“Am I dead or what?” (continued)

“Am I dead or what?” (continued) January 13, 2020


Haleakala dawn
Sunrise over Haleakala, on Maui (Wikimedia Commons public domain photo)
“Haleakalā” is Hawaiian for “house of the sun.”


Continuing with some notes taken from Pim van Lommel, Consciousness Beyond Life: The Science of the Near-Death Experience (New York: HarperCollins, 2010), 23-26, regarding the case of “Vicki,” blind from birth, and her out-of-body or near-death experience following a serious automobile accident:


Dr. van Lommel cites a summary from K. Ring and S. Cooper (Mindsight, 1999), about a portion of Vicki’s experience in which she meets — and sees — some prior acquaintances:


There are five of them.  Debby and Diane were Vicki’s blind schoolmates, who had died years before, at ages eleven and six, respectively.  In life, they had both been profoundly retarded as well as blind, but here they appeared bright and beautiful, healthy and vitally alive.  They were no longer children, but, as Vicki phrased it, “in their prime.”  In addition, Vicki reports seeing two of her childhood caretakers, a couple named Mr. and Mrs. Zilk, both of whom had also previously died.  Finally, there was Vicki’s grandmother — who had essentially raised Vicki and who had died just two years before this incident.  Her grandmother, however, who was further back than the others, was reaching out to hug Vicki.  (25)


In the end, Vicki is obliged to reenter her body:


And then I was sent back and then I went back into my body and it was excruciatingly painful and very heavy and I remember feeling very sick.  (25)


Dr. van Lommel, a Dutch physician and researcher with a specialty in cardiology, comments on Vicki’s case:


The fact that somebody who has been blind from birth as a result of an atrophied eyeball and optic nerve and who has an undeveloped visual cerebral cortex can nonetheless see people and surroundings raises significant questions.  How is it possible that this woman can see, from a position outside and above the body, at a moment when she is in a coma caused by brain damage sustained in a serious traffic accident?  She has never been able to see.  Besides, she perceives things from a position outside her body.  How does she do this?  What is responsible for this?  How can she be aware of her perceptions during her coma?  This is impossible according to current medical knowledge.  The stories of Vicki and of other blind people with an NDE are forcing scientists to consider new ideas about the relationship between consciousness and the brain.  Vicki’s reported observations could not have been the product of sensory perception or of a functioning (visual) cerebral cortex, nor could they have been a figment of the imagination given their verifiable aspects.  (26)



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