2004 Chicago

2004 North American Conference


June 24 - 26
Best Western University Plaza
Evanston, IL

Note: Presentations are listed
in the order that they appeared
during the conference.


The 2004 IANDS conference featured Professor Steven Fanning from the University of Illinois describing his life review and its implications for all of us - one of the best descriptions ever of this very powerful experience; British researcher Dr. Peter Fenwick offering an engaging and personal perspective on NDE research to date; and Dr. David Kessler, a leading expert on end-of-life care and collaborator with Elizabeth Kubler Ross until her death - plus presentations on the impact of NDEs on the creative spirit and panels of experiencers describing what happened during their NDEs.


2004 Chicago


Full set of 29 Presentations on one MP3 CD

Order this one CD with all 29 presentations that were recorded from the 2004 conference as MP3 files. Listen to them in your car (most newer cars have MP3 compatible CD players) , on your computer, or download them to an iPod or other MP3 player.
Non-member price: $59.95; Save $30 - Member Price: $29.95
(If you are not a member of IANDS, click on the "Become a Member" button above on the right for details.)
 order cd button

Using Your Experience and Creativity in the Service of Others: Your Mission in End-of-Life Care

David Kessler


David Kessler is fast gaining a reputation as one of the best known experts in the field of hospice and end-of-life care today, as a result of reaching hundreds of thousands of people through his books.  His newest book is LIFE LESSONS, two experts on death and dying teach us about the mysteries of life and living, which is co-authored with Elisabeth Kübler Ross, who will be receiving IANDS' 2004 Lifetime Achievement Award at this year's conference.

His first book, THE NEEDS OF THE DYING: a guide for bringing hope, comfort and love to life's final chapter, is often the number one best-selling hospice book in the USA and received praise from Mother Teresa a few months before her death.  It is published by Harper Collins Publishing and has been translated and published in over 11 countries worldwide.

David has helped thousands of men, women and children face life and death with peace, dignity and courage. His experiences have taken him from the Auschwitz concentration camp to Mother Teresa's Home for the Dying Destitute in Calcutta. His services have been used by Elizabeth Taylor, Jamie Lee Curtis and Marianne Williamson when their loved ones faced life challenging illnesses.  He also worked with Anthony Perkins, Michael Landon and industrialist Armand Hammer when they faced their own deaths.  He is no stranger to disaster and trauma. He has often worked with the loss and grief of mass casualties, volunteering his services as a member of the Red Cross's Aviation Disaster team (the Aspen plane crash) and as a Special Reserve Police Officer for the Los Angeles Police Department's trauma team.  He works with the next of kin as well as survivors (e.g.the Singapore Airlines crash). In addition to his expertise in grief and loss, the Red Cross and the Los Angeles Police Department have trained him for the most critical, tragic and horrific situations possible, which of course included 9/11, and Ground Zero.

David takes his experiences and turns them into inspiring and motivational lectures for audiences around the world. He also teaches therapists, doctors and nurses on grief and loss and leads a support group for people with cancer. David is a certified trainer through the American Medical Association/EPEC program (EPEC- Education for Professionals on End of life Care). In his daily work he is Director of Palliative Care for Citrus Valley Health Partners, which has three hospitals and home hospice as well as a freestanding in-patient hospice unit in the Los Angeles area with over 900 physicians and 2,000 nurses.

His work has been discussed in the "Los Angeles Times", the "New York Times", "Business Week" and "Life Magazine", and has been featured on CNN-Cross Fire, NBC, MSNBC, PBS, "Entertainment Tonight" and "Sally Jessy Raphael." He recently wrote articles on end of life care for the Boston Globe and The San Francisco Chronicle. For more information and resources, please visit

There is a related web site (opens in a new window).

