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Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2011 Oct;1234:19-28. doi: 10.1111/j.1749-6632.2011.06080.x.

Near-death experiences: the experience of the self as real and not as an illusion.

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Department of Cardiology, Rijnstate Hospital, Arnhem, the Netherlands.


Because the publication of several prospective studies on near-death experience (NDE) in survivors of cardiac arrest have shown strikingly similar results and conclusions, the phenomenon of the NDE can no longer be scientifically ignored. The NDE is an authentic experience that cannot be simply reduced to imagination, fear of death, hallucination, psychosis, the use of drugs, or oxygen deficiency. Patients appear to be permanently changed by an NDE during a cardiac arrest of only some minutes' duration. It is a scientific challenge to discuss new hypotheses that could explain the possibility of a clear and enhanced consciousness--with memories, self-identity, cognition, and emotions--during a period of apparent coma. The current materialistic view of the relationship between consciousness and the brain, as held by most physicians, philosophers, and psychologists, seems to be too restricted for a proper understanding of this phenomenon. There are good reasons to assume that our consciousness, with the continuous experience of self, does not always coincide with the functioning of our brain: enhanced or nonlocal consciousness, with unaltered self-identity, apparently can be experienced independently from the lifeless body. People are convinced that the self they experienced during their NDE is a reality and not an illusion.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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