NDE Conference in France – A Clinical Reality: Doctors Give Evidence

4 Feb

Marseille conference

I have been invited to speak at the forthcoming conference in March. It will be good to meet up with Dr Raymond Moody, Dr Eben Alexander, Dr Jeffrey Long and Jody Long again as well as make the acquaintance of the French researchers in this field of study.

If anyone who doesn’t speak French is interested in attending the conference presentations will be immediately translated to English via headphone sets. Click the link to visit the website:


The paper I will be presenting will be on frightening NDEs. There is far less attention paid to these frightening experiences so it will be good to highlight the need for more research in order to have a greater understanding of them.

During the course of my five year hospital research I came across two patients who had a frightening experience. I also very distinctly recall, when I was a student nurse,  looking after a patient who was terrified of dying. On reflection it is likely that this patient had a frightening NDE when she had undergone a cardiac arrest five years previously.

Having felt so useless while looking after that patient I now hope I can continue researching these experiences and use my research and knowledge to help others who have undergone such a terrifying experience.

After posting my previous blog comment appealing for people who have undergone a frightening NDE I only received a few responses which highlights how sensitive and traumatic these experiences can be. I am very grateful to the people who have contacted me regarding their frightening experiences as they have been a big help to my further understanding.

I’m hoping to learn a lot at the conference and am very much looking forward to meeting the other researchers. I will keep the blog updated of any interesting progress.

To view the trailer of the conference click the link below:


82 Responses to “NDE Conference in France – A Clinical Reality: Doctors Give Evidence”

  1. Lemmo Murro February 4, 2013 at 4:18 pm #

    Good luck and keep us informed please ;).

  2. rudyink February 4, 2013 at 5:09 pm #

    Congratulations Penny! It will be interesting to see a comparison of the personal and environmental factors of the negative experiencers versus those that had a positive NDE.

    • Dr Penny Sartori February 4, 2013 at 6:55 pm #

      Hi Rudy, thanks for your message. Yes, I have a feeling I am going to learn a lot at this conference. I’m really excited about it.

  3. Julie Baxter February 4, 2013 at 5:48 pm #

    More power to your elbow, our Dr. Penny! 8)

    • Dr Penny Sartori February 4, 2013 at 6:58 pm #

      Hi Julie, thanks for your message. I can’t wait to go to the conference.

  4. Max_B February 5, 2013 at 9:23 am #

    Sounds good… It’s easy for me to get caught up with only the research from only the English speaking world… then after following the conference link, you realise that the French speaking world is also busy investigating this subject to, including a far more serious electronic hidden target study…

    Click to access PlaquetteCNERIC8.pdf

    I still don’t believe they will have any hits on the the hidden targets, but the conference web site seems to say that Dr Jean-Pierre Postal will be presenting the results of research studies by CNERIC there…?

    Look forward to you keeping us informed. Can we expect a daily blog of the highlights… lol…?

    • Dr Penny Sartori February 5, 2013 at 6:26 pm #

      Hi Max, yes it’s great to hear of the research going on in France too. Thanks for the link, I tried to translate the page but my French isn’t very good so I can’t say much more at this point. It seems quite similar to the research I did but with a much more hi-tech approach of using a smart phone in a secure box which changes images every 15 minutes. This is something that Prof Bruce Greyson did using laptop monitors in his 2003 study I believe. Similar technology was also considered for the AWARE project but at the time there wasn’t the funding for it but this may have changed by now.

      It will be really great to hear the results of this study. I am so excited to be going to the conference.

      Ha, I doubt I’ll get around to doing daily updates. I’m a complete technophobe and it’s taken me months to get used to posting comments on the blog. I’ll do my best to update the blog as soon as I can. I know there is going to be a lot of good information to disseminate when I get back home.

      • Max_B February 5, 2013 at 7:58 pm #

        I quite liked their idea of using a brightly wrapped gift box to attract attention, as well as the asymmetric encryption of the word which appears on the device screen into a ‘hash’.

        But, from the diagram they provided, the device appears to be inside a VERY small box. Something that looks about the size of a shoe box. It would seem rather difficult to get into exact position to see the device screen inside… Lol… 🙂

        As you know, I don’t believe that they will get any hits anyway, because I just don’t believe the disembodied eyes idea they are testing for. Never-the-less, if you do believe in this idea, such a tiny sealed box would seem to dramatically reduce any chance of a hit.

      • Dr Penny Sartori February 7, 2013 at 10:31 am #

        Hi Max, yes I like the idea especially using bright colours to attract attention. The use of bright colours was suggested by Janice Holden in the late 80’s after her research into NDEs / OBEs, which is why I also used bright day-glo colours to surround the images used in my research.

        You’re right it is a small box and the device is also small but I guess there may be a funding issue there as it’s probably more cost effective to use smart phones as opposed to bigger tablets. The patient, when ‘out of body’, would also have to be directly over the top of the box to view the image which again narrows down the chances of the image being ‘viewed’. These points in themselves highlight the complexity of researching this aspect of the NDE.

        If hundreds of patients do claim to have left their bodies and were in in a position where the box and image could be viewed but then don’t view the image this is very interesting data too and could even support your theory that information is picked up from the minds of those in the vicinity. I think it will take many years to collect sufficient data due to the infrequency of veridical quality OBEs.

      • Stuart February 6, 2013 at 3:48 am #

        Just wondering did Bruce Greyson do similar research a number of years ago with signs and is there any links to the findings?

      • Dr Penny Sartori February 7, 2013 at 10:35 am #

        Hi Stuart, yes Professor Greyson did a study in 2003. In his research none of the patients had an OBE (if my memory is correct – I’m thinking off the top of my head at the moment). Your local library should be able to get you a copy of his paper, the reference for it is:
        Greyson, B. (2003) Incidence and correlates of near-death experiences in a cardiac care unit. General Hospital Psychiatry, 25: 269–276.

      • Max_B February 7, 2013 at 3:20 pm #

        For some reason I assumed there was a lid on the sealed box! so that it was impossible to see the screen unless you ‘materialised’ with your head inside the box. Lol…

        Very true Penny, it would be interesting if they saw the box but got no hits on the displayed word.

  5. lola escarpa February 5, 2013 at 9:51 am #

    Thanks for the information, Penny, and congratulations. Lola

    • Dr Penny Sartori February 5, 2013 at 6:27 pm #

      Hi Lola, thanks so much. It is going to be a very interesting conference.

  6. Paul Cockerill February 5, 2013 at 9:30 pm #

    I’d be curious to hear more about this research being undertaken in France with the phone in a box. Was an image correctly seen i wonder. Perhaps you can find out more about this at the conference and report back to us.

    • Dr Penny Sartori February 7, 2013 at 10:32 am #

      Hi Paul, yes I’m curious about this research. I’m looking forward to finding out more about it. I will put some updates on the blog when I get back. I’m very excited about the conference.

  7. timbo194111 February 12, 2013 at 8:45 pm #

    Interesting comments on this topic.

    I am deeply troubled by the focus among NDE researchers on placing artificial ‘targets’ in the room where people are having NDE’s – and then testing them, as if they are lab rats, to discover if they see the targets.

    It is this essentially materialist view of reality that is so troubling. Many people who have these experiences do see events going on in the room, but for them that is only the beginning of the experience and usually the least significant aspect.

    It seems extremely doubtful that they will notice irrelevant and trivial items. This is frustrating for scientists who are accustomed to control studies where they can make the rules. I know that the motives are certainly good, but the result is that the researchers will make mischief by trying to force transcendent experiences into a false materialist context. That may leave NDErs in the position of having to defend why they didn’t see these objects, while they are trying to talk about God and eternity.

    Scientists have a lot of work to do if they are going to move beyond an outdated and exhausted materialism, but that ideology is very deeply rooted and widespread and will not go quietly.

