تجربه نزدیک به مرگ

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عروج نیکان اثر هیرونیموس بوش را برخی از پژوهشگران به حالت تجربهٔ پیش از مرگ شبیه دانسته‌اند

تجربه نزدیک مرگ (به انگلیسی: Near-death Experience) (به‌صورت مخفف: NDE) یک تجربهٔ شخصی است که ممکن است شامل احساساتی مثل احساس خروج از بدن، احساس شناور بودن، سکوت کامل، احساس امنیت و گرما، تجربهٔ از هم پاشیدگی، دیدن تونل، دیدن نور، دیدن بستگان فوت‌شده و غیره باشد. این پدیده در بسیاری مواقع هنگام فرارسیدن احتمالی یک مرگ قریب‌الوقوع برای انسان رخ می‌دهد، اما به علت‌های بسیار دیگر نیز می‌تواند رخ دهد.[۱][۲][۳]

نظریه‌های مختلف روان شناسانه، فیزیولوژیکی، عصب‌شناسی و الهیاتی برای توجیه این پدیده ارائه شده‌است. این پدیده همچنان از موضوعات مورد بررسی علمی است. تحقیقاتی که در حوزهٔ علوم اعصاب در مورد تجربهٔ نزدیک مرگ انجام شده، چنین نشان داده است که این تجربه، در واقع یک حالت توهم است که در اثر عوامل مختلفِ فیزیولوژیکی و روانشناسی رخ می‌دهد. از نظر دین اسلام بر اساس رخداد های انجام شده در NDE ، ااین پدیده را قیامت و برزخی که انسان در آن قرار خواهد داشت می نامند که انسانهایی برای دقایقی آن را دیده اند.[۴]

تجربه اصلی[ویرایش]

شامل احساسات مختلفی از جدا شدن از بدن گرفته تا احساس شناور شدن، وحشت زیاد، آرامش مطلق، امنیت، حرارت، تجربه از هم پاشیدگی کامل و رؤیت نور؛ که برخی افراد آن را خدا یا وجود روحانی تلقی می‌کنند.[۵] بعضی افراد و فرهنگ‌ها تجربه نزدیک مرگ را یک نگاه آنی روحانی و ماوراءالطبیعه به زندگی پس از مرگ می‌دانند و شاید همان مکاشفه در فرهنگ و ادبیات ایران باشد.[۶]

تجربه نزدیک مرگ پدیده‌ای است که در رشته‌های فراروان‌شناسی، روانشناسی، روانپزشکی و طب بیمارستانی ‏(en) مطالعه می‌شود.[۷] چنین مواردی معمولاً بعد از اینکه فردی مرگش از لحاظ بالینی قطعی شده یا خیلی نزدیک به مرگ است گزارش شده‌است. از این رو آن را تجربه نزدیک مرگ نامیدند. هر چند ممکن است این تجربیات به‌طور خودبخودی و در مواقعی که رویداد تهدیدکننده زندگی رخ نمی‌دهد نیز روی دهد.

ویژگی‌ها[ویرایش]

موارد مشترکِ بسیاری در میان، گزارش‌های تجربهٔ نزدیک مرگ به چشم می‌خورند:

  • یک صدای ناخوشایند اولین ادراک حسی است که گزارش شده‌است.
  • احساس مردن
  • تجربه خروج از بدن: حس شناورشدن در بالای بدن و دیدن فضای مجاور
  • حس حرکت بطرف بالا از میان تونلی از نور یا راهروی دراز و باریک
  • ملاقات با بستگانی که فوت کرده‌اند یا اشخاص روحانی
  • مرور خاطرات دوران زندگی
  • احساس بازگشت به بدن همراه با بی‌میلی

تفاسیری که از این احساس‌ها ارائه شده، اغلب وابسته به اعتقاداتِ فرهنگی، فلسفی یا دینیِ آن شخصی است که این تجربه را داشته‌است. از دیگر مواردی که در این تجربه گزارش شده، ملاقات با افرادی است که تشخیصِ هویتِ آن وابسته به این است که شخص دارای چه عقایدی باشد. به عنوان نمونه در ایالات متحده که ۴۶ درصد مردم، به فرشته‌های نگهبان اعتقاد دارند، فردی را که آن را ملاقات کرده‌اند، به عنوان فرشته یا عزیزانی که مرده‌اند معرفی می‌کنند؛ در حالی که هندوها این اشخاص را به عنوان پیام آورانِ خدای مرگ می‌شناسند.[۸][۹]

تجربه اشخاص مختلف[ویرایش]

این تجربه در اشخاص مختلف وابسته به اعتقاداتی که دارند فرق می‌کند. بچه‌ها که زمان کافی برای شکل‌گیری اعتقاداتشان ندارند تجربه بسیار محدودی در این زمینه دارند. به عنوان مثال پسربچه‌ای که تجربه نزدیک مرگ داشته با برادرش گفتگو کرده‌است و دختری با مادرش مکالمه داشته‌است.[۱۰] همچنین برخی افراد تجربه نزدیک مرگ بسیار دردناکی داشته‌اند که نشان دهنده حس وحشت از پایان زندگی است. شرایط بالینی که گمان می‌رود منجر به تجربه نزدیک مرگ می‌شود شامل موارد زیر است: ایست قلبی، شوک خونریزی هنگام وضع حمل یا عوارض پیش از عمل جراحی، برق گرفتگی، کما، خونریزی مغزی، سکته مغزی، خودکشی ناموفق، افراد در حال غرق یا خفه شدن، حبس نفس، افسردگی جدی[۱۱] بسیاری از موارد تجربه نزدیک مرگ بعد از یک تجربه بسیار سخت روی می‌دهد. (به عنوان نمونه وقتی مریضی از پرستار یا پزشک می‌شنود که بزودی خواهد مرد) یا زمانی که فرد در یک وضعیت مهلک قرار می‌گیرد. (مثل شنیدن صدای تصادف اتومبیل از نزدیک)[۱۲]

تحقیقات[ویرایش]

با انتشار کتابی تحت عنوان زندگی پس از زندگی به قلم ریموند مودی که در سال ۱۹۷۵ منتشر شد، نشانه‌هایی از علاقه به مطالعه در این زمینه دیده شد. با انتشار این کتاب، توجه عموم، به موضوع تجربه نزدیک مرگ جلب شد. سپس در سال ۱۹۸۱، مؤسسه‌ای با عنوان انجمن بین‌المللی مطالعات نزدیک مرگ تأسیس شد. این سازمان بین‌المللی از تحقیقات علمی که پیرامون بُعدِ جسمانی، روانشناسی، اجتماعی و روحانیِ تجربه‌های نزدیک مرگ انجام می‌گیرد، حمایت و تشویق به عمل می‌آورد. این سازمان در مجله تحقیقات نزدیک مرگ و خبرنامهٔ علایم حیاتی نیز مطالبی در حوزهٔ این موضوع منتشر می‌کنند.[۱۳]

