Near Death Experiences (NDE) occur when a person who is very close to or technically dead, end up surviving and telling people about what they witnessed. Thousands of NDEs have been recorded throughout history. Most investigators agree these are a genuine experience.
It was only in the 1970s that NDEs came to the public attention through the book Life after Life (there is a link if you want to buy this book). Moody documented the different stages of NDEs and commented on the similarities between people’s experiences. However, he also noted differences in people’s NDEs and no case was ever the same.
When researching NDE literature, it is defined by the work of Moody. Since the book was published an NDE questionnaire was developed that estimated the prevalence of NDEs. The answer depends upon the sample used, it is estimated between 10%-50% of people experience an NDE. Also, later works examined culture differences, visions in children and blind people. All reported a similar NDE.
The chapter in my book goes beyond just the personal NDE; it also examines eye witness statements around a person’s death. These include questionnaires to staff working in hospitals and hospices. The question I asked myself, does this lend support in developing a theory of NDEs.
Most of the chapter describes people’s accounts of their NDE giving an overview of the 1000’s of documented cases. There does seem evidence that the person on their death bed describes apparitions and visions.
The most significant question researchers face is explaining NDEs. Experimental work is unethical, and the person always survives to tell the story. So, at the stage of NDE, the body is still capable of life. Due to the issues in investigating NDEs, parapsychologists haven’t agreed an explanation for NDEs. Below are some of the standard reasons in the literature.
Spiritualism – generally the theory represents Life after Death or Life after Life. There is nothing in the literature that contradicts this theory, but parapsychologists don’t think there is enough evidence to rule out other possibilities.
Hallucination – generally the theory represents that an NDE is caused by a false memory while the person is on the edge of death. The reasons could be a form of hallucination caused by either physiological, pharmacological or psychological changes to the brain. The theorist’s supporting the hallucination points to the similarities between NDE and Out of Body Experiences.