Spirit Daily

Researcher Says Between One And Five Million Have Caught Glimpse Of Eternity

By Michael H. Brown

We're always interested in so-called near-death experiences, where a person comes close to dying and seems to get a glimpse of the "other side." The accounts come from across the spectrum -- from atheists to devout Christians -- and are remarkably, often stunningly similar: a feeling of release from the body, a journey through a tunnel, a flight toward Christ's Light.

But we have always wondered exactly how many people have had such experiences. According to George Gallup Jr., the famous pollster, a survey in the early 1980s showed that as many as eight million Americans had some kind of otherworldly experience during a brush with death. Doctors, nurses, and especially hospice workers have much to tell -- confirming what religion has taught for ages: that the spirit or mind transcends physical death.

According to Janice Holden, professor of counseling at University of North Texas and president of the International Association for Near-Death Studies, a "reasonable estimate" of the number of Americans who have come close to death is three or four percent. "That's because resuscitation technology is such that a lot of people are being brought back from the brink of death," she told Spirit Daily, referring to that as "a near-death episode." In America, which has a population of 293 million, that tallies to between nine and twelve million.

Then there are those who actually feel they had a brush with the supernatural during such an episode, and Dr. Holden claims that "the research is clear on that." In her tally estimates run from 10 to 40 percent of those who come close to dying -- which means that between 900,000, or nearly a million, and 4.8 million -- a mean of 2.8 million Americans, and more than 50 million around the world, have reported an actual near-death experience (not just approaching the brink, or a feeling of the unusual, as in the Gallup study, but something more).

Research in this realm has evolved from religious and parapsychological groups, to organizations staffed with psychiatrists and medical doctors who are documenting cases in which patients seem able to describe circumstances surrounding their "deaths" that would be impossible using the normal senses. Dr. Holden is currently involved in one such study.

Relatively common are accounts of patients who have been able to recount what nurses and doctors said while they were under heavy anesthesia. More impressively, some can also describe what has occurred out of normal earshot or view, including in other hospital rooms. In one case, Dr. Holden cited the instance in which a woman named Pam Reynolds was able to recount the hospital scene even when she was in a state of what is known as "stand still." To operate on a brain aneurism, surgeons had brought her through a daring procedure whereby her heart and breathing were stopped, her brainwaves flattened, and her blood lowered to 60 degrees in temperature and drained from her head.

Despite that provably "deadened" state, Pam was able to describe intricate details of the instruments that had been employed on her. "It was very weird," says Dr. Holden. "They actually 'kill' a person and drain the head of blood, so they can go in and do the repair. Then they tilt them back up level and pump the blood back in and warm them back up and start the heart again. She had this procedure, and during this she had a near-death experience and reported to them that when they had started to insert the needle to extract blood, they went into an artery and had trouble with the veins on one side. She said she was watching from over the shoulder of the main surgeon and described the sounds and what the bone saw looked like."

The details, reported doctors, were true to the smallest detail. Beyond that, many report an experience of being whisked through a tunnel, seeing their entire lives flash before them, catching a glimpse of an incredible landscape, often with indescribable "buildings," and encountering angels or Christ.

Feb 2004

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