Near-Death Experiences (NDEs)
Near-Death Experiences 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 of any kind should be possible according to the prevailing views in neuroscience.
A near-death experience, or NDE, is a common pattern of events that many people experience when they are experiencing intense threat, are seriously ill or come close to death. Although NDEs vary from one person to another, they often include such features as the following:
- feeling very comfortable and free of pain
- a sensation of leaving the body, sometimes being able to see the physical body while floating above it
- the mind functioning more clearly and more rapidly than us
- a sensation of being drawn into a tunnel or darkness
- a brilliant light, sometimes at the end of the tunnel
- a sense of overwhelming peace, well-being, or absolute, unconditional love
- a sense of having access to unlimited knowledge
- a “life review,” or recall of important events in the past
- a preview of future events yet to come
- encounters with deceased loved ones, or with other beings that may be identified as religious figures
While these features are commonly reported, many NDEs differ from this pattern and include other elements. For example, some near-death experiences may be frightening or distressing rather than peaceful. We are interested in hearing about all kinds of near-death and similar experiences, and in studying their effect upon persons who have them.
We are particularly interested in studying NDEs that may bear on the question of whether the mind can function outside the physical body, and on whether we may survive bodily death. One such type of experience is the so-called veridical NDE, in which experiencers acquire verifiable information that they could not have obtained by any normal means. For example, some experiencers report seeing events going on at some distant location, such as another room of the hospital; or an experiencer might meet a deceased loved one who then communicates verifiable information the experiencer had not known. Other kinds of NDEs that may bear on the mind/body question include those in which mental functioning seems to be enhanced despite physiological evidence that the brain is impaired.
The causes of NDEs are complex and not fully known. While many medical and psychological explanations have been offered, they remain speculative and often fall short of explaining the entire phenomenon.
Participate in Research:
Near-Death Experiences, IRB-SBS Protocol #1999-0116-00: If you are over age 18, currently healthy and would like to share a near-death experience of any type with the researchers at the Division of Perceptual Studies, please see the link for Contacting Us.
Investigation of Therapeutic Outcomes in Near-Death Experiencers, IRB-SBS Protocol #2377: Dr. Marieta Pehlivanova and Dr. Bruce Greyson are currently collecting data for this study and would like to encourage your participation if you belong to one of the two groups described below:
Group 1) Call for mental health professionals or counselors who have worked with near-death experiencers. If you are interested in enrolling in the mental health professionals part of this research study, please follow this link to the online questionnaire.
Group 2) Call for people 18 and older who have had a near-death experience for this part of the study. If you are interested in enrolling in the near-death experiencer part of this research study, please follow this link to the online questionnaire.
Author and NDE experiencer Anita Moorjani, and her former doctor at the time of her profound NDE, Dr. Brian Walker, visited Dr. Greyson in May of 2019 to exchange rich, thought-provoking ideas around the fascinating topic of near-death experiences.
Dr. Brian Walker and Anita recording an interesting interview while they were visiting us at the UVA Division of Perceptual Studies.
We invite you to watch this video of Anita Moorjani and Brian Walker.
Authors and near-death experiencers Eben Alexander and Anita Moorjani had complex, medically documented serious illnesses at the time they experienced their profound and life-altering near-death experiences. Both were gravely ill and their recoveries in both cases astounded and perplexed the attending medical professionals.
Anita and Eben have published best selling books describing their transformative near-death experiences and the dire medical circumstances leading up to them. Eben Alexander’s book is called “Proof of Heaven” and Anita Moorjani’s book is called “Dying to Be Me”
Anita and Eben met with Bruce Greyson and the DOPS researchers earlier this week to discuss their experiences with us. During their visit, our research staff enjoyed a facinating discussion regarding the many layers of life affirming aftereffects of near-death experiences.
Please refer to Eben Alexander’s Website for more information about his many offerings including new books and other products.
Please refer to Anita Moorjani’s Website for more information about her many offerings including new books and other products.
- Books about the research being done at DOPS into near-death experiences:
We invite you to view a list of books about near-death experiences by our faculty, which includes a recent book which is co-authored and co-edited by Dr. Bruce Greyson-one of the leading authorities on the study of near-death experiences. Please see Dr. Greyson’s most recent book publication, The Handbook of Near-Death Experiences: Thirty Years of Investigation.
- Academic publications on near-death experiences:
For a list of academic papers specifically on the study of near-death experience written by our faculty, please see Publications on NDEs.
Numerous articles and books about various aspects of NDEs have been written by members of our staff. In addition, you may want to look over a list of recommended books by other authors pertaining to the topic of NDE’s.
- Videos, magazine articles, podcasts and radio interviews about the research into NDE’s:
View the Media on the research into NDE’s.
- Expanded List of Publications:
To view the expanded list of publications generated by the UVA Division of Perceptual Studies researchers, go to the Academic Publications Page.