The Near Death Experience
Pim van Lommel is a Dutch author and researcher in the field of near-death studies. He studied medicine at Utrecht University, specializing in cardiology. He worked as a cardiologist at the Rijnstate Hospital, Arnhem, for 26 years.
In 1969, one of van Lommel’s patients was brought back from a death by heart attack. He recalled that the patient was “very very disappointed” that they needed to return to life. In the mid-1980s, Von Lommel began asking other patients about their experiences and decided that he would conduct a study of the phenomenon which culminated in a report which was published in the prestigious British medical journal The Lancet. The research created “a sensation.” The patients with NDEs reported out of body experiences which were verified by objective observers, as well as “no fear of death, unconditional love for yourself and others, and a connection with everything and everybody.” Many also felt that their near death state was “more real than life.”
The transformation that occurs to people who experience a near-death state is often traumatic for others, as von Lommel says that 70% of the experiencers end up getting divorced because their partners believe that the patient is “not the person they knew” before the event. According to his medical training, von Lommel was not supposed to think in terms of the human mind being able to process information when it was clinically dead, but his “scientific curiosity” allowed him to consider things which went against conventional wisdom. He now believes that our consciousness is not located in our brains, but is “non-local,” that is we are more like receivers where our minds function as intermediaries between spirit and body.
Based on his studies and conversations with countless patients, Von Lommel has concluded that “dying is not the end of our consciousness” and that the NDE is an authentic experience which cannot be attributed to imagination, psychosis or oxygen deprivation. After such an profound experience, patient’s personalities underwent a permanent change. In Van Lommel’s opinion, the current views on the relationship between the brain and consciousness held by most physicians, philosophers and psychologists is too narrow for a proper understanding of the NDE phenomenon. The author provides examples and ways that our consciousness does not always coincide with brain functions; that consciousness can even be experienced separate from the body.
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