Contributions to the research on near-death experiences have come from
several academic disciplines, among these the disciplines of medicine,
psychology and psychiatry. Interest in this field of study was originally
spurred by the research of such pioneers as Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, George
Ritchie, and Raymond Moody Jr. Moody's book "Life after Life", which was
released in 1975, brought a lot of attention to the topic of NDEs .
Near-death experiences (NDEs) are common enough that they have entered our
everyday language. Phrases like "my whole life flashed before my eyes" and
"go to the light" come from decades of research into these strange,
seemingly supernatural experiences that some people have when they're at the
brink of death. But what exactly are NDEs? Are they hallucinations?
Spiritual experiences? Proof of life after death? Or are they simply
chemical changes in the brain and sensory organs in the moments prior to
The Near-Death Experience recently gained an increased scientific
respectability by the publication of an article in The Lancet authored by
Dr. Pim van Lommel of the Rijnstate Hospital at Arnhem (the Netherlands) and
his collaborators (Lommel, et al. 2001). Their prospective work with cardiac
patients who were successfully resuscitated after cardiac arrest, resembles
similar research by Dr. Sam Parnia at the University of Southampton and his
colleagues (Parnia et al., 1998).
Both Van Lommel and Parnia have concluded that NDEs are real and that they
cannot be explained by physiological or psychological causes (alone).
Moreover, they have both accepted the implication that consciousness is not
destroyed when our brain activity ceases, but that there is a continuity
beyond brain coma and therefore probably after brain death as well.
Consciousness does not ultimately depend on brain activity for its very
existence, which makes it downright irrational to take for granted the idea
that it would be obliterated after the brain ceases to exist as a physical
The above is not hard fact, but rather theory, and does not mirror the
opinion of the entire scientific community, in fact it is a minority, I
mention it here because it is interesting that at least some of the
scientific community gives it merit.