People often associate the term ‘near-death experience’ with a potentially fatal accident, life-threatening disease, or a bright light coming towards them.
But experts suggest that it could also include a variety of sensations such as detachment and even feeling like you’re floating.
Neuroscientists suggest that an NDE results from ‘disturbed bodily multisensory integration’ that occurs during a life-threatening event.
In a near-death experience, these multisensory experiences include visions of deceased relatives and religious figures, and outer body experiences.
The Mirror spoke to Chris French, head of the anomalistic psychology research unit at Goldsmiths, University of London, about the phenomenon.
He said: “Usually, the core experience is the feeling of peace and bliss, it’s like an outer body experience and entering another spiritual realm. Some may see deceased relatives and religious figures, as well as themselves, returning back to their body, but of course, it’s very rare to get someone who includes all the components in that order.”
Near-death experiences aren’t always bright lights and a feeling of spirituality though, they can be negative, and actually pretty terrifying.
Chris continues: “The negative ones fall into three general categories, the first one is where the person is concerned and naturally terrified that they are dying, the second category is almost a stereotypical panto version of hell with demons and pitchforks.
“The third negative experience which I find the most chilling, is those that find themselves in a void all on their own in isolation, knowing that they’ll be there forever.”
Interestingly, those who have a positive near-death experience can become less materialistic, more spiritual, and generally care more for other people and the environment.
Chris added: “They may find it difficult to put into words, and worry that people might think they’re crazy, when in fact, they’re quite clearly not. Now that they find themselves back in their ordinary mundane reality which can’t compare, there can also be relationship problems.
“There can be a high divorce rate with those who have had near death experiences, some may think they’re married to a saint, maybe they’ll sell the house and even give it to charity.”
Near-death experiences can reduce the fear of death greatly, but if the experience is negative, it can also increase the fear of death, with many people suffering PTSD symptoms after experiencing one.
When talking about near-death experiences as a whole, and why they actually happen, opinions are very much mixed.
Those who have a positive NDE may become more spiritual
“The question is how you interpret it, you’ve got people who believe that it’s exactly what it appears to be, a glimpse into the afterlife, with your mind being separated from the body.
“Others believe it’s the visions of a dying brain approach, which is basically weird stuff happening in the brain, and a near-death experience is what it feels like to be inside of that happening.”
Currently working on his book “The Science Of Weird S***”, Chris French explores the topic of near-death experiences in greater detail, because after all, they are pretty weird.