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Medical Thinking oneself to death

  1. Dec 13, 2005 #1
    Suppose u have a perfectly healthy individual.
    Is it possible for him to think himself to death?

    Some ideas i had:
    For example by meditating so intensively that one feels the ego dissolve and consciousness leave the body. Another example is this part in the matrix where they say: "if you die in the matrix, you die in real". Or another example, to be hypnotised to shut down ones own brainfunctions. Ive read some hypnotic regression tales where the person thought that if the regression would go any further, that he would die. (Un)fortunately, the regression was then stopped, so I dont know if he would have really died.
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  3. Dec 13, 2005 #2
    I haven't looked in this in any detail, but there's anecdotal evidence that if a person believes strongly enough they are dying they will die. Examples of this come from primitive societies where someone believes they've been cursed to die one way or another. However, I've only read anecdotes, no serious studies.

    There was a similar thing proven on a recent TV show about a martial arts teacher who claimed to be able to knock opponents unconscious by "throwing" energy at them. They showed tape of him doing it to his students.

    It turned out, though, that practitioners of this technique couldn't get it to work on skeptics. In other words, it only worked on people who didn't question the teacher had the power: they hypnotized themselves into fainting when he went through his routine.
  4. Dec 13, 2005 #3


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    Along a similar line, I've often heard that if you die in your dreams, you will die in real life, hence waking up just before you hit the ground in a falling dream etc. Is there any evidence at all for this? Granted, it is impossible to prove that someone was dreaming about their death before they died unexpectadly, but I'd still appreciate any input. Perhaps someone has anecdotal evidence opposing this?
  5. Dec 13, 2005 #4


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    Hi all,

    Hypnosis may induce strange things but self-hypnosis that creates a such danger for body/brain remains dubious.
    Homeostasis is based on old brains autonomic structures and we have few controls on these nuclei.

    You could try to stop breath for a while and trained people may stop their breathing and die. Some may slow their heart...
    But it needs long, long trainings.

    Common people are driven by their urgent survival behaviours.
    It is very difficult to override the "life" within us.
  6. Dec 13, 2005 #5
    I see what you mean. It doesn't seem there's any possibility of someone overriding their autonomic system enough to cease living.

    If there's any truth to these stories about primitive societies it could be that the person becomes so depressed and lethargic from believing they're cursed that they stop eating and drinking, and that's what kills them.
  7. Dec 13, 2005 #6
    Which would be in the form of a report of someone having a dream that they died from which they awoke perfectly alive.
  8. Dec 14, 2005 #7
    I've had 2-3 death dreams in my lifetime, if that means anything.
    Unfortunately, I'm in a bit of a hurry finishing C++ homework before the final, so I don't have time to go into great detail (maybe fortunate after all).

    A summary of the most vivid experience:
    In the clearest one I got shot (where exactly I don't remember, but I'm guessing someplace in the chest, since I didn't die immediately and my breath was arrested), and dreamt a slow death. My breathing became extremely difficult the second I was shot, and in about 5-10 seconds - which seemed longer - my entire body felt like it was falling asleep painfully (like when you sit on a limb - not peacefully drift off to lala land). I felt an extremely intense headrush rolling in with blaring tinnitus, and I remember thinking to myself frantically, "stop thinking, stop wasting oxygen, if you can just stop yourself you can last until help arrives." The last bit was weirdest of all; I couldn't stop my stream of frenzied thoughts, and in the dream whatever bit of my mind was utilized was killed by the strain under anoxia (unrealistic, but not at the time) so I could just feel my mind falling to pieces as I used it (involuntarily). The last moment before I woke up was just a blast of raw, uninterpreted sentience. Like willing powerfully a sleeping limb to move and only having it twitch, my mind was just feebly emitting useless and irrelevant associations while the now undiluted experience of existing flooded through overwhelmingly (though I couldn't even really realize it until after I woke).
    When I did wake, my heart was POUNDING, like I just ran my record 800 meter, and my head hurt like hell. I recall shivering for like 5 minutes after I woke up. I was about 14-15.

    Last edited: Dec 14, 2005
  9. Dec 14, 2005 #8
    Like cotarded I have also had similar dreams. In one I fell off a building roughly about 200ft from the ground and I hit the ground but I didn't die. I think one of the reasons why some people don't die from dieing in dreams is porbably because right before you die in the dream you realize you are dreaming hence you know that you won't actually die so you continue to live in the dream ( usually though I wake up not long after I was supposed to die). I don't know though this is just speculation on my part. I'll probably discuss this more with cotarded later.
  10. Dec 14, 2005 #9
    Don't forget to eat. The brain is physical and has nutritional requirements. Take a break; the mind works better after refreshment.
  11. Dec 14, 2005 #10
    Ive also had some deathdreams, and I also woke up a moment before death. (perhaps this is also what happens with real death - u wake up into another reality and realise u didnt really die) The most recent one happened a few months ago and i remember i was holding my breath and almost suffocated myself when i woke up. I think i was drowning in the dream but i dont remember.

    Ages ago there was a TV show where a russian guy was supposed to stop his own heartbeat while underwater in an aquarium for 15 minutes. Unfortunately it didnt happen because either the show thought it was too dangerous, or the guy didnt show up.

    While reading near-death-experiences ive also come across an account where a person was asleep and dreaming. The dream suddenly changed and he knew he was dying, left his body and knew that it was no longer a dream. He survived, but apparently it was so real that he thought it was a near-death-experience.
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