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Life After Life (Moody book)

Cover of Dr Raymond Moody's first book on NDEs

A Near-Death Experience, or NDE, occurs when a person's body attains clinical death but the individual's consciousness continues to actively observe and experience prior to resuscitation, which may occur minutes, hours, or in rare cases, days following the point of decease.  The term was first coined by Dr. Raymond Moody in the 1970s with his book Life After Life.  The phenomenon has subsequently been studied further by numerous published doctors and academics including a few who have directly experienced NDEs themselves.  In a very few instances, the NDE afforded the "new" and sometimes uncomfortable and disquieting experience of brief visual sight to the lifelong clinically blind.  While many try to make the NDE conform to their personal religious preconceptions, experiences vary widely enough to defy oversimplified categorizations. 

Phenomena of the NDE

Moody first categorized approximately a dozen attendant phenomena of the NDE.  These included one or more of any of the following: 

An out of body experience, or OBE, in which the experiencer perceived him or herself exiting the body and observing conversations, people, and scenes immediately in the area or moved to others to observe conversations they could not have been aware of even had they been conscious in body. 

An auditory effect such as chimes or a rushing wind prior to a removal from the first scene. 

A tunnel experience, in which the experiencer perceived passing through a tunnel, of which descriptions vary somewhat widely. 

A distantly perceived approaching extremely intense bright light. 

A being or beings in the light, often identified as a deceased relative or a religious figure such as Jesus. 

A life review, in which part or all of a person's life from pre-birth to the recent decease is witnessed in extremely vivid yet rapid detail (sometimes described as seconds or a few minutes), entirely forgotten life details may appear, and the cascading effects of even trivial life decisions, positive and negative, may be seen spilling outward from person to person to person. 

A decision point, sometimes taking a symbolic form such as a line or river to be crossed, indicating a choice to remain or to return to the body.  Often this is bypassed entirely when a person is simply told it is not their time to die and they must return, or they are persuaded to by descriptions of a yet-unfulfilled life mission, the memory of which is sometimes removed from them by the time of their return. 

A frequently unpleasant reassociation with the body, described by one author as like moving from blissful freedom to putting on a cold, heavy boot full of wet mud. 

Increased psi abilities for a period following the return such as precognition. 

Radical changes of character, typically toward the nonjudgmental and peaceful that the psychiatric faculty has described as practically evidentiary by themselves, and in some cases marked enough to even lead to divorce. 

Famous Experiencers

While the NDE is observable in accounts throughout human history, it has experienced a popular resurgence in the 21st century and its preceding decades.  The best-known account is likely Betty Eadie's book Embraced by the Light, but many other experiencers have been widely read and published, from Dannion Brinkley to Howard Storm and others.  Medical experiencers such as Dr Mary Neal and Dr Eben Alexander have also attracted widespread attention for their medical competence in assessing the phenomena surrounding their own experiences.  In addition, websites like iands.org (The International Association for Near Death Studies) include many hundreds of individually described accounts


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