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Personal Aftereffects

by on January 4, 2017

                            Personal Aftereffects: Outcomes from NDEs

                                                by Marco M. Pardi

“All changes, even the most longed for, have their melancholy; for what we leave behind us is a part of ourselves; we must die to one life before we can enter another.” Anatole France (1844-1924) The Crime of Sylvester Bonnard. 1881.

All comments welcome.  To those readers who have been hesitant to comment or ask questions, please be assured you may do so freely. In recent days several new people have signed on as followers, enabling them to comment freely, and it is hoped they will. All previous posts are open for comment by clicking on “uncategorized”. Reader participation keeps this site vibrant. MMP

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Over a period of several years I facilitated a discussion group for people who had Near Death Experiences.  The founding purpose of the group was to provide a safe venue for people to air their concerns and discover coping mechanisms for the unpleasant after effects.  Over time the group came to include people who had not themselves experienced NDEs but were conversant in the subject and, in some cases, qualified therapists in related fields.

Recent years have seen a proliferation of books and other media presentations on NDEs, but there has been very little published in any form which addresses the potential after effects.  Yes, groups involved in this field do exchange experiences and solutions, but almost nothing had gone mainstream until Dr. Penny Sartori published her book, The Wisdom of Near-Death Experiences: How brushes with death teach us to live. Watkins 2015.  But mainstream, here, is a relative term.  The book is well known in the medical community, mostly hospice, and has been translated into several languages.  Yet, the general public is almost entirely ignorant of its existence.  Instead, the public is treated to occasional anecdotes usually so weakly presented that the dubious reception they generate discourages other experiencers from speaking out.

While all the reviews of Dr. Sartori’s book have been universally excellent, there are issues and angles not covered. Just as I have put context to the “stages of dying” which the media quickly manufactured from both Dr. Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’ work and the work of Dr. Raymond Moody on NDEs, I will put context to Dr. Sartori’s work. I will point out that, contrary to the incomplete story typically presented in mass market literature, the after effects of NDEs can be quite unpleasant and can have profound ramifications.

Penny enumerates the reported after effects as follows:

(Note – no order is implied, nor is there any implication these must all be experienced)

Unpleasant after effects.

No fear of death.

More tolerant, loving, compassionate.

No longer materialistic/status oriented.

Enhanced appreciation of life.

Spiritual values change.

Sense of “mission” or purpose in life.

NDE is vivid in mind.

Heightened concerns for the environment/ecological issues.

Electrical sensitivity and inability to wear a wrist watch.

Develop psychic tendencies/premonitions/enhanced intuitive perception.

Develop a healing ability or being healed.

Huge psychological boost.

Looking over this list one sees almost all of them are subjective, difficult if not impossible to quantify.  This is potentiated in several items by the absence of reliable “before” information.  Anecdotal accounts of the person before the experience from friends and family may be weighty, but are hard to measure. And, several individual ones would be expected to result in one or more of the other effects on the list.  But let’s start with the “unpleasant effects”. I will also touch on a few others.

There have been some reports of unpleasant, even terrifying NDEs.  As outlined in my previous post, an examination of the pre-experience reporter is called for. The question here would be: Does a “fire and brimstone” pre-experience mindset carry over into the actual experience itself? If so, how do we avoid the conclusion that people experience what they want to experience – meaning that a pre-inclination can shape perception even when that person is purportedly free and fully existing, albeit momentarily, in a separate yet valid reality?  Is it only a matter of What you see (in the sense of world-view) is what you get? Apparently not, as the great majority of people who have come forward with their story indicate an initially profound shock, especially those socialized into one of the Western religions.

My interpretation of unpleasant after effects is far more mundane.  It begins, for many, with an intense period of self-doubt and attempts to rationalize, even after the most pleasant of experiences.  Especially in the West we are asked to live with a bifurcated mind: the everyday mind sees itself as rational, material facts oriented, “scientific”, and free of superstition; and, the everyday mind is simultaneously expected to accept the existence of an unknowable supreme being along with a cohort of non-corporeal entities such as angels, demons, saints, etc. – the non-rational mind.  The presumption is that each has its place.  The same person who says he does not believe in mediums, ghosts, etc goes to a church to hear a person interpret “the will of God” and teach him how to save something – his soul – which he can’t possibly find. Again, each mindset has its place and has been satisfactorily compartmentalized. The NDE, therefore, is a stunning repudiation of that compartmentalization.  The fact the person is alive to remember and think it over crushes the boundary between what is supposed to be reality now versus what is supposed to be reality after death. 

The person having resolved, or still resolving this epiphany is now faced with the often dramatic question of whether to communicate this to others, and to whom it may be safely communicated.  Even deeply committed fellow church members, and clergy, usually revert to the materialist, rational mind to trot out long disproved rebuttals for what appears to be an affront to their well ordered universe. “It was caused by the anesthesia”, “It was a dream”, “You’re going crazy”. This leaves the experiencer with a very deep and profound sense of alienation, even from family members.       

