Near Death Experiences (NDE’s) are one area of study under parapsychology and non-material science. What happens when we die? Does some aspect of us survive death? Some non-material aspect, like consciousness, for example? Does consciousness originate in the brain, or is it a receiver of it?
It’s been the topic of discussion in philosophy and theology for years, and in the 20th century it has become the subject of scientific research. One of the people responsible for starting this initiative was Ian Stevenson, who, as the Chair of University of Virginia’s Department of Psychiatry, in 1967, created a research unit within the department to study if anything of the human personality survives after death.
His research investigated multiple hundreds of children to claimed to recall past lives and there are many examples. These children are able to give remarkable details about their past lives, and in some cases include describing how they died, locating past family members of who they used to be that are still living, and more details that would otherwise be impossible to describe.
Here is a video of Dr. Bruce Greyson speaking at a conference that was held by the United Nations. He is considered to be one of the “fathers” of near death studies. He is Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry and Neuro-behavioral Science at UVA. In the video he describes documented cases of individuals who were clinically dead (showing no brain activity), but observing everything that was happening to them on the medical table below at the same time. He describes how there have been many instances of this – where individuals are able to describe things that should have been impossible to describe.
Another significant statement by Dr. Greyson posits that this type of study has been discouraged due to our tendency to view science as completely materialistic. Seeing is believing, so to speak, in the scientific community. It’s unfortunate that just because we cannot explain something through materialistic means, it must be instantly discredited. The simple fact that “consciousness” itself is a non-physical “thing” is troubling for some scientists to comprehend, and as a result of it being non material, they believe it cannot be studied by science.
To access some of the published research in this area, you can refer to this article.
Below is a lecture that was filmed at the UVA by the medical department. It features Jim B. Tucker Bruce Greyson Edward F. Kelly J. Kim Penberthy, from the Division of Perceptual Studies.
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