Are NDEs caused by oxygen deficiency in the brain? (Part 2)

Are NDEs caused by oxygen deficiency in the brain? (Part 2) June 18, 2020


Surgery in the Bush
Ship’s Surgeon Lt. Cmdr. Krista M. Puttler and Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Brandon D. Day perform a surgery aboard the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush.  (Wikimedia Commons public domain photograph)


Continuing with a subject that I raised yesterday, here are some notes based on Pim van Lommel, Consciousness Beyond Life: The Science of the Near-Death Experience (New York: HarperCollins, 2010), 114-116.  Dr. van Lommel is a Dutch cardiologist.  This is what he said.  This is what Pim van Lommel said:


Some have sought to account for the “tunnel” that is reported in many (though by no means all) NDE accounts as the result of oxygen deficiency in the (visual) cerebral cortex.  Others have suggest that it might be caused by the disruption of the supply of oxygen to the eye, which, they say, would gradually darken one’s range of vision and would leave only a brief pinprick of light in the middle that could be perceived as a tunnel.


However, as Dr. van Lommel observes, the NDE “tunnel” phenomenon, when reported, is often accompanied by a sense of high speed, meeting previously deceased relatives, and, at least occasionally, by hearing very beautiful music.  But oxygen deficiency in the eye cannot explain such things.


Some skeptics cite the experience of jet fighter pilots as a potential parallel to NDEs.  When placed in a centrifuge, for instance, such pilots have experienced momentary oxygen deficiency in the brain because the enormous increase in gravity (or g-force) has caused their blood to drop to their feet.  Fighter pilots can, in fact, lose consciousness.  Often, they experience seizures, rather like those connected with epilepsy, and often they feel tingling around the mouth and in their arms and legs, as well as confusion upon waking.  Sometimes they have experiences that are reminiscent of NDEs, including a kind of tunnel vision, a sensation of light, a sense of peaceful floating, seeing brief and fragmented images from their pasts, and even observing images of living people.


But, says Dr. van Lommel, they do not experience visions of deceased people.  They do not report having undergone a life review.  They do not claim out-of-body experiences (OBEs).  And, while the life-transforming effects of NDEs are well-documented, such results have rarely if, indeed, ever been reported after pilot-training experiences in centrifuges.  “In other words,” he concludes, “these experiences are not identical to an NDE” (116).


Incidentally, one of the comments following yesterday’s related blog entry — from Tom Merrill; just scroll down to see it — reports a personal experience that is directly relevant here.  And another (from TimErnst) reports an extremely interesting NDE/OBE, well worth your notice.



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