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The Tibetan Book of the Dead: Its History and Controversial Aspects of its Contents

Description: Abstract: In recent decades, the Tibetan Book of the Dead (TBD) has attracted much attention from Westerners interested in Eastern spirituality and has been discussed in the literature on dying and near-death experiences. However, the history of the TBD has practically been ignored in that literature up to now. This history has been elaborated in detail by Tibetologist Bryan Cuevas (2003). To bring this history to the attention of scholars in the field of near-death studies, I present in this paper a summary of the TBD's development based primarily on the work of Cuevas (2003). The summary shows that the TBD was gradually elaborated within a specific Tibetan Buddhist context, the Dzokchen tradition. In comparing features of first-hand reports of the death and dying process as reported in the TBD with those reported in four other categories -- Tibetan délok, near-death experiencers, mediums, and children who remember previous lives -- I find that some features are consistent but that other key features are not. Because it seems likely that inconsistent features of the TBD reflect idiosyncratic dying and afterlife concepts of the Dzokchen tradition, scholars in the field of near-death studies and others should be careful about adopting the contents of the TBD without question.
Date: Spring 2011
Creator: Nahm, MIchael

Could Pam Reynolds Hear? A New Investigation into the Possibility of Hearing During this Famous Near-Death Experience

Description: Abstract: The well-known Pam Reynolds near-death experience (NDE) occurred at the Barrow Neurological Institute during a medically well-documented period, which is why many people regard it as proof of the reality of a separable immaterial conscious mind. In this article, I use information from related publications from the Barrow to fill in lacunae in the published medical documentation of this apparently amazing NDE. Furthermore, I present the case that the four veridical auditory perceptions Reynolds reported can be explained by her ability to hear during periods of conscious awareness while under the influence of the combination of drugs employed to provide general anesthesia during the operation on her giant basilar artery aneurysm.
Date: Autumn 2011
Creator: Woerlee, Gerald M.

Guest Editorial: Setting the Record Straight: Correcting Two Recent Cases of Materialist Misrepresentation of My Research and Conclusions

Description: Abstract: In two recent publications, one by Dean Mobbs and Caroline Watt and the other by Kevin Nelson, I was surprised to find my and my colleagues' 2001 article in the Lancet misrepresented. In this Editorial, I attempt to correct those misrepresentations and to discuss them with regard to responsible scholarship in the ongoing debate in the professional literature about the relationship of mind and brain.
Date: Winter 2011
Creator: van Lommel, Pim

Response to "Corroboration of the Dentures Anecdote Involving Veridical Perception in a Near-Death Experience"

Description: Abstract: In this article, I address some of what I consider the inaccuracies and false assumptions in a recent article in this Journal entitled "Corroboration of the Dentures Anecdote Involving Veridical Perception in a Near-Death Experience" (Smit, 2008). I provide a medical explanation of how it was possible for the man reporting this remarkable NDE to have survived his period of cardiac arrest and how it was possible for him to have undergone an NDE. More importantly, I discuss how it was possible for this man to have undergone the truly unusual perceptions of feeling pain in his chest due to cardiac massage at the same time as his consciousness was displaced out of his body during an out-of-body experience.
Date: Summer 2010
Creator: Woerlee, Gerald M.

Four Ostensible Near-Death Experiences of Roman Times with Peculiar Features: Mistake Cases, Correction Cases, Xenoglossy, and Prediction

Description: Abstract: In this paper, I present four apparent near-death experiences (NDEs) reported in Roman times. Despite their uncertain reliability, they contain features deserving attention. Three reports involve taking the wrong person to the realm of death by mistake ("mistake cases"), and even include the claim that the correct person had died after the NDEr revived ("correction cases"). Though common in Asia, such cases are absent in contemporary Western NDE reports. The fourth report contains an alleged correct future prediction and xenoglossy, the latter being a novum to NDE research. After introducing the four cases, I discuss their peculiar features and some related aspects of near-death states with a focus on their relevance for future NDE research.
Date: Summer 2009
Creator: Nahm, Michael

Guest Editorial: The Search for Muslim Near-Death Experiences

Description: Abstract: Given the dearth of Muslim near-death experiences (NDEs) in the literature, I decided to take advantage of my contacts in the Muslim community to find more of this material. After advertising unsuccessfully in both traditional media and Internet groups, I recruited a student resident of Pakistan who had considerable contacts and help there to visit the area of a major earthquake in the Kashmir area in the hope that this would be a fertile terrain to find additional NDE accounts. Once again the results were disappointing. I conclude that NDEs are specifically designed for people who need them, and the need in certain communities may not be as great because of the persistence of traditional faith in an afterlife and a Creator.
Date: Winter 2009
Creator: Kreps, Joel Ibrahim

Near-Death Experiences, Deathbed Visions, and Past-Life Memories: A Convergence in Support of van Lommel's 'Consciousness Beyond Life'

Description: Abstract: This review supports cardiologist Pim van Lommel's continuity claim for human existence in his recently published book 'Consciousness Beyond Life: The Science of the Near-Death Experience' (2010). Van Lommel and colleagues (van Lommel, van Wees, Meyers, & Elfferich, 2001) studied NDEs among 344 Dutch hospital patients who had been resuscitated following cardiac arrest. From their and others' NDE research findings (e.g., accurate perceptions during the arrest period), van Lommel and colleagues concluded that mental activity can take place even in the absence of cerebral function. Extrapolating from this conclusion, van Lommel claimed in 'Consciousness Beyond Life' a fundamental continuity for individual human existence: that death and birth mark not final limits but instead the transition from one state of consciousness to another. In the course of making his continuity claim, van Lommel referred to other topics such as deathbed visions and past-life memories. In addition to reviewing NDE research, this article reviews research and illustrative responses pertaining to these related phenomena. A convergence of corroborative evidence is consistent with van Lommel's continuity claim.
Date: Winter 2010
Creator: Gibbs, John C.

Online Resources for the History of Out-of-Body Experiences and Death-Related Phenomena

Description: Abstract: Google Books is a digital library covering out of print publications about a variety of topics, among them materials relevant for a history of discussions, observations, and collections of cases of out-of-body experiences and death-related phenomena such as near-death experiences, deathbed visions, and apparitions. In this article, I provide examples of copyright-free and cost-free sources from Google Books that investigators of near-death and related phenomena can download and change into plain text; in many cases, I include passages that give readers a sense of the richness of these sources for both a historical and a contemporary understanding of near-death and related phenomena. Examples of books include Johann Engelbrecht's "The Divine Visions of John Engelbrecht" (1780), Augustine Calmet's "The Phantom World" (1850), Henri Roger Gougenot de Mousseaux's "Les hauts phénomènes de la magie" (1864), Edward H. Clarke's "Visions" (1878), William H. Harrison's "Spirits Before Our Eyes" (1879), and Frederic W. H. Myers's "Human Personality and Its Survival of Bodily Death" (1903). Examples of articles include those written by such authors as Ernesto Bozzano, Francis Power Cobbe, James H. Hyslop, Duncan MacDougall, Frank Podmore, and A. S. Wiltse.
Date: Spring 2010
Creator: Alvarado, Carlos S.

Panoramic Memory, Affect, and Sensations of Detachment in the Dying: Discussions Published in France, 1889-1903

Description: Abstract: Between 1889 and 1903, several authors published papers in the French journal "Revue Philosophique de la France et de l'Etranger" and in a few other publications in which they discussed panoramic memory, changes of affect, and a sense of detachment from the body in dying persons. With a few exceptions these publications have been ignored in modern discussion of the phenomena of the dying. Whereas philosopher Victor Egger postulated the psychological explanation that panoramic memory results from the dying person's thoughts of imminent death, physicians Paul Sollier and Charles Féré and psychologist Henri Piéron proposed that it, as well as changes in affect, result from physiological changes in the body sensibility and in the brain. Like many authors today who speculate about near-death experiences, the authors in question did not have much evidence for their explanations. These ideas, and their physiological aspects, were part of a general interest in unusual phenomena and states of consciousness during the 19th century.
Date: Winter 2011
Creator: Alvarado, Carlos S.

Spirituality Scale Ceiling Effects and Near-Death Experiences: An Exploratory Study

Description: Abstract: A common theme noted among near-death experiencers (NDErs) is the affirmation of increased spirituality after their near-death experiences (NDEs). This study focused on the question of whether the Human Spirituality Scale (HSS), a commonly used spirituality measure, would exhibit a ceiling effect among NDErs. Thirty-seven participants from eight countries participated in the online study. HSS scores were compared with NDE Scale (Greyson, 1990) scores and demographic information. Results revealed no ceiling effect but revealed a positive correlation between the HSS and the NDE Scale. Additionally, exploratory post-hoc analysis was conducted on participant subgroups, comparing males and females and participants from India and the United States. Finally, preliminary findings regarding four NDErs self-identified as atheist/agnostic are described.
Date: Winter 2011
Creator: Rominger, Ryan A.

