Archive | July, 2011

Frightening and Hell Like NDEs

26 Jul

Since last week I’ve had a lot of enquiries about frightening NDEs because Matthew who was interviewed for the Bio Channel series ‘I Survived… Beyond and Back’ described a NDE where he felt he was in hell.


Frightening NDEs certainly occur but there is far less attention given to them. American cardiologist Dr Maurice Rawlings was the first to draw attention to these frightening NDEs in the 1970’s and subsequent research was undertaken by British researcher Dr Margot Grey in the 1980’s, Professor Bruce Greyson and Nancy Evans Bush, PMH Atwater and Dr Barbara Rommer.


Professor Greyson and Nancy Evans Bush classified the frightening NDEs as:

1)      The usual NDE but interpreted in an unpleasant or frightening way

2)      The eternal void of darkness

3)      The hell like experience which in many cases is terrifying

 Dr Rommer added a fourth category where the NDEr relived a frightening life review where they were judged by a higher power.


I came across two patients who had frightening NDEs in the prospective hospital research that I undertook. The first was the Type 1 described above and the second was a Type 3. I also have a vivid memory of looking after a dying lady when I was a student nurse about 20 years ago. She was terrified of dying and said she had died before and it was awful as it was hell. It was one of those cases that has always stuck in my mind because she was in such spiritual distress. It’s only since I’ve undertaken my NDE research that it seems likely that she’d had a frightening NDE in the past. All of these experiences are briefly described in my forthcoming book.


Some researchers have described the frightening NDEs as being confusional and suggest that they may be attributable to high levels of carbon dioxide or due to anaesthetics but I don’t agree with any of these explanations. The people in my research were not at all confused and the lady who had the hell like experience did not have elevated levels of carbon dioxide, nor was she recovering from anaesthetic at the time of her NDE.


Some frightening NDEs transform into the pleasant NDEs but not all and many people are left with resultant psychological trauma. Many people never disclose their frightening NDE because they may feel a sense of shame that they experienced something frightening and not the usual pleasant NDE. Many simply can’t understand their experience. In some cases the memory is so frightening that the person will deliberately try to suppress it.


It is clear that far more research into the frightening NDEs is needed and that people who undergo the frightening NDEs need to be supported as they come to terms with understanding their experience.


Past-President of IANDS, Nancy Evans Bush has launched a blog devoted to the frightening NDEs which is a very helpful resource. Nancyis herself a NDEr of the frightening kind and it took her ‘30 years and a Master’s degree to piece together’ what she experienced. I had the good fortune of being invited to a meeting at The Fetzer Institute in Kalamazoo in 2007, at which many other NDE researchers were present including Nancy. It was an honour to listen toNancy as she retold her experience first hand.


 Check out Nancy’s blog at:

If there is anyone out there who has had a frightening NDE, I would love to hear all about it. I can be contacted by the email address given at the top of the blog or at my website.


NDE on TV ‘Surviving Death’

23 Jul

The Discovery Channel showed ‘Surviving Death’ last night at 9pm. This was interesting and showed three people who survived death and later revived and recalled a NDE.

All of the NDEr’s hearts had stopped for a prolonged period of time. One man had fallen into a frozen lake and the doctor stated that his heart had been stopped for three hours. 

The body temperatures of these people were all very low which the doctors believed helped in their resuscitation. These experiences really do highlight that we are learning more and more about the dying process.

I’m looking forward to watching the programme next week. 


NDEs on TV – I Survived… Beyond and Back

22 Jul

I thought the TV show that aired last night was very interesting. It showed two very interesting people describe their individual NDEs.

Sandy had a NDE during the time that she drowned while white water rafting. She described seeing images of her sons when they were older than they currently were then having an out of body experience where she was looking at her body from above.

Matthew had his NDE after being shot in the head. He described the more unusual experience of going to hell and was convinced of the presence of evil. His NDE then changed when the darkness was penetrated and a large hand appeared to help him and then he heard a voice saying ‘It’s not your time’.

What was very also helpful was the testimonies of people who witnessed the events and who verified how close to death they had both been. Despite Matthew having an extensive gun shot wound to the head and having undergone a cardiac arrest where his heart had stopped for over four minutes and despite Sandy being under the water for almost five minutes, I found it remarkable that neither one suffered any hypoxic brain damage. This is yet another aspect of NDEs that is difficult to explain.

Following his NDE Matthew has been left with absolutely no fear of death but also wants to tell everyone that there is a hell. He reiterated that based on the choices he now makes in his life he is not going back to hell.

It was apparent that both were left with feelings of great love for others. Matthew emphasised how strong his love for his wife is. Sandy also talked about her NDE giving her a lesson of self worth and how much she loves her sons. It ended with Sandy saying how important it is to cherish those you love and to let them know that you love them.

What an interesting TV show and what great people both Sandy and Matthew were to share such emotional experiences with so many people. I look forward to next weeks show.

For anyone who missed the TV show ‘I Survived… Beyond and Back’ that was shown on the Bio Channel last night, it can be viewed on line, just follow the link


NDEs on TV Friday 22nd July

21 Jul

There is a second series on NDEs on Friday 22nd July at 9pm on the Discovery Channel.