علوم اعصاب شناختی به عنوان یک حوزهٔ مطالعاتی بین رشته‌ای است که دربرگیرندهٔ علوم اعصاب، روان‌شناسی و علوم رایانه می‌شود و در کنار آن مطالعات نزدیک مرگ نیز عواطف و احساسات و منشأ آن‌ها را مورد بررسی قرار می‌دهند. برخی پژوهش‌ها در مورد تجربهٔ نزدیک مرگ، با در نظر گرفتن علوم اعصاب شناختی انجام می‌شوند. علوم اعصاب شناختی، سعی دارد به چگونگی اعمال روان‌شناسی (به عنوان نمونه عواطف و احساسات انسانی) که به واسطهٔ جریان‌های عصبی (شامل مغز انسان) ایجاد می‌شوند، پاسخ دهد.[۱۴] پژوهش‌هایی که امروزه بر روی تجربه نزدیک مرگ انجام می‌شود، با وجود این که از مراحل مختلف علمی می‌گذرند، اما معمولاً علوم اعصاب بنا به دلایلی شامل این مراحل نمی‌شود. از جملهٔ این دلایل می‌توان به این مورد اشاره کرد که در هنگامی که بیمار تحت عمل احیاء اورژانسی قرار می‌گیرد، اسکنِ فعالیتِ مغزی از او گرفته نمی‌شود. از این رو پژوهش‌هایی که در آن ادعا می‌شود، هیچ فعالیتِ قابل اندازه‌گیری در مغز دیده نشده‌است، با وجود عدم اسکن نوار مغزی، سی‌تی اسکن، اف‌ام‌آرآی و اسکن‌هایی از این دست، به عنوان یک پژوهش علمیِ با کیفیت در نظر گرفته نمی‌شود.[۱۵][۱۶]

پژوهش‌هایی که در حال حاضر انجام شده‌است، به‌طور کلی در حوزهٔ پزشکی، روان‌شناسی و روان‌پزشکی انجام شده‌اند. در موش‌های آزمایشگاهی که دچار ایست قلبی شده بودند، نشانه‌هایی از افزایش فعالیت مغزی دیده شده‌است؛ اما در مورد انسان، چنین مطالعه‌ای انجام نشده‌است.[۱۷][۱۸][۱۹][۲۰] مواردی از تجربه‌های شخصی نزدیک مرگ در نوشته‌های مربوط به دوران باستان به جای مانده‌است.[۲۱] در قرن ۱۹، تلاش‌هایی برای مطالعه دربارهٔ تجربه نزدیک مرگ توسط مورمون‌ها انجام شد. در سوئیس نیز چنین مطالعاتی انجام شده بود. تا سال ۲۰۰۵، در ۹۵ درصد از فرهنگ‌های دنیا اشاره‌هایی به تجربهٔ نزدیک مرگ شده بود.[۲۱] در مطالعه‌ای که در سال ۲۰۰۱ توسط جامعه‌شناس آلمانی، هوبرت کنوبلاخت انجام شد، مشخص شد که ۴ درصد از جمعیت آلمان تجربه نزدیک مرگ داشته‌اند.[۲۲][۲۳][۲۴] ۱۰ تا ۲۰ درصد از کسانی که از ایست قلبی جان سالم به در برده بودند، گزارش کردند که تجربه نزدیک مرگ داشته‌اند.[۲۵][۲۶][۲۷]

معمولاً معتبرترین مجله‌های داوری همتا در حوزهٔ علوم اعصاب همچون مجله علوم اعصاب شناختی و مجلهٔ روانپزشکی زیستی و مجلاتی از این قبیل، پژوهش‌هایی را که در رابطه با تجربیات نزدیک مرگ انجام می‌شود، منتشر نمی‌کنند.

در پاییز ۲۰۰۸ Sam Parnia و همکاران یک تحقیق گسترده موسوم به AWARE Study را آغاز کردند، با این هدف که مشخص شود آیا آگاهی در خارج از جسم فیزیکی وجود دارد یا نه. این تحقیق که بزرگترین تحقیق تکمیل شده پیرامون بررسی علمی پدیدهٔ تجربه نزدیک به مرگ است و چندین محقق در بیمارستان‌های چندین کشور اروپایی و آمریکایی در آن نقش داشتند بر روی ۱۵۰۰ بازماندهٔ ایست قلبی انجام شد. نتایج تحقیق پس از نهایی شدن در اکتبر ۲۰۱۴ در ژورنال «احیاء» منتشر شد.[۲۸] با وجود گستردگی تحقیق نتایج آن قاطعانه نبود و برداشت‌های مختلفی از نتایج آن شده‌است.

بعدتر پرنیا و همکارانش تحقیق دیگری موسوم به AWARE Study II را آغاز کردند که بهبودیافتهٔ تحقیق قبلی است. این تحقیق نیز قرار است در مراکز درمانی مختلف مستقل و بر روی ۱۵۰۰ بازماندهٔ ایست قلبی انجام شود. این تحقیق در مهٔ ۲۰۱۷ جمع‌بندی خواهد شد.[۲۹]

آمارها و پیمایش‌ها[ویرایش]

رواج موارد تجربهٔ نزدیک مرگ در تحقیقاتی که انجام گرفته متغیر است.

مطابق پیمایش گلوپ، نیومکزیکو و پراکتر، اکلاهما در سال ۱۹۸۰ تا ۱۹۸۱ از یک واحد نمونه از جمعیت آمریکا، ۱۵ درصد از جامعهٔ آماری گفتند که تجربهٔ نزدیک مرگ داشته‌اند.[۳۰] ولی در آلمان کنوبلاخت در سال ۱۹۹۱ یک پیمایش گزینشی انجام داد و دریافت که ۴ درصد جامعه آماری این تجربه را داشته‌اند.[۳۱]

اما «پررا» و همکارانش در سال ۲۰۰۵ یک پیمایش تلفنی از مردم استرالیا انجام داد. نتیجه این تحقیق نشان داد که ۸٫۹ درصد از آنان چنین تجربه‌ای داشته‌اند.[۳۲] یک متخصص قلب هلندی به نام «ون لومل» و همکارانش در یک محیط بیمارستانی گروهی از بیمارانی که دچار ایست قلبی شده و با موفقیت بهوش آمدند را مورد مطالعه قرار داده و دریافتند که ۱۸ درصد آن‌ها مدعی‌اند تجربهٔ نزدیک مرگ داشته‌اند.[۳۳]

آزمایش‌های بیولوژی اعصاب و روان‌شناسی[ویرایش]

کریس فرنچ، روان‌شناس بریتانیایی، نظریه‌های روان‌شناسی و فیزیولوژیکی را ارائه داده است که نشان دهندهٔ مادی بودن تجربهٔ نزدیک مرگ است. در یک نظریهٔ روان‌شناسی، چنین توضیح داده شده‌است که تجربه نزدیک به مرگ در واقع یک مکانیزم دفاعی است که در زمان‌های خطرِ شدید رخ می‌دهد. نظریه‌های فیزیولوژیکی بسیاری، برای تجربهٔ نزدیک مرگ مطرح شده‌اند که از آن جمله می‌توان به نظریه‌هایی اشاره کرد که بر پایهٔ هیپوکسی مغزی، کمبود اکسیژن، هیپرکاپنه، اندورفین و سایر انتقال دهنده‌های عصبی و فعالیت‌های غیرعادی در لوب گیجگاهی هستند.[۳۴]

