce NDEs, this is far from typical, while NDE-like effects are typical of ketamine. Rapidity of onset is not related to the capacity of a drug to induce NDEs. The reality of endopsychosins is doubtful, but the reality of N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) blocking mechanisms is not. NDEs and dream sleep may involve similar mechanisms. Altered states of consciousness do not require a normally functioning brain. Finally, I discuss the possible evolutionary advantage of the NDE mechanism.
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Prior hypotheses as to the etiology of near-death experiences (NDEs) have been limited to psychiatric explanations or brief discussions of endorphins as causative agents. We present a neurophysiological explanation for NDEs based on their similarities with lysergic acid-, ketamine-, and hypercapnia-induced hallucinations. We believe the core NDE is genetically imprinted and triggered by serotonergic mechanisms.
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Karl Jansen's interesting hypothesis that near-death experiences (NDEs) result from blockade of the N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor has several weaknesses. Some NDEs occur to individuals who are neither near death nor experiencing any event likely to upset cerebral physiology as Jansen proposed; thus his hypothesis applies only to a subset of NDEs that occur in catastrophic circumstances. For that subset, the clarity of NDEs and the clear memory for the experience afterward are inconsistent with compromised cerebral function. Jansen's analogy between NDEs and ketamine-induced hallucinations is weakened by the fact that most ketamine users do not believe the events they perceived really happened. Temporal lobe seizures do not resemble NDEs as Jansen postulated; they are confusional, rarely ecstatic, and never clear, as are NDEs, nor are they remembered afterward. Jansen's hypothesis assumes the standard scientific view that brain processes are entirely responsible for subjective experience; however, NDEs suggest that that concept of the mind may be too limited, and that in fact personal experience may continue beyond death of the brain.
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Although ketamine can induce a state similar to a near-death experience (NDE), there is a striking difference between experiences induced by ketamine used in a recreational context and in an operating room. Ketamine is a noncompetitive antagonist of the N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor, as is ibogaine, the main alkaloid of a shrub used in Central Africa to induce NDEs in a religious context. Ibogaine can also elicit different experiences when used in a hallucinatory context or in initiatic rituals, where a superficial state of coma is induced. These data raise the question of whether the chemically-induced NDE-like experience is related to the use of a particular kind of substance or to a genuine comatose state.
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Near-death experiences (NDEs) can be reproduced by ketamine via blockade of receptors in the brain for the neurotransmitter glutamate, the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors. Conditions that precipitate NDEs, such as hypoxia, ischemia, hypoglycemia, and temporal lobe epilepsy, have been shown to release a flood of glutamate, overactivating NMDA receptors and resulting in neurotoxicity. Ketamine prevents this neurotoxicity. There are substances in the brain that bind to the same receptor site as ketamine. Conditions that trigger a glutamate flood may also trigger a flood of neuroprotective agents that bind to NMDA receptors to protect cells, leading to an altered state of consciousness like that produced by ketamine.
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The authors present a neurobiological model for near-death experiences (NDEs) in an attempt to correlate the biological and psychological domains. This model is based on temporal lobe dysfunction, hypoxia/ischemia, stress, and neuropeptide/neurotransmitter imbalance. They describe and discuss the fundamental contribution of the language system in the construction of verbal reports of NDEs. This model could be seen as a complement to other explanatory domains.
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The objective of this study was to assess prospectively the frequency of near-death experiences (NDEs) in patients suffering a cardiac arrest, to characterize these experiences, and to assess their impact on psychosocial and spiritual attitudes. We prospectively evaluated all patients who suffered a cardiac arrest at Barnes-Jewish Hospital from April 1991 through February 1994, excluding those in the surgical intensive care unit, using a scale designed to specify criteria for NDEs, a recorded interview regarding the experience, an experience rating form, and a follow-up questionnaire regarding psychosocial attitudinal life changes. Of the 174 patients who suffered a cardiac arrest, 55 patients survived, of whom 30 patients were interviewable. Of those 30 patients interviewed, seven (23 percent) had a NDE, and four others (13 percent) reported an NDE during a prior life-threatening illness. The experiences were most frequently characterized by ineffability, peacefulness, painlessness, lack of fear, detachment from the body, and no sense of time or space. Significant differences were noted in the follow-up psychosocial assessment between patients who experienced an NDE and those who did not with regard to personal understanding of life and self, attitudes toward others, and changes in social customs and religious/spiritual beliefs. Of importance, patients reported it was beneficial to receive psychosocial support before hospital discharge after having an NDE. The results suggest that NDEs are fairly common in cardiac arrest survivors. The experiences consisted of a number of core characteristics and changed psychological, social, and spiritual awareness over both the short and long term.
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Most reported near-death experiences include profound feelings of peace, joy, and cosmic unity. Less familiar are the reports following close brushes with death of experiences that are partially or entirely unpleasant, frightening, or frankly hellish. While little is known about the antecedents or aftereffects of these distressing experiences, there appear to be three distinct types, involving (1) phenomenology similar to peaceful near-death experiences but interpreted as unpleasant, (2) a sense of nonexistence or eternal void, or (3) graphic hellish landscapes and entities. While the first type may eventually convert to a typical peaceful experience, the relationship of all three types to prototypical near-death experiences merits further study. The effect of the distressing experience in the lives of individuals deserves exploration, as the psychological impact may be profound and long-lasting.
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Cluster analysis of 89 near-death experiences yielded three discrete types of such experiences: transcendental, affective, and cognitive. Demographic variables did not differentiate individuals having these different types of experiences, but cognitive near-death experiences were less frequent following anticipated near-death events.
Book
What is it going to be like when I die? Will I be lonely and frightened, in pain and in anger? Will the grim reaper thrust me into darkness and terror against my will? There are very few of us who have not thought about our own deaths, or pushed the thought steadfastly away. As young children we begin to think about dying. As we gain a strong sense of self and who we are the thought of death becomes more and more threatening. It is inconceivable that Mummy will ever be dead, let alone me. It is no wonder that we like to deny death. Whole religions are based on that denial. Turn to religion and you may be assured of eternal life. You cannot die, you have a soul, a spirit, an everlasting inner being that will not succumb to the ravages of worms and putrefaction. Of course, this comforting thought conflicts with science. Science tells us that death is the end and, as so often, finds itself opposing religion. Interestingly, the greatest conflict of all has been about our origins, not our end. Darwin’s The Origin of Species, first published in 1859, caused a controversy which is still not dead after a century and a half (44). He proposed that the simple process of natural selection could account for the evolution and diversity of living things. The idea is, I believe, the simplest and most beautiful in all of science. Indeed, it is so simple and obvious that it is sometimes hard to remember how important it is to understanding ourselves. It is just this. You need a system for reproducing things that is not exact copying – it produces variation. And you need an environment in which there is not room for all the things that are made. Obviously some things survive and some do not. And the ones that survive pass on copies more similar to themselves than to the dead ones. That’s all. Out of that simple principle comes the whole of evolutionary theory and our understanding of our own origins. The problem with evolution is, and has always been, that it leaves little room either for a grand purpose to life or for an individual soul. The environment moulds the progress of evolution and it in turn is part of that evolutionary process. In fact, the whole planet can be seen as an interdependent living system, as it is in the Gaia hypothesis (122). We are each just tiny parts of that living, evolving whole. As parts of the whole we are indispensable; as individuals each of us is eminently dispensable. There is no future heaven towards which evolution progresses. And no ultimate purpose. It just goes along. Yet our minds have evolved to crave purposefulness and cling to the idea of a self because that will more efficiently keep alive the body and perpetuate its genes. In other words, our evolution makes it very hard for us to accept the idea of evolution and our own individual pointlessness. It is perhaps not surprising that in the United States there are still powerful lobbies for equal time to be given to the theory of ‘creation’ in teaching biology in schools. The idea that God created us all for a special purpose is a lot more palatable than the idea that we just got here through the whims of ‘Chance and Necessity’, as the French biologist Jacques Monod (132) put it, even though it has no evidence to support it and provides no help in understanding the nature of the living world. And people will fight, and even die, for the ideas they like best. Death is an idea they do not like. The self is an idea they do like; an everlasting self they like even better. It is over a hundred and thirty years since science seriously tackled the nature of human origins. Is it ready to tackle the nature of human death? I think so. The past twenty years have seen great strides forward. The discovery and study of near-death experiences has taught us about the experience of nearly dying. Progress in medical science has increased our understanding of what happens when the brain begins to fail. Psychology is delving ever more deeply into the nature of that precious self. This book is an attempt to explore what psychology, biology and medicine have to say about death and dying. Are you ready to find out what it’s going to be like when you die?
Article
Depersonalization is a frequent reaction to life threatening danger. As an adaptive pattern of the nervous system it alerts the organism to its threatening environment while holding potentially disorganizing emotion in check. As a psychological mechanism it defends the endangered personality against the threat of death and, at the same time, initiates an integration of that reality. And, as a meaningful experience, a mystical elaboration of the phenomenon may achieve spiritual significance. This type of encounter with death may be followed by a sense of rebirth.
Article
Near-death experiences (NDEs), profound events reported by people who have been close to death, often include feelings of peace, a sense of being outside the physical body, a life review, and meeting apparent nonphysical beings and environments; and they often precipitate profound changes in attitudes and values. Research on NDEs has focused on their epidemiology, psychophysiological correlates, and aftereffects, most commonly including increased spirituality, compassion, altruism, appreciation of life, and belief in postmortem existence. NDEs challenge the conventional assumption that consciousness is invariably linked to brain processes. Scientific discussions of the mind–brain problem must take these data into account.
Article
A factor analysis of questionnaire responses from 189 victims of life-threatening accidents yielded three factors of subjective effects. These factors, which included depersonalization, hyperalertness and mystical consciousness, appeared meaningful in terms of the endangered personality's effort to cope with a threat to life. Perception of a serious threat, loss of consciousness, and rescue efforts influenced the frequency with which certain effects were reported. Age likewise influenced the reporting of a number of effects.
Article
Near-death experiences (NDEs) are subjective experiences at the threshold of death which can include strong positive affect, dissociation from the physical body, and paranormal/transcendental phenomena. Empirical investigation of NDEs has typically relied upon retrospective reports and personality studies of individuals who have come close to death (e.g., through accidents, illness, surgical procedures, etc.) and later recovered. Psychological understanding of NDEs has been complicated by the failure of past research to reveal any personality factors consistently related to reporting NDEs. Recently, Wilson and Barber (1983) have suggested that some excellent hypnotic subjects (fantasy-prone personalities) may be more likely to report NDEs than the rest of the population. This hypothesis was investigated in subjects who had: (1) reported prototypical NDEs (N=63); (2) been close to death, but without reporting NDEs (N=28), and (3) never been near death (N=45). Subjects completed the Near-Death Experience Scale; the Memory, Imagining, and Creativity Schedule (MICS); the Absorption Scale; and the Survey of Psi Experiences. Subjects who had never been near death did not complete the NDE scale. The results revealed that the MICS and Absorption Scale were highly correlated and that both measures were significantly correlated with NDE Scale scores. Analysis of variance revealed that the group reporting NDEs scored significantly higher on the MICS than either comparison group, and NDE reporters' scores on the Absorption and PSI scales were higher than those of the never near death group. These results lend partial support to the hypothesis that fantasy-prone personalities may be more likely to report NDEs than the general population. (NRB)
Article
Reports of anomalous experiences are to be found in all known societies, both historically and geographically. If these reports were accurate, they would constitute powerful evidence for the existence of paranormal forces. However, research into the fallibility of human memory suggests that we should be cautious in accepting such reports at face value. Experimental research has shown that eyewitness testimony is unreliable, including eyewitness testimony for anomalous events. The present paper also reviews recent research into susceptibility to false memories and considers the relevance of such work for assessing reports of anomalous events. It is noted that a number of psychological variables that have been shown to correlate with susceptibility to false memories (e.g., hypnotic susceptibility, tendency to dissociate) also correlate with the tendency to report paranormal and related anomalous experiences. Although attempts to show a direct link between tendency to report anomalous experiences and susceptibility to false memories have had only limited success to date, this may reflect the use of inappropriate measures.