Thanks to Tim for the following info:

‘Surviving death’ recounts the experiences of three exceptional cases, one of them being that of Ward Krenz of Sioux Falls, South Dakota, who was underwater for two hours after crashing into a lake. He survived because of the chilling effects of the cold water on his brain…and he did have an NDE but he has been reluctant to say much about it so far, other than ‘death is a beautiful experience.’

It sounds interesting, I’m looking forward to watching it.

NDEs on TV Thursday 21st July

20 Jul

To anyone who is interested there is a TV series on NDEs begining on Thursday 21st July at 8pm on the Bio Channel.

The series has a few NDErs talking about their NDEs. It looks interesting.

I’d be interested to hear what any viewers have to say about the show.


New NDE case histories in the process of being added

19 Jul

I’ve had a lot of requests to my website for more case histories to be posted on my blog and website. 

Last week I added Ken Ebert’s very interesting NDE. Yesterday I added the NDE of children’s author Shelley E Parker. 

Keep checking the blog for more case histories. I am currently in the process of writing up the case history of a man I met last week who had a heart attack and NDE 2 years ago. Since his recovery he has been experiencing some very interesting after effects which he is finding very difficult to integrate into his life.

These very interesting case histories highlight just how fascinating this phenomenon is to study.

Ken Ebert’s answers: NDE after effects and Empathic Death Experiences

15 Jul

Part 2


Dr Penny Sartori: Your NDE has obviously had a big impact on your life. Is that what motivated you to write your book Theater of Clouds?


Ken: I’ve had dreams of this becoming a bestseller. Self-publishing through Amazon is only a start, a way to get it out there to be read, as the message is very important indeed. Fear of death is perhaps one of the greatest corrosive influences on the human spirit. My hope is that some publisher will come across my book and put it out as a mainstream book.


I’m fairly overwhelmed by this whole path, as the book would not be published were it not for the seven weeks of recovery at home from surgery to correct the original injury – a mechanical, physical addressing of a 27 year old injury allowed me enough time to rewrite the manuscript, and edit it as well. A neurosurgeon fromSanta Fe, did the surgery, removing a messy disk from C3-4 and fusing the vertebrae with a titanium plate. The discovery of the injury occurred long into the process of diagnosis, coming to the attention of the doctor only because a pain management specialist sent me to see him upon discovering multiple syrinx throughout my spinal cord. 


The syrinx were benign but the doctor saw the slipped disc, which accounted for my troubles. Twenty-seven years of chronic pain was vanquished through the doctor’s surgery this past February. I’ve no doubt that I would have been disabled by year’s end without the intervention. Very grateful, I am. Meanwhile, the book came to be.


Dr Penny Sartori: Have you noticed any other unusual after effects of your NDE? In some cases people report the ability to solve complex mathematical formulas, some develop psychic abilities and some intuitively know how to repair complex electrical items. Do you have anything like this?


Ken: Psychic abilities, big ‘yes’. You will read that in my book, where I tell about the long strange journey that followed the NDE. I did some talk therapy with a Doctor of Human Growth and Development in 1990, and she said that I was l “living on an archetypal level”.  Kind of moving in and out of Dreamtime.


Also synchronicities. For example, I met Ondrea Levine on the 21st anniversary of my NDE, quite by chance, when she came to buy groceries in the market where I have worked as a cashier for ten years. Stephen Levine’s book A Gradual Awakening was a life-changing book for me in 1979. Meeting his wife on such a meaningful day was a synchronicity of great joy. We have since become friends. These synchronicities have slapped around my preconception ever since the NDE. There is a playful intelligence I feel behind them. I’ve done my best in the book to describe that, which was a task since the unfolding process was so long in coming.


In reply to my question Ken mentioned about two empathic or shared death experiences that he too experienced as he was with his parents as they were dying. Look out for future posts on the phenomenon on the empathic or shared death experience.


Ken: I had the beginnings of a vicarious NDE with my father as he sat dying. It is in my book. It was incredible to see the Tunnel appear and the figures within the Light! But I withdrew from the vision because it felt to be more for him than for me – an exquisitely private moment.


I did not see it when my mother passed but I did take care of her for seven months, helping her die from esophageal cancer. During that time I witnessed several odd and magical phenomenon connected with her dying process. We had both read Stephen Levine’s Unattended Sorrow (a gift from Ondrea) not long before she was diagnosed so she was open to my perspective on spiritual dimensions. At one point, when I increased the dosage of transdermal fentanyl I could viscerally feel her life force plummet and a swarm of “dark” spirits came around us both, which I had to battle mentally to keep at bay.

That makes a “yes” to your query about psychic powers, eh? But another thing was that for six of the seven months I was still working a full 40 hour week, so I would ask Brigid to look over mom while I was at work, and without my telling mom about this she began to see “a little girl in a white chiffon dress”. She also had other visitations. I am still considering writing about taking care of mom, as a sort of sequel to Theater of Clouds, since my interests in death have continued to this day.


