He lived in a mansion, had several luxury cars and was able to purchase most any material goods he wanted. In August of that year everything changed. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer.
A routine surgery eradicated the cancer, but led to complications that left him incontinent and in excruciating pain. He was prescribed pain meds that he soon became addicted to, and within time he was diagnosed with depression, too. On Dec. In the days after this surgery he began running a fever of to degrees.
Heavy antibiotics were prescribed, but he was not getting better. On Christmas Eve , Dr.
One Man's Tale of Dying—And Then Waking Up | Time
Parti underwent emergency surgery to drain the pelvic region of infection and remove the artificial sphincter. Although deeply asleep from anesthesia, he was very aware that his consciousness had separated from his body. From a vantage point near the ceiling he said he could see the surgeon cut him, and then all of the operating room personnel react as the odor of the pus from his infected abdomen seeped throughout the room.
He even heard the anesthesiologist tell a joke so dirty that he blushed when he later told it to the anesthesiologist in the recovery room. Parti then left the operating room and began to drift toward familiar voices in India, where he could hear his mother and sister talking about dinner preparations, deciding on rice, vegetables, yogurt and legumes. He could see they were bundled up to protect themselves from the foggy, frigid air that night. A small electric heater glowed, helping to take the chill out of the room.
He had been found about an hour before in a meadow by passers-by. After admission, he received artificial respiration without intubation, while heart massage and defibrillation were applied. He had dentures in his mouth so the nurse removed them and put them onto the crash cart. CPR continued for another hour and a half until the patient had sufficient heart rhythm and blood pressure. The nurse met the patient more than a week later, which upon seeing him said 'Oh, that nurse knows where my dentures are'. The nurse was amazed because he was in deep coma and receiving CPR when he took his dentures.
The man said he had perceived everything from above his body and saw the nurses and doctors administering CPR. He was able to describe everything correctly and in great detail In an early retrospective study, Sabom 12 interviewed individuals who had claimed to see parts of their own CPR. Patients' description of their resuscitation was compared with their medical records which the patients never saw. However, most of the descriptions 26 of 32 patients contained only general, non-detailed visual impressions that could not be verified. While these descriptions corresponded with the known facts of near-death crisis event, the accuracy of the accounts was not verifiable.
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Despite these compelling findings, most of the control group cardiac patients had never actually been resuscitated; therefore, a more precise control group would consist of all patients that had received CPR without experiencing an NDE. This was performed decades later by Sartori 13 , who found that patients who reported observing their bodies during CPR could accurately describe their resuscitation, whereas those who also had CPR but did not claim to observe their resuscitation could not. To the best of our knowledge, five prospective studies have been conducted specifically to investigate veridical OBEs through the use of planted targets in hospital rooms where cardiac arrests are either likely to occur or are medically induced.
Researchers have used either static hidden targets, such as poster boards 14,21,22 , or running electronic targets also hidden 23, Although some form of NDE or OBE was reported in most 14, , but not all of the studies 24 , none of the participants reported the presence of a hidden target.
Long-term positive life changes following NDEs. All patients participating in the prospective studies of cardiac arrest-induced NDEs were assessed using the Life-Change Inventory Questionnaire developed by Ring This scale consists of 42 elements related to social attitude e. Both Schwaninger et al. Patients with NDEs showed increases on many items of the questionnaire compared to patients who did not have NDEs 15, For example, NDErs were more tolerant of others, more empathic, concerned with social justice, understanding of the meaning of life, appreciative of nature, and had a stronger belief in life after death 15, Van Lommel et al.
At both the 2 and 8 year follow-ups, all patients recalled their experience almost exactly as they did years prior. After 2 years, there were significant differences in 13 items of the questionnaire between those that had NDEs and those that did not have NDEs. For example, patients that had NDEs felt more loving, empathic, understanding, and accepting of others. In addition, they felt they understood their purpose of life, sensed an inner meaning of life, were interested in spirituality, were less afraid of death, believed in life after death, were more interested in the meaning of life, felt they understood themselves, and had increased appreciation of ordinary things Interestingly, all patients, including non-NDErs, showed increased positive changes 8 years after the cardiac arrest All were more empathic, understanding, more involved in family, interested in the meaning of life, and less afraid of death than 5 years prior.
