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Western University
Psychology 2011A/B

Chapter #9 – Death o 1982 Gallup poll= 67% of general population believed in life after death o 32% for doctors o 16% for scientists o Moore and Baruss= 26% of 1986 sample of 334 academics and professionals o 27% of 1996 sample of 212 consciousness researchers agreed that personal consciousness continues after physical death o authentic science= mater of examining relevant evidence Out-of –Body Experiences Characteristics o Out-of-body experience (OBE)= experience in which person has a somaesthetic sense of being located outside of her physical body even though sometimes she may otherwise feel she were in her ordinary state of consciousness o Prevalence= 10% in general population o 25% college students o 42% schizophrenics o 44% marijuana users o 48% parapsychology groups o 88% fantasy-prone individuals o moore and Baruss= 23%-1986 survey, 31% -1996 o example of OBE from student= awoke one night but wasn’t in her room was watching over her sleeping boyfriend in his apartment. Could see every detail, clothes, dog and awoke and called him. The details were right o survival hypothesis= a disembodied consciousness or some such discarnate element of human personality might survive bodily death at least for a time Perceptions During Out-of-Body Experiences o Robert Monroe= had numerous OBEs thought it was a way to explore nonphysical aspect of the universe and encountered wise beings o Validity= confined to OBEs taking place in environments corresponding to physical world o 19% of experiencers made observations that were verified o experiment to see if veridical perceptions occur during OBEs= participant induce an OBE and identify targets set out by experimenter o Tart= conducted a study with a women who claimed to have OBEs since childhood, suggested she take 10 slips of paper that are numbered randomly. Each night before she goes to bed she is randomly to pick a paper but not to look at it. She successfully got it 7/7 times o had her 4 nights in the sleep lab, tart would then select 5 digit number put it in an opaque folder, number facing upwards so only someone rlly high off the ground could see it o she got it right the 4 night only o best case of positive results that exist o another study by Tart= hypnotized participants upper 10% on susceptibility scale o given suggestion that they would have OBE during which they will go across the hall and view targets on a table o all of the reported OBE that seemed real but not targets identified o all out of body experiences are different A Cognitive Theory of Out-of-Body Experiences o Susan Blackmore’s theory= we are always creating a cognitive model of the world with ourselves using sensory information from the surrounding environment o Sometimes our images of the world and of ourselves break down, without memory and imagination to supply us with an image of a body and world, we may start imagining a birds eye view o Look at the characteristics consistent with those who have OBEs o People who dream in birds eye view or see themselves are more likely o Dream variables- vivid dreams, lucid dreams, flying dreams o Best predictors= absorption in imaginal activity, fantasy-proneness, high hypnotizability, and dissociative tendencies o A.K.A ppl with the most flexible models of the world Near-Death Experiences o Near-death experience (NDE)= experience person reports around the time they were close to death o 9%-18%= had NDE Characteristics of Near Death Experiences o Raymond Moody= wrote book “Life After Life”, best known identification of NDE o After period of intense pain, person feels peace and painlessness o May have out of body experience o May be propelled into darkness by entering a tunnel, door, or ascending a stair case to fine that it’s a passageway toward an intense light that doesn’t hurt your eyes o May meet friends and relatives who have died,as well as a religious being o Life review in which the events of her life are replayed from third person to feel how she has affected others o Then back in the body o As a consequence of life review they will value love and knowledge the most because they survive death o Pursue knowledge that contributes to wholeness of person o Many who have had them have a dramatically reduced fear of death o May occur without belief in afterlife o 48% of 350 experiencers are convinced of survival of life after death o death= not a fixed state but a biological process o a person could be no longer breathing or heartbeating but their brain could still work o have been surgical procedures in which brain activity has been measured like the following An Example of a Near-Death Experience o Michael Sabom studied case of Pam Reynolds o Underwent surgery= hypothermic cardiac arrest to take out an aneurysm in her brain o After anaesthetized, her eyes taped shut, small, molded speakers were placed in her ears, EEG electrodes were attached to her head to record activity o Exposed her to 100 decible clicks auditory evoked potentials on EEG, to measure sensory stimulation o Cut her head open, machine drained all her blood to circulate and cool it o Heart stopped, brain waves flattened, body temp lower than 60F, no response to auditory clicks o Bypass machine was switched off so that all the blood drained from Pam’s body, aneurysm taken out, processe reversed o Machine turned on, blood