A Little NDE History

  • The earliest known description of a near-death experience was recounted by Plato in his "Myth of Er," found at the end of Book X of The Republic, which was written c. 420 B.C. Accounts can be found in the folklore and writings of European, Middle Eastern, African, East Indian, East Asian, Pacific and Native American cultures.11  
  • The term "near-death experience" was coined by Dr. Raymond Moody in his book Life After Life in 1975.12
  • The International Association for Near-Death Studies (IANDS) was formed in 1981 by a group of researchers subsequent to the outpouring of requests for more information about NDEs.  

Prevalence of NDEs

  • Surveys taken in the US13, Australia14 and Germany15 suggest that 4 to 15 % of the population have had NDEs.
  • Every day in the U.S., 774 NDEs occur, according to the Near-Death Experience Research Foundation (NDERF).16   
  • Of more than 800 near-death experiencers (NDErs) reporting to IANDS, 25% believed they were clinically dead at the time of their NDE.17
  • A large study conducted in the Netherlands showed that 18% of people who suffered a cardiac arrest and were clinically dead had later reported an NDE.18

Cross-Cultural Comparisons

Non-Western near-death research has been conducted in China, India, Thailand, Tibet, and in several native cultures in Australia, Chile, Guam, the continental U.S., New Zealand, and Hawaii.  Similarities to Western NDEs are the belief that this is the afterlife, a profound sense of peace, being in an otherworldly realm, meeting deceased relatives, meeting spiritual or religious figures (usually in keeping with one’s cultural background) and to a lesser extent experiencing some type of life review.  The tunnel sensation was rarely reported in non-Western cultures.19