Overall, the positive life changes in the NDE group were more apparent 8 years later, revealing the persistence and growth of the profound transformative aspect of NDEs. In this section, we discuss the strengths and limitations of psychological and physiological theories aimed at explaining the various features of NDEs.
We also examine the implications of the studies of cardiac arrest-induced NDEs for the concept of non-local mind. Psychological theories. Psychological theories usually fall under expectation, depersonalization, dissociation, or personality factors as explanations for NDEs. In expectation-based theories, the expectation of what death will be like creates the experience, with NDEs being a psychological defense against death 26, However, prior religious belief or knowledge of NDEs is not correlated with having an NDE 12,14,15,17 , although cultural and religious factors may influence the interpretation of the experience Regarding this issue, NDErs show significant belief in life after death following their NDE that they did not have before the experience 10,15,25, Also, children, who are presumably less culturally conditioned with fewer expectations about death, describe NDEs that are similar to adults' descriptions Other psychological theories assert that NDEs may be caused by pathological depersonalization or dissociation as a psychological defense mechanism against the threat of death 26, However, there is no relation between likelihood of having an NDE and fear of death 10, Moreover, NDErs scored higher than a control group on a dissociative scale, but their scores were much lower than those of individuals with pathological dissociative disorders In regard to this question, it is possible that NDErs may in fact be showing levels of dissociation that are adaptive in response to trauma.
Importantly, NDErs are as psychologically healthy as non-NDErs on all measures tested, and do not differ on levels of intelligence, neuroticism, extroversion, or anxiety 12, Physiological theories. One of the most popular physiological explanations is the "dying brain hypothesis", which states that NDEs are hallucinations produced by lowered levels of oxygen-hypoxia or anoxia-or an increase in carbon dioxide i. Evidence in favor of reduced oxygen levels comes from the rapid acceleration-induced anoxia of fighter pilots While their experiences include some elements of NDEs, such as tunnel vision, bright lights, and a sense of leaving the body, they also contain features that are not part of NDEs, such as jerking of the limbs, disorientation, and tingling of the extremities In addition, NDEs can occur in the absence of hypoxia or anoxia as in non-life-threatening illnesses and near-accidents , and the subjective effects of hypoxia do not have much in common with NDEs 1.
Furthermore, when oxygen levels decrease markedly, individuals whose lungs or hearts do not work properly experience an "acute confusion state," during which they are highly confused and agitated, and have little or no memory recall. In stark contrast, during NDEs people experience lucid consciousness, well-structured thought processes, and clear reasoning As van Lommel et al.
Studies show that this is clearly not the case. As for carbon dioxide, NDE-like features are rarely reported in hypercarbia. Moreover, while some found a correlation between CO 2 levels and the incidence of NDEs 17 , there have been instances in which arterial blood gases in NDErs did not reflect elevated carbon dioxide levels 12,14, At small doses, the anesthetic agent ketamine can induce experiences that bear some similarities with NDEs e.
Ketamine is thought to act primarily by inhibiting N-Methyl-D-aspartic acid NMDA receptors, which normally open in response to binding of glutamate, the most abundant excitatory chemical messenger in the human brain. To date, such a substance has not been found in humans.
Furthermore, ketamine experiences are often frightening, producing weird images; and most ketamine users realize that the experiences produced by this drug are illusory In contrast, NDErs are strongly convinced of the reality of what they experienced. Additionally, many of the central features of NDEs are not reported with ketamine. Penfield's classic experiments with epileptic patients are frequently cited as evidence for the role of TLE in OBEs 39, However, Penfield's experiments do not provide sufficient support for the theory that OBEs are the result of stimulation of the temporal lobe.
Only two of his 1, patients reported feeling disconnected from their bodies 41,42 with vague descriptions unlike those typically reported by NDErs. However, not only does his data not support his claim, but attempts at replicating his findings have failed In other respects, a review of the literature on epilepsy indicates that the typical features of NDEs are not associated with epileptic seizures located in the temporal lobes Experiential symptoms of such seizures include mental confusion, hallucinations, illusions, and negative emotional states.
