Monday, January 09, 2012

Suppression Of The More Dream-Like Aspects Of Near-Death Experiences

I've explained in previous posts that I think near-death experiences (NDEs) are paranormal, but largely subjective. They're somewhat similar to dreams. Here's a post I wrote on the dream-like characteristics of NDEs.

A recent example of such an NDE is the case of Ben Breedlove. I suggest reading the thread on that case here, at Penny Sartori's blog. Read the whole thread, including the comments section. A lot of significant points are brought up, such as the different nature of NDEs in India and one poster's experience with meeting "the goddess Brigid" in an NDE.

Something that came to mind as I read the comments there, and I don't remember thinking of it before, is that the dream-like aspects of NDEs are similar to negative (hellish) characteristics in a way. Some researchers, like Nancy Evans Bush, have noted that people seem to be more reluctant to report negative NDEs than positive ones. And it's more difficult to do follow-up research with people who have the negative, hellish experiences. Sometimes you lose contact with the person. Somebody who was reluctant to report a negative NDE in the first place decides he no longer wants to talk about it after he first reports it. And how many people never report a negative NDE to begin with? It seems likely that negative NDEs tend to be suppressed more than positive ones. And I suspect that something similar occurs with NDEs that are more explicitly dream-like. If you meet somebody in an NDE who shouldn't be there, because he's still alive on earth, you may be more hesitant to view the NDE as highly objective or to tell other people about it. The same can be said of other aspects of NDEs that are of a more subjective nature. It seems likely that NDEs that are more obviously subjective would tend to be less discussed or would tend to be discussed without as much mention of the more subjective elements. Just as negative NDEs are underreported, I imagine that the more dream-like NDEs are as well.

Some of the posters in Sartori's thread linked above mention that these dream-like characteristics I'm referring to are more common in the NDEs of children and young adults. There's more than one possible explanation for that tendency. Younger people may tend to have a less restrained imagination. They may be more honest in reporting such experiences. (That doesn't mean they're more honest in general or in every way. A tendency to be more honest in one context may be accompanied by a tendency to be less honest in another. I'm not suggesting that children and young adults are more honest in every context.) Whatever the explanation, the more dream-like nature of NDEs among younger people should be kept in mind.

For those who are interested, you can find my index of NDE-related posts here. As I've explained before, I think NDEs are paranormal and give us some minimal information about the afterlife. But they're largely subjective and must be reconciled with a Christian worldview, which is supported by more significant evidence. For an explanation of what I mean by more significant evidence, see the comments section of the thread here. I don't deny that NDEs are supported by better evidence in some ways, such as the use of modern medical equipment to confirm some aspects of NDE cases. However, the concept of quality of evidence has multiple dimensions to it, and the evidence for Christianity is better than the evidence for NDEs in some ways that are often underappreciated.

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