Posted by: Jody Glynn Patrick | 06/17/2012

Consciousness Beyond Life: The Science

Recently I had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Pim van Lommel, author of the book Consciousness Beyond Life: The Science of the Near-Death Experience. I asked what he thought would happen when he died (not the most original question to ask a death researcher, but I was a bit tongue-tied in his presence, given my admiration of his work).

Pim Van Lommel, M.D., cardiologist, Dept. of Cardiology, Rijnstate Hospital; NDE Researcher & Author – Arnhem, The Netherlands (Photo by JGP)

He said he’s curious about that certainty, though due to his research, he has a positive expectation of enhanced consciousness. “Since the publication of several prospective studies on near-death experiences in survivors of cardiac arrest, with strikingly similar results and conclusions, the NDE can no longer be scientifically ignored,” he asserted. “It is an authentic experience which cannot be simply reduced to imagination, fear of death, hallucination, psychosis, the use of drugs, or oxygen deficiency.”

In his book, you can read the scientific experiments and experiences the cardiologist had with the near death experience (NDEs). He is credited with proving that an NDE becomes more likely the closer someone actually is to death, and he showed that the patients most likely to have a “deep” NDE experience (based on the 12 elements cited by Dr. Raymond Moody for an NDE experience) were the ones most able to “let go” and die. In his patient research, 43% of those who had a deep NDE died within 30 days.The “lighter” the NDE, the odds were that 21% would die within 30 days, compared to the control group in which only 9% of the cardiac patients with similar prognosis died.

Likewise, those with the strongest NDE experiences who survived also had the most impactful experience, in that it continued to influence their daily lives in a more noticeable and measurable way after survival.

A book review in the Washington Posts declares, “The evidence supports the validity of ‘near-death’ experience and suggests that scientists should rethink theories on one of the ultimate medical mysteries: the nature of human consciousness.”

“[Research] seems to be a source of new insights into the possibility of a continuity of our consciousness after physical death,” Lommel summarized. “There are good reasons to assume that our consciousness does not always coincide with the functioning of our brain.”

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