Near Death Experiences

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Near Death Experiences         People have had near death experiences for thousands of years, but they have become more common in the last several years because of the medical technology that can bring more people back to life. (Jaegers 158) A near death experience can be called a NDE for short, but what exactly is an NDE? Jaegers answered that question. She states that NDE's are visions that people of all ages and races can have. They mostly occur after an accident or traumatic injury patients. The visions consist of a dark tunnel leading to a light with occasional sightings of sparkles. People report seeing different images of people and talking to an individual who has varied from Jesus to Elvis and even Santa Claus. Out-of-body experiences are common too during NDE's, in some cultures. (Jaegers 159-161)         The reader may or may not believe in the afterlife, or maybe the reader just don't have an opinion on it.

Whatever the reader believes, this paper will bring different views and possible explanations to your attention. This paper will also contain a personal conclusion of the question, "Are near death experiences visions of the afterlife?" It will discuss inconsistencies, consistencies, and possible causes along with stories from people who claimed to have been to the afterlife and then returned.

As mentioned earlier, people of all different ages, and races, have had NDE's, as well as people from different cultural backgrounds and languages. They all have similarities, although no two NDE's have been exactly alike. (Fenwick no page) The culture of the patient came from usually effects what is in their NDE. For example, in Indian cultures it is very rare to hear of out of body experiences or experiences of floating down a tunnel, but instead the patient is being carried by a "messenger," as several subjects have claimed. Friends and family are not so much involved in an Indian NDE, as in other cultures. (Fenwick no page) NDE's are not Visions of the Afterlife         What culture the subject is from does not affect everything in an NDE, as some things are universal, like the possible causes of NDE's. Doctors have come up with many possible causes of NDE's and have found two major possible causes. The first cause is brain stimulation. There are many types of brain stimulation. Over the years many doctors have documented that if you touch directly above the right ear, the temporal lobe, the patient will experience many of the same sensations patients would experience in a NDE. Reported sensations include heavenly music, or a light appearing at the end of a tunnel, (Rivenburg 171) and also a feeling of "otherworldliness" as described by some. Another type of brain stimulation is a carbon dioxide overload to the head. The second possible cause of the NDE phenomenon is drugs. Morphine is believed to cause this mind experience or hallucinations. (Jaegers 163) Another drug is Ketamine, which again gives the person a mind experience like a NDE. (Morse no page) Ketamine is currently being used by ravers, who report these types of experiences. There are many other drugs, such as LSD, thorazine, codeine, and opium, that do the same thing. (Rivenburg 171; Jaegers 164)         Research on brain stimulation and drugs offers an explanation that NDE are not visions of the afterlife, but rather hallucinations. The inconsistence in experiences also leaves doubt about the reality of the experience.. Some people say that they did not float down the tunnel, but rode in a ghostly taxicab, ferries that cross the River Styx, or spangled cows. Children say they saw teachers that were still alive, Nintendo or cartoon characters instead of deceased relatives. Adults say they saw Elvis or Groacho Marx. (Rivenburg 166-167)         Some have reported having NDE's while outside weeding their garden, but they weren't even "dead." Most report being changed, but Siegel says that still doesn't prove anything: A lot of people who have taken LSD feel changed too. [So do] people who've fallen in love for the first time"¦or people who have been to Vietnam"¦These are powerful emotional experiences and they change the way we see the world. (Rivenburg 170-171)         With many inconsistencies and false claims, it would be difficult to say that NDE's are indeed visions of the afterlife, but simply just visions or hallucinations.

NDE's are Visions of the Afterlife         Dr. Raymond Moody, Dr. Melvin Morse and others have proven the idea of brain stimulation as the cause of NDE, to be false for most cases. (Morse no page) Morse and Moody say that brain stimulations cannot produce the "real" tunnel, the "real" light and other things that happen in an ordinary NDE. Jaegers states, "This stimulated experience is as much a counterfeit as a laser copy of the Mona Lisa!" Drugs, to help pain, couldn't be a possible explanation either because there is no recorded side effect of the drug before the NDE occurred. The idea is thought to be half-baked. (Jaegers 163-164) In another document Dr. Morse proves that this idea is wrong: Briefly put, a patient goes into cardiac arrest, brain and heart monitors flatline. After trying unsuccessfully to revive him, the doctor pronounces the patient dead. At this time, there can be no brain chemical action. There is no life. The patient is dead. After a time period of several minutes to several hours, the patient returns to life. He is able to tell the doctors what they were doing while he was dead, what was happening out in the hallway and who was sitting in the waiting room. This information could not have come from a brain chemical reaction at the time of death because the information the patient returned to life with was not available at the time of death. And, since the patient was bathed in the light and felt loved at the same time he was gathering such information, it is logical to assume that brain chemicals did not cause them, either.(Morse no page)         With so many people having claimed to have experiences NDE how can they not be real? Dr. Melvin Morse wants to know. Dr. Morse doesn't believe it is possible for so many people just to dream about the same thing and feel so changed afterward. He reports that once the patient has returned, they usually feel changed in some way, whether it is a greater zest for life, improved self-confidence, increased passion or healthier eating habits. Adds Morse: These people aren't just saying they're different. They really are. We've documented it beyond a shadow of doubt. If they said they give more to charities, we checked their tax returns. (Rivenburg 171)         It's not just educated people who are having these experiences, it's people who have never heard of such a thing, like five years old Ashley. Ashley was involved in a car accident with her mother and brother. A drunk driver hit them and killed both her mom and her baby brother. The first few hours at the hospital she had apparently died, but then went into a sixteen-day coma. When she awoke from her unconsciousness she began talking in a soft voice to someone, who was unseen by the rest, smiled, waved and said "I love you, Mom. I love you Daniel . Bye-bye"         During her unconsciousness she said she saw her mother and brother being led away by a man she said looked like "Santa Claus". Ashley wanted to go with her mother and brother, but was told she could not by the man with the mustache. This young girl had never heard of an NDE and had no way of knowing that her mother and brother had died in the accident. She described her experience in extreme detail and therefore must have really saw what she described, which means she must have really visited the afterlife through her NDE. (Jaegers 159-160)         Based on the information presented, It appears that some NDE cases may actually be visions of the afterlife. Each case would have to be looked at individually and then decided. Some cases, like the ones with unrealistic characters, such as characters from cartoons or Nintendo, would surely be excluded as possible visions of the afterlife.

        The main thing that really enforces the belief that near death experiences are visions of the afterlife are the patients who could tell who was there in the waiting room, who had died in the accident or what was going on after the patient had died. There could have been no other way they would have known all that except in an out-of-body experience. Of course there is always the possibility that they got the information from doctors, nurses and family members and I am sure that a few cases were just that, but I don't believe they all are that way. In conclusion, I generally believe near death experiences are visions of the afterlife.