    • Dr Penny Sartori February 13, 2013 at 11:35 am #

      Hi Timbo, thank you for your comment. You make an excellent point. I certainly found with my research that none of the patients were interested in looking for hidden targets. In fact, it was a great deal of hard work damp dusting these targets etc when that aspect of the NDE was seldom referred to by the NDErs in my study. (I’ve written a longer comment on the complexities of veridical OBEs in a previous post).

      However, it is the only potentially verifiable aspect of the NDE when researching this extremely complex phenomenon. In the current materialist scientific paradigm this is a logical step to undertake as this is the sort of ‘evidence’ demanded by this paradigm.

      I agree that the materialist view is outdated now but as you correctly mention it is deeply ingrained and widespread. However, things are changing. When I began my research in 1997 I was intitially subjected to great scepticism and ridicule and more or less ignored and the research was certainly not taken seriously. Whereas when I had completed my research, eight years later, the attitudes were very different. Now that more research is being undertaken NDEs are being recognised as important and valid experiences. This will, I believe, eventually progress to an expanded science which will have to include transcendent aspects of what it means to be human. We live in very exciting times.

  8. Jason February 19, 2013 at 1:05 am #

    Dr. Satori,

    Have you heard anything about AWARE?. I think Sam Parnia has a book coming out called Erasing Death and I think it talks about his results (somewhat). I think the results are going to come out in October (2013). But people have reviewed his book and Parnia concludes that conciousness can continue when there is no visible brain activity.


    • Dr Penny Sartori February 19, 2013 at 11:47 am #

      Hi Jason, I haven’t heard anything about AWARE for a while – it will be great if the results are out in October, I am very much looking forward to the final results. It will be very interesting to read about some of the results in Dr Parnia’s book.

      I think the more research that is being undertaken into NDEs is highlighting that these experiences undoubtedly occur and that the current belief that consciousness is created by the brain is incorrect. Throughout history our science has changed as it has progressed. It was once a scientific fact that the Earth was flat but then we made more discoveries as our science advanced which showed us that the earth is in fact round. To me this is a very exciting time as we are making more discoveries about consciousness and it seems that our science is changing to give us a greater understanding of consciousness. A very interesting time to be alive!

      • Jason February 21, 2013 at 5:13 am #

        Dr. Satori,

        Yes, I believe that too. I wonder how you can say that conciousness is material if it can continue up to a few hours after the heart stops with a flat eeg! I wonder how Parnia came to that conclusion. One thing I think which validates the NDE are the healings, like your patient 10 and Anita Moorjani NDE. I think that these healings are just as important or even more so than the OBE part of the experience. Have you heard of any other NDE’s besides those two with healings?

      • Dr Penny Sartori February 22, 2013 at 7:46 pm #

        Hi Jason, I’m not sure that consciousness is material. It is something that goes beyond materialism.

        There is a very good interview with Dr Parnia on NPR at the following link:


        Yes, I think the healing cases are very interesting and most important. There are many cases of healing documented throughout the NDE literature (sorry, I can’t remember specific ones off the top of my head). There may also be a few on the NDERF website.

  9. sheila February 21, 2013 at 10:43 pm #

    All the best for that conference Dr Penny. Will a transcript be available in simple format that can be accessed and read on a nokia phone that is not a smart phone?

    Most people here in south australia think that terrifying near death experiences are crap and people claiming to have them have mental problems. Local tv and radio stations here have made a big thing about the home ones but think the people who’ve had the bad ones are either mental or too negative or just plain bad people.

    I’ve had a terrifying one where angels and jesus christ warned me that if i had medically necessary hysterectomy, i would be cursed for the rest of my life and tortured in flames for eternity. I know for a fact that if i yes to talk to my dr about it, i would be shown the door quick smart.

    • Dr Penny Sartori February 22, 2013 at 7:42 pm #

      Hi Sheila, the conference will be available on DVD. The frightening NDEs certainly do occur and they are not associated with mental problems. I just want to reassure you that there is absolutely no evidence to support the idea that people who have frightening NDEs are mentally ill or too negative, or bad people.

