Special Issue "Death, Dying, Near-Death Experiences & Bereavement in the Western World"

A special issue of Humanities (ISSN 2076-0787).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 October 2015)

Special Issue Editors

Guest Editor
Assoc. Prof. David San Filippo

School of Health & Human Services, College of Professional Studies & Advancement, National Louis University, USA
Website | E-Mail
Phone: 800-443-5222 x 6133
Interests: Death; Dying; Near-Death Experiences; Bereavement; Grief
Guest Editor
Prof. Dr. Anders Karl Gustaf Gustavsson

Professor, Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages, The University of Oslo, Norway
Website | E-Mail
Phone: +46739073196
Interests: Folk religion; cultural contacts; cultural heritage; grave memorials; culture of borders; farmers culture; coastal culture; rituals around life cycle; alcohol and temperance movements; folk life painting; field work; museology

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

This discussion will look at how death and the dying process are approached in western civilization. Pre-modern perspectives of death and dying are also examined. The discussion will also cover aspects of the phenomena of near-death experiences (NDEs) and how these experiences impact individual perspectives of death and dying and how awareness of NDEs impact ones bereavement. The discussion will also focus on bereavement customs in the western world.

This issue of Humanities will expand on the knowledge shared in contemporary thanatology literature and the studies of near-death experiences.

Assistant Prof. David San Filippo
Prof. Dr. Anders Karl Gustaf Gustavsso
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Humanities is an international peer-reviewed open access quarterly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

References:

Bailey, L. W., & Yates, J. (Eds.). (1996). The near-death experience – A reader.  New York: Routledge.

Bennett, M. (2007, December). Development of the concept of mind. Australian & New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry, 41(12), 943-956.

Blackmore, S. (1983, December). Are out-of-body experiences evidence for survival? Anabiosis: The Journal of Near-Death Studies, 3(2), 137-155.

Demasio, A. (1998) Investigating the Biology of Consciousness. Philosophical Transactions: Biological Sciences, Vol. 353, No. 1377, The Conscious Brain: Abnormal and Normal (Nov. 29, 1998), pp. 1879-1882.

Díaz, J. (2000, September). Mind-body unity, dual aspect, and the emergence of consciousness. Philosophical Psychology, 13(3), 393-403.

Lyons, J. (2006, December). In Defense of Epiphenomenalism. Philosophical Psychology, 19(6), 767-794.

Greyson, B. (2006, June). Near-Death Experiences and Spirituality. Zygon, 41(2)

Meissner, W. (2008, Winter2008). Mind-brain and consciousness in psychoanalysis. Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic, 72(4), 283-312.

Ring, K.  (1980). Life at death: A scientific investigation of the near-death experience.  New York: Coward, McCann, & Geoghegan.

Ring, K.  (1985). Heading towards Omega - In search of the meaning of the near-death experience.  New York: William Morrow.

Ring, K., & Valarino, E.E. (1998). Lessons from the Light – What we can learn from the near-death experiences.  New York: Insight Books.

San Filippo, David. (2006) Historical Perspectives on Attitudes concerning Death and Dying. Orlando: Kimball Publishing  (E-Book)

San Filippo, David. (2006) Philosophical, Psychological & Religious Perspectives to Death & Dying.  Orlando:  Kimball Publishing (E-Book)

San Filippo, David. (2006) Perspectives on the Fears of Death & Dying. Orlando: Kimball Publishing (E-Book)

San Filippo, David. (2006) An Overview of the Near-Death Experience Phenomenon.  Orlando: Kimball Publishing (E-Book)

San Filippo, David. (2006) Religious Interpretations of Death, Afterlife, & Near-Death Experiences.  Orlando: Kimball Publishing (E-Book)

San Filippo, David. (2006) The Value of the Awareness of Near Death Experiences.  Orlando: Kimball Publishing (E-Book)

San Filippo, David (2007) Bereavement in the Modern Western World. Orlando: Kimball Publishing (E-Book)

San Filippo, David. (2013) Euthanasia - An Act of Love [Unpublished]

Searle, J. (1998) How to Study Consciousness Scientifically. Philosophical Transactions: Biological Sciences, Vol. 353, No. 1377, The Conscious Brain: Abnormal and Normal (Nov. 29, 1998), pp. 1935-1942

Simeon, D. (2004). Depersonalization Disorder: A Contemporary Overview. CNS Drugs, 18(6), 343-354.

Von Lommel, P. (2006). “Near-Death Experience, Consciousness, and The Brain - A new concept about the continuity of our consciousness based on recent scientific research on near-death experience in survivors of cardiac arrest.” World Futures, 62: 134–151.

Keywords

  • Death
  • Dying
  • Near-Death Experiences
  • NDE
  • Bereavement
  • Grief

Published Papers (5 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle “Spectacular Death”—Proposing a New Fifth Phase to Philippe Ariès’s Admirable History of Death
Humanities 2016, 5(2), 19; https://doi.org/10.3390/h5020019
Received: 15 February 2016 / Revised: 24 March 2016 / Accepted: 24 March 2016 / Published: 29 March 2016
Cited by 4 | PDF Full-text (251 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
This article revisits, reviews and revises the much cited and magisterial description of successive historical death mentalities from the Middle Ages to modern society as proposed several decades ago by French historian Philippe Ariès. The article first outlines Ariès’s position starting out with [...] Read more.
This article revisits, reviews and revises the much cited and magisterial description of successive historical death mentalities from the Middle Ages to modern society as proposed several decades ago by French historian Philippe Ariès. The article first outlines Ariès’s position starting out with the medieval “tamed death,” then moves on to point to several inherent limitations in his history-writing, before suggesting a revision and update of it. Whereas Ariès ended his history-writing with modern “forbidden death,” the author suggests that contemporary death mentality in Western society rather be labelled “spectacular death” in which death, dying and mourning have increasingly become spectacles. Moreover, the author proposes that what is currently happening in contemporary Western society can be interpreted as an expression of a “partial re-reversal” of “forbidden death” to some of the characteristic features of previous historical death mentalities, which—coupled with contemporary scientific and technological possibilities—creates several paradoxical tendencies making death linger uneasily between liberation and denial as well as between autonomy and control. Full article

