The Reality of the Near Death Experience

Gates to the Afterlife

Skeptics often say that the near-death experience (NDE) is a type of hallucination, but those familiar with the literature will know that many NDErs describe the phenomenon as "realer than real", rather than some sort of surreal, cloudy dream-like experience. Now, researchers from the University of Li├Ęge have backed up the accounts of those near-death experiencers, in a study which found that the NDEs seem to be "unique, unrivalled memories" that "have more characteristics than any kind of memory of real or imagined events". That is, NDE memories seem more real than even memories of actual events.

The researchers compared phenomenological characteristics in reports of near-death experiences with memories of imagined and real events, using three groups: 8 coma survivors who had an NDE (as defined by the Greyson NDE scale), 6 coma survivors who didn't have an NDE but did have memories of their coma, and 7 coma survivors with no memories, as well as an additional control group of 18 age-matched healthy volunteers. Five different types of memories were assessed using a standard memory questionnaire. The results were surprising, to say the least, showing that...

...NDE memories have more characteristics than memories of imagined and real events (p<0.02). NDE memories contain more self-referential and emotional information and have better clarity than memories of coma (all ps<0.02). The present study showed that NDE memories contained more characteristics than real event memories and coma memories. Thus, this suggests that they cannot be considered as imagined event memories. On the contrary, their physiological origins could lead them to be really perceived although not lived in the reality. Further work is needed to better understand this phenomenon.

It's worth noting that by comparing the NDE memories with the memories of other (non-NDE) coma survivors, the researchers uncovered an interesting fact: NDE memories don't seem to be strong simply because of the death component, as has often been surmised, but rather as a consequence of the content of the experience.

So what do we make of this finding that NDE memories seem to be 'more real' than real memories? That obviously depends on the paradigm you're embedded within, as evidenced by press release covering the results and this subsequent LiveScience story about it:

The brain, in conditions conducive to such phenomena occurring, is prey to chaos. Physiological and pharmacological mechanisms are completely disturbed, exacerbated or, conversely, diminished. Certain studies have put forward a physiological explanation for certain components of NDE, such as Out-of-Body Experiences, which could be explained by dysfunctions of the temporo-parietal lobe. In this context the study published in PLOS ONE suggests that these same mechanisms could also could also 'create' a perception - which would thus be processed by the individual as coming from the exterior - of reality. In a kind of way their brain is lying to them, like in a hallucination. These events being particularly surprising and especially important from an emotional and personal perspective, the conditions are ripe for the memory of this event being extremely detailed, precise and durable.

Glad we've swept those pesky results under the carpet...

Read the original paper: "Characteristics of Near-Death Experiences Memories as Compared to Real and Imagined Events Memories"

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Inannawhimsey's picture
Member since:
14 April 2009
Last activity:
2 weeks 19 hours

reality is nonlocal and anticounterfactualy definite

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All that lives is holy, life delights in life.

--William Blake

Greg H.'s picture
Member since:
12 June 2009
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3 weeks 4 days

Perhaps the hallucinatory and inconsistent aspects of NDE's across populations rather than undermining their legitimacy exemplify the true nature of reality being illusory and malleably interrelated with consciousness...

Greg H.

emlong's picture
Member since:
18 September 2007
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6 hours 55 min

What would a "non-illusional" reality look like? I cannot imagine it.

alanborky's picture
Member since:
29 January 2009
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3 years 17 weeks

Greg the two links you give to PLOS ONE

http://www.plosone.org/article%3Cbr%20/%...

are coming up as PAGE NOT FOUND.

This one seems to work for me

http://www.plosone.org/article/info%3Ado...

red pill junkie's picture
Member since:
12 April 2007
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2 days 6 hours

:)

It's not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me...
It's all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

Red Pill Junkie
_______________
@red_pill_junkie

Tristan Eldritch's picture
Member since:
4 August 2011
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4 years 11 weeks

The "more real than real" sensation, however, is not entirely uncommon, being something that people experience during certain types of "meaningful" dream, peak hallucinogenic experiences, and mystical experiences in general. So, while the study would place NDE's in the same emotionally resonant and significant category as those other types of experiences, I can't really see how significantly it adds to the scientific debate regarding the nature of the experience one way of the other.

Greg H.'s picture
Member since:
12 June 2009
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3 weeks 4 days

Tristan wrote, "I can't really see how significantly it adds to the scientific debate regarding the nature of the experience one way of the other."

True...Science can only measure matter of some form, yet consciousness and the theorized soul transcend physical matter, therefore science can only bang around outside the box, but never really comment on its contents...IMO

Greg H.

emlong's picture
Member since:
18 September 2007
Last activity:
6 hours 55 min

http://www.youtube.com/results?search_qu...

Full episodes of "I Survived - Beyond and Back." Salted throughout this library of interviews are many instances of ESP and such that interacted with the living and were subsequently verified by the living as being impossible unless a case of paranormal sensing had been at work.