For Patients and Caregivers
Implications for the Care of Patients
The study of the state of the human mind and consciousness during clinical death (cardiac arrest) can potentially provide an objective knowledge of what happens when we die. This will have great implications for comforting those who go through death or those who face death. It will also potentially help comfort people whose loved ones have gone through death. As well as these obvious benefits, there are also other potential benefits for medical care.
One of the consequences of having a near death experience is that people are often left with a very positive effect that makes them less materialistic, less afraid of death and more altruistic. This positive transformation can often last for decades. Although, these effects are undoubtedly mediated by changes in the expression of genes and specific chemicals in the brain, no one yet knows how.
The discovery of these changes does not in any way take away from the nature of the experience and its significance, but could also allow doctors to discover novel ways to treat psychological and psychiatric illnesses by allowing doctors to instill the positive effects of near death experiences in those who have not had them. After discovering the brain signals that are involved with the positive transformational effects of NDEs, doctors could potentially design drugs that would stimulate the same areas of the brain and get the same effect in people who have lost hope and become apathetic, thus recreating the positive transformational effects of NDE. There has been enormous progress recently in the study of the behavioural changes and the dynamic changes that take place in the genes and chemical changes in the human brain in response to different behavioural states. Significant and ever-evolving biochemical technologies now make it possible to study the activities of thousands of genes at the same time.
Of course, another benefit may be that once we discover the actual nature of the mind we may well discover alternative means of treating its illnesses. Current medical treatment is focused largely on chemical treatment, however this only works to a limited extent. If we discover that there is a separate component that is of a different scientific nature from chemicals then we may be able to also discover ways to manipulate it directly.