در دههٔ ۱۹۷۰، استاد روان‌شناسی، راسل‌نویس و روان‌شناس بالینی، روی کلتی اظهار کردند که تجربهٔ نزدیک به مرگ در واقع شکلی از خوددگربینی است که در شرایطی احساسی همچون خطر تهدید جانی رخ می‌دهد و تجربهٔ نزدیک مرگ را می‌توان در بهترین حالت به عنوان یک نوع توهم در نظر گرفت.[۳۵][۳۶][۳۷][۳۸]

در اوایل دههٔ ۱۹۸۰ دانشمند نوروسایکولوژی، «دانیل کار» این گونه مطرح کرد که تجربه نزدیک مرگ دارای ویژگی‌های سندرم لوب لیمبیک بوده و این تجربه می‌تواند در اثر ترشح اندورفین و انکفالین در مغز ایجاد شود.[۳۹][۴۰] «جادسون» و «ویلتشو» در سال ۱۹۸۳، توضیح دادند که چگونه ترشح اندورفین ممکن است منجر به تجربه نزدیک مرگ خوشایند شده و نالوکسان نیز باعث ایجاد تجربهٔ نزدیک مرگ «جهنمی» شود.[۴۱] نخستین مدل رسمیِ بیولوژیِ اعصاب برای تجربهٔ نزدیک به مرگ در سال ۱۹۸۷ توسط دو دانشمند اهل شیلی ارائه شد. مدل آن‌ها شامل اندورفین، انتقال دهنده‌های عصبیِ دستگاه کناره‌ای، لوب گیجگاهی و سایر قسمت‌های مغز می‌شد.[۴۲][۴۳] در سال ۱۹۸۹ «مورس» و همکارانش مدل فیزیولوژی عصبیِ خود را ارائه کردند که در آن سروتونین نقش مهمی در ایجاد تجربه نزدیک مرگ دارد.[۴۴]

کتامین. با تزریق داخل وریدیِ کتامین، می‌توان تمام ویژگی‌های تجربهٔ نزدیک مرگ را بازآفرینی کرد.

پژوهش‌های «کارل یانسن» نشان داد که می‌توان تأثیرات تجربهٔ نزدیک مرگ را با کتامین به فرد القا کرد. در مقاله‌ای که او در سال ۱۹۹۶ منتشر کرد، چنین نتیجه‌گیری شده‌است که «شواهد نشان می‌دهند، القاء تجربهٔ نزدیک مرگ با کتامین، تصادفی نیست … با تزریق داخل ورید کتامین با دوز مناسب می‌توان تمام خصوصیات تجربهٔ نزدیک به مرگ را بازآفرینی کرد.»[۴۵]

در سال ۱۹۹۷ «وینری» نشان داد که تجربهٔ نزدیک به مرگ با تجربهٔ کاهش هوشیاری ناشی از افزایش گرانش شباهت‌هایی دارند. وینری به این موضوع اشاره کرد که بر اساس مشاهدات، تجربهٔ کاهش هوشیاری ناشی از افزایش گرانش نیز همانند تجربه نزدیک مرگ، معمولاً شامل «دیدن تونل و نورهای درخشان، احساس شناور بودن، حرکت خودبخود، رؤیت همزاد، تجربه خروج از بدن، عدم تمایل به پریشانی، فلج شدن، رؤیای واضح در مکانی زیبا، احساس لذت، دگرگونی روانی، ملاقات با افراد خانواده و دوستان، مواجهه با خاطرات و افکار پیشین، احساسی بسیار به یاد ماندنی، درد دل و اصرار شدید به فهماندن تجربه» می‌شود.[۴۶]

در دههٔ ۱۹۹۰ «ریک استراسمن»، طیِ پژوهشی که بر روی داروی روان‌گردانِ دی‌متیل‌تریپتامین در دانشگاه نیومکزیکو انجام داد، به این نتیجه رسید که ترشح مقدار زیادی از دی‌متیل‌تریپتامین از غده صنوبری کمی قبل از مرگ یا نزدیک مرگ، عامل پدیدهٔ تجریهٔ نزدیک به مرگ است. از میان افرادی که در آزمایش او بودند، تنها ۲ نفر گزارش کردند که تجربهٔ نزدیک به مرگِ آن‌ها توهم گونه بوده‌است؛ با این حال بسیاری از آن‌ها گزارش کردند که احساسِ ورود به حالتی شبیه به تجربهٔ نزدیک مرگ را داشته‌اند. تمام افرادی که در این آزمایش بودند، قبلاً بارها تجربهٔ مصرف دی‌متیل‌تریپتامین یا سایر داروهای روانگردان را داشته بودند.[۴۷][۴۸][۴۹]

در سال ۲۰۰۱ کریس فرنچ اظهار کرد که حداقل بخشی از گزارش‌های تجربیات نزدیک به مرگ، احتمالاً بر اساس خاطرات نادرست گزارش شده‌اند.[۵۰]

بررسی چند نمونه[ویرایش]

به عقیده صاحب‌نظران [نیازمند منبع] تئوری‌های روانشناسی یا فیزیولوژیکی که تا به امروز ارائه شده‌اند؛ نمی‌توانند به‌طور کامل تجربه نزدیک مرگ را تبیین نمایند.[نیازمند منبع] به عنوان نمونه ادعا می‌شود یکبار زنی که مورد جراحی قرار گرفته بود، بعد از به هوش آمدن، بدقت ابزار جراحی‌ای که قبلاً ندیده بود را توصیف کرده، همچنین گفتگویی که بین پرستاران و دکتر در هنگام بیهوشی کامل او صورت گرفت را بیان کرده‌است.[۵۱] در مورد دیگری، گفته می‌شود پرستاری دندان مصنوعی بیمار بیهوشی که دچار حمله قلبی شده بود را از دهانش بیرون آورد و بعد از بهوش آمدن آن بیمار از همان پرستار خواست که دندانش را به او برگرداند. در شرایط عادی ممکن است توجیه این مسئله مشکل باشد که چگونه یک مریض بیهوش توانسته بعد از بهوش آمدن همان پرستار را شناسایی کند.[۵۲] بیشتر افرادی که تجربه نزدیک مرگ داشته‌اند آن را برای خودشان به منزلهٔ نشانه‌ای بر وجود زندگی پس از مرگ دانسته‌اند.

همچنین این فرضیه مطرح شده که شاید اشخاصی که در حالت نباتی پایدار هستند بتوانند از طریق افکارشان با یکدیگر ارتباط برقرار کنند.[۵۳]

تجربیات شخصی[ویرایش]

  • George G. Ritchie در کتاب خود به نام "بازگشت از فردا Return from Tomorrow - ۱۹۷۸

او در سن بیست سالگی در ویرجینیا زندگی می‌کرد. جورج در بیمارستان ارتش مرد و ۹ دقیقه بعد به زندگی برگشت. آنچه برای او در مدت این دقایق روی داد، زندگی‌اش را تغییر داد. در این کتاب جورج از رویارویی خود با تجربه خروج از بدن می‌گوید؛ و دکتر Raymond Moody در دانشگاه ویرجینیا تجربهٔ او را مورد مطالعه قرار داد و تجربهٔ او باعث شد تا دکتر ۱۵۰ نمونه دیگر را در کتاب‌های خود بررسی نماید.

