Hallucinatory Near-Death Experiences Essay

Hallucinatory Near-Death Experiences Essay

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“I was heading towards this warm, white light” – a line from a play (Larson, 1993) in which a character returns from the brink of death and tells of her experience. This concept of approaching light is an example of merely one aspect of a near-death experience (NDE), something that is scattered through film, fiction and media, so much so that a lot of people probably have a stereotypical idea of what such an experience involves. They commonly occur at a time when a person is close to death or think that they are, and can involve an out-of-body experience, contact/visions of deceased loved ones, a tunnel moving towards light, peaceful feelings and entering light among other things (French and Stone, 2013). Anomalistic psychology - the study of phenomena that can be perceived as paranormal, while assuming that there is nothing paranormal involved (French and Stone, 2013) – explains research and theories into the cause of NDEs.
There are a variety of different explanations for NDEs. The more spiritual explanations have, on occasion, been heavily criticised because they contradict reliable scientific evidence. Many are centred on the idea that there is a life after death that we transcend to. The astral projection theory (Blackmore, 1992), for example, focusses on the aspect of the NDE in which the experiencer reports to have risen above their body and can see themselves from a higher point in the room. It is explained as part of the conscious mind leaving the physical body, a concept strongly contradicted by evidence that shows this isn’t possible due to consciousness relying on the brain (Velmans, 2000). In fact, consciousness is defined as something entirely different from the soul - the part of oneself that is more commonly said t...


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...rmal Belief and Experience. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan

Greyson, B. (2007). Commentary on ‘‘psychophysiological and cultural correlates undermining a survivalist interpretation of near-death experiences’’. Journal of Near-Death Studies, 26(2), 127-145.

Grof, S., & Halifax, J. (1977). The human encounter with death. New York: E. P. Dutton, a Division of Sequoia-Elsevier Publishing Co.

Jansen, K. (1996). Neuroscience, ketamine, and the near-death experience. The Near Death Experience: A Reader, 265-282.

Kastenbaum, R. (1996). Near death reports. The Near Death Experience: A Reader, 245-264.

Larson, J. (Writer) (1993). Rent [Theater].

Velmans, M. (2000). Understanding consciousness. (pp. 15-16). London: Routledge

Whinnery, J. E. (1997). Psychophysiologic correlates of unconsciousness and near-death experiences. Journal of Near-Death Studies, 15(4), 231.

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