Improvisations from the Other Side--Musical Performance

Diane Willis & John Fish


In Spring 1995, Diane Willis traveled through a black tunnel, saw a white light and her life was changed forever.  Since then, she has been guided "from one amazing experience to another", as she set about accomplishing the mission she was given: to help others lose their fear of death.  In May, 1998, Diane was guided to start the Chicago chapter of IANDS.  She also spends time working in hospice, consulting with people who have death-related issues, and teaching flute.  Being a Gemini, she has to have two paths going and after a trip to Egypt (on three days notice) in 1995, she was led to start improvising music, a skill she did not have before she went to the other side.  She has performed on her Native American flutes with some of the world's greatest spiritual teachers, including Louise Hay, Marianne Williamson, Caroline Myss, Ron Roth, Sonia Choquette, Paul Winter and others.  She facilitates the Chicago Native Flutes Circle, a monthly meeting which explores many aspects of the Native American flute and flute-playing.  Her first CD, Improvisations From the Other Side: Healing Music for Meditation and Relaxation, was released in August 2003.  She is currently on IANDS' board of directors.

John Fish has always been passionate about making music with other musicians and singers.  Highlights of his career include being Music Director of the University Theater Summer Repertory at the University of Illinois and accompanying Tony-nominated actor, John Herrera.  John and Diane first collaborated when their mutual friend, Ginnie Hartzer, invited them to play for her son's wedding in September, 2000.  Discovering a shared interest in improvisation, the two got together one evening in a studio and, with no preparation or plan, simply started playing.  Diane and John were amazed by how this music evolved and they knew that there was a greater guidance at work here.  Timing was obviously important because although they had the music ready, the energy surrounding the CD didn't intensify until Summer of 2003, when everything suddenly fell into place to create this offering.

There is a related web site (opens in a new window).

The Creative Implications of the Life Review

Steven Fanning, Ph.D.


Steve Fanning is a history professor who spent two weeks in a coma in 1988 that left him paralyzed.  After he returned to consciousness, he was miraculously healed and learned to walk, despite his doctor's prognosis that walking would be neurologically impossible for him.  During the coma, Steve had a near-death experience through which it was revealed that he had to rearrange his life.  From that point on, he began listening to his conscience, ignoring his ego, and started studying mysticism, which resulted in a highly-respected book, Mystics of the Christian Tradition.  Steve will discuss his NDE and his life review, and will focus on the impact that they had upon him.

Steve Fanning received his B.A. and M.A. degrees in History from Texas Tech University and his Ph.D. in History from the University of Minnesota.  He was Assistant Dean in the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, University of Illinois at Chicago, from 1996-1999 and a member of the Department of History there since 1980.  Before that he was a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of History at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville and the University of Minnesota.  Besides the book previously mentioned, he also wrote A Bishop and His World Before the Gregorian Reform: Hubert of Angers, 1006-1047.  He has published many articles in magazines, journals and encyclopedias and has received many grants and awards for his work.

Enhanced Creativity After a Near-Death Experience

Robert M. Magrisso, M.D.


When Dr. Magrisso had a heart attack and NDE in August of 1995, his world was changed.  After his recovery, he saw a need to integrate his mystical experience into his scientifically oriented life.  He will speak about how he went about this and where it has led him, both personally and professionally.  He will share slides of his artwork with particular emphasis on the relationship of his art to his near-death experience.

Robert Magrisso is a physician, artist, and writer.  Besides maintaining a busy private practice, he is Associate Medical Director at the Palliative Care Center of North Shore, Instructor at Northwestern University Medical School, and Senior Attending Physician for Evanston Northwestern Healthcare.  He is an Advisory Member of Chicago-IANDS' Board of Directors.  As an artist, Robert participated in a recent show "Inner Spaces" at the ARC Gallery in Chicago (Oct. 2002).  As a writer, he has authored various articles, published in Seeds of Unfolding-Spiritual Ideas for Daily Living (a quarterly journal of the Cafh Foundation), and "Three Lessons" in the Journal of the American Medical Association.  He has presented on the topic of his NDE at Medical Grand Rounds at Evanston and Cook County hospitals and at a Chicago-IANDS meeting.  He has also spoken on the topic "Life-threatening Illness and Spiritual Unfolding" at the C. G. Jung Institute of Chicago, and (with Amy Peterman, Ph.D.) at the national meeting of the American Association of Hospice and Palliative Care Medicine (2001).

