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Open AccessConcept Paper
Humanities 2016, 5(2), 18; doi:10.3390/h5020018

The Near-Death Experience: A Reality Check?

Wolfson College, University of Oxford, Linton Road, Oxford OX2-6UD, UK
Academic Editors: David San Filippo and Anders Karl Gustaf Gustavsson
Received: 20 November 2015 / Revised: 23 February 2016 / Accepted: 15 March 2016 / Published: 28 March 2016
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Abstract

This paper critically reviews assertions that near-death and out-of-body experiences (ND/OBE) offer proof of extra-corporeal existence when the brain is supposedly “dead”. While this field has almost moved away from mere anecdotal recording, the current trend is focussed on demonstrating existence without functional brains. These endeavours have fallen far short of anticipated results—that cardiac patients would report on strategically-placed markers around acute resuscitation units. Two problems arise: a failure to produce corroborative empirical evidence for extra-corporeal cognition (a) when the brain is “dead”, (or “clinically dead”, so-called) and (b) how the memory required for recall could paradoxically be set down at that critical time-point. The view advanced here is that ND/OBE occur as subjects’ states are returning to complete resumption of conscious-awareness and which, from several published accounts, is particularly abrupt but which nevertheless accounts perfectly for memory—and recall. Similar transcendental adventures accompanying returns to conscious-awareness occur with other preceding states of reduced consciousness. Most recollections are intensely geo-physical, anthropomorphic, banal and illogical: their dream-like fantasy provides nothing revelatory about life without a brain, or importantly, about other supposed cosmic contexts. Additionally, it is proposed that since prevalence rates are so extremely low (<1% globally), the few subjects undergoing ND/OBE may have predisposed brains, genetically, structurally or resulting from previous psychological stress. In a somewhat similar vein to post-traumatic stress disorder, subjects with predisposed brains exhibit markedly changed post-experiential phenotypes, so that the ND/OBE itself could be viewed as a transient, accompanying epiphenomenon. View Full-Text
Keywords: prevalence; hellish NDE; this-worldly content; duality; reporting accuracy; neurophysiology; waking phenomena; post-experiential NDE subject; epiphenomenon prevalence; hellish NDE; this-worldly content; duality; reporting accuracy; neurophysiology; waking phenomena; post-experiential NDE subject; epiphenomenon
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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Marsh, M.N. The Near-Death Experience: A Reality Check? Humanities 2016, 5, 18.

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