Children and Near-Death Experiences
Evidence of an Afterlife?



Children and Near-Death Experiences
Evidence of an Afterlife?

The weirdly fascinating drawings that young kids did after they had experienced near-death experiences. There is a haunting and eerie familiarity about them and yet in some ways they avoid the stereotypes NDEs often contain.



The afterlife (also referred to as life after death, the Hereafter or the Next World) is the idea that consciousness or the mind continues after the death of the body occurs, by natural or supernatural means.

In many popular views, this continued existence often takes place in an immaterial or spiritual realm.

Major views on the afterlife derive from religion, esotericism and metaphysics. Deceased persons are usually believed to go to a specific plane of existence after death (other than eternal oblivion), typically believed to be determined by a god, based on their actions during physical life.

A near-death experience (NDE) refers to a broad range of personal experiences associated with impending death, encompassing multiple possible sensations including detachment from the body; feelings of levitation; extreme fear; total serenity, security, or warmth; the experience of absolute dissolution; and the presence of a light, which some people interpret as a deity.

These phenomena are usually reported after an individual has been pronounced clinically dead or otherwise very close to death, hence the term near-death experience.

Many NDE reports, however, originate from events that are not life-threatening. With recent developments in cardiac resuscitation techniques, the number of reported NDEs has increased.

Many in the scientific community regard such experiences as hallucinatory, while paranormal specialists and some mainstream scientists claim them to be evidence of an afterlife.

Popular interest in near-death experiences was initially sparked by Raymond Moody's 1975 book Life After Life and the founding of the International Association for Near-Death Studies (IANDS) in 1981.

According to a Gallup poll, approximately eight million Americans claim to have had a near-death experience. Some commentators, such as Simpson claim that the number of near-death experiencers may be underestimated, mainly because some such individuals are presumably afraid or otherwise reluctant to talk about their experiences.

NDEs are among the phenomena studied in the fields of parapsychology, psychology, psychiatry, and hospital medicine.

 
Near-death experiences can have a major impact on the people who have them, and they may produce a variety of after-effects. NDE subjects have increased activity in the left temporal lobe.

NDEs are also associated with changes in personality and outlook on life. Among these changes one finds a greater appreciation for life, higher self-esteem, greater compassion for others, a heightened sense of purpose and self-understanding, desire to learn, elevated spirituality, greater ecological sensitivity and planetary concern, and a feeling of being more intuitive.

Changes may also include increased physical sensitivity; diminished tolerance to light, alcohol, and drugs; a feeling that the brain has been "altered" to encompass more; and a feeling that one is now using the "whole brain" rather than just a small part.


 


Near-Death Experiences of Children


Near-Death Experience Researcher Dr PMH Atwater
with KMVT's "Present!" host Mel Van Dusen.

In contrast, the term afterlife refers to another life in which only the "essence" of the being is preserved, and "reincarnation" is another life on Earth or possibly within the same universe , this can be animals too .

Often children end up encountering life after death due to an accident or heath issue. We tend to regard most children as being innocent with no ulterior motives such as the worlds greed for money.

So when a child starts discussing what he or she encountered while experiencing a near death experience we tend to listen with more open ears. Maybe there is more truth to this then science thinks.

Near-death studies is a school of psychology and psychiatry that studies the phenomenology and after-effects of a Near-death experience (NDE).

The NDE is an experience reported by people who have come close to dying in a medical or non-medical setting. According to a Gallup poll approximately eight million Americans claim to have had a near-death experience. Some researchers try to study the postulated role of physiological, psychological and transcendental factors associated with the NDE.

These factors come together to form an overall pattern when numerous NDE reports are considered together. It is this pattern that is one of the main objects of interest for Near-Death studies. Among the general characteristics of an NDE we find: subjective impressions of being outside the physical body; visions of deceased relatives and religious figures; transcendence of ego and spatiotemporal boundaries.


Melvin Morse lists nine traits that he believes is characteristic for the Near-death experience: 
  1. a sense of being dead
  2. a feeling of peace and painlessness
  3. an out-of-body experience
  4. a tunnel experience (the sense of moving up or through a narrow passageway)
  5. encountering "People of Light"
  6. encountering a "Being of Light", a "force", or a similar figure
  7. being given a "life review"
  8. a reluctance to return to life
  9. the experience may also involve after-effects, such as: personality transformation, loss of the fear of death, greater spiritualism, and greater ecological sensitivity.
* Many of the same traits are also mentioned by other researchers.


