Advertisement

About the Continuity of Our Consciousness

  • Pim van Lommel
Part of the Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology book series (AEMB, volume 550)

Abstract

Some people who have survived a life-threatening crisis report an extraordinary experience. Near-death experiences (NDE) occur with increasing frequency because of improved survival rates resulting from modern techniques of resuscitation. The content of NDE and the effects on patients seem similar worldwide, across all cultures and times. The subjective nature and absence of a frame of reference for this experience lead to individual, cultural, and religious factors determining the vocabulary used to describe and interpret the experience. NDE can be defined as the reported memory of the whole of impressions during a special state of consciousness, including a number of special elements such as out-of-body experience, pleasant feelings, seeing a tunnel, a light, deceased relatives, or a life review. Many circumstances are described during which NDE are reported, such as cardiac arrest (clinical death), shock after loss of blood, traumatic brain injury or intra-cerebral haemorrhage, near-drowning or asphyxia, but also in serious diseases not immediately life-threatening. Similar experiences to near-death ones can occur during the terminal phase of illness, and are called deathbed visions. Furthermore, identical experiences, so-called “fear-death” experiences, are mainly reported after situations in which death seemed unavoidable like serious traffic or mountaineering accidents. The NDE is transformational, causing profound changes of life-insight and loss of the fear of death. An NDE seems to be a relatively regularly occurring, and to many physicians an inexplicable phenomenon and hence an ignored result of survival in a critical medical situation.

Keywords

Cardiac Arrest Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation Brain Death Life Review Clear Consciousness 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

