According to a new study, so-called “near-death experiences” are not actually hallucinations.
In reality, if you ask an expert, the answer is pretty simple – they aren’t really sure.
But the latest research by many scientists from a wide range of disciplines coming together was published not too long ago in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences and is the first ever peer-reviewed consensus statement on death!
Furthermore, it has been designed in such a way as to “provide insights into any potential mechanisms, ethical implications, as as methodologic considerations for systematic investigation” but also s to “identify issues and controversies” in the studied area.
The study comes at a rather important time as it’s pretty clear that death today is no longer the same concept it was a hundred or more years in the past.
More precisely, back in 2016, a research fellow at the University of Oxford’s Future of Humanity Institute by the name of Anders Sandberg, wrote that “Being ‘irreversibly dead’ is technology dependent. For a long time, a lack of breathing and lack of pulse were regarded as hallmarks of death, until resuscitation methods were improved. Today, drowning victims that suffer hypothermia, lack of oxygen, and a lack pulse and breathing for hours can be revived (with luck and heavy medical interventions). Even not having a heart is not death if you’re on the transplant surgeon’s table.”
While Sandberg was not involved in this new study, his argument is still relevant as modern medicine has, indeed, changed the way we perceive the concept of death.
Nowadays, we are realizing more and more just how little we really know about death.
The lead author of the research and the director of Critical Care and Resuscitation Research at NYU Grossman School of Medicine, Sam Parnia, explained that “Cardiac arrest is not a heart attack. It represents the final stage of disease or event that causes a person to die. CPR showed us death is not an absolute state, rather, it is a process that could be reversed in some people even after starting.”
The team of researchers stresses that, according to evidence, neither cognitive, nor physiological processes really end when we die.
Furthermore, near-death experiences are yet to be proven or disproven by science.
The narratives are pretty much the same no matter the cultures and backgrounds they come from and they have little in common with psychedelic drug-induced experiences, illusions, or hallucinations.
Parnia explains that brain cells don’t get irreversibly damaged within minutes of oxygen deprivation after the heart stops.
In reality, it takes the cells hours to “die,” allowing scientists to really look into the whole process.
Electroencephalography studies have also shown that even after death, gamma activity and electrical spikes, which are generally linked to increased awareness, still occur.
Is it possible that they are responsible for the “heightened states of consciousness and recognition of death” some people feel when they are close to death.
Parnia goes on to point out that “Few studies have explored what happens when we die in an objective and scientific way. Our paper offer[s] intriguing insight into how consciousness exists in humans and it may pave the way for further research.”