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...