Some proponents of physiological theories of NDEs 40,45 argue that OBE perception of events happening around the NDEr's body is simply a retrospective imaginative reconstruction based on the memory of events that the NDEr might have witnessed just before losing consciousness or while regaining consciousness.
We contend that this hypothesis is incorrect since, generally, memory of events occurring just before or after loss of consciousness is either confused or totally absent 1,10,46, It is also important to note that confusional experiences remembered by individuals as they lose or regain consciousness do not have a life-transforming impact In addition, many veridical OBEs have time anchors, verified by hospital staff and medical records to have occurred during the actual cardiac arrest 10,12,13,49, Advocates of materialist theories of the mind frequently object that even if the EEG is isoelectric, there may be some residual brain activity in deeper brain regions e.
However, as Greyson 48 points out, the crucial "issue is not whether there is brain activity of any kind whatsoever, but whether there is brain activity of the specific form agreed upon by contemporary neuroscientists as the necessary condition of conscious experience" p. This form of neuroelectrical activity, which is well detected via current EEG technology, is clearly abolished by cardiac arrest.
As it has been shown that the hippocampus, a cerebral structure critically involved in the formation of new memories, is highly vulnerable to damage from anoxia 6 , it is unlikely that NDEs occurring in cardiac arrest can be explained by "some hypothetical residual capacity of the brain to process and store complex information" 48 p. Implications for the concept of non-local mind. It is often argued that that the findings of neuroscience studies-obtained via recording, stimulation, lesion and pharmacological methods-provide convincing support for the physicalist views that all mental functions and events can be reduced to-or are produced by-physico-chemical processes in the brain In reality, these findings only indicate that under normal circumstances, mental processes are closely associated correlated with neuroelectrical and neurochemical activity.
Physicalist theories of the mind cannot explain how NDErs can experience-while their hearts are stopped and brain activity is seemingly absent-vivid and complex thoughts, and acquire veridical information about objects or events remote from their bodies. In fact, NDEs in cardiac arrest suggest that mind is non-local, i.
Rather, the brain appears to act as an interface for mind and consciousness 10,20, Another implication of NDEs in cardiac arrest is that the brain normally prevents the perception of other levels of reality that are non-physical.
This Is What a Near Death Experience Actually Feels Like
This filtering function can be modulated during altered states of consciousness induced by various means e. To illustrate the concept of interface with regard to the relationship between mind and brain, this organ can be compared to a television TV set. This device receives broadcast signals electromagnetic waves and converts them into image and sound. If we damage the electronic components within the TV set, we may loose the image on the screen and the sound because the capacity of the TV to receive and decode the broadcast signals is impaired. But this does not imply that the broadcast signals are actually produced by the TV set.
Likewise, damage to a specific region of the brain may disrupt specific cognitive processes mediated by this cerebral structure. But such disruption does not entail that these cognitive processes are strictly reducible to neural activity in this region. The fact that enhanced mental experiences and accurate OBE perception can occur during cardiac arrest, i.
This phenomenon also suggests that the brain exerts a filtering function that usually prevents the perception and experience of non-physical levels of reality. NDEs in cardiac arrest have huge implications since they support the revolutionary concept that mind is non-local, i. The acknowledgment of this concept by the scientific community could eventually contribute to a major paradigm shift in science. Explanatory models for near-death experiences. The handbook of near-death experiences: thirty years of investigation.
Van Lommel P. Consciousness beyond life: the science of the near-death experience.
New York: Harper Collins; Near death experiences, cognitive function and psychological outcomes of surviving cardiac arrest. Electroencephalographic changes during brief cardiac arrest in humans. Cardiopulmonary-cerebral resuscitation by using cardiopulmonary bypass through the femoral vein and artery in dogs. The impact of repeated short episodes of circulatory arrest on cerebral function.
Reassuring electroencephalographic EEG findings during defibrillation threshold testing at defibrillator implantation. Lifestyle Home. Follow Us. Philip Ellis.
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