How Carl Jung's Two NDEs Affected His Creative Work

Robert Moretti, Psy.D.


Robert Moretti will speak on the influence of two near-death experiences upon the noted Swiss psychologist Carl Jung's creative work.  One of these experiences was a psychological near-death, when Jung was perilously close to madness after his break with Freud.  The other experience was a more conventional, physical near-death experience later in life.  Both experiences were followed by periods of intense creative work, and each period of creativity was definitive in terms of Jung's unique contributions.

Robert Moretti received his Postdoctoral Diploma in Analytical Psychology from the C.G.  Jung Institute (Chicago) in 1997.  His other degrees include a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Loyola University (Chicago, 1982); an M.A. from the University of Chicago (1976); and a B.S in Psychology from Loyola.  He has been in private practice of clinical and health-related psychology since 1995, and is on the staff of Northwestern Memorial Hospital.  Dr. Moretti has been Associate Professor of Clinical Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences since 1991 at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine.  He is also on the faculty at the Jung Institute of Chicago (1993-present), and has had academic responsibilities at the Dental School of Northwestern University, Loyola University of Chicago, DeLourdes College, St. Mary of Nazareth Hospital School of Nursing, and North Central College in Naperville, IL.

Creating Comedy Out of Crisis: A Humorist's Response to the Near-Death Experience

Kimberly Clark Sharp, M.S.W.


Recently billed by Chicago-IANDS as a "near-death comedienne," Kimberly will share the outright funny aspects of her NDE and its aftereffects.  She will also add some amusing incidents from the near-death experiences of NDErs she has come to know since she founded Seattle-IANDS in 1982.  Renowned for delivering serious information in comical packages, Kimberly will address the 'usefulness of goofiness' as a coping mechanism.  She hopes to send the audience away with strategies that can be used to "create comedy out of crisis."

Kimberly Clark Sharp received her Master of Social Work from the University of Washington in 1976, pioneered the field of Critical Care Social Work, and founded the Department of Social Work at the world's first bone marrow transplant center.  She was Clinical Assistant Professor at the University of Washington for over twenty years, and was named one of the forty most influential people under the age of 40 in the Pacific Northwest in 1987.  In 1995, she authored After the Light and has published articles in many journals, textbooks and magazines.  She frequently speaks at conferences worldwide, and is often called upon as a consultant to the news and entertainment industry as a spokesperson for the near-death experience.  Kimberly considers her greatest accomplishments that of being a cancer survivor and a happy wife and mother.

Opened Awareness from My NDE

Marlene Krohner


Before her NDE twelve years ago, Marlene Krohner did not believe in "psychic abilities."  During her NDE she contracted to come back and help others to heal.  Since then, Marlene has continued to discover how the NDE has transformed her life.  She will discuss the milestones in her process of healing, first her own childhood abuse wounds, and then discovering her gifts of creativity, including the motivation to write a book, to begin painting, and to accept speaking engagements.  She also has learned that she is able to communicate with spirits on the other side.  Marlene will describe how this skill has facilitated healing for numerous people in need of connection and closure with loved ones who have crossed over.

Ms. Krohner received her Bachelor of Science degree from Wayne State University in 1970.  She is an art teacher and an artist, author of Rag Doll: A Journey of Healing and Integration, and a regular speaker in psychology classes at Western Michigan University, University of Colorado, Schoolcraft Community College, and Northwestern Michigan College.  She was a speaker at the 1999 and 2003 IANDS conferences.  She is married and has two adult children.

Finding Words for the Indescribable: Creatively Writing Out the NDE

Paul Bernstein, Ph.D. & Ken Prather


Two or more writers and NDErs will describe their struggles and creative solutions for conveying the 'ineffable' or inexpressible near-death experience-what nearly every experiencer says is largely 'beyond words'.  Audience members, too, will be invited to share their own past efforts at putting their NDEs into words, when trying to help family, friends, caregivers, or the public-at-large understand what they have gone through.

Paul Bernstein has worked as a free-lance and technical writer for over 20 years.  His clients have included Compaq Computers, Hewlett-Packard, Cisco Systems and other high-tech companies, as well as The Boston Globe, Progressive Magazine, Christianity & Crisis, In These Times, Working Papers for a New Society, and the Czech weekly Respekt.  Volunteer journalism which he created for National Public Radio was granted an award by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.  Dr. Bernstein also has taught and conducted social science research at the University of California, Boston College, and the Center for Psychology and Social Change (in Cambridge, Massachusetts).  From 1999 to 2002 he served on IANDS' Board of Directors and, since 2001, he has been the Editor of IANDS' magazine, Vital Signs.

Ken Prather is a hospice and near-death counselor in Fort Wayne, Indiana.  He facilitates the Ft. Wayne Friends-of-IANDS group, and is founder of the outreach program, Reaching for Joy.  Ken has had two near-death experiences: one when he was 9 years old, and another when he was 49 years old.  The second NDE involved 32 days on life-support, followed by three months in a hospital and three years in a long-term physical rehabilitation center.  He also had total organ failure and a broken back.  Ken has had many miracles in his life, including an amazing healing which allowed him to walk again, after many months in a wheelchair.  He has had many articles written about his experiences and now, at age 54, is writing a book about them called My Journey Back.  Ken also writes poetry and inspirational stories.

Relationships Breakout

Panel Members


Discussion of how relationships are affected by the NDE

Spirit Expressing

Ed Townley, Rev.


Rev. Ed Townley's twin passions for the creative process and for empowering ministry resulted in the founding of Spirit Expressing.  In its early years in Oregon, the Spirit Expressing ministry included a weekly television program, a quarterly magazine, acting classes, writing workshops and a performance company.  Now an integral part of the Unity Spiritual Center in Chicago, Spirit Expressing today is an umbrella organization encompassing artists, performers, musicians, designers, technicians, writers, a quarterly newsmagazine, creative arts classes, and an active website that includes a weekly web program in which Rev. Ed interviews outstanding spiritual voices from throughout the world.  On one of the conference evenings, Rev. Ed will lead Spirit Expressing in a performance to remember!

Rev. Ed Townley is senior minister at Unity in Chicago, one of the liveliest and fastest-growing New Thought spiritual centers in the world.  He studied at the Unity School of Religious Studies and was ordained in 1991, after earlier careers as actor, director and playwright in New York City, Chicago and elsewhere.  In September, 1975, while working in New York, he had an intense near-death experience due to a drug overdose.  Ed's personal story is featured in Studs Terkel's latest best-selling book, Will the Circle Be Unbroken? In addition to his ministry, Ed is a featured speaker in churches and other venues throughout the United States, and serves on the Advisory Board of the Association for Global New Thought.  He is the author of Meditations on the Mount, a practical guide to Jesus' Sermon on the Mount.

Theosophical Society

Betty Bland, President


The president of the Theosophical Society describes its history, goals, and methods.

Harp Music--Musical Performance

Christina Tourin


Christina is a second-generation harpist who began playing harp at the age of four.  She received Music and Education degrees from the University of Vermont and also studied harp at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria and at McGill University in Montreal.  As an international recording and touring artist, she has performed extensively.  She is an active workshop organizer and has been instrumental in the revival of the folk harp since the early 1970's.  In 1982 she founded the Scottish Harp Society of America.  She had a NDE in 1986, and in 1995 founded the International Harp Therapy Program, which she heads to this day.  Healing with sound, working in hospitals and hospices, the labyrinth, composing, teaching, and writing books round out her full life.

There is a related web site (opens in a new window).

The State of NDE Research

Peter Fenwick, M.D.


Dr. Peter Fenwick is the current recipient of IANDS' C. Bruce Greyson Honorary Lectureship, in recognition of his research excellence in the field of Near-Death Experiences.  Dr. Fenwick is an internationally renowned neuropsychiatrist, a Fellow of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Britain's leading clinical authority on NDEs, and president of the Horizon Research Institute (the successor organization to Britain's IANDS group).  One of the world's foremost experts on the NDE, he has analyzed more than 300 NDEs, publishing those findings in the book The Truth In The Light, which he co-authored with his wife, Elizabeth Fenwick.

Dr. Fenwick holds several positions: Consultant Neuropsychiatrist Emeritus to the Epilepsy Unit at London's Maudsley Hospital (which he directed for twenty years); Senior Lecturer at the Institute of Psychiatry (London); Consultant Neuropsychiatrist at the Radcliffe Infirmary in Oxford; and Honorary Consultant Clinical Neurophysiologist at Broadmoor Hospital.  He is past Chairman of the UK's Scientific and Medical Network, and is Chairman of the Research Committee at the Foundation for Integrated Medicine.  He has had a long standing interest in brain function, the relationship of the mind to the brain, and the problem of consciousness.  He has an extensive research record, and has published over two hundred papers in medical and scientific journals.

Creative Tales From the Light

Linda Morris, Ph.D., R.N.C., C.C.R.N.


Linda Morris has been a critical care nurse for 25 years, specializing in cardiac and respiratory nursing.  For the last thirteen years, she has been researching the near-death experience, interviewing many patients who had unusual recollections of a period of "unconsciousness" and nurses who have cared for patients with near-death experiences.  During this session, Linda will share many examples of patients who have discussed how their creativity increased and was enhanced by their near-death experience.

Linda Morris received her Bachelor's degree from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville in 1976; a MS from Loyola University in 1981; and a Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1998.  Dr. Morris has been an instructor, guest lecturer, and assistant professor at several colleges and universities in the Chicago area.  Currently, she is an advanced practice nurse in respiratory care at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and a faculty member of the Northwestern University School of Medicine.  She also owns a consulting firm, specializing in continuing education programs for nurses and other health professionals, has published extensively in the field of critical care, and is a nationally known speaker in her field.

Perspectives on Creativity: A Dialogue between Near-Death Experiencers and Visionaries

Lena Karunamaya


Lena Karunamaya will draw upon her experience consulting with visionary entrepreneurs, artists, writers and near-death experiencers to help conference participants understand creativity from the perspective that spirituality is the true source of inspiration.  She will employ a guided meditation exercise to assist the audience to access the source of their creativity, consciousness, and spirit.  The principle of flow, where creative energy lives, will be discussed.  This is the zone in which the visionary and the artist become alive with inspiration.

Lena Karunamaya is a clairvoyant counselor, a near-death experiencer, a business consultant, and an entrepreneur of thirteen years experience.  She is the CEO of Visions Of Purpose, a counseling practice specializing in assisting visionaries, entrepreneurs, businesses, writers, artists and designers of technology.  Lena has presented lectures at regional, national, and international conferences, and her work has appeared on television and regional news programs.

After Death Communication

Bill Guggenheim


In 1977, we learned about remarkable experiences that often occur after the death of a loved one.  Though they have been reported throughout history, no one had ever given them a name or studied them systematically.  An After-Death Communication or "ADC" is a spiritual experience that takes place when a person is contacted directly and spontaneously by a family member or friend who has died.  No psychics, mediums or devices are involved.

Unleashing Creativity: Teaching the Near-Death Experience to Undergraduate Students

Neal Grossman, Ph.D.


For many years Neal Grossman, philosophy professor at the Unversity of Illinois-Chicago, has felt it to be his personal and professional responsibility to make students aware of the NDE.  He finds this not only benefits his students, but also contributes to making him a more authentic and creative teacher.  He will share his experiences and talk about the results of his efforts in this endeavor.

Neal Grossman received his Ph.D. in the History and Philosophy of Science from Indiana University in 1971.  His recent book, Healing the Mind: The Philosophy of Spinoza Adapted for a New Age, presents 17th-century Dutch philosopher Spinoza's elegant system of spiritual psychotherapy in terms which are accessible to a lay reader.  Prof. Grossman has written many articles, including a guest editorial, "Who's Afraid of Life After Death?" in the Fall 2002 issue of the Journal of Near-Death Studies.  He is a member of the Chicago-IANDS Board of Directors.