NDE-researchers have also found that the NDE may not be a uniquely western experience. The core experience seems to be similar across cultures, but the details of the experience (figures, beings, scenery), and the interpretation of the experience, varies a lot from culture to culture, and from individual to individual.


Contributions to the research on near-death experiences have come from several academic disciplines, among these the disciplines of medicine, psychology and psychiatry. Interest in this field of study was originally spurred by the research of such pioneers as Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, George Ritchie, and Raymond Moody.

Moody's book Life After Life, which was released in 1975, brought a lot of attention to the topic of NDEs. This was soon to be followed by the establishment of the International Association for Near-death Studies, IANDS, in 1981. IANDS is an international organization that encourages scientific research and education on the physical, psychological, social, and spiritual nature and ramifications of near-death experiences.

Among its publications we find the peer-reviewed Journal of Near-Death Studies, and the quarterly newsletter Vital Signs. The organization also maintains an archive of near-death case histories for research and study. Later researchers, such as Bruce Greyson, Kenneth Ring, and Melvin Morse, introduced the study of Near-Death experiences to the academic setting.


Melvin Morse MD - First Case of a Child's NDE


Unsolved Mysteries


This is the case that started Melvin Morse researching near death experiences in children. The case that started it all.

The medical community has been somewhat reluctant to address the phenomenon of NDEs, and grant money for research has been scarce.

However, both Greyson and Ring developed tools that can be used in a clinical setting.

Important contributions to the field include the construction of a Weighted Core Experience Index in order to measure the depth of the Near-Death experience, and the construction of the Near-death experience scale in order to differentiate between subjects that are more or less likely to have experienced an NDE.

This scale is also, according to the author, clinically useful in differentiating NDEs from organic brain syndromes and nonspecific stress responses. The NDE-scale was later found to fit the Rasch rating scale model. Greyson has also brought attention to the near-death experience as a focus of clinical attention, while Morse and colleagues have investigated near-death experiences in a pediatric population.

Near-death experiences can have a major impact on the people who have them, and they may produce a variety of after-effects. Many of these effects are associated with changes in personality and outlook on life. Kenneth Ring has identified a consistent set of value and belief changes associated with people who have had a Near-death experience.

Among these changes we find: a greater appreciation for life, higher self-esteem, greater compassion for others, a heightened sense of purpose and self-understanding, desire to learn, elevated spirituality, greater ecological sensitivity and planetary concern, a feeling of being more intuitive (sometimes psychic).

Changes may also include: increased physical sensitivity; diminished tolerance to light, alcohol, and drugs; a feeling that the brain has been "altered" to encompass more; and a feeling that one is now using the "whole brain" rather than just a small part.



Child's Near Death Experience from Dr. Morse's Study


This is an actual case file, used with permission of a
child describing her near death experience from Dr. Morse's groundbreaking study of NDEs in children.

However, not all after-effects are beneficial and Greyson describes circumstances where changes in attitudes and behavior can lead to psychosocial and psychospiritual problems.

Often the problems have to do with the adjustment to ordinary life in the wake of the NDE.


On September 17th, 2008, 25 UK and US hospitals doctors (from Addenbrookes in Cambridge, University Hospital in Birmingham and the Morriston in Swansea, and 9 US hospitals), announced they will examine near-death experiences in 1,500 heart attack patients-survivors.

The 3 years research, co-ordinated by Southampton University, will determine if people without heartbeat or brain activity can have "out-of-body experience." Dr. Sam Parnia, an intensive care doctor, heading the research, said: "If you can demonstrate that consciousness continues after the brain switches off, it allows for the possibility that the consciousness is a separate entity.

It is unlikely that we will find many cases where this happens, but we have to be open-minded. And if no one sees the pictures, it shows these experiences are illusions or false memories.

This is a mystery that we can now subject to scientific study. Contrary to popular perception, death is not a specific moment. It is a process that begins when the heart stops beating, the lungs stop working and the brain ceases functioning - a medical condition termed cardiac arrest.

During a cardiac arrest, all three criteria of death are present. There then follows a period of time, which may last from a few seconds to an hour or more, in which emergency medical efforts may succeed in restarting the heart and reversing the dying process.

What people experience during this period of cardiac arrest provides a unique window of understanding into what we are all likely to experience during the dying process."