The “No fear of death” needs context. Specifically, it comes down to no fear of being dead, not no fear of getting dead.  Getting dead can be a real pain in the (insert your choice here) and can be a protracted, miserable affair. Sure, having everything in order and all the significant others adjusting well to the change are to be hoped for.  But that’s rarely the case.  Too often the soon to be deceased spends last days and hours trying to help others accommodate.  Certainly, a catastrophic stroke, heart attack, or falling meteorite likely solves the pain and suffering problem, but what of those who have not taken steps to safeguard their dependents?  Do you have a valid Will?  So, no, I’m not interested in leaping through Door Number 4 until I’m certain I have everything properly attended.  Anything else would in fact violate at least two of the other claimed after effects, the “loving and compassionate” being an example.

The “More tolerant, loving and compassionate” and the “No longer materialistic/status oriented” seem to go together, along with other themes related to perceptions and values. They sound admirable enough, but is there a potential problem?  Definitely so.  Although the recent presidential elections laid bare the “culture of hate” pervading the United States, extreme views and unbridled greed have been around for a long time. Thus it is not surprising to read or hear that alienation from family, including one’s own spouse, ensues from the changes arising from an NDE.  “Not the hard charging man I married.” “Next, she’ll be giving money to those homeless bums.” “Won’t go hunting with us anymore.” And on and on. “Sense of  ‘mission’ or purpose in life” is subject to the same “Wait a minute! Who said so?” from others who perceive this as a dramatic challenge to an established relationship. 

The sense of mission is particularly suspicious.  Church funded publishing houses frequently push the “I have returned with a message for mankind” garbage.  The message turns out to be the core values of the church funding the book.

Simply put, just as I criticized Kubler-Ross’ end of life phases for being completely patient-centric and not taking the significant others into account, the same must be said here.  The list, so far, appears completely centered on the individual who experienced the NDE and pointedly ignores the social matrix in which this person has been embedded, often for many years.

The “electrical sensitivity and inability to wear a wrist watch” are fairly common claims.  According to Dr. Sartori, “Those who reported deeper NDEs had greater problems with electromagnetic fields.” Unfortunately, without solid pre-experience data we cannot do much assessment.  However, this carries the mark of retroactively ascribing blame for events once a presumably valid precursor has occurred.  Someone develops mysterious metabolic problems but we then discover they abused alcohol twenty years ago.  Aha! Problem solved.  Too easy, and a kind of cheating in what should be an in-depth investigation.        

There are other issues in this list about which I will gladly answer questions, but I do not want to write a book length article here.  My recommendation for people who have experienced an NDE and are having trouble accommodating is straightforward: Find a group with people who are competent and knowledgeable in critical thinking and science but also as well versed in belief systems.  Strictly avoid the true believers in Scientism, as well as the true believers in New Age “Woo-woo”; these two groups will put you back into the box you just escaped.

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

       

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17 Comments
  1. No fear of death… or getting there. As much as breaking my foot last year at this time and then breaking my ribs hurt, I found it very entertaining. I have got to have my drama and I am rarely the cause.

    Yeah, that electrical sensitivity sucks. I still hate grabbing live wires like I did over Christmas at my brother’s house in Atl. We did find the problem and he had an electrician come out to fix it. The night before I left to go down I ask in an email if I needed to bring any tools, there’s always something needing fixing or modifying there even though it’s only a 20 yr old house. Shocking to say the least. 😛 To this day I still won’t wear a watch because I saved for a month to buy a watch for $10 and then left it on the bumper of dad’s car after I did a brake job. Someone always has the time or there’s a clock nearby and when I’m on the go I always have an awareness of time to within 5 minutes.

    My NDE was when I was very young, probably my first exit point. I think it was you who said the lady that took me aside to tell me that life was about choices was actually me, at some point of incarnation. So for a backstory before the NDE is pooping my diapers and whatnot.

    From the day we are born we are ‘getting there’ to death. We are infected with life which always ends in death. It’s life, no one gets out alive.

    Peace.

  2. Thanks, P.O. I’m glad you are still with us, in more ways than one. You seem to be bumping your way through life, and yet it’s enjoyable for you. That’s good news. I would say, Stay safe. But I can hear you laughing now. A day with you must be quite entertaining. Marco

    • Yeah, I’m still here. When someone asks what I am I up to I always reply, “6 feet… above ground.”. Pretty much hanging around with me is taking care of my cats and letting drama come to me from outside sources. I guess my cats could be drama but I’m quite used to it so they are just in need of attentions.

      I’m like one of those kittens or puppies in a batch that will run full on and run into something, bounce off dazed for a second and then tear off in a different direction just to do it again. Luckily a broken neck and a few bones and ribs has slowed me down somewhat along with some age. But tomorrow I see pain management and get to start all over again!