From Death to Divine Beauty & Healing

Betty DeGarmo-Avery


Betty DeGarmo-Avery will present information about how her NDE resulted in a metamorphosis through an explosion of creativity.  As an interior designer, Betty experienced change in every aspect of her work and life: her painting, design promotion, and color writing.  Betty will describe why she now refers to the "Tunnel of Light" as the Tunnel of Life, and its role in healing.  She will conclude with insights regarding how fear can be alleviated, so one can stay here or go to the other side with Love.

A licensed interior designer in eleven states, Betty DeGarmo-Avery also has an active business as a Feng Shui teacher and consultant.  She studied Feng Shui at South East University in China and is a Reiki Master.  Betty has worked with people on three continents administering healing arts before and after surgery, in intensive care and emergency rooms, as well as in parks and places in between.  Betty presently is working on her certification in Tama-Do (the study of healing with sound, color and movement) and is writing a book about her NDE.  Betty and her husband Derek founded The Avery Institute for the Advancement of Integrative Medicine in Loves Park, Illinois, after Derek was miraculously cured of advanced multiple myeloma (a blood cancer).  The Avery Institute is dedicated to raising the level of awareness of complementary and alternative medicine for the body, mind and spirit.

Experiencer Panel A

Panel Members


The experiencer panels are always some of the high points of the conference.  Each of the four or so experiencers on the panel tells his or her experience and answers questions from the audience.

Spiritually Transformative Experiencers & ND Experiencers Only

Panel Members


Discussion group of people who have actually had "spiritual experiences."

Care Givers

Panel Members


Discussion group of people who are caring for those who might have had a NDE or similar experience.

Medium, Rare

Cheryl Booth


A musician and singer as well as a psychic medium, Cheryl Booth will perform excerpts from her one-woman show on one of the conference evenings.  Her performance will include monologues and original songs as well as her gifted psychic insights.  It is a tongue-in-cheek look at the life of a psychic medium, her "day job," designed to let folks know that God has a GREAT sense of humor and certainly doesn't expect nor equate spirituality with seriousness.

Ms. Booth has been a psychic medium for 15 years, mentored by Brian Hurst (the medium who mentored James Van Praagh).  She has authored a book, Brother John, My Guardian Angel, about her experiences growing up as a psychic child with a severely handicapped brother, who was her teacher and best friend-and who still guides her today from the other side.  Cheryl likes to raise awareness that children and adults with severe physical and mental handicaps are often "earth angels" sent here to teach us patience and unconditional love.  Cheryl had an NDE while in college at Central Missouri State University, where she graduated with a Bachelor of Music Education in voice.  She has taught music and theatre, and has performed in musical theater and as a band singer for a number of years.  Over the past several years, Cheryl has taught many workshops on metaphysical topics and is often invited to lecture at various organizations, including the Chicago-IANDS chapter.

Creating with the Angels & the Medical World

Caroline Sutherland, Ph.D.


Caroline's presentation will emphasize the concept that lives can change at any moment.  A person who may consider themselves living nothing more than a normal life may experience a life-changing spiritual revelation or a near-death experience.  Attendees will be shown that life beyond the five senses does exist, and that we can tap into that world at a moment's notice.  The audience will experience accessing their own inner guidance, and the feeling that inner directives can lead them to express creativity in their own unique and meaningful ways.

The gift of medical intuition came to Caroline Sutherland quite suddenly in 1985, when she was a physician's assistant and diagnostician in Environmental Medicine.  She had been trained in the use of very specific allergy-testing equipment, and after using it for about a year she began to hear a distinct voice guiding her to areas of her patients' bodies and telling her to test substances which were not ordered on the test forms.

That same year she had an "angelic encounter", which led her to start her worldwide children's ministry through the use of "Angels for Kids"-angel dolls and visualization audiotapes to comfort children.