کتاب‌ها[ویرایش]

دربارهٔ تجربه نزدیک به مرگ کتاب‌های زیادی نوشته شده‌است. معروفترین کتاب در این مورد، درآغوش نور (غرق در نور) نوشته ""بتی جی ایدی"" می‌باشد؛ که در این کتاب، نویسنده طی یک عمل جراحی تقریباً می‌میرد و سپس زنده می‌شود و تمام آن تجربیات را در کتاب خود بیان کرده‌است.[۵۴] یکی دیگراز این کتاب‌ها که به فارسی هم ترجمه شده کتابی است به نام نور نجات بخش نوشته دانیون برینکلی، این کتاب داستان واقعی مردی است که بر اثر رعد و برق می‌میرد و پس از زنده شدن مشاهدات خود را می‌نویسد.

  • تجربه نزدیک به مرگ و نگاه دین اسلام به آن. از فاطمه گرامی. کرمان. ۱۳۹۲

در فیلم‌ها[ویرایش]

فیلم Flatliners - 1990 دربارهٔ گروهی از دانشجویان رشته پزشکی است که می‌خواهند دربارهٔ تجربه نزدیک به مرگ مطالعه کنند. آن‌ها برای مرگ بالینی و احیاء دوباره بوسیله هم دوره‌های خود داوطلب شدند.

در فیلم Final Destination 2 فردی به نام Kimberly Corman قبل از مرگ تمام زندگی خود را در یک لحظه مرور می‌کند.

Stay - 2005 فیلمی است که در آن شخصی به اسم Henry یک تجربه NDE دارد که تا پایان فیلم ادامه دارد. او در تصادفی که بقیه خانواده او هم مردند فوت می‌کند و بین مرگ و زندگی سرگردان است.

در فیلم White Noise: The Light - 2007 نقش اول فیلم Abe Dale بعد از تلاش برای خودکشی یک تجربه NDE دارد. روحش از بدنش جدا می‌شود و در انتهای تونل زن و فرزندش که قبلاً مرده بودند منتظر او بودند. او بعد از یک احیاء موفق دوباره به بدنش بازمی‌گردد.

Escape from Hell: در این فیلم مردی تلاش می‌کند که با قرار دادن خود در معرض ایست قلبی، وجود عالم روحانی را ثابت کند. او پس از دیدن این عالم روحانی (یک شهر روشن و درخشان) خود را در مکانی کاملاً متفاوت می‌یابد.

پانویس[ویرایش]

  1. Sleutjes, A. ; Moreira-Almeida, Alexander ; Greyson, B. . Almost 40 Years Investigating Near-Death Experiences. An Overview of Mainstream Scientific Journals. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, v. 202, p. 833–836, 2014. Indexed in PubMed.
  2. Roberts, Glenn; Owen, John. (1988). The Near-Death Experience. British Journal of Psychiatry 153: 607–617.
  3. Britton, Willoughby B. and Richard R. Bootzin. (2004). Near-Death Experiences and the Temporal Lobe. Psychological Science. Vol. 15, No. 4. pp. 254–258.
  4. Olaf Blanke, Sebastian Dieguez. "Leaving Body and Life Behind: Out-of-Body and Near-Death Experience" (2009).
  5. Dayspring" Wilson, Kimberli, New Age Journal, (Gainesville, Florida) September 1983, p. 25, retrieved online 1/29/2008
  6. Grossman, Neil (Indiana University and University of Illinois), Who's Afraid of Life After Death? Why NDE Evidence is Ignored, Institute of Noetic Sciences (IONS), 2002 Fontana, David (Cardiff University and Liverpool John Moores University), Does Mind Survive Physical Death?, 2003 London Telegraph, 10/22/2000 article: Soul-searching doctors find life after death, about Drs. Peter Fenwick and Sam Parnia studies of heart attack survivors
  7. Greyson, Bruce (2003), «Near-Death Experiences in a Psychiatric Outpatient Clinic Population» , Psychiatric Services, Dec. , Vol. 54 No. 12. The American Psychiatric Association.
  8. Holden, Janice Miner (2009). The Handbook of Near-death Experiences: Thirty Years of Investigation. Library of Congress Cataloging in Publishing Data. pp. 162, 215.
  9. Kennard, Mary J. "A Visit from an Angel." The American Journal of Nursing 98.3 (1998): 48–51
  10. The Natural Death Handbook - Varieties of NDE Eleven Thai Near-Death Experiences
  11. van Lommel P, van Wees R, Meyers V, Elfferich I. (2001) «Near-Death Experience in Survivors of Cardiac Arrest: A prospective Study in the Netherlands» , Lancet, December 15; 358(9298):2039-45.
  12. Ring, Kenneth: «Heading toward Omega. In search of the Meaning of Near-Death Experience» , 1984.
  13. IANDS. "Near-Death Experiences: Is this what happens when we die?" Durham: International Association for Near-Death Studies. Informational brochure available at http://www.iands.org
  14. Kosslyn, S, M. & Andersen, R, A. (1992). Frontiers in cognitive neuroscience. Cambridge, MA: MIT press.
  15. Harris, Sam. "
  16. Mobbs, D. "Response to Greyson et al. : there is nothing paranormal about near-death experiences", Trends in Cognitive Sciences, Volume 16, Issue 9, September 2012, Page 446
  17. Jimo Borjigina et al. (2013). "Surge of Neurophysiological Coherence and Connectivity in the Dying Brain". Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Vol. 110, Issue 35. pp. 14432–14437.
  18. "Near-death experiences are 'electrical surge in dying brain'". BBC News.
  19. "Could a final surge in brain activity after death explain near-death experiences?". Nature.
  20. "Near-death experiences exposed: Surge of brain activity after the heart stops may trigger paranormal visions". Daily Mail.
  21. ۲۱٫۰ ۲۱٫۱ Holden, Janice Miner; Greyson, Bruce; James, Debbie, eds. (Jun 22, 2009). "The Field of Near-Death Studies: Past, Present and Future". The Handbook of Near-Death Experiences: Thirty Years of Investigation. Greenwood Publishing Group. pp. 1–16. ISBN 978-0-313-35864-7.
  22. 3,3 Millionen Deutsche mit Nahtoderfahrung. abgerufen am 24. Mai 2015
  23. WDR: Planet Wissen: Nahtoderfahrung video: Minute 0.40, vom 4. Oktober 2013, abgerufen am 24. Mai 2015
  24. A Report on a Survey of Near-Death Experiences in Germany (2001) for example: page 2 in the abstract
  25. Bruce Greyson: Incidence and correlates of near-death experiences in a cardiac care unit[پیوند مرده] General Hospital Psychiatry, Volume 25 Pages 269–276, published July–August, 2003
  26. Der Spiegel: Forscher finden Erklärung für Nahtoderlebnis. 13. August 2013
  27. Sam Parnia, Spearpoint, Fenwick: Near death experiences, cognitive function and psychological outcomes of surviving cardiac arrest published April 11, 2006
  28. https://secure.jbs.elsevierhealth.com/action/getSharedSiteSession?redirect=http://www.resuscitationjournal.com/article/S0300-9572(14)00739-4/abstract&rc=0&code=resus-site
  29. «نسخه آرشیو شده». بایگانی‌شده از اصلی در ۳ فوریه ۲۰۱۶. دریافت‌شده در ۱ فوریه ۲۰۱۶.
  30. . Gallup, G. , and Proctor, W. (۱۹۸۲). Adventures in immortality: a look beyond the threshold of death. New York, McGraw Hill.
  31. . Knoblauch, H. , Schmied, I. and Schnettler, B. (۲۰۰۱). «Different kinds of Near-Death Experience: a report on a survey of near-death experiences in Germany» , Journal of Near-Death Studies, 20, 15-29.
  32. Perera, M. , Padmasekara, G. and Belanti, J. (۲۰۰۵), «Prevalence of Near Death Experiences in Australia» , Journal of Near-Death Studies, ۲۴(۲), ۱۰۹–۱۱۶.
  33. . Parnia, Waller, Yeates & Fenwick, 2001; van Lommel, van Wees, Meyers & Elfferich, 2001.
  34. French, Chris. (2005). Near-Death Experiences in Cardiac Arrest Survivors. Progress in Brain Research 150: 351–367.
  35. Noyes, R. (1972) The experience of dying. Psychiatry 35: 174–184.
  36. Noyes, R. and Klett, R. (1976) Depersonalisation in the face of life-threatening danger: an interpretation. Omega 7: 103–114.
  37. Noyes, R. and Klett, R. (1977) Depersonalisation in the face of life-threatening danger. Compr. Psychiat 18: 375–384.
  38. Noyes, R. and Slymen, D. (1978–1979) The subjective response to life-threatening danger. Omega 9: 313–321.
  39. Carr, Daniel. (1981). Endorphins at the Approach of Death. Lancet 317: 390.
  40. Carr, Daniel. (1982). Pathophysiology of Stress-Induced Limbic Lobe Dysfunction: A Hypothesis Relevant to Near-Death Experiences. Anabiosis: The Journal of Near-Death Studies 2: 75–89.
  41. Judson, I. R; Wiltshaw, E. (1983). A near-death experience. Lancet 8349: 561–562.
  42. Appleby, L. (1989). Near·death experience: Analogous to other stress induced psychological phenomena. British Medical Journal, 298, 976–977.
  43. * Jansen, K. L. R: (1989). Near-death experience and the MMDA receptor [Letter). British Medical Journal, 298, 1708.
    • Jansen, K. L. R. (1989). The near-death experience [Letter]. British Journal of Psychiatry 154: 883–884.
    • Jansen, K. L. R. (1990). Neuroscience and the near-death experience: Roles for the NMDA-PCP receptor, the sigma receptor and the endopsychosins. Medical Hypotheses 31: 25–29.
  44. Morse, M. L; Venecia, D; Milstein, J. (1989). Near-death experiences: A neurophysiological explanatory model. Journal of Near-Death Studies 8: 45–53.
  45. Jansen, K. L. R. (1996). Using ketamine to induce the near-death experience: mechanism of action and therapeutic potential. In Christian Rätsch, John Baker. Yearbook for Ethnomedicine and the Study of Consciousness (Jahrbuch furr Ethnomedizin und Bewubtseinsforschung). Wissenschaft und Bildung. Issue 4. pp. 55–81.
  46. Whinnery, J. E. (1997). Psychophysiologic correlates of unconsciousness and near-death experiences. J. Near Death Stud 15: 231–258.
  47. Strassman, Rick (2008). Inner Paths to Outer Space: Journeys to Alien Worlds through Psychedelics and Other Spiritual Technologies. Rochester, Vt.: Park Street Press. ISBN 978-1-59477-224-5. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  48. Strassman, Rick (2001). DMT: The Spirit Molecule: A Doctor's Revolutionary Research into the Biology of Near-Death and Mystical Experiences. Rochester: Park Street. ISBN 0-89281-927-8. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  49. Earleywine, Mitch (2005). Mind-Altering Drugs: The Science Of Subjective Experience. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 0-19-516531-4. |access-date= requires |url= (help)
  50. French, Chris. (2001). Dying to Know the Truth: Visions of a Dying Brain, or False Memories?. Lancet 358: 2010–2011.
  51. Sabom, Michael. Light & Death: One Doctor's Fascinating Account of Near-Death Experiences. 1998. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House
  52. van Lommel P, van Wees R, Meyers V, Elfferich I. (۲۰۰۱) Near-Death Experience in Survivors of Cardiac Arrest: A prospective Study in the Netherlands. Lancet, December ۱۵;۳۵۸(۹۲۹۸):۲۰۳۹–۴۵.
  53. http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/51473.php, Woman In Vegetative State Communicated Through Her Thoughts
  54. [کتاب درآغوش نور نوشته بتی جی ایدی]

