Near Death Experience or Hallucination?
There is a phenomenon that occurs in a large portion of our population, and it has mysterious origins and is often seen as a spiritual journey. It is called a near-death experience, or NDE. The people who have the experience know what they felt and saw, but there is no proof of the incident, and many skeptics have found explanations for the event and have argued with the prospect of a spiritual journey. Everyone in America has most likely heard of the usual story of a woman on her death bed seeing a white light and a kind looking person taking her hand and leading her down a long path toward the light, but what causes this experience and who is a likely candidate for receiving it? Could everyone who states that they are having a NDE really be near death and experiencing what they are seeing? Many people have changed their lives after being told that they are not done yet on earth, and they are sent back from their experience with a renewed sense of vigor that seems like a spiritual awakening. With such grand spiritual connotations, it is no wonder that people want to know the validity of the incident and whether they can experience one for themselves. Science and religion have often butted heads when it comes to spiritual matters, and there is no difference in this matter because many scientists have done a large amount of research on the topic of NDEs and they have found scientific explanations for the experience while those who actually go through it see it as entirely legitimate.
Near death experiences have been happening to people since ancient times, and there have even been occurrences recorded in ancient Greece. In our country alone there is a recorded amount of about 3% of the population that say they have had a NDE, and that is simply in the U.S. It sounds like a small portion, but three percent of three hundred million is a lot, and the scientific community has taken notice, and they have studied who these incidents occur to. The title of the event is misleading; even though it is called a near death experience, a recent study showed that a person does not need to be near death to have an experience. “One study of 58 patients who recounted near-death experiences found 30 were not actually in danger of dying” (Choi, 2011). There is not a specific culture or religion that mandates the NDE, which is why many scientists feel as if the occurrences are due to a mental situation rather than a spiritual one because of the diverse religions that have shared the experiences (Choi, 2011). “The feeling of being dead is not limited to near-death experiences—patients with Cotard or ‘walking corpse’ syndrome hold the delusional belief that they are deceased” (Choi, 2011). This is a disorder that is very rare and is very unlikely to be seen in normal aspects of life, the cause could be from trauma or severe cases of illness. “Advanced stages of typhoid and multiple sclerosis, and has been linked with brain regions such as the parietal cortex and the prefrontal cortex” (Choi, 2011). “The prefrontal cortex is involved in delusions observed in psychiatric conditions such as schizophrenia” (Choi, 2011). These are just a few explanations for the disorder Cotard, but they do not seem very likely to be a cause in the United States. Obviously typhoid has not had an outbreak in the United States in many years, and it is not likely to return, but this could explain near death experiences or Cotard syndrome in foreign countries. (Choi, 2011).
From the spiritual view, the persons who get to experience the NDE are very particular, and it is the divine wisdom of God who decides who gets to have one. In nearly every near death experience, the man or woman is sent back to this world to fulfill some unfinished business in his or her life that needs to be completed before he or she can actually die and continue on to heaven. In the side of the spiritual view, many accounts of near...
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Choi, C. Q. (2011, September 12). Near-Death Experiences Explained by Science. Retrieved from Live Science: http://www.livescience.com/16019-death-experiences-explained.html
Radford, B. (2011, September 23). Near-Death Experiences Explained. Retrieved from Discovery News: http://news.discovery.com/human/-neuroscience-explains-near-death-110923.html
Stump, S. (2012, July 19). ‘I was home’: Former skeptic shares glimpse of heaven. Retrieved from msnbc: http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/48242202/ns/today-books/t/i-was-home-former-skeptic-shares-glimpse-heaven/#.UCExsU1lROI
Williams, K. (2010). The NDE and Spirituality. Retrieved from Near Death: http://www.near-death.com/experiences/research07.html
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