References

  1. 1.
    Van Lommel W, Van Wees R, Meyers V, Elfferich I. Near-death experience in survivors of cardiac arrest: a prospective study in the Netherlands. Lancet 2001; 358: 2039–2045.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Greyson B. Incidence and correlates of near-death experiences in a cardiac care unit. Gen Hosp Psychiatry 2003; 25: 269–276.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. 3.
    Parnia S, Waller DG, Yeates R, Fenwick P. A qualitative and quantitative study of the incidence, features and aetiology of near death experiences in cardiac arrest survivors. Resuscitation 2001; 48: 149–156.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. 4.
    Ritchie G.G. Return from Tomorrow. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Chosen Books of The Zondervan Corp., 1978.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Blackmore S. Dying to Live: Science and the Near-Death Experience. London: Grafton - An imprint of Harper Collins Publishers, 1993.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Appelby L. Near-death experience: analogous to other stress induced physiological phenomena. BMJ 1989; 298: 976–977.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Owens JE, Cook EW, Stevenson 1. Features of “near-death experience” in relation to whether or not patients were near death. Lancet 1990; 336: 1175–1177.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Penfield W. The Excitable Cortex in Conscious Man. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1958.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Meduna LT. Carbon Dioxide Therapy: A Neuropsychological Treatment of Nervous Disorders. Springfield: Charles C. Thomas, 1950.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Whinnery JE, Whinnery AM. Acceleration-induced loss of consciousness. Arch Neurol 1990; 47: 764–776.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Lempert T, Bauer M, Schmidt D. Syncope and Near-Death Experience. Lancet 1994; 344: 829–830.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Jansen K. Neuroscience, Ketamine and the Near-Death Experience: The Role of Glutamate and the NMDA-Receptor, In: The Near-Death Experience: A Reader. Bailey LW, Yates J, eds. New York and London: Routledge, 1996: 265–282.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Grof S, Halifax J. The Human Encounter with Death. New York: Dutton, 1977.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Schröter-Kunhardt M. Nah-Todeserfahrungen aus Psychiatrisch-Neurologischer Sicht. In: Knoblaub H, Soeffner HG, eds. Todesnähe: Interdisziplinäre Zugänge zu Einem Außergewöhnlichen Phänomen. Konstanz: Universitätsverlag Konstanz, 1999: 65–99.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Sabom MB. Light and Death: One Doctor’s Fascinating Account of Near-Death Experiences: “The Case of Pam Reynolds.” In chapter 3: Death: The Final Frontier. Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1998: 37–52.Google Scholar
  16. 16.
    Ring K, Cooper S. Mindsight: Near-Death and Out-Of-Body Experiences in the Blind. Palo Alto: William James Center for Consciousness Studies, 1999.Google Scholar
  17. 17.
    Gopalan KT, Lee J, Ikeda S, Burch CM. Cerebral blood flow velocity during repeatedly induced ventricular fibrillation. J Clin Anesth 1999;11 (4):290–295.Google Scholar
  18. 18.
    De Vries JW, Bakker PFA, Visser GH, Diephuis JC, A.C. Van Huffelen AC. Changes in cerebral oxygen uptake and cerebral electrical activity during defibrillation threshold testing. Anesth Analg 1998; 87: 16–20.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Clute H, Levy WJ. Electroencephalographic changes during brief cardiac arrest in humans. Anesthesiology 1990; 73: 821–825.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Losasso TJ, Muzzi DA, Meyer FB, Sharbrough FW. Electroencephalographic monitoring of cerebral function during asystole and successful cardiopulmonary resuscitation. Anesth Analg 1992; 75: 12–19.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Pamia S, Fenwick P. Near-death experiences in cardiac arrest: visions of a dying brain or visions. Review article. Resuscitation 2002; 52: 5–11.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Smith DS, Levy W, Maris M, Chance B. Reperfusion hyperoxia in the brain after circulatory arrest in humans. Anesthesiology 1990; 73: 12–19.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Desmedt JE, Robertson D. Differential enhancement of early and late components of the cerebral somatosensory evoked potentials during forced-paced cognitive tasks in man. J Physiol 1977; 271: 76 1782.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Roland PE, Friberg L. Localization in cortical areas activated by thinking. J Neurophysiol 1985; 53: 1219 1243.Google Scholar
  25. 25.
    Eccles JC. The effect of silent thinking on the cerebral cortex. Truth Journal, International Interdisciplinary Journal of Christian Thought 1988:Vol 2.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Roland PE. Somatotopical tuning of postcentral gyms during focal attention in man. A regional cerebral blood flow study. JNeurophysiol 1981; 46: 744–754.Google Scholar
  27. 27.
    Libet B. Subjective antedating of a sensory experience and mind-brain theories: Reply to Honderich (1984). J Theor Biol 1985; 144: 563–570.Google Scholar
  28. 28.
    Bierman DJ, Radin DI. Anomalous anticipatory response on randomised future conditions. Percept Mot Skills 1997; 84: 689–690.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Bierman DJ, Scholte HS. A fMRI brain imaging study of presentiment. Journal of ISLIS 2002;20(2):280288.Google Scholar
  30. 30.
    Romijn H. About the origin of consciousness. A new, multidisciplinary perspective on the relationship between brain and mind. Proc Kon Ned Akad v Wetensch 1977; 100 (1–2): 181–267.Google Scholar
  31. 31.
    Romijn H. Are Virtual Photons the Elementary Carriers of Consciousness? Journal of Consciousness Studies 2002; 9: 61–81.Google Scholar
  32. 32.
    Hallett M. Transcranial magnetic stimulation and the human brain. Nature 2000; 406: 147–150.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Penfield W. The excitable cortex in conscious man. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 1958.Google Scholar
  34. 34.
    Penfield W. The Mystery of the Mind. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1975.Google Scholar
  35. 35.
    Blanke O, Ortigue S, Landis T, Seeck M. Stimulating illusory own-body perceptions. The part of the brain that can induce out-of-body experiences has been located. Nature 2002; 419: 269–270.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Penrose R. Shadows of the mind. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996.Google Scholar
  37. 37.
    Berkovich SY. On the information processing capabilities of the brain: shifting the paradigm. Nanobiology 1993; 2: 99–107.Google Scholar
  38. 38.
    Bohr N, Kalckar J, editors. Collected Works. Volume 6: Foundations of Quantum Physics I (1926–1932). Amsterdam, New York: North Holland, 1997: 91–94.Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Aspect A, Dalibard J, Roger G. Experimental tests of Bell’s inequality using varying analyses. Phys Rev Lett 1982; 25: 1084.Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    Heisenberg W. Schritte über Grenze. Munchen: R. Piper + Co Verlag, 1971.Google Scholar
  41. 41.
    Walach H, Hartmann R. Complementarity is a useful concept for consciousness studies. A Reminder. Neuroendrocrinol Lett 2000; 21: 221–232.Google Scholar
  42. 42.
    Hameroff S, Penrose R. Orchestrated reduction of quantum coherence in brain microtubules. In: Proceedings of the international neural Network Society, Washington DC, Erlbaum, Hillsdale, NJ, 1995.Google Scholar
  43. 43.
    Thaheld F. Biological non-locality and the mind-brain interaction problem: comments on a new empirical approach. Biosystems 2003; 2209: 1–7.Google Scholar
  44. 44.
    Wackermann J, Seiter C, Keibel H, Walach H. Correlations between electrical activities of two spatially separated human subjects. Neurosci Lett 2003; 336: 60–64.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. 45.
    Ridley M. Genome. The autobiography of a species in 13 chapters. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 2000.Google Scholar
  46. 46.
    Mantegna RN, et al. Linguistic features of non-coding DNA sequences. Phys Rev Lett 1994; 73: 31–69.Google Scholar
  47. 47.
    Berkovich SY. On the “Barcode” Functionality of the DNA, or the Phenomenon of Life in the Physical Universe. Pittsburgh: Dorrance Publishing CO, 2003 ).Google Scholar
  48. 48.
    Schrödinger E. What is Life? Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1944.Google Scholar
  49. 49.
    Hameroff S. Quantum computing in DNA www.consciousness.arizona.eduGoogle Scholar
  50. 50.
    Sylvia C, Novak W. Change of Heart. New York: Little, Brown, 1997.Google Scholar
  51. 51.
    Pearsall P. The Heart’s Code. New York: Broadway Books, Bantam Doubleday Dell, Inc, 1998.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Pim van Lommel
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of CardiologyHospital RijnstateArnhemThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations