Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD, Research Fellow, Parapsychology Foundation

Vanessa Charland-Verville, Demetrius Ribeiro de Paula, Charlotte Martial, Helena Cassol, Georgios Antonopoulos, Blaine Alexander Chronik, Andrea Soddu, Steven Laureys. Characterization of near death experiences using text mining analyses: A preliminary study. Plos One. 2020, 15(1): e0227402.

Abstract

The notion that death represents a passing to an afterlife, where we are reunited with loved ones and live eternally in a utopian paradise, is common in the reports of people who have encountered a “Near-Death Experience” (NDE). NDEs are thoroughly portrayed by the media but empirical studies are rather recent. The definition of the phenomenon as well as the identification of NDE experiencers is still a matter of debate. To date, NDEs’ identification and description in studies have mostly derived from answered items in questionnaires. However, questionnaires’ content could be restricting and subject to personal interpretation. We believe that in addition to their use, user-independent statistical text examination of freely expressed NDEs narratives is of prior importance to help capture the phenomenology of such a subjective and complex phenomenon. Towards that aim, we included 158 participants with a firsthand retrospective narrative of their self-reported NDE that we analyzed using an automated text-mining method. The output revealed the top words expressed by experiencers. In a second step, a hierarchical clustering analysis was conducted to visualize the relationships between these words. It revealed three main clusters of features: visual perceptions, emotions and spatial components. We believe the user-independent and data-driven text mining approach used in this study is promising by contributing to the building a rigorous description and definition of NDEs.

Nicole M. Lindsay and Natasha Tassell-Matamua. Near-death experiences and afterlife belief: A mixed-method analysis. Psychology of Religion and Spirituality. 2020. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1037/rel0000303

Abstract

Following near-death experiences (NDEs) many people report a new or increased belief in life after death, yet this construct has never been specifically examined. In this mixed-method analysis, 105 persons who had experienced a life-threatening event and 69 participants who had never come close to death completed an online survey measuring beliefs about the “self” after death. Those who reported having an NDE during a life-threatening event were significantly more likely to believe in postmortem continuation, particularly the persistence of consciousness and individual identity beyond death. Eighteen people were also independently interviewed to explore the thematic form and psychological antecedents for any revised beliefs. Results were highly convergent with survey data and suggested the phenomenological characteristics of NDEs played an important role. These findings offer more systematic empirical evidence for the idea that NDEs foster certain types of postmortem beliefs.

David Royse and Karen Badger. Burn survivors’ near-death Experiences: A qualitative examination. Omega, 2020, 80(3), 440-457.

Abstract

Persons who come close to death but survive catastrophic accidents sometimes report very vivid experiences during times when their survival was in doubt, when they were believed to be dead, and during resuscitation efforts. This qualitative study builds upon existing research on near-death experiences (NDEs) by focusing on the oral accounts from a sample of individuals with large and life-threatening burns. The NDE accounts were obtained from burn survivors attending the Phoenix Society’s World Burn Congress and are similar to reports by notable researchers ( Greyson, 2003 ; Moody, 1975 ; Ring, 1980 ) while reflecting the uniqueness of the individual survivor’s experiences. Six major themes are reported. Counselors and health professionals need to be aware of and educated about NDEs as these experiences can have profound effects upon the individual. Patients who have had NDEs may need to discuss them but fear professionals will reject their stories as being crazy.

Lilia Samoilo and Diane Corcoran. Closing the medical gap of care for patients who have had a near-death experience. Narrative Inquiry in Bioethics, 2020, 10(1), 37-42.

Abstract

This commentary discusses the twelve stories in which patients tell what happened when they were hospitalized and they had a near-death experience. The stories display a consistent theme of the gap in medical and spiritual care they received, after the patient’s near-death experience. This commentary explores the implications of this gap in care for these patients and the perceived medical professionals’ bias that occurs after these experiences, which can contribute to long-term consequences such as isolation and rejection. Education in medical schools and continuing education can provide medical professionals with insights needed to support individuals with near-death experiences.