Caroline's intuitive gift was enhanced by her NDE in 1995, brought on by a serious automobile accident.  By now she has worked with over 70,000 people, in both clinical settings and private consultations.  Because of her background in Environmental Medicine, she sees the body from that perspective and can immediately read all of the foods that a person is allergic or sensitive to, see the main systems which are "down," the state of the gastro-intestinal tract, the immune system, hormone imbalances, and weight problems.  She sees the underlying causes of illnesses, when they may have begun, and what precipitated them.

Caroline does not need even to be in the physical presence of the person she is examining.  All she needs to know is their name and a little about them, hear their voice or see a photo.  The minute she connects with the person seeking her help, she receives a flood of data.  The information is very specific, but the imbalances are only part of the picture.  She can also see the "correction"-what is needed to bring their body back into balance in terms of diet, supplements, botanicals, homeopathy and associated modalities.  Often, she can hold a bottle of vitamins or another substance that a person is taking and know whether it is beneficial or not.  Among other perceptions, she has a sense of timing (how long it will take the person to rebalance), whether or not the individual will be compliant, and whether or not they are likely to recover.  She is the author of The Body "Knows".


Allan Botkin, Psy.D.


Allan Botkin is a clinical psychologist with over 20 years experience treating post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) at a Chicago-area Veterans Administration hospital.  In 1995 he began to experiment with a newly emerging psychotherapy technique called eye-movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR).  He found that a variation of the technique reliably induced after-death communications (ADCs) in his patients.  Since that discovery, Dr. Botkin and his colleagues have induced well over 3,000 ADCs.  His article reporting the discovery appeared in the spring 2000 issue of the Journal of Near-Death Studies.

In his presentation, Dr. Botkin will describe the sequence of events that led to his discovery.  He will also discuss the striking similarities between induced ADCs, spontaneous ADCs, and near-death experiences (NDEs).  Although in nearly all cases his patients are convinced of the spiritual authenticity of their experience, Dr. Botkin will emphasize the consistent observation that these experiences heal grief and traumatic loss to a degree that has not heretofore been considered possible.  Beyond the therapeutic value of these experiences, however, he will also make the case that given the control that we now have over the production of the experience, we can now, and for the first time, study ADCs, and logically NDEs as well, in controlled scientific settings.

Dr. Botkin received his Doctor of Psychology degree from Baylor University in 1983.  He then joined the psychology staff at the North Chicago Veterans Administration Medical Center, where he specialized in the diagnosis and treatment of post-traumatic stress disorder.  He has published on many topics, including brain functioning, PTSD, EMDR, and induced after-death communication (IADC).  In 1995, he developed the Intensive Trauma Program at North Chicago Medical Center, and served as its Program Coordinator until his retirement in 2003.  Currently Dr. Botkin directs the Center for Grief and Traumatic Loss in Libertyville, Illinois.  During the last year he has been interviewed on a number of radio talk shows and has presented his findings to a variety of audiences, including Chicago-IANDS.

There is a related web site (opens in a new window).

Looking Inward: A Guided Imagery Journey to Deepen Our Cosmic Roots

B. Jason MacLurg, M.D.


Drawing upon his professional expertise in psychotherapy, his focus on the interface of science and wisdom, near-death consciousness, and an appreciation for the Shaman within us all, Dr. MacLurg will help participants undergo a peaceful guided meditation of inner awareness.  Floating through external metaphors and universal imagery from the world's great spiritual traditions, this journey follows a path to confront and move beyond obstacles that constrict personal growth.  Threads of wisdom collected from the meditation are spun together and woven into the tapestry of our personal narrative via writing and paired dialogue.

As a teenager, a series of untimely deaths caused "Brian" (as he was then known) to drop out of college, travel the world, and assume his middle name, Jason.  Only later did he learn that "Jason" means "healer."  While in medical training at the University of Washington, he crossed paths (though he didn't recognize it at the time) with Kimberly Clark-Sharp of IANDS.  It required 20 more years of medical practice, psychiatric training, life experiences, and encounters with death before Dr. MacLurg became convinced that a Spiritual Realm really exists and purposefully interacts with us on both sides of the veil called death.  Ironically, he first read about IANDS while working in New Zealand.  While there, the indigenous Maori people inspired Dr. MacLurg to change his approach to patients and to integrate Spirituality with his modern, science-based psychiatric practice.