NDEr Ken Ebert’s answers to questions on electrical sensitivity, consciousness and Dr Rick Strassman’s work on DMT

11 Jul

Last week I established the most interesting email contact with Ken Ebert from Taos, New Mexico when he contacted me after seeing my website. I have added Ken’s original email and his excerpt about his NDE to the case histories part of this page and on my website 

 Over the past few days I have been asking Ken quite a lot of questions which I think will also be of great interest to the readers of this blog so, with Ken’s permission, I’ve posted some of our email conversation below.

 The conversation was quite long so I’ve put it in two parts – the first is posted today and keep checking the blog for the second posting.

 Part 1

 Dr Penny Sartori: One aspect of NDEs that particularly interests me is that some NDErs are left with electrical sensitivity or some kind of change in their electromagnetic field. This really fascinates me. Some people find that watches won’t work for them after their NDE and electrical items such as kettles, toasters or computers just malfunction or even blow up in their presence. Do you find that you have this? Can you wear a watch?


Ken: I got a laugh when you asked about the watches – haven’t worn one since 1985. Those first few years after the NDE I also sometimes blew out light bulbs just being near them. The other thing was that I could “feel” light as a texture, i.e. passing by a lamp would sometimes feel as if brushing a woolly substance. I still get that to some degree, but only when I am fatigued. Another unusual phenomenon was that my hearing became very acute. I first verified this by turning on and off a motion detector silent alarm. I could hear the transmitter in the thing. This still sometimes happens, but not often. But I also could pick out conversations in a noisy room. Still can, but I do not like the aural sensitivity. The store where I work is a 10,000 square foot room and I can, if I try, pick out conversation on the far side of the store, but I keep my filters up because I get overwhelmed by sound if I do not squelch it with my mind. The useful part of this sensitivity is that if something is relevant to me but is spoken below my range of hearing I can hear it anyway, almost as if it was spoken right in my ear.


Dr Penny Sartori: One thing I’ve been open to exploring further is the possibility that rather than the brain creating consciousness it just mediates it. Therefore as we die or have a NDE there are certain neurological processes that occur. However, the predominant mode of thought is that these processes create the experience of the NDE but I am suggesting that they are the neurological correlates that allow the NDE to be experienced as opposed to creating it.  Would you agree with this in light of your experience?


Ken: I totally agree with this. I think that to relegate the NDE to epiphenomenon is just foolish anthropocentric arrogance. Harsh words, but the “place” I went in the NDE journey was and is quite real, and a free-standing reality that does NOT require my participation, much less existence, to be real. I find the humanist approach to be almost as silly: that these experiences are creations of the psyche. I strongly feel that we have neurological correlates, maybe such as the DMT that Rick Strassman speaks of, that allow instead of create. I would say that, for example, if Rick Strassman is correct and DMT does play a role in these experiences, then the DMT is a facilitator rather than a source. The way I see it is best described by what Carlos Castaneda called “the knock of the Spirit”. The call of the Spirit to me in my NDE would trigger harmonic resonance in my central nervous system, which would subsequently come up with the most efficacious means of transmitting and translating that call from Spirit.


I do not believe that the brain creates consciousness. It’s a tricky thing but I have done a lot of reflection on this perspective, and I reckon that we are fairly swimming in a sea of consciousness. The closest academic description I have come across is from panpsychism, which states that “mind” exists in all matter. I was delighted to discover the work of philosopher Christian de Quincey because his lovely writing about panpsychism and philosophy in general so well described many of the notions I have developed to clothe the mysterious intelligence that is consciousness. I call it “getting a look at the critter”. It is very hard to describe but I think you will see it in my book. It is movement and repetition in these ethereal phenomenon that denote to me that there is intelligence behind them. That is another thing that De Quincey verified for me: the value of story, of narrative. I used, with permission, a lengthy  quote from his book Radical Nature that tells of stories and how they allow us inclusion in the overall story of life. 


Dr Penny Sartori: I have read Dr Rick Strassman’s book DMT: The Spirit Molecule (a few years ago) and really enjoyed it. Did you think it explained your experience? Was your NDE like some of the cases he cited? I have briefly mentioned his work in my books but said that maybe the experiences were somewhat influenced by expectation because they were induced in experimental conditions. Whereas NDEs are totally unexpected. It would be interesting to see what you think of this.


Ken: As for Rick’s work with DMT I do agree that the unplanned nature of the NDE gives a different set and setting to the experience, whereas the clinical setting of Rick’s work unavoidably coloured the outcomes. What drew me into his work is the concept of a potential biological mechanism, DMT, for these experiences. When I really started delving into this stuff, around 1990, I felt certain that there was a valid physical mechanism involved, that the NDE was a natural phenomenon, even perhaps a spiritual support mechanism which alluded to the veracity of spiritual involvement on the physical plane. When Rick’s book was recommended to me I was delighted to hear his theories. His new book, on the possible role of DMT in Biblical prophecy, comes out in October.


I hope you all found that as fascinating as I did. Keep checking the blog for Part 2 of our conversation.

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