‘I didn’t want to come back’: research indicates that near-death experiences are not hallucinations; still elusive answer

Dying can be good for your mental health. If, that is, you survive it.

“Experiencing death,” say researchers in a recently published scientific study, often leads to “long-term positive psychological transformation and growth.”

Proposed to a person whose near-death case was included in the article:

“I thought about others a lot more. It’s easier for me to put myself in other people’s shoes. It’s easier for me to act out of love and compassion.

By now, we’ve all heard of the eerily similar stories told by people who were clinically dead and then resurrected. Float above your body and observe it. Feel free from all pain and worry. To be drawn into a tunnel of light – and imbued with joy, love and acceptance.

The new study, led by Dr. Sam Parnia and published in the journal Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, examines the most common and well-documented near-death experiences, or “recalled death experiences.” It also provides “illustrative” quotes from those who died and lived to tell about it.

Here are some of the quotes describing memories of lifting his body:

“I obviously knew that my body was still lying in my bed, but I couldn’t go back there. ‘Is this death?’ I thought about.

“I perceived and saw everything around me, like 360 ​​degrees.”

“That body was just a coat I was wearing. It was good to be out of it.

One such afterlife experience was so intense, according to a quote from the study, that “our daily lives seem like a dream in comparison.”

Parnia says scientific advances are increasingly making it possible to put those memories to the test.

“What has enabled the scientific study of death is that brain cells are not irreversibly damaged within minutes of oxygen deprivation when the heart stops,” he said in a statement. “Instead, they ‘die’ for hours. This allows scientists to objectively study the physiological and mental events that occur in relation to death.

Sam Parnia, MD, Ph.D.NYU Langone Health

The article, titled “Guidelines and Standards for the Study of Death and Recalled Death Experiences,” involves the work of scientists from a variety of disciplines, including psychiatry, neuroscience, and even the humanities.

New York University’s Grossman School of Medicine, where Parnia is director of critical care and resuscitation research, says the work is the “first-ever peer-reviewed consensus statement for the scientific study of remembered experiences surrounding death”.

The study clearly shows that these “lucid episodes” that many people have had while they are dead – or about to die – remain unexplained. Over the years, various hypotheses have been put forward suggesting physiological reasons for these occurrences, such as the possibility that it is a specific type of hallucination triggered by the body shutting down.

But it’s no surprise that many people who have a near-death experience see God in the details.

“I felt a presence,” says a quote from the study. “And I also felt complete confidence in this company.”

The cliché of having your life flash before your eyes was a very real thing for many of those whose cases were reviewed in the newspaper.

“My whole life has been watched, analyzed and judged,” said one.

“I wasn’t as good as I thought I was,” admitted another.

This analysis and judgment often causes people who have been there to pursue personal growth – as well as to embrace the idea that they came back to life for a reason.

“I felt there was something at stake, that we had a very important job to do,” a quote from the study begins.

The new paper concludes that the recalled “authentic” death experiences “are not consistent with hallucinations, delusions, or psychedelic drug-induced experiences.”

These “lucid” events “are distinct from coma, dreams, [intensive care unit] delirium and delusions in intensive care, as well as other human experiences during conscious (awake) states or states of altered consciousness,” the study states.

Although many people who have been revived feel a powerful new purpose in their lives, this does not necessarily mean that they were happy to be revived. Some speak of being “sucked up” by their bodies despite their desire to remain in the light.

says one:

“I felt more joy and contentment than even the brightest moments of this life have ever been provided, and I didn’t want to come back.”

–Douglas Perry

dperry@oregonian.com

@douglasmperry

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