warmed, heart restarted, EEG waves o She remembers operating room, loss of time, then heard noise pulling her out the top of her head, o She could see the operating room, her body, and could describe in detail the bone saw used and its case o She could see brighter and more focused and clearer than normal o She heard a conversation about her veins and arteries being small, which was true o Then pulled through a tunnel vortex, while there she heard her grandmother calling her and continued o At the end of tunnel was bright light that kept getting brighter o There were figures that turned into people that were dead relatives of hers o Whilst with relatives they explained she couldn’t go further otherwise she couldn’t go back, they fed her with something sparkly that made her feel strong o Her uncle walked her back through thr vortex to her mess of a body, her uncle urged that it was like jumping into a pool and pushed her Reductionist Explanations o Susan Blackmore= has proposed neurophyiological factors that could create such experiences o She hypothesizes that the depletion of oxygen could trigger NDEs o Whereas intoxication with drugs like barbituates would cause mental confusion rather than clarity “would dampen down NDE’s” rather than cause them o Buildup of CO2 been associated in studies with bright lights, OBE’s and memories of the past o Endorphins released during times of stress, probably released near death, could explain the painlessness, peace and joy felt o Presence of seizures in temporal lobe could be set off by endorphins—thereby triggereing memories like life review o She believes “there is no soul, spirit, astral body that leaves or lives after death o Correct perceptions during NDE’s are explained by prior knowledge, fantasy and lucky guesses and the remaining operating senses of hearing and touch o Pam had been given massive amounts of barbituates, no seizure activity detected by EEG o Her eyes were taped shut, she was anaesthetized, ear speakers o Physio theories have been criticized= disruptions to the brain would normally lead to a disorganization of thought rather than vivid and coherent experiences\ o A lack of oxygen results in confusion, disorientation, fragmentation of perceptions, loss of consciousness o If its because of a lack of O2 then how come its remember? It takes O2 and time to consolidate memories o We would expect more problems with that o Buildup of CO2 unlikely because associated with lack of O2 and possibly violent convulsive muscle movements that have never been reported with NDE’s o Endorphins role is circumscribed. Grand mal seizures accompanied by high level release of endorphins. But person feels exhausted afterwards not ecstatic. None of the NDE phenomena happen to long distance runners who you think would have high levels o May be effective in treating epilepsy o Pam had no seizures, NDE could have happened before or after her cardiac arrest while her brain was functioning properly o Some version of reductionist theory may be correct Near-Death Experiences of the Blind o Kenneth Ring= studied near-death and OBE’s of 31 blind patients, 14 of whom were blind from birth o 21 participants who had them turned out to be indistinguishable from those of a sighted person with regard to typical features like feelings of peace, traveling through a tunnel, encountering a light, life review o 15/21 participantshad some form of sight with all but 1 (blind from birth) o congenitally blind could have seen something without having recognized it o sight during NDE= clear, detailed by both groups, allowing for comparison o 1 participant blind from birth he could see billions of books in a library o visual impressions are striking because their brains have never had a chance to be developed for visual processing o those who blind form birth or lost it before age 5= don’t report visual imagery in their dreams” o many said their NDE’s were very diff from dreams due to the presence of visual imagery o transcendental awareness= the eyes don’t see, the mind sees in the sense of understanding or taking in than of visual perception as such o diff example of sighted women said she could see every detail at once form the ceiling tiles to every follicle on the nurse next to the stretcher o may be a form of perception that occurs generally for NDE’s, OBE’s, transcendant states, perinatal experiences o most characterized by: feelings of peace, bliss, joy and a sense of cosmic unity o Ring maintains: “ in their essence, NDE’s have nothing inherently to do with death at all, much less with life after death o Instances of cosmic consciousness- become aware of expanded eternal nature Distressing Near-Death Experiences o Bruce Greyson- analyzed 50 accounts of distressing near-death experiences into 3 types o 1) Prototypical NDE= terrifying o ex. Guy screamed he wasn’t ready as he was falling through funnel to the bright light, sometimes peace replaced fear when he accepted it o 2) Paradoxical sensation of ceasing to exist/condemned to featureless void of eternity o ex. Women giving birth thought she was being rocketed through space, she encountered black and white circles that told her she never existed, she had been allowed to make it all up and that’s what reality consisted of. o 3) Hellish Imagery o ex. One man hanged himself in an attempt to commit suicide believed
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