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Writing a Paper on Near-Death Experiences

We're glad to hear that you're interested in writing a paper on near-death experiences.

Our bibliography will give you a start.  In particular, if you have access to the 2000 book, The Varieties of Anomalous Experience, Bruce Greyson's chapter on near-death experiences offers an excellent overview and includes a description of a very interesting NDE that occurred to a woman documented to have an inactive brain for one hour during surgery.

To locate resources in the library or bookstore, begin by checking listings under the author's name, if you know it, or under the topics of Near-Death, Death, and Dying.  You may find books in the sections for Religion, Psychology, or Parapsychology.  You may need to ask the librarian or salesperson; the topic is handled differently from place to place.

For magazine articles, look under the same topics suggested for book titles.  Use the library's search facility if there is one.  Otherwise, check the Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature.  For some excellent recent magazine and journal resources:

  • The August 2003 issue of Reader's Digest included an article on near-death experiences (pages 122-128).
  • The September 2003 issue of Spirituality & Health included an article entitled "Beyond Fear: The New Science of Near-Death Experiences."
  • The December 15, 2001, issue of the highly respected international medical journal, The Lancet, included an article by Dr. Pim van Lommel and his colleagues who studied NDEs for 13 years in hospitals in Holland.  We have commentary, including a link to an on-line copy of the article.
  • To read research papers on near-death experiences, go to Google Scholar and search for the desired author and "near death experience". For example, search for Greyson "near death experience", or other authors like Ring, Holden, Parnia, etc. Many of these papers are available on-line as PDFs.

For websites where near-death experiencers post their experiences and sometimes discuss them with others, go to:

If you are interested in actually interviewing people who have had a near-death experience, try these suggestions:

Check to see if there is a local support and interest group near you for near-death experiencers (a Friends of IANDS group: FOI).  Use the contact information to learn when and where the group meets.  At the meeting, identify yourself as someone preparing to write a paper on near-death experiences.

Run a small request in your school or community newspaper, or post a notice on a high-traffic bulletin board (library, supermarket, wherever in your community people are most apt to stop and browse).

Whenever you interview a near-death experiencer, be sure to guarantee confidentiality-and keep this promise without fail!

Term Paper Topics about Near-death Experiences

Basic: The near-death experience (NDE) in general

  • What research says about the NDE
  • Effects of the NDE on people's lives
  • Children's near-death experiences

More advanced

  • Were the people who report NDEs really dead?
  • A comparison of NDEs and deathbed visions (the reports of people who do actually die); see Raymond Moody's books; Callanan, M. & Kelley, P. (1992). Final Gifts: Understanding the Special Awareness, Needs, and Communication of the Dying.  New York: Bantam.  Osis and Haraldsson's book At the Hour of Death; and others)
  • What healthcare professionals (or the public, or any other group) think about the near-death experience
  • Do near-death experiences prove there is life after death?
  • Distressing near-death experiences
  • How scientists attempt to explain near-death experiences
  • How religious traditions explain near-death experiences

By subject

Journalism

How the tabloid papers report near-death experiences

History

Near-death experiences in history see Book X of Plato's Republic (also here); St. Paul's experience on the road to Damascus; William James Varieties of Religious Experience; and others)

Film

  • "The Wizard of Oz" as a near-death experience;
  • NDEs in film (see "Resurrection," "Jacob's Ladder," "Ghost," "Flatliners," "All That Jazz," "Heaven Can Wait," "Always," "What Dreams May Come," "Dragonfly," and others)

Literature

NDE themes and similarities in Katharine Anne Porter's Pale Horse, Pale Rider; Dickens' A Christmas Carol; Black Elk's Black Elk Speaks

Biology

  • Similarities between NDE and limbic lobe disorder;
  • physiological theories that attempt to explain the NDE (see especially the work of Susan Blackmore);
  • levels of consciousness (altered states of consciousness)

Culture

Similarities and differences among NDEs across world culture

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