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Near-death experiences and shared-death experience

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Paradiso_Canto_31(Representation of the Paradise of Dante Alighieri by Gustave Doré)

The first contemporary testimonials

After regaining consciousness, some patients tell Dr. Moody a story that seems have similarities: disembodiment, conviction of being dead yet aware but in an immaterial body (or astral body), moving along a tunnel vision a bright light, meeting with deceased or “beings of light”, recollection in its own accelerated existence, insights, etc.

In most cases, experience is considered pleasant and called “luminous” with a mystical connotation, so that the person then would struggle to return to the material reality of the world. 4% of people however describe the experience as frightening or distressing. Some studies conducted in different contexts dispute this finding and show great variation of pleasant/bad feeling depending on the cultural and religious background.

Experience according to Moody

The “model” experience of imminent death, according to Raymond Moody, is as follows:

”A man is dying and, as he reaches the point of greatest physical distress, he hears himself pronounced dead by his doctor. He begins to hear an uncomfortable noise, a loud ringing or buzzing, and at the same time feels himself moving very rapidly through a long dark tunnel. After this, he suddenly finds himself outside o f his own physical body, but still in the immediate physical environment, and he sees his own body from a distance, as though he is a spectator. He watches the resuscitation attempt from this unusual vantage point and is (…) Soon other things begin to happen. Others come to meet and to help him. He glimpses the spirits of relatives and friends who have already died (…) Yet, he finds that he must go, back to the earth, that the time for his death has not yet come. At this point he resists, for by now he is taken up with his experiences in the afterlife and does not want to return (…) Later he tries to tell others, but he has trouble doing so. In the first place, he can find no human words adequate- to describe these unearthly episodes (…) Still, the experience affects his life profoundly, especially his views about death and its relationship to life.”
— Raymond Moody, Life after Life, 1977

The five common features of near death experience from the patient’s perspective (Moody)

1) the inability to communicate: “I do not find my words”

2) hearing the verdict: “I heard a woman’s voice asking, “Is he dead?: ””

3) feelings of calm and peace: “I felt absolutely nothing, if not peace, comfort.”

4) noise: “I heard something that sounded like a remote jingle bells.”

5) the dark tunnel: “After, I am as driven in this long dark hallway.”

6) the disembodiment: “I found myself trying to float about a half meters above the ground.”

7) contact with other: “I noticed the presence of a lot of people, all the people I had once known and who had gone into the other world.”

8) the being of light: “Then what occurred was this bright light.”

9) the panorama of life: “The flashbacks began, I found myself small and, from there, I started to advance through the first time in my life, year after year, until now.”

10) the boundary or limit: “The words came to mind: ‘Do you want to die?'”

11) return: “I felt a duty to my family, so I decided to come back.”

12) the problem of testimony

13) the impact on the conduct of life: “Their lives had deepened,” “Reflecting on philosophical problems”, “I suddenly matured,” “[before] I was acting under the influence of pulses; Now … I think everything goes through my conscience,” “I was more conscious of possessing a mind that before have a body,” “Since then, it is often pointed out to me that I was producing a calming effect the people”, “Almost all the testimonies emphasize the love of neighbor, unique and profound”, “Moreover … the importance of seeking knowledge.”

14) new perspectives on death

15) confirmations

The psychiatrist Stanislav Grof, known for his work on the experiences under LSD, as a founder of the “transpersonal psychology” and promoter of the “holotropic breathing” says:

An interesting example of the output experience true body, near death experience, that of Ted, an African-American teacher of 26 years, suffering from inoperable cancer … The medical team had decided to operate … We learned that during the operation, Ted had two cardiac arrests resulting in clinical death and had to be resuscitated twice … We questioned him about what Ted lived … [1] his conscience was at the top of the ceiling and he could not return to his body … [2] he began to describe precisely what we wore [like clothing] at our previous visit. There was no doubt that he accurately perceived the people in the room, while his eyes remained closed. He even noticed at a time tears running down the cheeks of Joan [Halifax] … [3] [he saw] bright light, [accompanied] by a sense of the sacred and profound inner peace. [4] simultaneously saw a movie depicting the ceiling very intensely all the evil he had done in his life. Paraded before his eyes the faces of all the people he had killed during the war, he felt the pain and suffering of all the people he had hurt, throughout his life.
– Stanislav Grof, When the impossible happens, 2007

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