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Near death out-of-body experiences

  1. Aug 10, 2010 #1
    About ten years ago I saw a show on CNN or NBC that described what some patients experienced in an operating room as they almost died. Their heart and brain activity stopped for a short time on the operating table while under anesthesia. Fortunately they survived and upon awakening they descrbed details of the operation e.g. converstion between doctors while the patient was anesthetized.

    More interestingly, some had out-of-body experiences where they seemed to float above the operating table. One patient even described a bald spot on the top of a doctor's head, which this person was to short to see in an awakened state.

    Are these dreams, hallucintions due to drugs,or is there a real entity floating above the table.

    One doctor devised an experiment in a trauma center in a city hospital to help settle the question. He placed scrolling news ticker(similar to the CNN or Fox news Scroll) at the top of a six foot high shelf in the trauma center that can only be seen from the ceiling. Except it wasn't news ,it was scrolling thousands of proverbs,maxims and sentences in random order. If someone had a near death out-of -body experience, they would be able to read the scroll.The time of near death and the time sayings on the scroll are displayed could then be correlated, proving a genuine out-of-body experience.

    This was ten years ago and I have heard nothing about the outcome of this experiment.
    Anyone hear anything about this?
    I tend to think that no one was able to read it, otherwise I think we would have heard something.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 10, 2010 #2


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    People in hospital are scared, anesthetics screw with your brain, people report stories.

    I do remember talking to one anesthetist who said they had changed the color of their theater gowns after ER (or similar) was on - so that they didn't match.

    The patient would report that they had been awake during surgery and threaten to sue (either due to malicous lawsuits or just bad dreams). The lawyer asked what the doctor was wearing - the patient answered with blue (or whatever ER wear) - end of case!
  4. Aug 11, 2010 #3

    Ivan Seeking

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    We can also provide anecdotes of people who described in detail the procedures and instruments used, having never seen them while conscious.

    Not only unconcious, but technically, brain dead. How can one store even false memories if there is no measurable brain activity?

    The answer usually received is that there is activity deep in the brain that cannot be detected with a normal EEG, but I don't think it has been shown how a memory, even a false one, could be created in that state.
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2010
  5. Aug 11, 2010 #4
    This field is one in which there are many suggestive anecdotes - reported, in concordance with patients, by doctors and surgeons - that seem to demonstrate that the person was observing events during incapacitation.

    There are also arguments and counter-arguments that are continuously debated. These include:
    For - ~75% report the NDE felt more real than real life itself (Dr. Long study)
    For - Judging from case reports, there doesn't seem to be deviation in the exact set of experiences based on what is happening to the dying person. It seems that people having an NDE under anesthesia, dying via drowing, NDE during car crash, NDE during orgasm, a "fear death" experience (e.g. grenade landing at soldiers foot but doesn't go off), etc. have all the same elements when aggregated. HOWEVER, there has not been a multivariate regression analysis to determine or refute this assertion, so that's what the field has to do, I think. (This will be very useful for determining whether NDEs are hallucinations or not).
    For - NDErs SEEM to be able to report what they see accurately, however to the best of my knoweldge this has not been proven to be the case during brain-death. Although, there is one testimony I've read of by a doctor who claimed that a patient reported things accurately, events that occurred when they had a flat EEG. Hasn't been demonstrated experimentally, I don't think.
    For - Overwhelmingly, dead people are seen. In drug induced stupors, I think alive people are hallucinated as well as dead people (don't have a reference for this, but I read it somewhere...). There was one Fear Death case where an alive person was seen, however.. (Person being raped saw an alive police officer friend who spoke to her).
    Against - Some elements of the NDE can be replicated, very rarely, in part, while on Ketamine and to a lesser extent DMT. I'm not going to say Persinger's work with transcranial magnetic stimulation is "Against", because I don't think it is.
    Against - Some people have extremely strange NDEs. Talking to plants, flying above medieval castles alongside seagulls. This would indicate hallucination??

    There's some other points I may add in later.

