A Review of Near Death Experiences

by Michael Schroeter-Kunhardt

Near death experiences (NDEs) have been reported throughout time in essentially all cultures. The contents of modern NDEs is independent of gender, age, and profession. The frequency of occurrence is estimated to lie between 10 and 50 percent of all near- death situations. This frequency could be higher still, perhaps even 100 percent, were it not for the dreamlike and dissociative character of the experience and the amnesia-prone participation of the temporal lobe causing a clear tendency to forget the NDE. A number of similar elements are common to NDEs, such as an out-of-body experience (OBE) in which the physical body and its surroundings are observed from various external vantage points, often from above. Numerous cases exist in which the reality of the OBE-observation can be independently verified, by external conditions, situations, people, objects, etc. Even previously non-religious ND experiencers subsequently show a markedly decreased fear of death and a corresponding increase in belief in life after death. Certain elements of NDE-like experiences can be induced by, for example, electrical stimulation of the right temporal lobe or the use of hallucinogenic substances. It is possible that hallucinogenic transmitters (and endorphins) or the brain itself play a role in the NDE. Nevertheless, there are NDE-elements, such as the frequently reported life-review and certainly the acquisition of external, verifiable information concerning the physical surroundings during the experience, that cannot be explained by physiological causes. Wish-fulfillment, death-denial or other defense mechanisms of the brain are also not adequate explanations. The large body of NDE data now accumulated point to genuine evidence for a non-physical reality and paranormal capacities of the human being.