جستارهای وابسته[ویرایش]

پیوند به بیرون[ویرایش]

A near-death experience (NDE) is a personal experience associated with death or impending death. When positive, such experiences may encompass a variety of sensations including detachment from the body, feelings of levitation, total serenity, security, warmth, the experience of absolute dissolution, and the presence of a light. When negative, such experiences may include sensations of anguish and distress.[1] NDEs are a recognized part of some transcendental and religious beliefs in an afterlife.[1][2][3][4]

Different models have been described to explain NDEs.[5] Neuroscience research suggests that an NDE is a subjective phenomenon resulting from "disturbed bodily multisensory integration" that occurs during life-threatening events.[6]

Etymology

Ascent of the Blessed by Hieronymus Bosch is associated by some NDE researchers with aspects of the NDE.[7][8]

The equivalent French term expérience de mort imminente (experience of imminent death) was proposed by French psychologist and epistemologist Victor Egger as a result of discussions in the 1890s among philosophers and psychologists concerning climbers' stories of the panoramic life review during falls.[9][10] In 1892 a series of subjective observations by workers falling from scaffolds, war soldiers who suffered injuries, climbers who had fallen from heights or other individuals who had come close to death (near drownings, accidents) was reported by Albert Heim. This was also the first time the phenomenon was described as clinical syndrome.[11] In 1968 Celia Green published an analysis of 400 first-hand accounts of out-of-body experiences.[12] This represented the first attempt to provide a taxonomy of such experiences, viewed simply as anomalous perceptual experiences, or hallucinations. In 1969, Swiss-American psychiatrist and pioneer in near-death studies Elisabeth Kubler-Ross published her groundbreaking book On Death and Dying: What the dying have to teach doctors, nurses, clergy, and their own families. These experiences were also popularized by the work of psychiatrist Raymond Moody, who in 1975 coined the term "near-death experience" (NDE) as an umbrella term for the different elements (out of body experiences, the "panoramic life review," the Light, the tunnel, or the border).[11] The term "near-death experience" had already been used by John C. Lilly in 1972.[13]

Characteristics

Common elements

Researchers have identified the common elements that define near-death experiences.[3] Bruce Greyson argues that the general features of the experience include impressions of being outside one's physical body, visions of deceased relatives and religious figures, and transcendence of egotic and spatiotemporal boundaries.[14] Many common elements have been reported, although the person's interpretation of these events often corresponds with the cultural, philosophical, or religious beliefs of the person experiencing it. For example, in the US, where 46% of the population believes in guardian angels, they will often be identified as angels or deceased loved ones (or will be unidentified), while Hindus will often identify them as messengers of the god of death.[15][16]

Common traits that have been reported by NDErs are as follows:

