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.