On August 31, 2007, Time magazine posted on their website an in-depth article on NDEs that was also published in their print edition. You can read this article by clicking here.
The Time article does a good job of offering a balanced presentation of the varying opinions of NDE researchers, including those who believe that only a physiological basis can explain NDEs and those who believe that traditional scientific models do not offer adequate explanations. That is, the presentation is balanced until the last paragraph.
Unfortunately, the reporter's bias is revealed in the last paragraph, contradicting much of what he had previously written: "On balance, it's almost certain that NDEs happen in the theater of one's mind, and that in the absence of resuscitation, it's the brain's final sound and light show, followed by oblivion."
However, until that point, the article gives a good summary of some of the research being done today, quotes several of the most prominent researchers, and discusses the major controversies about the role of the brain and what causes NDEs. Below are additional resources for a more in-depth understanding of the issues raised.
- Overview: The very best review of the traditional explanatory models that have been proposed for NDEs, and why none seem to adequately explain this phenomenon, is the presentation by Dr. Bruce Greyson at last year's IANDS conference at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center. This talk is available on DVD and can be obtained by clicking here. We highly recommend this DVD for anyone interested in this subject - there simply is no better resource. Actually, many of the presentations available on DVD or as audio files from the first two days of the 2006 conference deal with the issues raised in this article, such as verifiable out-of body experiences, cross cultural studies, etc. For details go to IANDS 2006 Conference presentations.
- Ketamine: The Time article raises the idea, heavily researched by psychiatrist Karl Jansen, that "an NDE (or something closely resembling it) can be induced by an anesthetic drug, ketamine." The role of ketamine in NDEs was explored in great detail when the Journal of Near-Death Studies devoted an entire issue to the subject in the Fall of 1997. This issue (vol. 16, no. 1) can be ordered at Journal of Near-Death Studies Vol. 16.
- Papers on the IANDS Website: Several papers posted on the IANDS website at Important Studies directly address some of the issues in the Time article.
- The idea that out-of-body experiences can be induced by electrical stimulation of the brain, as claimed by a study in 2002 led by Swiss neuroscientist Olaf Blanke, is addressed in the paper titled "Out-of-Body Experiences: All in the Brain?".
- The subject of NDEs and REM Intrusion is covered in great detail by Time. The hypothesis that the sleep disorder REM Intrusion might play a causative role as claimed by some researchers is challenged point by point in the article titled "REM Intrusion and NDEs".
- Finally, Dr. Pim van Lommel from the Netherlands, the lead researcher of the largest hospital-based study of NDEs in cardiac arrest patients, is quoted extensively in the Time article. He wrote a fascinating paper posted on this web page that goes into far more detail on his theories of consciousness. We highly recommend it.
As mentioned above, these three papers can be read on the IANDS website at Important Studies.