  • A sense/awareness of being dead.[3]
  • A sense of peace, well-being and painlessness. Positive emotions. A sense of removal from the world.[3]
  • An out-of-body experience. A perception of one's body from an outside position, sometimes observing medical professionals performing resuscitation efforts.[3][17]
  • A "tunnel experience" or entering a darkness. A sense of moving up, or through, a passageway or staircase.[3][17]
  • A rapid movement toward and/or sudden immersion in a powerful light (or "Being of Light") which communicates with the person.[18]
  • An intense feeling of unconditional love and acceptance.[19]
  • Encountering "Beings of Light", "Beings dressed in white", or similar. Also, the possibility of being reunited with deceased loved ones.[3][17]
  • Receiving a life review, commonly referred to as "seeing one's life flash before one's eyes".[3]
  • Approaching a border or a decision by oneself or others to return to one's body, often accompanied by a reluctance to return.[3][17]
  • Suddenly finding oneself back inside one's body.[20]
  • Connection to the cultural beliefs held by the individual, which seem to dictate some of the phenomena experienced in the NDE and particularly the later interpretation thereof.[15][page needed]

Stages

Kenneth Ring (1980) subdivided the NDE on a five-stage continuum. The subdivisions were:[21]

  1. Peace
  2. Body separation
  3. Entering darkness
  4. Seeing the light
  5. Entering the light

Charlotte Martial, a neuropsychologist from the University of Liège and University Hospital of Liège who led a team that investigated 154 NDE cases, concluded that there is not a fixed sequence of events.[22]

Clinical circumstances

Kenneth Ring argues that attempted suicides do not lead more often to unpleasant NDEs than unintended near-death situations.[23]

After-effects

NDEs are associated with changes in personality and outlook on life.[3] Ring has identified a consistent set of value and belief changes associated with people who have had a near-death experience. Among these changes, he found a greater appreciation for life, higher self-esteem, greater compassion for others, less concern for acquiring material wealth, a heightened sense of purpose and self-understanding, desire to learn, elevated spirituality, greater ecological sensitivity and planetary concern, and a feeling of being more intuitive.[3] However, not all after-effects are beneficial[24] and Greyson describes circumstances where changes in attitudes and behavior can lead to psychosocial and psychospiritual problems.[25]

Historical reports, incidence and prevalence

NDEs have been recorded since ancient times.[26] The oldest known medical report of near-death experiences was written by Pierre-Jean du Monchaux, an 18th-century French military doctor who described such a case in his book "Anecdotes de Médecine."[27] In the 19th century a few studies moved beyond individual cases - one privately done by the Mormons and one in Switzerland. Up to 2005, 95% of world cultures are known to have made some mention of NDEs.[26]

A number of more contemporary sources report the incidence of near death experiences as:

  • 17% amongst critically ill patients, in nine prospective studies from four different countries.[28]
  • 10-20% of people who have come close to death.[11]

Research

Near-death studies

Bruce Greyson (psychiatrist), Kenneth Ring (psychologist), and Michael Sabom (cardiologist), helped to launch the field of near-death studies and introduced the study of near-death experiences to the academic setting. From 1975 to 2005, some 2,500 self-reported individuals in the US had been reviewed in retrospective studies of the phenomena[26] with an additional 600 outside the US in the West,[26] and 70 in Asia.[26] Additionally, prospective studies had identified 270 individuals. Prospective studies review groups of individuals (e.g., selected emergency room patients) and then find who had an NDE during the study's time; such studies cost more to perform.[26] In all, close to 3,500 individual cases between 1975 and 2005 had been reviewed in one or another study. All these studies were carried out by some 55 researchers or teams of researchers.[26]

Melvin Morse, head of the Institute for the Scientific Study of Consciousness, and colleagues[17][29] have investigated near-death experiences in a pediatric population.

Clinical research in cardiac arrest patients

Parnia 2001 study

In 2001, Sam Parnia and colleagues published the results of a year-long study of cardiac arrest survivors that was conducted at Southampton General Hospital. 63 survivors were interviewed. They had been resuscitated after being clinically dead with no pulse, no respiration, and fixed dilated pupils. Parnia and colleagues investigated out-of-body experience claims by placing figures on suspended boards facing the ceiling, not visible from the floor. Four had experiences that, according to the study criteria, were NDEs but none of them experienced the out-of-body experience. Thus, they were not able to identify the figures.[30][5][31]

Psychologist Chris French wrote regarding the study "unfortunately, and somewhat atypically, none of the survivors in this sample experienced an OBE".[5]

Van Lommel's study

In 2001, Pim van Lommel, a cardiologist from the Netherlands, and his team conducted a study on NDEs including 344 cardiac arrest patients who had been successfully resuscitated in 10 Dutch hospitals. Patients not reporting NDEs were used as controls for patients who did, and psychological (e.g., fear before cardiac arrest), demographic (e.g., age, sex), medical (e.g., more than one cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR)), and pharmacological data were compared between the two groups. The work also included a longitudinal study where the two groups (those who had had an NDE and those who had not had one) were compared at two and eight years, for life changes. One patient had a conventional out of body experience. He reported being able to watch and recall events during the time of his cardiac arrest. His claims were confirmed by hospital personnel. "This did not appear consistent with hallucinatory or illusory experiences, as the recollections were compatible with real and verifiable rather than imagined events".[31][32]

Awareness during Resuscitation (AWARE) study

While at University of Southampton, Parnia was the principal investigator of the AWARE Study, which was launched in 2008.[13] This study which concluded in 2012 included 33 investigators across 15 medical centers in the UK, Austria and the US and tested consciousness, memories and awareness during cardiac arrest. The accuracy of claims of visual and auditory awareness was examined using specific tests.[33] One such test consisted in installing shelves, bearing a variety of images and facing the ceiling, hence not visible by hospital staff, in rooms where cardiac-arrest patients were more likely to occur. The results of the study were published in October 2014; both the launch and the study results were widely discussed in the media.[34][35]

A review article analyzing the results reports that, out of 2,060 cardiac arrest events, 101 of 140 cardiac arrest survivors could complete the questionnaires. Of these 101 patients 9% could be classified as near death experiences. Two more patients (2% of those completing the questionnaires) described "seeing and hearing actual events related to the period of cardiac arrest". These two patients' cardiac arrests did not occur in areas equipped with ceiling shelves hence no images could be used to objectively test for visual awareness claims. One of the two patients was too sick and the accuracy of her recount could not be verified. For the second patient, however, it was possible to verify the accuracy of the experience and to show that awareness occurred paradoxically some minutes after the heart stopped, at a time when "the brain ordinarily stops functioning and cortical activity becomes isoelectric." The experience was not compatible with an illusion, imaginary event or hallucination since visual (other than of ceiling shelves' images) and auditory awareness could be corroborated.[31]

AWARE II

As of May 2016, a posting at the UK Clinical Trials Gateway website described plans for AWARE II, a two-year multicenter observational study of 900-1500 patients experiencing cardiac arrest, which said that subject recruitment had started on 1 August 2014 and that the scheduled end date was 31 May 2017.[36] The study was extended, and it is currently expected to end in 2020.[37]

Meditation-Induced NDEs

A three-year longitudinal study has revealed that some Buddhist meditation practitioners are able to willfully induce near-death experiences at a pre-planned point in time. Unlike traditional NDEs, participants were consciously aware of experiencing the meditation-induced NDE and retained control over its content and duration.[38] The Dalai Lama has also asserted that experienced meditators can deliberately induce the NDE state during meditation, being able to recognize and sustain it.[39]

Explanatory models

In a review article, psychologist Chris French[5] has grouped approaches to explain NDEs in three broad groups which "are not distinct and independent, but instead show considerable overlap": spiritual theories (also called transcendental), psychological theories, and physiological theories that provide a physical explanation for NDEs.

