Pam Reynolds was 35 years old when she went under the knife in an unusual, daring brain surgery. She had a near-death experience (NDE) in which she heard surgeons talking and observed the procedure, though all sensory perception should have been null at the time and her brain activity had ceased.
What she saw and heard was later verified by checking the surgeons’ reports. This 1991 case provides one of the strongest pieces of verifiable, well-documented, evidence for the existence of NDEs as a phenomenon outside of the brain. It suggests the feelings NDEers report of being separate from the body are accurate and not merely hallucinations conjured within a malfunctioning brain.
Though her case is one of the strongest, Reynolds isn’t the only one to have reported seeing things outside of the body that were later verified. These are known as veridical perception cases. Sam Parnia, M.D., Ph.D., is working on a study to continually and methodically gather NDE data and identify such cases. Parnia is a critical care physician and director of resuscitation research at Stony Brook University School of Medicine in New York. He is leading the AWARE project in hospitals around the world.
In participating hospitals, patients who are revived after cardiac arrest and whose brains had stopped functioning, with their bodies clinically dead, are asked to report what they felt, heard, and saw, if anything.
Independent markers are also set up. If the person leaves his or her body and happens to see these markers, tucked away in places out of ordinary sight, it points to a genuine out-of-body experience.
Jan Holden, a counseling professor at the University of North Texas and long-time NDE researcher, noted however, some shortcomings in such studies. Out of five studies in which visual targets were established, not a single successful case was reported. It may have to do with the nature of the targets, she said. “What they [NDEers] focus on has more to do with things that are of emotional and spiritual significance than like a square of blue in a corner with a triangle and a number on it,” Holden said at the International Association for Near-Death Studies (IANDS) 2014 Conference in Newport Beach, Calif., on Aug. 29.
Another challenge faced by these studies is that these markers can be seen by someone standing on a ladder. Thus, one could argue that the person may have—however unlikely—heard about or seen the markers through normal sense perception.
Having studied dozens of veridical perception cases herself, Holden said in an email that Reynolds’s experience is “is what I consider the most evidential.” She sent Epoch Times a 116-page document outlining, with direct quotes from the NDEers, the cases she studied to inform the chapter on veridical perception she wrote in “The Handbook of Near-Death Experiences.” Holden has found that 92 percent of apparent veridical perception cases are accurate, 6 percent have some errors, and only one in 93 cases are completely inaccurate.
Here is a closer look at the Reynolds case and a case from Holden’s studies.
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