      Maybe there is another doctor who would be more sympathetic to these experiences. There is a greater awareness now and the attitudes of doctors are changing as more people are recognising these experiences. Maybe if you don’t feel you can discuss it with your doctor, you could ask your doctor to refer you to someone who would understand and therefore would be more of a help to you.

  10. Alan February 22, 2013 at 10:03 am #

    Hi Penny
    Re AWARE there is a very recent interview here with Dr. Parnia on NPR to do with his upcoming book. Best wishes with your future work.

    • Dr Penny Sartori February 22, 2013 at 7:46 pm #

      Hi Alan, thank you so much. I see the link on your next comment so I’ll reply to that.

    • Dr Penny Sartori February 22, 2013 at 7:48 pm #

      Hi Alan, thank you for posting this link. I just listened to the interview and found it really interesting. I’m looking forward to reading the book.

    • Max_B February 23, 2013 at 1:37 pm #

      Thanks for that Alan, during the interview I was particularly interested in Parnia’s brief comments (quoted below) about the OBE’s they have currently documented during the AWARE study:

      “…out-of-body experiences have occurred in areas where they did not have images installed, and they’ve tended to recall looking at the events from a different angle to where the images have been installed. For instance we’ve started out by putting images at the head of the bed, but the patients came back and told us that.. ‘I was looking from the foot of the bed’, then [the patient] goes through and describes all kinds of accurate details…”

      I think that’s very valuable. The recalled positions/perspectives that Parnia describes, are very much what I would expect, if as I believe, the original visual data came from one or more third parties.

      • Dr Penny Sartori February 23, 2013 at 5:12 pm #

        Hi Max, yes it was a very interesting interview. It seems that the AWARE study data so far has replicated my findings with regards to the veridicality of the OBE. Dr Parnia mentioned finding the exact same factors that I have discussed on my blog post about veridical OBEs two years ago. This would also support your theory of picking up information from the minds of the people present.

      • Max_B February 23, 2013 at 7:43 pm #

        Indeed, as I heard him talk, I immediately thought to myself that he was repeating what Penny had written on her blog some time ago.

        I also agree, that based only on his brief comment, it does sound as though he has broadly replicated the results of your own research.

        I think it’s fascinating to consider that in ‘very’ specific circumstances, our own brains may sometimes become so totally defenseless to other external fields, that it allows a third party/parties to inadvertently lay down information into the patients brain, as if it were there own, information which the patient later recalls and incorporates.

      • Dr Penny Sartori February 24, 2013 at 12:23 pm #

        Yes it is good to see that my results are being replicated and the AWARE project has had similar findings to mine.

        Yes, it is interesting to consider this. In realation to Tim’s point, what about patients who report ‘viewing’ things from a different angle or perspective to those present at the bedside? I’m surmising that you believe the information in the minds of those present is what is creating the image for the person having the OBE? Almost as if our individual fields of consciousness are extended and become entangled when a patient is unconscious and experiencing an OBE?

        What about cases where people have reported finding themselves in an out of body perspective in another location miles away yet accurately report details of that location and events going on? Off the top of my head I am thinking of a case where a man reported finding himself in the bedroom of a friend who lived miles away looking down at her body in the bed. He even later described the colour and design of her pyjamas and the location of her bag which was half underneath the bed. Mmm…I don’t know, I think I’m confusing myself now!

      • Max_B February 25, 2013 at 1:14 am #

        Sorry, I didn’t see your reply until after I had replied to Tim. I think I’ve attempted to answer some of your questions further down, using your own Patient 10 as an example.

        I’m surmising that you believe the information in the minds of those present is what is creating the image for the person having the OBE?