Spiritual or transcendental theories

French summarizes this model by saying : "the most popular interpretation is that the NDE is exactly what it appears to be to the person having the experience".[5] The NDE would then represent evidence of the supposedly immaterial existence of a soul or mind, which would leave the body upon death. An NDE would then provide information about an immaterial world where the soul would journey upon ending its physical existence on earth.[5]

According to Greyson[11] some NDE phenomena cannot be easily explained with our current knowledge of human physiology and psychology. For instance, at a time when they were unconscious patients could accurately describe events as well as report being able to view their bodies "from an out-of-body spatial perspective". In two different studies of patients who had survived a cardiac arrest, those who had reported leaving their bodies could describe accurately their resuscitation procedures or unexpected events, whereas others "described incorrect equipment and procedures".[11] Sam Parnia also refers to two cardiac arrest studies and one deep hypothermic circulatory arrest study where patients reported visual and/or auditory awareness occurring when their brain function had ceased. These reports "were corroborated with actual and real events".[40][31]

Five prospective studies have been carried out, to test the accuracy of out of body perceptions by placing "unusual targets in locations likely to be seen by persons having NDEs, such as in an upper corner of a room in the emergency department, the coronary care unit, or the intensive care unit of a hospital." Twelve patients reported leaving their bodies, but none could describe the hidden visual targets. Although this is a small sample, the failure of purported out-of-body experiencers to describe the hidden targets raises questions about the accuracy of the anecdotal reports described above.[11] One of the researches that have conducted this kind of hidden targets tests reports explanations why the targets was not seen by the patients:[41]

  • Some patients floated in the opposite direction of the targets
  • Some patients were floating just above the body thus not high enough to see the targets
  • One patient reported that he was too focused on observing the body to look for any targets. Also, he alleges that he would be able to see them if she had told him to look for them.

Psychologist James Alcock has described the afterlife claims of NDE researchers as pseudoscientific. Alcock has written the spiritual or transcendental interpretation "is based on belief in search of data rather than observation in search of explanation."[42] Chris French has noted that "the survivalist approach does not appear to generate clear and testable hypotheses. Because of the vagueness and imprecision of the survivalist account, it can be made to explain any possible set of findings and is therefore unfalsifiable and unscientific."[43]

The medical researcher Penny Sartori has observed that people that close to the time of death start to see dead people and can communicate with them. This is a very common fact and known to the nursing body. She tells the story of one patient that saw three deceased relatives, two of them he knew they were dead but one of them had passed away a week before the event and he was not yet aware[41].

Psychological explanations

French summarises the main psychological explanations which include: the depersonalization, the expectancy and the dissociation models.[5]

Depersonalization model

A depersonalization model was proposed in the 1970s by professor of psychiatry Russell Noyes and clinical psychologist Roy Kletti, which suggested that the NDE is a form of depersonalization experienced under emotional conditions such as life-threatening danger, potentially inescapable danger, and that the NDE can best be understood as an hallucination.[5][44][45][46][47] According to this model, those who face their impending death become detached from the surroundings and their own bodies, no longer feel emotions, and experience time distortions.[11]

This model suffers from a number of limitations to explain NDEs for subjects who do not experience a sensation of being out of their bodies; unlike NDEs, experiences are dreamlike, unpleasant and characterized by "anxiety, panic and emptiness".[11] Also, during NDEs subjects remain very lucid of their identities, their sense of identity is not changed unlike those experiencing depersonalization.[11]

Expectancy model

Another psychological theory is called the expectancy model. It has been suggested that although these experiences could appear very real, they had actually been constructed in the mind, either consciously or subconsciously, in response to the stress of an encounter with death (or perceived encounter with death), and did not correspond to a real event. In a way, they are similar to wish-fulfillment: because someone thought they were about to die, they experienced certain things in accordance with what they expected or wanted to occur. Imagining a heavenly place was in effect a way for them to soothe themselves through the stress of knowing that they were close to death.[5] Subjects use their own personal and cultural expectations to imagine a scenario that would protect them against an imminent threat to their lives.[11]

Subjects' accounts often differed from their own "religious and personal expectations regarding death" which contradicts the hypothesis they may have imagined a scenario based on their cultural and personal background.[11] One example that supports this flaw is the NDE report by Xue-Mei who had a Maoist cultural background and still had a similar experience as western NDE.[48]

Although the term NDE was first coined in 1975 and the experience first described then, recent descriptions of NDEs do not differ from those reported earlier than 1975. The only exception is the more frequent description of a tunnel. Hence, the fact that information about these experiences could be more easily obtained after 1975, did not influence people's reports of the experiences.[11]

Another flaw of this model can be found in children's accounts of NDEs. These are similar to adults', and this despite children being less affected by religious or cultural influences about death.[11]

Dissociation model

The dissociation model proposes that NDE is a form of withdrawal to protect an individual from a stressful event. Under extreme circumstances some people may detach from certain unwanted feelings in order to avoid experiencing their emotional impact and suffering associated with them. The person also detaches from one's immediate surroundings.[5]

Birth model

The birth model suggests that near death experiences could be a form of reliving the trauma of birth. Since a baby travels from the darkness of the womb to light and is greeted by the love and warmth of the nursing and medical staff, and so, it was proposed, the dying brain could be recreating the passage through a tunnel to light, warmth and affection.[5]

Reports of leaving the body through a tunnel are equally frequent among subjects who were born by cesarean section and natural birth. Also, newborns do not possess "the visual acuity, spatial stability of their visual images, mental alertness, and cortical coding capacity to register memories of the birth experience".[11]

Physiological explanations (organic theories[when defined as?])

A wide range of physiological theories of the NDE have been put forward including those based upon cerebral hypoxia, anoxia, and hypercapnia; endorphins and other neurotransmitters; and abnormal activity in the temporal lobes.[5]

Neurobiological factors in the experience have been investigated by researchers in the field of medical science and psychiatry.[49] Among the researchers and commentators who tend to emphasize a naturalistic and neurological base for the experience are the British psychologist Susan Blackmore (1993), with her "dying brain hypothesis".[50]

Neuroanatomical models

Neuroscientists Olaf Blanke and Sebastian Dieguez (2009),[51] from the Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne, Switzerland, propose a brain based model with two types of NDEs :

  • "type 1 NDEs are due to bilateral frontal and occipital, but predominantly right hemispheric brain damage affecting the right temporal parietal junction and characterized by out of body experiences, altered sense of time, sensations of flying, lightness vection and flying"[6]
  • "type 2 NDEs are also due to bilateral frontal and occipital, but predominantly left hemispheric brain damage affecting the left temporal parietal junction and characterized by feeling of a presence, meeting and communication with spirits, seeing of glowing bodies, as well as voices, sounds, and music without vection"[6]