    What's needed, and what's being done right now, is a controlled study to try and determine whether NDE-OBEs are hallucinations or not. So far, the AWARE study is running in the UK (I think). Results will be published within the coming year, but in my conversations with Dr. Sartori there are no positive results yet. (This doesn't mean that there's been an NDE-OBE where the person reports to be "looking" in the correct direction during an OBE and ought to have seen the sign, but didn't).
  6. Aug 11, 2010 #5
    Anesthesian awareness is surprisingly common.

    This does not imply that the person had their eyes open or was having an OBE during anesthesia. That is very rare.

    Or did this person report having an OBE?
  7. Aug 11, 2010 #6


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    Having dreams about surgery, hospitals etc is also unsurprisingly common while in hospital for some worrying procedure
  8. Aug 12, 2010 #7
    One of my mentors in intensive care told me about people's hearing is one of the last senses to stop working. People can draw on alot just from sounds.

    Another one of my teachers also told me a story of a patient who was anethatised because they were ventalated and could recall two doctors talking about withdrawing treatment and letting them pass on he required years of counciling and has never been the same since. (he could also describe these doctors)

    When the body shuts down there must be a mass amount of chemical intercations that occur which give people these out of body experiances. Although being able to measure these chemicals is probably nearly impossible.
  9. Sep 1, 2010 #8
    yes but that does not discount that supposedly medically diagnosed dead people recall observing a procedure and often can recall conversations and precise details, I know of one guy who followed a ambulance the whole way to the hospital in his NDE account, and he is not one to BS either. Also the same guy said that when he had a heart attack once, he expected another NDE like the first, was very calm about it all, all he got was extreme pain and unconsciousness.
  10. Sep 6, 2010 #9
    Out of body can be near death or not. Those who never experienced it personally may only want to disprove such things. Reality is so far beyond our finding out in scientific explaination. The parts of reality that are way past human explaination are the more real parts. This material realm is a dimension very limited to all that is. We sumize of the multi dimensions, and just as quickly deminish any suggestion of an experience into them.
    The wonder of all that is, therein I find the joy of endless possiblity. Trying to explain away the vastness of all we dont know, that just feels to me like a party pooper point of view.
    I believe in the joy of expectation of where we have not reached.
  11. Sep 30, 2010 #10
    People in a coma can hear everything that is being said even though they have may no feeling and cannot direct movement of any parts of their bodies.

    As for the out of body issue, I'm not sure whatever energy field might be involved would be able to detect light. If brain waves demonstrate that consciousness is an energy field then perhaps that field could be detected if it left the body, although I don't know what equipment would be needed or how close to the energy field the equipment would need to be.
  12. Sep 30, 2010 #11


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    False results are rarely reported regarding pseudo-scientific claims; they don't make very good news. How often do you see the headline: "Man is not a telepath," or "Psychic is wrong"?

    The conditions of an "out of body" experience are easily recreated by pool blood at the back of the brain. It happens in centrifuges and has been reported by pilots and astronauts at times when their lives were not in danger.

    The last I heard (link?) is that it was actually a survival tool the brain uses when it thinks it's dying to preserve consciousness until the last possible moment. I would say that this tactic has worked well for all "out of body" experiencers.
  13. Sep 30, 2010 #12


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    Pardon? I have never heard this be even remotely confirmed. In fact, the only time I've ever heard this is to comfort a grief ridden family member or friend. When was the last time a coma patient (in real life, please) woke up and said: "Woah, I'm so glad you kept me up to date on all of the news."

    Just because the auditory section of the brain is firing doesn't mean any of the information is actually being processed. Like slamming the keyboard of a busted computer.


    Which energy field are we talking about here? My "woo-woo" alarm is going off pretty heavily here. Are you suggesting that, in addition to the electrical impulses in our brain, we have an extra "field of consciousness" that is not necessarily tethered to... I don't even know what you're suggesting.

    Someone should definitely check for some W bosons when you pass... or whatever.
  14. Sep 30, 2010 #13


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    I'm not sure a heart attack victim (or other unconscious person) is the best source of untainted information. He might not be BSing you, but he could still be staggeringly wrong. Example: a dream.
  15. Sep 30, 2010 #14


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    +MANY for this.