Guest Editorial: NDE as a Threshold Experience

Description: Abstract: My investigation has shown me that near-death experiences (NDEs) are not some kind of anomaly but, rather, are part of the larger genre of transformations of consciousness. The clue I believe most researchers have missed is stress -- specifically, the intensity that comes from that stress (known in shamanism as "high stress"). I believe the entire pattern of aftereffects and the degree to which people change can be traced to that factor. It's the intensity that shifts experiencers into what I call a "threshold experience" -- one that straddles the boundary between this world and other worlds, between brain and that which lies beyond what the brain can access, between reality and miracles, mind and spirit, life and death, heaven and hell, sanity and insanity. Once we humans understand this shift, we can begin to unravel how the transformation process works. At the threshold of who we think we are and what lies beyond body and brain is the core of ancient mysteries. We are transformed by the Oneness we find there.
Date: Summer 2011
Creator: Atwater, P. M. H.

Double Vision: The Divided Self in Near-Death Experiences and Postmodernism

Description: Abstract: In Peter Novak's recent work (2003), he suggested the hypothesis that the human self is intrinsically bifurcated and separates into distinct components of consciousness at death. He referred to the near-death literature for evidence of this separation. His analysis of this literature implied that the after-death experience is not sequentially determined but is shaped simultaneously by different events corresponding to those components of consciousness. His proposal to reconcile those components addressed the need for self-integration at death. However, proponents of postmodernism question the singularity of self-identity and propose the multiplicity of self-experience. Their challenge to the belief in a wholly integrated self brings into question the therapeutic value of recognizing self-division in death. If the self lacks a foundation, then it is fruitless to seek an illusory level of integration. Rather, self-division in death points to a more astute understanding of the emptiness of the self.
Date: Autumn 2009
Creator: Lee, Raymond L. M.

Guest Editorial: The Search for God and Afterlife in the Age of Science

Description: Abstract: Near-death experiences (NDEs) and other transpersonal experiences -- those that transcend the usual personal experiential limits of space and/or time -- point to the existence and nature of God and ongoing personal consciousness following physical death. In this article, I review the history of these experiences prior to 1850 and of their study during three periods of scientific research between 1850 and the present. I conclude that (1) a large percentage of the population has experienced NDEs and other transpersonal experiences, (2) the overwhelming majority of these experiencers are mentally healthy, and (3) these experiences change people's lives for the better. I contend that although NDEs and other transpersonal experiences cannot prove the existence of a personal God and afterlife, they definitely point to them.
Date: Spring 2010
Creator: Vincent, Ken R.

Rejoinder to Responses to "Could Pam Reynolds Hear?"

Description: Abstract: In this article I provide a rejoinder to Stuart Hameroff's and Chris Carter's responses to my article, "Could Pam Reynolds Hear?" (2011, this issue). I address some specifics of anesthesiology and neurosurgical technique to maintain my contention that Reynolds could hear through normal physical processes during her near-death experience.
Date: Autumn 2011
Creator: Woerlee, Gerald M.

Near-Death Experiences and the Mind-Body Relationship: A Systems-Theoretical Perspective

Description: Abstract: In this paper I support the view that NDEs provide empirical support for mind-body substance dualism and argue that a systems-theoretical analysis of the evidence is required to obtain valid insights into the nature of the mind as a substantial object existing in addition to the body. Without such an approach, systems phenomena such as property emergence and property masking could lead to mischaracterization of both the nature of the mind itself and the ways in which the mind and body work together holistically. Applying a systems-theoretical perspective, I show that some psychic abilities are emergent capacities of the mind-body system, that ordinary faculties such as emotional perceptiveness can be understood within the same framework as extraordinary faculties such as telepathy, and that NDE evidence favors a naturalistic form of Substance Dualism.
Date: Spring 2011
Creator: Rousseau, David

Response to "Could Pam Reynolds Hear?"

Description: Abstract: The near-death experience (NDE) of Pam Reynolds is one of the most impressive and medically well-documented NDEs in the literature. It took place during an operation to remove a brain aneurism, and it included almost all the aspects of a classic NDE, including accurate visual perception of the operating theater. Furthermore, parts of the experience would seem to have occurred when no brain activity whatsoever was possible. Despite testimony to the contrary by the medical personnel involved, Gerald Woerlee has attempted to explain Reynold's experience as a result of auditory impressions combined with an anesthesia-induced fantasy. I argue here that Woerlee's attempted explanation is simply unsupported by the documented facts of the case. I also invite Woerlee to accompany me to the Barrow Neurological Institute to participate in an empirical test under the exact auditory conditions Reynolds experienced.
Date: Autumn 2011
Creator: Carter, Chris

Response to "Could Pam Reynolds Hear?"

Description: Abstract: In this article, I reply to Gerald Woerlee's (2011, this issue) claim that during Pam Reynold's near-death experience (NDE), she actually could hear through normal means. I respond in terms of my 35 years experience as a clinical anesthesiologist, researcher into mechanisms of anesthesia and consciousness, and proponent of a theory of non-local consciousness put forth by mathematical physicist Sir Roger Penrose and me.
Date: Autumn 2011
Creator: Hameroff, Stuart