Review

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Open AccessReview Western Scientific Approaches to Near-Death Experiences
Humanities 2015, 4(4), 775-796; https://doi.org/10.3390/h4040775
Received: 12 October 2015 / Revised: 31 October 2015 / Accepted: 4 November 2015 / Published: 9 November 2015
Cited by 3 | PDF Full-text (237 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
Near-death experiences (NDEs) are vivid experiences that often occur in life-threatening conditions, usually characterized by a transcendent tone and clear perceptions of leaving the body and being in a different spatiotemporal dimension. Such experiences have been reported throughout history in diverse cultures, and [...] Read more.
Near-death experiences (NDEs) are vivid experiences that often occur in life-threatening conditions, usually characterized by a transcendent tone and clear perceptions of leaving the body and being in a different spatiotemporal dimension. Such experiences have been reported throughout history in diverse cultures, and are reported today by 10% to 20% of people who have come close to death. Although cultural expectations and parameters of the brush with death influence the content of some NDEs, near-death phenomenology is invariant across cultures. That invariance may reflect universal psychological defenses, neurophysiological processes, or actual experience of a transcendent or mystical domain. Research into these alternative explanations has been hampered by the unpredictable occurrence of NDEs. Regardless of the causes or interpretations of NDEs, however, they are consistently associated with profound and long-lasting aftereffects on experiencers, and may have important implications for non-experiencers as well. Full article

Other

Jump to: Research, Review

Open AccessConcept Paper The Near-Death Experience: A Reality Check?
Humanities 2016, 5(2), 18; https://doi.org/10.3390/h5020018
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 [...] Read more.
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. Full article
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Open AccessConcept Paper Violent Deaths and Traumatic Bereavement: The Importance of Appropriate Death Notification
Humanities 2015, 4(4), 702-713; https://doi.org/10.3390/h4040702
Received: 15 April 2015 / Revised: 9 October 2015 / Accepted: 13 October 2015 / Published: 20 October 2015
Cited by 1 | PDF Full-text (203 KB) | HTML Full-text | XML Full-text
Abstract
The communication of a death due to unexpected and traumatic causes is considered a very sensitive issue that can deeply affect both operators responsible for reporting the incident and the mourning process of family members, relatives, and other survivors. By focusing particularly on [...] Read more.
The communication of a death due to unexpected and traumatic causes is considered a very sensitive issue that can deeply affect both operators responsible for reporting the incident and the mourning process of family members, relatives, and other survivors. By focusing particularly on cases of traumatic death, this article tries to explain how inadequate communication of death may adversely affect the course of mourning. The article also illustrates the basic principles of correct notification of death. In this way, we hope to contribute to the ongoing dialogue on this topic and the promotion of new studies aimed at setting best practices for those professionally involved in the challenging task of communicating that a life has ended. This would be important in order to safeguard the emotional integrity of notifiers whilst effectively helping the survivors to cope with the early stages of their difficult mourning process. Full article
Open AccessEssay Death, Dying and Bereavement in Norway and Sweden in Recent Times
Humanities 2015, 4(2), 224-235; https://doi.org/10.3390/h4020224
Received: 23 March 2015 / Revised: 27 May 2015 / Accepted: 27 May 2015 / Published: 2 June 2015
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Abstract
One of my research projects examines pictorial symbols and epitaphs on gravestones in Norway and Sweden. The focus has been on the 1990s and the 2000s. The choice of this period is motivated by the fact that new national burial laws were adopted [...] Read more.
One of my research projects examines pictorial symbols and epitaphs on gravestones in Norway and Sweden. The focus has been on the 1990s and the 2000s. The choice of this period is motivated by the fact that new national burial laws were adopted in both countries in the early 1990s. These laws provided the next of kin with the possibility of choosing memorial symbols and inscriptions more freely than had previously been the case. To judge from the data under study, individual symbols have gained popularity, especially in Sweden, while Norway has been more faithful to earlier traditions of a collective character; moreover, secular motifs are more manifest on the gravestones in Sweden than in Norway. Another research project analyses memorial websites on the Internet related to persons who have died in recent years. The all-inclusive issue in these studies concerns mourners’ expressions of their emotions and beliefs regarding the deceased person’s afterlife, that is, beliefs in after-death existence. Belief in the deceased being somewhere in heaven is common. Belief in angels is also a popular concept in memorial websites. Moreover, in Sweden, this includes deceased pets as well. The previously strictly observed distinction between humans and pets has become indiscernible in Sweden. Norwegian practice, however, remains critical towards this type of “humanlike characterization”. In Norway, memorial websites for the deceased are generally associated with more traditional Christian concepts than are similar sites in Sweden. By contrast, in Sweden, one observes a kind of diffuse religiosity reminiscent of New Age ways of thinking, according to which the individual plays the central role, and glorification of afterlife existence prevails. Secularization, that is, a decline in the influence of traditional forms of religious experience, is conspicuously more prominent in Sweden. Within the project on memorial websites, I have performed a special study of memorials of persons who have committed suicide. In Norway, differences between suicide and deaths by other causes are conceived in an entirely different manner than on memorial websites in Sweden. There, the contrast between suicide and other forms of death has been increasingly wiped out. Norway has preserved earlier mortuary traditions to a greater extent, and no notions of a bright afterlife, or of angels, are to be found in connection with suicides. Full article
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