During the past few years the worldwide press has seen a virtual explosion of headlines claiming that a condition called “REM intrusion” explains near-death experiences. The media’s excitement makes it sound like a final solution. However, the people who really know NDEs say, “Not so fast.”
REM intrusion is a condition that occurs when some characteristics of the common REM sleep state—such as rapid eye movement, low muscle tone, and dreaming—activate during wakefulness. Without question, there are marked similarities between REM intrusion and NDEs, just as there are similarities with other much-hyped earlier comparisons such as temporal lobe epilepsy, oxygen deprivation, and the effects of some drugs. However, once again, what the world’s media overlooked in presenting the REM findings are their marked differences.
- NDE research years ago firmly established clear distinctions between NDEs and hallucinations; NDErs who had also experienced REM intrusion were not asked to compare the two.
- REM intrusion does not explain key NDE elements such as veridical perception, lasting aftereffects, and visual perception in the blind
- REM intrusion experiencers immediately recognize that their visual and auditory experiences are not reality-based, whereas NDErs describe theirs as “realer than real.”
- Although the published study concludes that a higher rate of REM intrusion predisposes a person to NDEs, the NDErs weren’t asked when the intrusions occurred; so, it is just as likely that they occur as a result of an NDE. Further, 40% of the NDErs said they had never had REM intrusions at all.
In this paper NDE researchers Drs. Jeffrey Long and Janice Miner Holden respond in-depth to the numerous flaws they see in the study’s methodology and findings.