Near-Death Experiences

Near-death experiences (NDEs) are intensely vivid and often life-transforming experiences, many of which occur under extreme physiological conditions such as trauma, ceasing of brain activity, deep general anesthesia or cardiac arrest in which no awareness or sensory experiences should be possible according to the prevailing views in neuroscience.
Dr. Bruce Greyson

Dr. Greyson interviewing a near-death experiencer

List of Typical Features
  • sensation of leaving the body
  • mind functioning more clearly and rapidly than usual
  • sensation of being drawn into a tunnel or darkness
  • brilliant light, sometimes at the end of the tunnel
  • sense of peace, well-being, and/or unconditional love
  • sense of having access to unlimited knowledge
  • “life review” or recall of important events in the past
  • preview of future events yet to come
  • encounters with deceased loved ones, or other beings generally identified as religious figures

While these features are commonly reported, many NDEs differ from this pattern and include other elements. For example, some NDEs may be frightening or distressing rather than peaceful.

Have you had a NDE?

Contact Us – We are interested in hearing about all kinds of NDEs, particularly veridical ones. Veridical NDEs occur when experiencers acquire verifiable information that they could not have obtained by any normal means. For example, some experiencers report seeing events going on at a distant location, such as another room of the hospital. These cases bear on the question of whether the mind can function outside the physical body, and on whether we may survive bodily death.

If you would like to speak with other people who have had a near-death experience, you can find a list of support groups at the International Association of Near-Death Studies.

NDE - Anita Moorjani

Bruce Greyson, Anita Moorjani and Brian Walker, May 2019

Dr. Greyson, Anita Moorjani, and Dr. Walker

Anita Moorjani and her former doctor, Dr. Brian Walker, visited Dr. Greyson at DOPS in May 2019 for a lively discussion on the topic. Dr. Walker was a witness to Anita’s severely deteriorated medical condition before she had her NDE.

In her best-selling book “Dying to Be Me“, Anita describes the events and serious illness which led to her NDE, in addition to the life-affirming changes that followed for her after the experience.

NDE - Dr. Eben Alexander

Dr. Bruce Greyson, Anita Moorjani, and Dr. Eben Alexander visting DOPS, May 2019

Dr. Greyson, Anita Moorjani, and Dr. Alexander

Dr. Eben Alexander and Anita Moorjani had complex, medically documented illnesses at the time they experienced their NDEs. Both individuals were gravely ill at the time and their recoveries perplexed the attending medical professionals.

Eben, a neurosurgeon, wrote a best-selling book detailing his experience: “Proof of Heaven“. He also granted Dr. Greyson permission to review his medical records, resulting in an academic analysis of this case.

Fifty Years of Research - Dr. Bruce Greyson

Bruce Greyson and Marieta Pehlivanova

Dr. Greyson researching with Dr. Pehlivanova

Bruce Greyson, MD began his research into NDEs here at the University of Virginia in the mid-1970’s. Throughout his career, Dr. Greyson has studied over 1000 cases and documented the profound effects on individuals’ attitudes, beliefs, values, and personalities. His research has also shown why these experiences cannot be dismissed as dream states or hallucinations.

He continues to collaborate with esteemed scientific colleagues from all around the world, even after his retirement in 2015. At DOPS, he works with Dr. Marieta Pehlivanova, providing mentorship and collaboration on a variety of ongoing NDE research projects. Dr. Greyson’s extensive research on NDEs challenges us to think more deeper about the relationship between the mind and brain, as well as consider the possibility of consciousness surviving death.

To view Bruce’s personal website, click here