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Professor walter sisto

on 12 June 2017

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What is an NDE?
Near-Death Experience
-one characteristic of NDE that is amenable to testing
Out of Body Experience (OBE)
Negative NDEs
Three most common explanations
1-Dying Brain Theories
2-Depersonalization Theories
3-Transcendental Theories

Explanation of NDEs
-“events that take place as a person is dying or, indeed, is already clinically dead."
-Usually include one or many of these characteristics:

1-Heightened senses,
2-Intense and gradually positive emotions or feelings,
3-Passing into or through a tunnel,
4-Encountering a mystical or brilliant light,
5-Encountering other beings (religious figure, deceased relatives, angels, etc.),
6-A sense of alteration of time or space,
7-Life review,
8 and 9-Encountering heavenly realms and/or special knowledge,
10-Encountering a boundary or barrier between this world and the next world,
11-A return to the body,
12-Out-of-body experience (OBE): Separation of consciousness from the physical body
-Difficult to define
Greyson Scale
-16 features a score of 0, 1 or 2.
-0= no experience; 1= experienced; 2= intense experience
-need a score of 7 to be classified as an NDE
1) Experiencing an altered state of time
2)Experiencing accelerated thought processes
3) Life review
4) Sense of sudden understanding
5) Feelings of peace
6) Feeling of joy
7) Feeling of cosmic oneness
8) Seeing/feeling surrounded by light
9) Having vivid sensations
10) Extrasensory perception
11) Experiencing visions
12) Experiencing a sense of being out of physical body
13) Experiencing a sense of an ‘otherworldly’ environment
14) Experiencing a sense of a mystical entity
15) Experiencing a sense of deceased/religious figures
16) Experiencing a sense of a border or point of no return
Research on NDE
-1 out 5 facing deadly situations
-10% of cardiac arrest patients
-4-8% of total population in U.S.A.
-irrespective of age, ethnicity, culture, and religion
-content of NDE across culture is same, albeit interpretation is different
e.g. Hindus and Christians see loving being of light, but Hindus interpret as personal deity and Christians interpret as Jesus or Mother of God, Mary
-children have same experiences as adults
-young as 6 months (panic attacks with tunnels-later at age 4 revealed that he died and entered into a tunnel)
-Lucid experiences when the brain has little or no oxygen
-should result in no thought or forget thoughts
Perfect playback
-persons who experience this are able to play back perfectly years after expereince
30 years of research on NDE
Why is the study of NDEs important?
1- 4-8% of the population
2- Most likely will encounter if you work in critical care, emergency rooms, and hospice
3-Evidence of "life after life"; consciousness outside biological mechanisms
4-Implications for mental health care
-physiology is involved!
-NDE usually changed for the better, meaning in life, positive, etc
-identify the psychological causes
-use research to treat clinically depressed or mentally ill individuals
e.g. cardiac arrest; moments before car wreck
-not a new phenomena
-cross cultural
Ascent into Empyrean (c. 1516)
NDE Research
Dr. Ray Moody
-Life After Life
before 1996-theoretical debates
1996-now-clinical studies of NDEs
-Popular media dominated by 3 groups:
1-Paranormalists- NDEs prove afterlife
-popular texts about personal experiences
2-Skeptics-NDEs are fabricated or result of dying brain
3-Fundamentalists-NDEs are demonic
-Recent years several important scientific studies
-Dr. Long's Near Death Experience Research Foundation (NDERF) study-based on a database of 1600 testimonies of NDErs
-Dr. Parnia-2014 Awareness Study, largest NDE study to date, 2,000+
cardiac arrest
patients in 15 hospitals
-MM, Ghoneim . "Awareness during anaesthesia" Anesthesiology 92 (2000): 597–602;

-Sebel C., Kerssens, "Awareness during general anaesthesia," Curr Rev Clin Anaesth 24 (2002): 13–24;

-S. Parnia; K. Spearpoint; PB, Fenwick, "Near death experiences, cognitive function and psychological outcomes of surviving cardiac arrest," Resuscitation 74 (2007): 215–21.

