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chelle21689's avatar

Why doesn't everyone experience a "near-death experience"?

Asked by chelle21689 (6831points) July 27th, 2012

For those that have come really close to death such as blood being lost from the body at a rapid rate, dying on an operating table, etc. how come some of those people don’t experience that peaceful and calm feeling?

Some people who have experienced a near-death claim they see heaven, see loved ones, feel calm… and then there are scientists that say it’s just the brain and chemicals.

My mom had a near death experience having my brother 22 years ago. She claims she was about to join her mom because she saw her. She said she almost died again in surgery a year ago but I didn’t hear her talk about any new experience.

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14 Answers

FrankStitt's avatar

When the brain believes itself to be dying, it releases DMT. This hallucinogen produces the visions of bright lights, loved ones, etc. Stories of people using this drug are very similar to near death experiences. Users will see outlines of people and think they are aliens; while people dying will think of heaven and upon seeing these outlines, they believe them to be their loved ones. So, not having a near-death experience would mean that person was not so near to death.

DMT can also produce out-of-body experiences where people will be looking down upon their own body. This occasionally happens in surgery.

chelle21689's avatar

BUT…then why do people who have been pronounced clinically dead NOT experience a near-death? I mean if they are clinically dead then obviously the brain is probably thinking it’s dying or in some panic state and would release the chemicals??

mowens's avatar

Maybe you arent nearly dead enough?

JLeslie's avatar

My guess, just a guess, is what we expect to happen influences our experience, and also chemicals released during the dying process varies by individual. Same as some people have panic attacks and some don’t just in every day life. Moreover, maybe it is like dreaming, some of us play out things in our brains more actively than others, but overall there is a general commonality of experience among most of us.

Your mom was fully conscious I assume when giving birth until the emergency happened, but while in surgery years later she was drugged for the surgery, not consciously aware. Your mom probably thought of her mom a lot during her pregnancy. What type of mother she would be herself. One of the biggest fears a mother has is dying and leaving her children motherless. If she had been thinking about her own mother a lot during that time, it seems logical she would goto those thoughts in a dreamlike state.

During her surgery maybe she had felt ready to die if the worst happened? I don’t know what her surgery was for? Or, maybe she had felt almost no risk, and had not given much thought to it and feels calm in her life, and so her thoughts and emotions are not obsessive in any way during that time.

wundayatta's avatar

Some NDEs are not positive. Some people see dark, threatening figures. Some have labeled these figures devils and so on.

Why doesn’t everyone see this stuff? Because people are different. We don’t all have the same brain chemistry. We don’t all interpret the experiences our brain produces in the same way.

There is a difference between experience and interpretation of experience. Since the experiences happen inside the brain, there’s no way of knowing if it is the same from one person to another. It is very clearly not the same when it comes to interpretation. We have no idea how many people have similar experiences but don’t remember them or don’t talk about them. There are many variables and no way to measure objectively what is going on.

GracieT's avatar

I don’t know if I did or not, when I left the coma it took me a while to become aware enough to notice.

Sunny2's avatar

How do you know someone who is pronounced clinically dead doesn’t experience it? I’m confused. Did the person survive after all?

chelle21689's avatar

They were pronounced dead but they were brought back to life. You know when the heart stops beating and they don’t breathe after a certain amount of time?

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

It may depend upon how long that the person stopped breathing before they were revived. If the NDE is based upon what occurs in the brain during this type of episode, it makes sense that it could impact what happens and what is recalled.

JLeslie's avatar

Pronounced dead? I don’t think people are pronounced dead until they are dead dead. No hope of being brought back to life.

Paradox25's avatar

One theory from the believer side (believer as in I believe that many of these events are a real glimpse of the afterlife), comes from mediumship communications with afterlife entities. Many of these entities claim that most people go through a period of deep rest upon physical death, or when our silver cords are severed from our bodies, which can vary from a few days to many years. There apparently are spiritual hospitals where these unconscious spirits are taken care of until they eventually awaken to their new enviroment. I don’t have strong evidence to support my argument here, but it is one take about this issue from the believer side. This is also the scenerio that most secular dualists and Spiritualists believe occurs as well.

On a quick note here, it helps to have at least somewhat of an open mind before we pass on from what I’ve read about this. Unlike our matter system, or dimension, mind has much more power on the ‘other side’. Our thoughts can very well be our reality. If we believe very strongly that we do not survive physical death, we may very well stay in a very deep coma type sleep, and for many years potentially from what I’ve read.

I’ve also read that many people who have very strong doubts about our minds surviving physical death may deal with another possibilty, not realizing that they indeed are ‘dead’ and may make many futile attempts to get the attention of others, to no avail, until help from the higher spheres attempts to rescue them. NDE’s are as varied as our minds are, so it doesn’t surprise me that there are so many differences between one person’s experience compared to another.

digitalimpression's avatar

I don’t trust anything that I “see” during an altered state of consciousness. No, I don’t mean when I’m on drugs. When a person dreams, waking sensations are muddled in with their sub-conscience as their brain sort of comes back online. It’s not much of a stretch for me to think this happens when the brain is going “offline” as well.

wundayatta's avatar

@Paradox25 I’m sure it helps to have an open mind. But it does not help to have a completely credulous mind. Not only do you not have strong evidence to support your argument, you don’t have any evidence. Nor, for that matter, do you have an argument. Just a nice story that belongs in a fantasy novel. It is creative, though. I will give you that. I particularly like the “silver cords.” They have a nice ring to them, indeed!

Zaku's avatar

@wundayatta There’s some evidence. The evidence I’ve read most recently was about people in NDE’s seeing and hearing things from an out-of-body perspective, which they otherwise would not have any way of knowing. Often the people reporting such experiences are not spiritually-inclined at all, and are just reporting their experience.

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