Study: Near-Death Experiences Are Overwhelmingly Peaceful

Written by on June 27, 2014 in Dying, NDE, & OBE, Science with 1 Comment
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near-death-experiences-are-overwehlmingly-peacefulBy Helen Thomson | New Scientist

Near-death experiences are rare, but if you have one, it is likely to be overwhelmingly peaceful, however painful it might have been to get to that stage. This is the conclusion from the first study into how the cause of trauma affects the content of a near-death experience.

Such episodes are often described as emotionally rich, involving out-of-body sensations, tunnels of light and flashbacks. They most often occur when a person has been resuscitated after a traumatic event.


Steven Laureys, a neuroscientist at the University of Liège in Belgium who works with people in comas and vegetative states, started to investigate after his patients told him of their own near-death experiences. “I kept hearing these incredible stories in my consultations,” he says. “Knowing how abnormal brain activity is during a cardiac arrest or trauma, it was impressive how rich these memories were. It was very intriguing.”

There are several hypothesises as to how these events arise, such as lack of oxygen to the brain or damage to areas that control emotion. “So you'd expect to see differences between near-death experiences after drowning and those of other traumas,” he says.

His team looked at 190 documented events that resulted from traumas including cardiac arrest, drowning, head injury and high anxiety. Using statistical analysis and a measurement called the Greyson scale to assess the number and intensity of different features of the near-death experiences, the team discovered that surprisingly, the reports shared many similarities.

Not like the movies

The most common feature was an overwhelming feeling of peacefulness. The next most common was an out-of-body experience. And many people felt a change in their perception of how time was passing. There were only a few examples of negative experiences.

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  1. fothil@gmail.com' Rob says:

    Rubbish. Dying is terrifying when it is you and you do not want to die and when you have much to live for….children and loved ones. Twice in 3 days I experienced dying. The white light and tunnel is just the last moments of consciousness as the peripheral vision shuts down with lowering blood pressure. Once consciousness was gone, heart stopped, breathing stopped…..there was nothing. The subconscious mind goes into overdrive at that point close to death and people “imagine” all sorts of things…..but is it simply being able to experience an alternate consciousness? I wonder. People need to experience dying a couple of times….how many claim to have died when they were not actually dying?

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