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Plausibly, OBErs and NDErs have greater dissociative tendencies than control groups because they are to dissociate. Dissociative tendencies, in turn, are correlated with nonpathological temporal lobe instability as measured by various temporal lobe signs (Richards and Persinger 1139). This suggests that those with greater temporal lobe instability be more prone to have NDEs than others—a hypothesis which is testable in any number of ways, one of which is suggested by Blackmore, who predicts "that the highest level of temporal lobe signs would be found in those who have NDEs when not medically near death, next highest in those who have NDEs near death and lowest in those who come close to death but have no NDE" (Blackmore, "Dying" 218). Though circumstantial, evidence of temporal lobe instability among NDErs comes from findings that NDErs report undergoing more mystical experiences than average their NDEs (Greyson and Stevenson 1195), and having more OBEs and 'psychic' experiences than non-NDErs (Kohr 160; Makarec and Persinger 838). Greyson and Stevenson also found that perceptions of time distortion were significantly correlated with ecstatic feelings during NDEs (Greyson and Stevenson 1195). These elements are associated with temporal lobe instability in non-NDE contexts, and there is no other apparent reason for them to be correlated in NDEs.

Nothing is known of Nahoway's mother

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Few dispute that OBEs and NDEs are altered states of consciousness (ASCs)—temporary departures from the normal (alert) waking state. During ASCs, a variety of mental faculties appear to be altered, including arousal, attention, perceptual functions, imagery skills, memory, cognition, and sense of identity. Other ASCs include REM dreaming, hypnagogic and hypnopompic dreams (when falling asleep or waking up, respectively), lucid dreams (where the dreamer is aware that he is dreaming), hypnosis, meditation, religious and mystical experiences, experiences during prolonged sensory deprivation, states induced by psychoactive drugs, and drug or posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) flashbacks. Sometimes ASCs follow a period of unconsciousness, but they are often triggered during normal consciousness.

Hallucinatory Near-Death Experiences

The fifth and most recent veridicality study was conducted by Bruce Greyson, Janice Minor Holden, and J. Paul Mounsey at the University of Virginia Health System Electrophysiology Clinic from January 2004 to July 2006 in order to demonstrate that "patients during cardiac arrest have perceptions that they could not have had normally from the position of their bodies," as this would provide profound "evidence for the independent functioning of the mind while the brain was physiologically impaired" (Greyson, Holden, and Mounsey 93). Following Lawrence's precedent, the University of Virginia study was premised on cardioversion, the controlled administration of an electric shock to the heart to restore normal heart rhythm. But whereas only about 30% of Lawrence's electrophysiology patients required cardioversion in order to restore a normal heart rhythm (of which 9% reported NDEs) (Lawrence 158), all 25 of the University of Virginia patients experienced at least two episodes of cardiac arrest in order to test implantable cardioverters/defibrillators (ICDs) (Greyson, Holden, and Mounsey 90).


[] A slightly different version of this paper was published in three parts in three consecutive issues of the in 2007, but this online version has been updated to reflect the final content of those three lead papers, as well as some material which I cut from those issues for space. Each part was followed by three or four commentaries and my reply to the commentaries. In her commentary on this part of this paper, Janice Holden conceded that this World War II case was a plausible candidate for a hallucinatory NDE. However, she rightly noted that it is open to an equally plausible alternative explanation:

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The cutting edge of near-death research lies in controlled tests of veridical paranormal perception during the out-of-body phase of those NDEs that include OBEs. The detection of remote visual targets during out-of-body NDEs has the potential to provide decisive evidence of consciousness functioning independently of the body, conceivably answering the survival question once and for all. Alternatively, if NDErs are given ample opportunities to identify remote visual targets during their experiences yet fail to do so, veridicality studies offer the prospect of confirming the hallucinatory nature of these experiences. Given the importance of such experiments in either establishing or falsifying veridical paranormal perception during NDEs, it would seem remiss to conclude this section without a survey of the results of NDE veridicality research conducted to date.

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[] Janice Holden suggested that Mrs. Davey's failure to see her body while ostensibly 'up on the ceiling' may have merely been an instance of "incomplete visual perception" rather than hallucination (Holden, "Heaven" 37). However, she notably cited Margot Grey's discovery that some out-of-body NDErs could not see their physical bodies even when they explicitly to see them (which is difficult to reconcile with the assumption that OBEs involve genuine perception of the physical area where the body would be), and in my reply I noted that in the majority of Oliver Fox's induced OBEs, Fox reported being unable to find his physical body lying on the bed despite explicitly looking for it there. I also noted that out-of-body discrepancies involving clearly perceptions—such as Robert Crookall's report of an OBEr who saw bars on his bedroom window that didn't exist—cannot be explained by selective attention to detail or preoccupation with something other than the location of one's physical body.