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.
Abstract: Preliminary evidence suggests that both near-death experiencers (NDErs) and nonexperiencers who learn about near-death experiences (NDEs) show beneficial aftereffects. In this article I summarize the findings of an exploratory study to examine a small group process utilizing spiritual guidance and expressive arts for integrating NDE aftereffects. Eleven adult participants -- four NDErs and seven non-NDErs -- completed a pretest, initial posttest, and longitudinal posttest consisting of a revised version of the Omega Life Change Questionnaire (Rominger-LCQ) and the Human Spirituality Scale, as well as semistructured individual and group interviews. I also collected the expressive art participants created during sessions, photographed it, and used it to identify pictorial themes. Quantitative results included some significant differences and some nonsignificant trends indicating greater spirituality and life changes among NDErs compared to non-NDErs and, for all participants, from pre- to posttest. Qualitative interview material revealed participants had learned material on a number of topics of including a broader understanding of, and ability to communicate about, the NDE. Qualitative pictorial data revealed themes suggesting that both NDErs and non-NDErs had integrated positive aftereffects. The process described herein may benefit spiritual guides and directors, expressive art therapists, and therapists working with individuals who have had an NDE or other spiritually transformative experience. I also discuss methodological benefits of using artistic inquiry.