    People undergoing operations, or being taken in an ambulance, or the like often dream about the experience that is so dominant in their minds. When I was having surgery, I routinely dreamed that I was having the actual surgery only to wake up and realize the procedure was still a day or two away.

    It was dental surgery... and, yes, I could've told you the make and model of the dental drill involved.

    And it felt more real that real life. And I'm not BSing. And I followed someone in an ambulance down the road. And then I was able to sneak into someone's house while out of my body and watch reruns of Murder She Wrote even though I didn't know it was on at that time!!
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2010
  16. Oct 7, 2010 #15
    I have been on the operating table under anesthesia total 3 times in my life. I have not experienced any NDE or OBE. I do remember my first time falling unconscious. I was talking with the anesthesiologist. He asked me how I feel. I said that I'm OK. Few seconds later I experienced effect like TV picture with a lot of noise. I was able to tell him "it started" and he said "goodbye", the noise levels increased really fast. There was no tunnel of light or whatever people often say they have experienced.

    I do not remember anything about my 2 other "switch off" events, but also I do not remember my last "switch on":rofl:
    According to people in the room I was awake when they brought me from the operating room. I have told them that I don't like this place and I'm going home then I have attempted to do so. And I do not remember anything of that.

    Anyway my point is that the anesthetics do strange things with the brain. The brain could easily provide plausible dream explaining OBE. Also there is no reason to believe that this has occurred during the phase without brain activity.
  17. Oct 7, 2010 #16

    Ivan Seeking

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    I can't access the published paper cited above, so I don't know if this case is included in a published study or not. But according to the author of that paper, there is a case which supports this claim

    Emphasis mine
  18. Oct 8, 2010 #17
    I'm not an expert, but I can see at least 2 more plausible explanations than real NDE.

    1. As it was brain surgery it probably took time so she became conscious. During that time doctors probably payed her regular visitations and they certainly discussed her rare operation. Just because it was rare and not routine there is a lot more chance they have discussed it in details. Her brain may not be fully functional, but that doesn't mean it was not collecting the information.

    2. Someone told her what happened and she forgot she was told. Her damaged brain made up the NDE to explain the fact.
  19. Oct 8, 2010 #18

    Ivan Seeking

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    Perhaps, however the first explanation is inconsistent with the nature of the surgery as she was clinically dead. Presumably the second is ruled out by careful questioning and access. Allegedly, the patient was able to provide detailed information about events that took place while she was dead.
  20. Oct 8, 2010 #19
    I fail to understand how the first explanation is inconsistent. She described her experience while she was alive, didn't she? And that moment is later in time than the moment she was clinically dead. I have described 2 ways that she could get that information in the time between. First was coma like state with subconscious ability to recognize speech. The second was selective memory failure (her brain was damaged after all). I agree that second case can be ruled out, but there is small possibility they have missed something.

    Not to mention there is 3rd possibility that it was done on purpose, and someone agreed to tell her what happened and keep that in secret, so they could see how people freak out about her "NDE".

    Any of these scenarios assume that the information was obtained after the moment she was clinically dead, which is the only rational assumption.
  21. Oct 9, 2010 #20


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    I think the problem is that it's a biased source. Again, we are relying on eye witness testimony which, as far as I can tell, is making this doctor a pant's-load of money. If this is a "common" medical practice (i.e. mainstream), then the procedure itself is likely to be happening several times a year (if not more). It seems that if the doctor were serious, he could put some serious controls on the test and repeat it.

    However, if he were just trying to make money, perhaps he could just write a book. (https://www.amazon.com/Light-Death-Michael-Sabom/dp/0310219922)

    EDIT: Ever notice how some authors lean heavily on their degrees? This author made sure to put "M.D." after his name. True, he is a doctor, but shouldn't the book/evidence be compelling enough that it could stand on its own? I have a doctorate, but I don't think I would feel compelled to put "Ph.D." after my name on a book I wrote about... um... spiritual weather. <shrugs>
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