Near Death Experience: Books

Near-death experiences (NDEs) have been reported for much of human history. There is evidence in early Greek and Roman literature, in medieval Western religious literature, ancient literature of Buddhism, and the oral history and folklore of aboriginal societies in Australia, North and South America, and Oceania. The parapsychological literature has discussed NDEs since the nineteenth century, however the popular discussion of these experiences only dates from the early 1970s with the publication of Raymond Moody's best-selling Life After Life (1975). Moody coined the term near-death experience but later regretted its over identification with physical death and changed the term for these experiences to paranormal deaths.

In Life After Life Moody discussed fifty individual cases of people who, when unconscious and apparently near death and then resuscitated, reported conscious social and psychological experiences. Some people reported sensations of traveling in a dark tunnel. Others reported meetings with bright beings of light or deceased relatives and friends.

Since this early book of casual observations from an author who had been an academic philosopher retrained as a medical practitioner first appeared, other more research-based books have been published. Among these are the behavioral and clinical studies of the psychologist Kenneth Ring (Life At Death 1980), the cardiologist Michael Sabom (Recollections of Death 1982), and the psychotherapist Margot Grey (Return from Death 1985). These were soon followed by other studies from parapsychology, religious studies, sociology, philosophy medicine, and particularly psychiatry.