        I really don’t know Penny…

        …are they experiencing somebody elses consciousness in real time? or, are they ‘really’ conscious during the period of the experience? or, are the external fields merely sufficient to synchronise and amplify the patients own dysfunctional fields enabling storage of the information. Later the patient revives and they recall the whole experience as if they were conscious and had laid down the memory themselves? I simply don’t think we know enough to even speculate…

      • Dr Penny Sartori February 25, 2013 at 5:07 pm #

        Mmm…yes this is an interesting debate. I need to think about it all in depth.

  11. Kinseher Richard February 23, 2013 at 7:56 am #

    With Google search [wbur “Erasing death”] another interview with Mr. Parnia can be found.

    His remarks to the limits and quality of resuscitation are very good.

    But his attitude towards NDEs is not very good: He obviously plays with words and with this pun he does mix up terms, which are completely different in meaning:
    ´Biological death´ is not reversible for us – but ´clinical death´ is a state where a person is still alive! ´clinical death´ is no death, it a reversible situation, where body functions are disturbed – and where a person can/will die without resuscitation. When there was enough nutrients/oxygen available for the brain until resuscitation, then a person can be resuscitated even without any damage.
    At cardiac arrest, a person is still able to perceive, can feel, talk, move – until after 15-20 seconds he/she will become unconscious.

    But Parnia does not clearly separate in his pun the different meaning of the terms ´biological death´ and ´clinical death´. He say generally that death can be survived (Quotation: ” We study people who have objectively died…”) . Therefore his attitude towards NDEs is only of poor scientific quality: Good science has to use only terms with a clear definition.

    • Dr Penny Sartori February 23, 2013 at 5:30 pm #

      Hi Kinseher, Thanks for your comment. You make a good point. Yes, biological death is not reversible whereas ‘clinical death’ is potentially reversible.

      I’m not sure that I agree with your comment that until after 15-20 seconds the person can still perceive. There is data to show that the EEG flatlines immediately during cardiac arrest. Hence with no brain activity, conscious experience should not be possible – not even in the first 5 seconds. (From a more objective perspective, having been present during hundreds of cardiac arrests I can say with certainty that the patients have absolutely no response, their pupils dilate immediately and the body has the appearance of a dead body until their cardiac output is successfully regained and their heart starts beating again.)

      However, I do agree with you that the fact that the patients have been successfully resuscitated by definition does not meet the criteria for actual death. It is only the process of death that has commenced at this point.

      The fact that people who have had a cardiac arrest and do recall NDEs during the time of unconsciousness however, does call into question the scientific belief that consciousness is created by the brain. I think it is very exciting that this research is on going as I think our science is evolving to a greater level which will eventually make new discoveries about consciousness.

  12. tim February 23, 2013 at 6:40 pm #

    Hi, Penny. Max’s position is really a sort of super psi…but IMHO that disregards what the patients are actually saying. They say they observe from a certain postion separate and AWAY from their bodies. Parnia’s words are VERY significant and bad news for materialist sceptics. I am not surprised because I have ‘studied’ these experiences for 30 years and I personally have doubt about what they mean but of course it is not popular with everybody.

    • tim February 23, 2013 at 6:42 pm #

      That should have been ,,,NO doubt about what they mean.

    • Dr Penny Sartori February 24, 2013 at 12:09 pm #

      Hi Tim, yes at first I was unsure about this possibility suggested by Max but I think it is something worth considering. I see what you mean about patients being in a different position to the people present at the bedside. I really don’t know at this point but it is certainly worth bearing in mind when investigating further OBE reports.

      Yes, I think Dr Parnia’s interview had very good points against the materialist position and I believe this is just the beginning of a very significant change in our science. There are many scientists (involved in consciousness research) who have been saying these things for a few years. I believe our science is now evolving to a greater level and we are beginning to have a greater understanding of consciousness.

    • Max_B February 24, 2013 at 10:37 pm #

      Henrik Ehrsson’s work (amongst others) I feel is very important to my ideas. His work appears to demonstrate that our self-location in space can be easily shifted to the position of the cameras, when our visual data is substituted for the camera’s visual data.