-Lommel P., Van; Van R., Wees, “Near death experience in survivors of cardiac arrest: a prospective study in the Netherlands” Lancet 358 (2001): 2039–2045.
-tests involved cardiac arrest patients recall of events in hospital
-targets in rooms only visible from the ceiling
-cross reference OBE recall with accounts/notes/videos from attending physicians and nurses
-2% of NDEs had OBE
-One OBEr was able to recall events accurately!
Proof of the afterlife??
1-5% of NDEs are negative (Bonenfant 2001)
Two main characteristics

-most from Non-Western cultures
(Making Sense of Near-Death Experience, 2012)
1-Experience of being alone and void
2-(less common)-experience of Hellish creatures, foreboding landscapes, etc.
Examples of NDE go to: http://www.nderf.org/NDERF/NDE_Archives/NDERF_NDEs.htm

Dying Brain
Dr. Blackmore
1-lack of oxygen to the brain that occurs when the brain dies is responsible for NDE experiences
-lack of oxygen to the brain activates cells in the back of the brain that may create the illusion that there is a light in the periphery which in turn gives rise to the tunnel experience
Evidence-"G-Loc" phenomena and high speed test pilots
-lack of blood to brain due to change in direction at high speeds=euphoria and dreamlike experiences
2-Dr. Medua
-excessive carbon dioxide
-lead to dreamlike experience
-2010 study found that 11 out of 52 patients that reported NDEs had high levels of CO2 in blood

Dying Brain cont...
Some Problems
1-Low levels of Oxygen and excessive Carbon Dioxide are common, yet NDEs are not
-if true, physicians should be reporting more NDEs
2-both produce dreamlike states, low oxygen can produce light in periphery; however these experiences share little in common with NDEs
-very vivid
3-Not Tested
4-does not explain NDEs reported by persons who have not flat-lined
5-In cases where brain death is documented, no thoughts should occur; memory should not be retained
-yet persons claim experiences during this time
6-when anesthesia is used, memory should not be retained, yet memory of NDE is retained
Psychological Theories
-process by which a patient creates a surreal environment that is disconnected from the trauma of dying
-defense mechanism-unconscious
-observed in traumatic events and persons who faced near-fatal events
-Dr. Owens
1-not tested
-cases of OBE-persons are not dead and can hear-creating experience based on observations and knowledge of healthcare
2-cannot explain consistency of NDEs
3-difficult to explain particulars of NDEs and accurate OBEs
4-generally observed in women , 15-30, report as dreamlike state
-NDE's are not gender or age specific
Transcendental Theories
NDEs are evidence that our consciousness can exist outside our body
Dr. Long's 9 proofs
1-Lucid Death-should not occur
2-Blind Sight-blind from birth dream without images; sight is an abstraction, yet blind NDErs report not only sight but accurate sight
3-Impossible Conscious- reports of NDE after anesthesia is administered
-anesthesia results in loss of consciousness and amnesia
4-Perfect Playback-studies show NDErs stories are consistent after decades
5-Family Reunion-if product of brain function, NDErs should see recent and familiar persons
-evident in studies on hallucinations, yet NDEs-reunion with long dead and unknown family members
6-Children and NDEs
-consistent with adult NDE
-use childish imagery
-if NDEs are influenced by popularity of NDEs, how do explain children NDEs that lack the knowledge or ability to understand death and NDEs
7-Worldwide consistency
8-Changed Lives
-have meaning, more positive, more religious after NDE
-even with negative NDEs
-2014 Awareness Study-accurate observation of what happened
-verified by doctors, nurses and family-OBErs recalling conversations said outside the room
1-may have good reason to believe that there is an afterlife, but is this proof?
Can you prove that there is an afterlife?
-OBE studies are the closest we have to this
-OBE occur in few patients
-may not follow that we all have afterlives
2-Most scientists do not accept the transcendental theory
-body is still a mystery
-unwillingness to allow for any explanation that contradicts materialism
Problem of the MIND!!!
-debate as to whether consciousness exists irrespective of biological functions
e.g. Apple and liking or disliking that apple

NDE Care
-very likely to encounter NDErs in Healthcare
1-Be informed
-signs that an NDE occurred included "wanting to keep the lights on, talking about having a strange dream and appearing withdrawn and scared"
-ask them about experience
2-Be non-judgemental
NDErs often report that after sharing NDE, nurses or doctors suspected "psychosis"
-intimate experience, simply may want to share with you
-if so, be complimented !!

4-If open, connect to Chaplain or NDE organization
-ask open ended questions, mindful of nonverbal cues
-Tell them that many others have had similar experiences
-supportive but not exhaust
-mindful of over stimulation
Dr. Greyson-Need common language to study NDEs clinically
-8 seconds after heart stops =no brain function
-All experience must stop!!
-If not, then mind and body are not the same!!
Death= heart and breathing stop, pupils dilate
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