      What doesn’t kill you only makes you slower! 😛

      Peace.

  3. When I took your class an aeon ago you presented ideas so foreign to a young girl living in a backwater southern town. Then you brought in guest speakers, talking about the paranormal. The two that stand out to this day some 40 years later, was a young girl who could read with her fingers. She would put her hand in our textbook, tell the page, and then read with just her hand in the book. The other, and maybe you can recall his name, was a person who discussed time is not real. He said all time was happening at the same time and there was no history question he could not answer. Those experiences have made me accept all things are possible. NDE I don’t question. My current philosophy of life is David Eagleman, http://possibilian.com. And Iris Dement’s song, “Let the Mystery Be”.

    • Thank you, Mary. We have both been fortunate in having exposure to these realities. I am really saddened by not being able to continue providing these opportunities to students, but my reality had to be reckoned with.

      Thank you for the link. It appears quite fulfilling and I will follow it. Marco

  4. Not only am I a compulsive writer, but a compulsive thinker as well; since reading this excellently written offering, I have been able to think of little else. My own NDE was decades ago, and yet it remains as clear in my mind as the morning it happened. Most of the “changes” listed were a part of my personality long before it happened, and so I am unable to judge whether they became more so after my experience. I do know that I no longer have any fear of BEING dead, although I do maintain a healthy respect for those methods by which I may get that way.

    I often think that my experience was one of the greatest blessings of my life. Not only did it take away my own fear of death, but it has allowed me to help others in the time leading up to their own death, or the death of those they love. I have told my tale many times, and always with a positive result. Most recently, I was speaking of my NDE to someone when I noticed my aunt listening to me. It was her daughter whose death prompted one of my blogs, and it was very satisfying to be able to assure her that her child was at peace. Of course, I realize that not all experiences are like my own, but being able to help someone through their grieving process truly feels like a gift.

    • Thank you so much, Rose. Your experience of an NDE and all the years following are validations of the need to address this seriously and with competent thinkers. I’m glad your interactions with others have been positive, and I also know that should one ever be negative you are entirely able to handle it accordingly. I can “see” you assessing a person for their receptivity and knowing when to let them continue in their line of thought.

    • Rose, the first thing I tell someone who has lost a person or pet that the grieving is their love pouring into the hole they leave behind.

      I just lost a foster kitten Friday. It was my decision to put her to sleep. There were a couple others involved as well in the chain of command. It hit me harder than usual for the feeling of failure and the young age of the kitten at 8 months. I brought her body home and buried her with my others in the rain, cold, nasty, gloomy day.

      The only things that help are my spiritual awareness-es. I know they are in a better place.

  5. .Only people who experience NDE will really be able to understand the experience……….my experience with a in car accident gave me a brief glimpse /trailer of what may actually be the NDE…..Trapped in my new Renault koleos as a huge trailer rammed into my car and crushed it against the traffic signal, As the trailer was impacting my car, i thought i was a goner and fleeting memories of past events passed my mind as i felt the moment of collision would impale me the next second….it was as if time froze and i was slipping into another realm while the reel played…as the truck came to a standstill ,i snapped out of my state of stupor as i heard people shouting at me to get out of the car as the fuel was leaking…..unbelievably not a scratch on my body…it was a miraculous escape….the incident still haunts me till date and a realization seeped in that fate may have given me another chance…..and as you mentioned it is such incidents that make us value life as we know it and do some serious soul searching, reach a heightened state of awareness and move to the spiritual path……

    • Thank you, and welcome to this site. Would you mind if I addressed you as Raj? Your experience sounds quite enlightening, helping you to become aware of the greater part of you which is not confined to the flesh. Of course, it’s hard to comment on “fate” and what exactly it is or means. But I definitely sense your newly developed awareness. Thanks again, Marco

      • Marco, do you think the ‘fate’ could be a rejection of an ‘exit point’ as Jamie would say?

      • P.O. At my age, and with my memory, I cannot deny there have been certain patterns and events in my life I simply could not have put in motion myself and not all of them were pleasant. I do recoil from ascribing “purpose” to these but at the same time I recognize there is a ME that is far larger than the me that walks around daily. So, I’m unsettled regarding “fate”. Perhaps ME is guiding me in ways I’m not always aware of, but again, I just have to stop short of having “faith”.

      • I just found that clicking on Raj’s name will bring you to his blog site. He’s just beginning, so it’s well worth a look and a bit of encouragement. Marco

      • Yes. No issues. Some of my friends call me Raj. So i guess that makes us friends ??

      • Thank you, Raj. I’ve just returned from a trip and am late in answering. Marco

    • Also, I did not copy your blog site address. Please post it on here so we can all have a look. Marco

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