Article
Interviews that focused on childhood and adult memories, fantasies, and psychic experiences were conducted with 27 19–63 yr old females rated as excellent and 25 Ss rated as low, medium, and medium-high in hypnotic responsiveness (as determined by the Creative Imagination Scale and the Barber Suggestibility Scale). Findings indicate that with 1 exception, the excellent hypnotic Ss had a profound fantasy life; their fantasies were often as "real as life" (hallucinatory), and their deep involvement in fantasy played an important role in producing their superb hypnotic performance. Data indicate that excellent hypnotic Ss derive largely from a small percentage (possibly 4%) of the normal population who can be labeled as fantasy-prone personalities (fantasizers); this seems to be their most fundamental characteristic, serving as the matrix from which their other talents arise. In addition, the excellent hypnotic Ss reported (1) vivid sensory experiences; (2) vivid memories of their early and more recent life experiences; (3) abilities as "healers"; and (4) numerous telepathic, precognitive, and other psychic experiences. (36 ref) (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Explores evidence that even those blind from birth can "see" during near-death (NDE) and out-of-body (OBE) experiences. The authors' evidence reveals a unique type of perception, which involved a deep awareness and profound ability to know that the authors have called "mindsight." The authors present their findings in detail, investigating case histories of blind persons who have actually reported visual experiences under NDEs or OBEs. The authors argue that the blind do not "see" as one normally thinks of sight. Instead, they described a kind of "transcendental awareness" they call mindsight. This involved the experience of being able to perceive from all angles at once, from every focal depth at once, and a sense of "knowing" the subject, not just visually, but with a deep and inexplicable knowledge. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2012 APA, all rights reserved)
Article
Kenneth Ring (1982) described two kinds of precognitive visions in the near-death experience (NDE): the personal flashforward and the prophetic vision. I describe a third category, the otherworld personal future revelation (OPFR). The OPFR resembles the personal flashforward in that it previews the experiencer's personal future, but differs from the personal flash-forward in that it is delivered to the experiencer by another personage in the otherworld rather than appearing in the visual imagery of a life review. The OPFR differs from the prophetic vision in having a personal rather than planetary focus. I cite four historic accounts to illustrate major features of the OPFR: entrance into the otherworld, encounter with others who foretell the experiencer's future, and later occurrence of the foretold events.
Article
Article outlining the author's opinions and comments regarding a paper written by Juan C. Saavedra-Aguilar and Juan S. Gomez-Jeria, which approaches near-death experiences from a biological/neurological standpoint rather than a spiritual one.
Article
Single injections of 120 micrograms of methionine-enkephalin were made into various midbrain and forebrain structures in the rat. Analgesia was observed after injections into or near the ventral, caudal midbrain periaqueductal gray matter. Seizures and other pathological electroencephalogram (EEG) changes were seen with injections into or near the forebrain dorsomedial nucleus of the thalamus. No animals with midbrain injection sites showed EEG changes, and none with forebrain injection sites were analgesic. These data, taken together with other lines of evidence, suggest that enkephalin-induced analgesia and enkephalin-induced seizures are mediated by opiate receptors that are located in different brain areas and that are pharmacologically different.
Article
Basic features of depersonalization, including alterations in the experience of time, emotion, sensation, volition, reality, memory, attachment, and space, were elicited from 101 persons who had encountered life-threatening danger. Sixty-six per cent reported five or more of these features pointing to the extremely frequent appearance of this adaptive mechanism under dangerous circumstances. Contrasting effects were reported by depersonalized individuals that appeared to reflect heightened arousal on the one hand and attenuation of potentially disorganizing emotion on the other. A dissociation between an observing and a participating self was hypothesized to account for these fundamental alterations in the experience of the self and its immediate environment.
Article
Persons suddenly threatened with death have often reported a variety of mental phenomena as part of a progressive deviation from normal consciousness. These have been described by people rescued at the last moment from drownings, falls, and similar accidents. The the first study of them was undertaken in 1892 by Albert Heim, who accumulated the accounts of over 30 survivors of falls in the Alps. He claimed that in nearly every instance a similar mental state developed, which he characterized dramatically as follows: 'There was no anxiety, no trace of despair, no pain; but rather calm seriousness, profound acceptance, and a dominant mental quickness and sense of surety. Mental activity became enormous, rising to a hundred fold velocity or intensity. The relationships of events and their probable outcomes were overviewed with objective clarity. No confusion entered at all. Time became greatly expanded.....In many cases there followed a sudden review of the individual's entire past; and finally the person falling often heard beautiful music and fell in a superbly blue heaven containing roseate cloudlets'. The article presents a descriptive analysis of 114 accounts of near death experiences.