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Tag Archives | Near Death Experiences
What an amazing thrift store find.
via Live Science:
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Reports of people having “near-death” experiences go back to antiquity, but the oldest medical description of the phenomenon may come from a French physician around 1740, a researcher has found.
The report was written by Pierre-Jean du Monchaux, a military physician from northern France, who described a case of near-death experience in his book “Anecdotes de Médecine.” Monchaux speculated that too much blood flow to the brain could explain the mystical feelings people report after coming back to consciousness.
The description was recently found by Dr. Phillippe Charlier, a medical doctor and archeologist, who is well known in France for his forensic work on the remains of historical figures. Charlier unexpectedly discovered the medical description in a book he had bought for 1 euro (a little more than $1) in an antique shop.
Unless you’re one of those few people who have spontaneous Out of Body Experiences (OOBEs), you need some help to get there. The Kernel reveals how:
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You can have an out of body experience right now, and it isn’t even that hard. Some people can do it more easily than others, and it may take a little practice. But it is something that anybody can do, and it can be done scientifically.
SENSES AND THE SELF
Let’s start with a question: Where do you feel like the center of your “self” is right now? Most people feel like the center of their consciousness—the vantage from which they are experiencing the world—is somewhere behind their eyes. This makes sense: Your eyes are there, your ears are there, and even your mouth and your nose are there. Four out of five of your senses are all focused in a single area, so it’s no surprise that you feel like the center of your self is “in your head.”
Although both philosophers and scientists are still developing theories about exactly what our sense of self is really for, they all agree that it plays a key role in organizing all of the information that comes in through our senses.
Can scientists really explain OOBEs? The Sploid blog at Gizmodo reports that they can…
Some people claim that they have experienced out-of-body experiences—aka “astral trips”—floating outside of their bodies and watching themselves from the outside. A team of scientists found someone who says she can do this at will and put her into a brain scanner. What they discovered was surprisingly strange.
Andra M. Smith and Claude Messierwere from the University of Ottawa described this subject’s ability in their paper, published in Frontiers of Human Neuroscience:
She was able to see herself rotating in the air above her body, lying flat, and rolling along with the horizontal plane. She reported sometimes watching herself move from above but remained aware of her unmoving “real” body. The participant reported no particular emotions linked to the experience.
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How the hell is this possible? Can it be real? The researchers found that something dramatic, and consistent with her account, was happening in her brain: The fMRI showed a “strong deactivation of the visual cortex” while “activating the left side of several areas associated with kinesthetic imagery,” which includes mental imagery of bodily movement.
Do rats go to heaven? Via Ghost Theory:
Jim Borjigin of the University of Michigan’s team implanted electrodes on the surface of the brains of nine rats, then injected the animals with potassium chloride, stopping their heart and blood flow. At that point the rats are considered “clinically dead”.
Yet for up to 30 seconds, the researchers’ electrodes detected patterns of synchronized, high-frequency activity known as gamma waves. In humans, some scientists have suggested that gamma waves could play a role in the interplay of perception, awareness, and intent known as consciousness.
“By presenting evidence of highly organized brain activity and neurophysiologic features consistent with conscious processing at near-death, we now provide a scientific framework to begin to explain the highly lucid and realer-than-real mental experiences reported by near-death survivors,” wrote Borjigin’s team.
As 2013 starts to fade into demonstrably unreliable memoryville, I’m sure the answer to that headline’s question for most remains no. It’s fascinating but when you think about it, last year ended up being a banner one in terms of exposing our insanely irrational cultural biases toward Gnostic spiritual concepts of any variety. Right off the bat, you had the Hancock/Sheldrake TED debacle and maybe nothing shifted in 2012, but when pretty early on you accidentally catch a discussion about Near Death Experiences on the Katie Couric Show of all places, it strikes you that maybe something did get tweaked ever so slightly beneath the surface. Of course the reason NDE’s were actually being talked about on ridiculously mainstream cultural markets like this had to do with money and the mass amounts of it Eben Alexander’s book on the topic managed to rake in. Everyone wants a piece of that action no matter how risqué.… Read the rest
Luke Dittrich has written a long essay for Esquire in which he posits that “Before his bestselling book Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife made Dr. Eben Alexander rich and famous as a “man of science” who’d experienced the afterlife, he was something else: a neurosurgeon with a troubled history and a man in need of reinvention”:
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On December 18, 2012, the set of Fox & Friends was both festive and somber. Festive because it was the Christmas season. The three hosts, two men in dark suits flanking a woman in a blue dress, sat on a mustard-colored couch in front of a cheery seasonal backdrop: a lit-up tree, silver-painted twigs, mounds of tinsel, blue and red swatches of fabric, and, here and there, multicolored towers of blown glass with tapering points that made them look surprisingly like minarets. Somber because a terrible thing had happened just four days earlier, in an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut.
Legendary editor Russ Kick returns to the DisinfoCast to discuss his new collection Death Poems, an anthology of verse both modern and classic dedicated to all aspects of death: Funerals, the death penalty, serial killings, the Underworld and more. Funny, sad, atheistic, spiritual, mythic, wise and morbid, this is the perfect collection for anyone who needs a little “memento mori”.
Additional subjects discussed: Near-death experiences, morbid thoughts, the afterlife or lack thereof, “the 357 test”, the role of art, post-modernism and more.
Scientists believe that they may have found an explanation for the near-death experience. Apparently the brain continues functioning for 30 seconds after blood stops flowing. Incidentally, this may lend more credence to stories of human heads continuing to function after decapitation.
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There may be a scientific explanation for the vivid near-death experiences, such as seeing a shining light, that some people report after surviving a heart attack, US scientists said Monday.
Apparently, the brain keeps on working for up to 30 seconds after blood flow stops, according to a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
University of Michigan scientists did their research on nine lab rats that were anesthetized and then subjected to induced cardiac arrest as part of the experiment.
In the first 30 seconds after their hearts were stopped, they all showed a surge of brain activity, observed in electroencephalograms (EEGs) that indicated highly aroused mental states.
I remain somewhat skeptical that near death experiences (NDE) involve a different plane of perception, but Pim van Lommel is far closer to convincing me than Proof of Heaven. Inspired by the transformative encounters described by his patients, the Dutch cardiologist has interviewed hundreds of people who have had NDEs and argues that they are “real”, cannot be dismissed as tricks of memory or the oxygen-deprived mind, and are suggestive of consciousness existing outside of the brain:
I grew up in an academic environment in which i had been taught that there was a reductionist and literalist explanation for everything, that it was obvious that consciousness was a product of a functioning brain. But the phenomenon of near death experiences raised a number of fundamental questions. I was unable to accept most of the answers to these questions because they seemed incomplete, incorrect, or unfounded.