Quantifying the phenomenon

Professor & Psychiatrist Bruce Greyson developed this scale to measure the depth of an individual’s near-death experience. The following is a copy of the scale as presented in an article entitled "Altered States" by Lee Graves in the Summer 2007 edition of the University of Virginia Magazine.

1. Did time seem to speed up or slow down?
0 = No
1 = Time seemed to go faster or slower than usual
2 = Everything seemed to be happening at once; or time stopped or lost all meaning

2. Were your thoughts speeded up?
0 = No
1 = Faster than usual
2 = Incredibly fast

3. Did scenes from your past come back to you?
0 = No
1 = I remembered many past events
2 = My past flashed before me, out of my control

4. Did you suddenly seem to understand everything?
0 = No
1 = Everything about myself or others
2 = Everything about the universe

5. Did you have a feeling of peace or pleasantness?
0 = No
1 = Relief or calmness
2 = Incredible peace or pleasantness

6. Did you have a feeling of joy?
0 = No
1 = Happiness
2 = Incredible joy

7. Did you feel a sense of harmony or unity with the universe?
0 = No
1 = I felt no longer in conflict with nature
2 = I felt united or one with the world

8. Did you see, or feel surrounded by, a brilliant light?
0 = No
1 = An unusually bright light
2 = A light clearly of mystical or other-worldly origin

9. Were your senses more vivid than usual?
0 = No
1 = More vivid than usual
2 = Incredibly more vivid

10. Did you seem to be aware of things going on elsewhere, as if by extrasensory perception (ESP)?
0 = No
1 = Yes, but the facts have not been checked out
2 = Yes, and the facts have been checked out

11. Did scenes from the future come to you?
0 = No
1 = Scenes from my personal future
2 = Scenes from the world’s future

12. Did you feel separated from your body?
0 = No
1 = I lost awareness of my body
2 = I clearly left my body and existed outside it

13. Did you seem to enter some other, unearthly world?
0 = No
1 = Some unfamiliar and strange place
2 = A clearly mystical or unearthly realm

14. Did you seem to encounter a mystical being or presence, or hear an unidentifiable voice?
0 = No
1 = I heard a voice I could not identify
2 = I encountered a definite being, or a voice clearly of mystical or unearthly origin

15. Did you see deceased or religious spirits?
0 = No
1 = I sensed their presence
2 = I actually saw them

16. Did you come to a border or point of no return?
0 = No
1 = I came to a definite conscious decision to “return” to life
2 = I came to a barrier that I was not permitted to cross; or was “sent back” against my will.

A score of 7 or higher is considered a NDE for research purposes. The mean score among a large sample of near-death experiences is 15.

The following appendage on scoring was not included in the above article - see references listed below.


Sum of all 16 items = total NDE Scale score

Among a criterion group of NDErs, the mean score on this scale was 15 with a standard deviation of 7.84; we therefore use a score of 7 or greater (1 standard deviation below the mean) as the cut-off point for identifying an experience as an NDE.

Sum of items 1-4 = cognitive component

Sum of items 5-8 = affective component

Sum of items 9-12 = paranormal component

Sum of items 13-16 = transcendental component


Cognitive type = cognitive component score 5 or higher

Transcendental type = cognitive component score less than 5 and transcendental component score 5 or higher

Affective type = cognitive and transcendental component scores each less than five, and affective component score 5 or higher

Paranormal type = cognitive, transcendental, and affective component scores each less than 5, and paranormal component score 5 or greater

Unclassifiable = no component score 5 or greater


Greyson, B. (1983). The Near-Death Experience Scale: Construction, reliability, and validity. Journal of Nervous & Mental Disease, 171, 369-375.

Greyson, B. (1985). A typology of near-death experiences. American Journal of Psychiatry, 142, 967-969.

Greyson, B. (1990). Near-death encounters with and without near-death experiences: Comparative NDE Scale profiles. Journal of Near-Death Studies, 8, 151-161.