(ORDO NEWS) — The inevitability of death is a great concern for us humans, but new research involving those who have returned from the brink shows that the experience of death may be less painful than many of us think.
After interviewing patients who experienced clinical death after cardiac arrest, the researchers found that one in five had a conscious experience of death.
The study involved 567 people whose hearts stopped beating during their stay in the hospital before doctors began resuscitation.
Less than 10 percent of patients who experienced this condition reported a feeling of separation from their body and watched the events without pain or suffering.
Others said they were able to see and appreciate their entire lives while they were unconscious.
However, rather than simply relying on resuscitated testimonies, the researchers also analyzed patterns of brain wave activity in patients during near-death experiences.
In doing so, they found bursts of activity, including gamma, delta, theta, alpha, and beta waves, that typically occur during conscious processes.
Surprisingly, these bursts of activity were present up to an hour after clinical death, despite the absence of life signs in patients during this period.
“These flashbacks and brainwave changes may be the first signs of a so-called near-death experience, and we have documented them for the first time,” study author Sam Parnia said.
“Our results suggest that, while on the verge of death and in a coma, people experience unique internal conscious experiences, including awareness without suffering.”
The data was collected as part of the AWARE II (Awareness During Resuscitation) clinical study and is a continuation of the first AWARE study, which was published in 2014.
During this earlier phase of research, the authors interviewed 101 resuscitation survivors, 46 percent of whom said they were self-aware.
These memories included seven major cognitive themes, including seeing a bright light, feeling déjà vu, remembering life events, and meeting family members.
Some survivors said they saw animals or plants, while others spoke of feeling fear or being abused or harassed during their brief passing away.
In 2019, the researchers presented the results of another round of interviews.
Comparing interviewees’ experiences with a list of cardiac arrest survivors found that 95 percent of those resuscitated who reported a memory of it experienced feelings of joy and peace, 86 percent saw the light, and 54 percent reviewed their major life events.
After being brought back from the edge of the eternal abyss, 95 percent said that this event changed them in a positive way.
Commenting on the latest results, Parnia explained that “these conscious experiences cannot be considered a trick of a disordered or dying brain, but rather a unique human experience that emerges on the brink of death.”
The brain may undergo a process called disinhibition when we die, leading to activity that gives access to the deepest layers of consciousness, the researchers say.
It’s hard to say exactly why this is happening, although Parnia is sure the phenomenon raises some “intriguing questions about human consciousness even at death.”
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