Monday, June 11, 2007

NDEs Explained in Neurological Terms?

QUESTION: "My name is Matija. I am 24 years old, and am a student of Economy. For the last seven years I have been studying spirituality. I have read more than 300 books, and thousands of pages on the Internet regarding spirituality. My greatest interest was, and still is NDE, and it relation to the phenomenon of OBEs (out-of-body experiences). I have also talked to several persons who have had NDE, and to some people whose parents have had deathbed visions. I have read all the books that were translated to Croatian. And I was satisfied and had a firm belief in some form of existence after death, but then my whole world crashed down.

"It was when I heard about Dr. Susan Blackmore and Dr. Michael Persinger! I mean her explanation of NDE and OBE are read good, and they do make some sense. Dr. Persinger's laboratory brain simulated spiritual events are something to think about! Of course, we also have Dr. Olaf Blanke case, of the Swiss patient, and old Wilder Penfield cases. So, by taking all this into consideration, I don't know what to think any more.

"I mean it seems that Susan Blackmore has explained the whole NDE in neurological terms, and the great mystery, the light, which Dr. Melvin Morse explained, she also explained. [Matija took five pages to cover the various theories and explanations of Dr. Blackmore, about tunnels, about light, about a number of aspects reported by near-death experiencers.]

"What about all of this? What am I to believe? Please help me!" ...Matija

ANSWER: The problem with Dr. Blackmore's work, and that of all the others who seek to explain away the near-death phenomenon in neurological or psychological terms, is that they base their premise on just a few of the many aspects of near-death states. NONE OF THEM have anything to say about the entire phenomenon as reported, or its spread of physiological and psychological aftereffects that in most cases become life-long changes, nor the range of implications. Their work, if you really study it, is hollow.

None of Dr. Blackmore's comments about eye sight or anoxia of how sight narrows at death fit what actually occurs during a near-death experience. Persinger's work doesn't fit either, because none of the participants in any of his research projects have ever described the full spectrum of the phenomenon, much less the pattern of aftereffects. There is a reply to Dr. Blackmore's work in the Article Section of my website (, that was submitted by an individual who had noticed what was missing from her theories. You might read it for further details.

The skeptics sound good and their reasoning seems solid, until you step back and take another look at what they're saying. I'm not certain what references they are using to base their ideas on, but I do know that none of them have ever done substantial research with actual near-death experiencers, nor the kind of clinical work now published in many peer-reviewed journals. The old days of small studies and provocative claims are now over. Near-death research today stands firmly on the results of four large clinical prospective studies done in three countries, on findings coming in from research in non-industrialized countries, and on a wealth of studies that have withstood over three decades of scrutiny.

This fall, a number of thoroughly researched and incredible books will be on bookstore shelves - all of them will take discussions about the near-death phenomenon to new heights of credibility and wonder. Dr. Pim van Lommel (Holland) will come out with a book about the research he and his team conducted that electrified the world; Dr. Mario Beauregard will be out with his powerful book titled "The Spiritual Brain" (which will show why Persinger is wrong); and, of course, my own, "Near-Death Experiences: The Complete Sourcebook." Dr. Sam Parnia has also come out with an incredible offering, as have others.

The field of near-death studies has passed its 30th birthday. It is now more exciting and more amazing than ever before! PMH



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