They suggest that damage to the bilateral occipital cortex may lead to visual features of NDEs such as seeing a tunnel or lights, and "damage to unilateral or bilateral temporal lobe structures such as the hippocampus and amygdala" may lead to emotional experiences, memory flashbacks or a life review. They concluded that future neuroscientific studies are likely to reveal the neuroanatomical basis of the NDE which will lead to the demystification of the subject without needing paranormal explanations.[6]

Animation of the human left temporal lobe

French has written that the "temporal lobe is almost certain to be involved in NDEs, given that both damage to and direct cortical stimulation of this area are known to produce a number of experiences corresponding to those of the NDE, including OBEs, hallucinations, and memory flashbacks".[5]

Vanhaudenhuyse et al. 2009 reported that recent studies employing deep brain stimulation and neuroimaging have demonstrated that out-of-body experiences result from a deficient multisensory integration at the temporoparietal junction and that ongoing studies aim to further identify the functional neuroanatomy of near-death experiences by means of standardized EEG recordings.[52]

According to Greyson[11] multiple neuroanatomical models have been proposed where NDEs have been hypothesized to originate from different anatomical areas of the brain, namely: the limbic system, the hippocampus, the left temporal lobe, Reissen's fiber in the central canal of the spinal cord, the prefrontal cortex, the right temporal lobe.

Blanke et al.[6] admit that their model remains speculative to the lack of data. Likewise Greyson[11] writes that although some or any of the neuroanatomical models proposed may serve to explain NDEs and pathways through which they are expressed, they remain speculative at this stage since they have not been tested in empirical studies.[11]

Neurochemical models

Some theories hypothesize that drugs used during resuscitation induced NDEs, for example, ketamine or as resulting from endogeneous chemicals that transmit signals between brain cells, neurotransmitters:[5]

  • In the early eighties, Daniel Carr wrote that the NDE has characteristics that are suggestive of a limbic lobe syndrome and that the NDE can be explained by the release of endorphins and enkephalins in the brain.[53][54] Endorphins are endogenous molecules "released in times of stress and lead to a reduction in pain perception and a pleasant, even blissful, emotional state."[5]
  • Judson and Wiltshaw (1983) noted how the administration of endorphin-blocking agents such as naloxone had been occasionally reported to produce "hellish" NDEs.[55] This would be coherent with endorphins' role in causing a "positive emotional tone of most NDEs".[5]
  • Morse et al. 1989 proposed a model arguing that serotonin played a more important role than endorphins in generating NDEs.[56] "at least with respect to mystical hallucinations and OBEs".[5]

According to Parnia, neurochemical models are not backed by data. This is true for "NMDA receptor activation, serotonin, and endorphin release" models.[31] Parnia writes that no data has been collected via thorough and careful experimentation to back "a possible causal relationship or even an association" between neurochemical agents and NDE experiences.[40]

Multi-factorial models

The first formal neurobiological model for NDE, included endorphins, neurotransmitters of the limbic system, the temporal lobe and other parts of the brain.[57] Extensions and variations of their model came from other scientists such as Louis Appleby (1989).[58]

Other authors suggest that all components of near-death experiences can be explained in their entirety via psychological or neurophysiological mechanisms, although the authors admit that these hypotheses have to be tested by science.[59]

Low oxygen levels (and G-LOC) model

Low oxygen levels in the blood (hypoxia or anoxia) have been hypothesized to induce hallucinations and hence possibly explain NDEs.[15][5] This is because low oxygen levels characterize life-threatening situations and also by the apparent similarities between NDEs and G-force induced loss of consciousness (G-LOC) episodes.

These episodes are observed with fighter pilots experiencing very rapid and intense acceleration that result in lack of sufficient blood supply to the brain. Whinnery[60] studied almost 1000 cases and noted how the experiences often involved "tunnel vision and bright lights, floating sensations, automatic movement, autoscopy, OBEs, not wanting to be disturbed, paralysis, vivid dreamlets of beautiful places, pleasurable sensations, psychological alterations of euphoria and dissociation, inclusion of friends and family, inclusion of prior memories and thoughts, the experience being very memorable (when it can be remembered), confabulation, and a strong urge to understand the experience."[5][60]

However, hypoxia-induced acceleration's primary characteristics are "rythmic jerking of the limbs, compromised memory of events just prior to the onset of unconsciousness, tingling of extremities ..." that are not observed during NDEs.[15] Also G-LOC episodes do not feature life reviews, mystical experiences and "long-lasting transformational aftereffects", although this may be due to the fact that subjects have no expectation of dying.[5]

Also, hypoxic hallucinations are characterized by "distress and agitation" and this is very different from near death experiences which subjects report as being pleasant.[11]

Altered blood gas levels models

Some investigators have studied whether hypercarbia or higher than normal carbon dioxide levels, could explain the occurrence of NDEs. However, studies are difficult to interpret since NDEs have been observed both with increased levels as well as decreased levels of carbon dioxide, and finally some other studies have observed NDEs when levels had not changed, and there is little data.[15]

Other models

French said that at least some reports of NDEs might be based upon false memories.[61]

According to Engmann (2008) near-death experiences of people who are clinically dead are psychopathological symptoms caused by a severe malfunction of the brain resulting from the cessation of cerebral blood circulation.[62] An important question is whether it is possible to "translate" the bloomy experiences of the reanimated survivors into psychopathologically basic phenomena, e.g., acoasms (nonverbal auditory hallucinations), central narrowing of the visual field, autoscopia, visual hallucinations, activation of limbic and memory structures according to Moody's stages. The symptoms suppose a primary affliction of the occipital and temporal cortices under clinical death. This basis could be congruent with the thesis of pathoclisis—the inclination of special parts of the brain to be the first to be damaged in case of disease, lack of oxygen, or malnutrition—established eighty years ago by Cécile and Oskar Vogt.[63]

Professor of neurology Terence Hines (2003) claimed that near-death experiences are hallucinations caused by cerebral anoxia, drugs, or brain damage.[64]

Cross-cultural aspects

Gregory Shushan published an analysis of the afterlife beliefs of five ancient civilisations (Old and Middle Kingdom Egypt, Sumerian and Old Babylonian Mesopotamia, Vedic India, pre-Buddhist China, and pre-Columbian Mesoamerica) and compared them with historical and contemporary reports of near-death experiences, and shamanic afterlife "journeys". Shushan found similarities across time, place, and culture that he found could not be explained by coincidence; he also found elements that were specific to cultures; Shushan concludes that some form of mutual influence between experiences of an afterlife and culture probably influence one another and that this inheritance in turn influences individual NDEs.[65] In contrast, it has been argued that near-death experiences and many of their elements (vision of God, judgment, the tunnel, or the life review) are closely related to religious and spiritual traditions of the West. It was mainly Christian visionaries, Spiritualists, Occultists, and Theosophists of the 19th and 20th century that reported them (Schlieter 2018).

According to Parnia, near death experiences' interpretations are influenced by religious, social, cultural backgrounds. However, the core elements appear to transcend borders and can be considered universal. In fact, some of these core elements have even been reported by children <3 years old (this occurred over many months, whilst playing and communicated using children's language). In other words, at an age where they should not have been influenced by culture or tradition.[31]

Also, according to Greyson,[11] the central features of NDEs are universal and have not been influenced by time. These have been observed throughout history and in different cultures.

See also

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Further reading