Recent and Historical Reports of Near Death Experiences Cases (Part II)
Near Death Experiences Series, Article 5 (Reviewed by the Editorial Board)
In a previous article (1) we saw that records of cognitive experiences (2) from a close brush with death were found that could be traced back millennia. We thus inferred that near death experiences were unlikely to be fabrications despite the fact they attracted more and more attention by the media, starting in seventies, after Raymond Moody’s famous book “Life after life” was published. In this article we will continue looking at specific experiences recounted by many people from throughout history.
Near experiences cases: the first systemic series of accounts
The first systematic series of accounts from people who had experienced a close encounter with death were reported by a 19th century Swiss geologist and mountaineer, Albert Heim. Heim had survived a near-fatal mountaineering accident himself and then went on to collect 30 first-hand accounts from other survivors of near-fatal mountaineering accidents, and found that they had similar experiences. His work was published in 1892. His own experience is typical of those recalled by other people in his series:
'no grief was felt nor was there any paralyzing fright. There was no anxiety, no trace of despair or pain, but rather calm seriousness, profound acceptance and a dominant mental quickness. The relationship of events and their probable outcomes were viewed with objective clarity, no confusion entered at all. Time became greatly expanded.'
He found that in many cases there then followed a sudden review of the individual's entire past, and finally the person falling often heard 'beautiful music' and fell in what they visualized as 'a superbly blue heaven containing roseate cloudlets'. It was reported that consciousness was painlessly extinguished, usually at the moment of impact, which was at the most heard but never painfully felt.
Near death experiences: 4 independent studies during cardiac arrestIt would appear that these experiences are indeed common and have not been invented recently by attention seekers. Further evidence that claims of cognitive experiences described above and in a previous article (1) are authentic, have also been supported by 4 recent scientific studies carried out by independent researchers (3) demonstrating that 10-20% of people who go through cardiac arrest and clinical death report similar lucid, well structured thought processes, reasoning, memories, and sometimes detailed recall of events during their encounter with death.
It is worthy of notice that it took a whole century, after Albert Heim’s series, before a scientific approach (exemplified by the studies mentioned above) to the study of what happens after death became a possibility. This coincided with the birth of cardio-pulmonary resuscitation and intensive care medicine in the 1960s (4), which enabled medical personnel to reverse patients’ death for relatively long period of time.
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(2) Cognitive experiences: refer to experiences dealing with cognition, in other words to the mental process of knowing, formulating judgments, reasoning, perceiving and being aware.
(3) Parnia S. et al., Resuscitation, Feb 2001 48, 149-156; Van Lommel P. et al., The Lancet, 2001 Dec 15, 358 (9298) 2039-45; Greyson B. et al., 2003 Jul-Aug, Gen Hosp Psychiatry, 25(4):269-76 ; Schwaninger et al., Journal of Near Death Studies, Summer 20 (2002), pp. 215–232
(4) Eisenberg M.S., P. Baskett D.A. Chamberlain. 2007. “A history of cardiopulmonary resuscitation”. InCardiac Arrest: the Science and the Practice of Resuscitation Medicine, 2nd ed. N. Paradis, H.R. Halperin, K.B. Kern, V. Wenzel, D.A. Chamberlain, Eds.: 3-10. New York: Cambridge University Press