Talking to the Animals

Asia Joy Voight


Asia Voight has always had a special ability to communicate with animals.  However, the accumulation of abuse she received during her childhood blocked this talent in her teen and adult years.  Then in December 1987, Asia was in a life-threatening auto accident, trapped inside the car as a wall of fire burned all around her.  Miraculously she survived, though she required three months in intensive care and another nine months in the hospital, during which she had four near-death experiences.  During the NDE, Asia met three ascended masters who urged her to come back and help animals, to return to her original contract of Animal Communicator.  After studying advanced levels of animal communication with Penelope Smith, Asia began her professional work in August 1998. "I have really used this horrific accident as an opportunity to see the world from a spiritual perspective.  It has opened my eyes to a new level of love."  Asia will tell her story and what she has learned from 'talking to the animals', and will help the audience to understand how we are all connected and how to achieve that feeling of connectedness with animals.

Asia teaches workshops in animal communication, and has been featured on television, in magazines, and in Dr. Julie Kaufmans's book, Crossing the Rubicon.  She has appeared as a keynote speaker at the Midwest Horse Fair (Madison, Wisconsin), the Wellness Conference, Chicago-IANDS, and many other venues.  She earned a degree in Communication Arts from the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh.  She also has worked as a midwife's assistant, cranial-sacral therapist, and healer.


P. M. H. Atwater, L.H.D.


The near-death phenomenon covers the broad expanse of the human condition.  Insights gained from studying NDEs challenge many of society's cherished beliefs and understandings.  Questions such as: What is this thing called life?  What does it mean?  What is our purpose here?  Why is there so much injustice and privation?  What can we glean from near-death experiencers that may bring comfort and encouragement?  P.M.H.'s session will address these questions and more.  She will not be approaching these "Revelations" from the aspect of prophecy-who predicted what-but rather from a panoramic style.  The insights she will share with the audience reflect a quarter century of investigation into the phenomenon.

P.M.H. Atwater has been an active researcher in the field of near-death studies since her own three near-death experiences occurred in 1977.  She uses police investigative techniques as her protocol for data collection.  She has published her findings in six books and has lectured extensively.  She created a unique audiotape entitled "As You Die" for persons nearing the end of life.  Dr. Atwater has been a regular contributor to Vital Signs, a Board Member of IANDS, and a frequent speaker at IANDS conferences.  Her memorable enthusiasm for the subject results in a "one of a kind" presentation style.

Shamans, Hallucinogens and the NDE

Richard Sandore, M.D.


Dr. Sandore will discuss how native peoples have used medicinal plants from time immemorial to induce visions, to heal, and to explore the territory of consciousness we call death.  Ayahuasca, a jungle vine whose name means "Vine of the Soul" or "Vine of Death", is used by shamans to "take one to death and back."  Some say that once the threshold of death is explored and the fear of death relinquished, we are truly free to be claimed by life. The art of many regions of the Amazon basin has been influenced by visions induced through a journey with Grandmother Ayahuasca.

Richard Sandore is a Western-trained physician who practiced obstetrics and gynecology for nine years.  During that time he began working with native healers in South America.  Their encompassing worldview and concepts of healing changed his life.  Dr. Sandore is now a recognized expert in the field of complementary healing, with a healing practice north of Chicago.  He lectures, teaches, and leads groups to work with spiritual healers in South America, and has been the featured speaker at numerous conferences, including the Whole Life Expo and the National Wellness Conference.  He also is a regular speaker at midwestern colleges, including Illinois Wesleyan University, and is the author of Living the Steps to Vibrancy and numerous other works.  Currently Dr Sandore spends the majority of his time working with spiritual seekers who desire intensive, in-depth training.  He also is in the process of writing his fourth novel.

Experiencer Panel B

Panel Members


The experiencer panels are always some of the high points of the conference.  Each of the four or so experiencers on the panel tells his or her experience and answers questions from the audience.


twitter  you tube  facebook

Explore the Extraordinary