Near-Death Experiences: Psychological or Paranormal?
Undergoing a near-death experience is said to be unique and even sometimes unsettling. It can occur under a few differing circumstances, but is most likely to happen when one is on the brink of death. The cause is yet to be positively determined, yet most characteristics of a near-death experience can be attributed to psychological reasoning rather than paranormal.
Scientists have given valid explanations for most characteristics of NDE’s . Some common features include intense emotions, rapid movement through darkness (often to a light), a sense of being somewhere else (not of this world), encounters with deceased loved ones and a review of one’s own life, and sometimes an Out of Body Experience (IANDS). Scientist Susan Blackmore hypothesized these characteristics may be due to brain states that are triggered by anesthesia and cardiac arrest. The ‘tunnel into light’ sensation (see figure 1) can be attributed to a phenomenon known as hypotensive syncope, which can cause tunnel-like peripheral to central vision loss. Many nueroscientific studies have shown that brain pathology can lead to visions of deceased ones, angels, ghosts, or a religious figure. This can result from abnormal dopamine functioning, a nuerochemical that can induce hallucinations (Mobbs & Watt). There have also been many reports of experiencing both terrifying and euphoric emotions. Many recreational and medicinal drugs can replicate the positive emotions. “At varying doses, the administration of ketamine can mimic these experiences including hallucinations, out-of-body experiences, positive emotions such as euphoria, dissociation, and spiritual experiences. Ketamine is sometimes used as an anesthetic through its binding with opioid mu- receptors and hallucinations may occur through inhibiting N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptors, the same receptors that are evoked during the administration of recreational drugs like amphetamine”...
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