      His work also suggests that our brain may have great difficulty in
      perceiving the self to be located at two different places at the same time, and owning two different bodies at these locations.

      This is a recent paper of his…

      Click to access guterstam_ehrsson_2012.PDF

      Importantly, none of Ehrssons results can be reproduced without using ‘real’ alternative visual data, hence in my view his work ‘supports’ the view that we may actually be receiving alternative visual data.

      Additionally, our brain’s apparent difficulty to perceive itself in two different locations at the same time, imply to me that multiple streams of visual data from different positions (more than one person), are probably combined and unified by our brains into a single logical position of self in space.

      • Max_B February 24, 2013 at 11:00 pm #

        Just to illustrate, take Penny’s Patient 10…

        As I understand it, he sees both Penny inside the cubicle curtains, and the Physiotherapist outside the cubicle curtains.

        According to my ideas, Patient 10 is receiving more than one stream of visual data, at least one stream from within the cubicle, and at least one other stream from outside the cubicle curtains.

        As it appears difficult for our brain to position self in more than one location at a time, both streams of data have to be combined and unified into one location.

        As it is impossible to be both within the cubical, and outside the cubical at the same time, the brain finds the best logical solution, and relocates self, to a position above, where it is possible to see both inside and outside the cubical at the same time.

      • Dr Penny Sartori February 25, 2013 at 5:05 pm #

        That is really interesting. I am going to go and think about this in more depth. What about the case that Kimberely Clark Sharp reported of the patient who saw the tennis shoe on the ledge outside? No one else had reported seeing that and it was only visible from the other side of the hospital.

      • Dr Penny Sartori February 25, 2013 at 5:02 pm #

        Thanks for that Max, I’ll check out the paper.

      • Max_B February 25, 2013 at 6:37 pm #

        Re: Kimberly Clark Sharp… I dunno Penny, Its a long time since I read up on that case, I seem to recall that the claim that the ‘shoe’ could not normally have been seen was strongly disputed.

      • Dr Penny Sartori February 25, 2013 at 8:29 pm #

        Yes me too. There was a series of articles published in the Journal of Near-Death Studies a few years ago and it looked at all of these cases and Kimberly wrote a paper defending the disputes to the case. I’ll have to go back to it at some point – I don’t seem to be retaining things as easily lately!

  13. tim February 24, 2013 at 2:18 pm #

    Thanks Penny,
    Do you think that Sam is prepared for the sceptical flak that will come his way…IF ….and it does seem that his research is pointing that way….he concludes in a preliminary way that consciousness is not dependent on brain function. I envisage a firestorm of criticism and nasty vitriol from the materialist ‘bullies that currently run the institutions etc.

    • Dr Penny Sartori February 24, 2013 at 3:16 pm #

      Hi Tim, yes I guess there is always going to be resistance to a change in our science – there always has been. In the times when Copernicus said that the Sun was the centre of the universe and not the earth he was ostracised and considered a heretic and it wasn’t until Galileo confirmed this over 100 years later that Copernicus was taken seriously (albeit too late!).

      I’m guessing there will be lots of resistance to the findings of NDE research – there has been for many years. However, I have seen a huge change in attitude towards NDEs in the 20 years I have been researching them but now that this hospital research is being undertaken on such a large scale it can no longer be dismissed. This research has and is continuing to make important discoveries which are far in advance of what we once considered consciousness to be. Without the knowledge that has been accumulated through NDE research it was certainly logical to go along with the premise that consciousness is a by-product of the brain. But in light of all of the evidence that has been collected over the past few decades (and continues to be collected) our new knowledge is taking us to another level of understanding the relationship between consciousness and the brain. To me this is all very exciting.

      I will soon be posting a piece about a very interesting article but I have to find time to read it in depth first so keep following the blog.

      • tim February 24, 2013 at 5:15 pm #

        Thanks again, Penny.
        Just one more thing. I thought this statement from Parnia was very telling (although I don’t paticularly think he meant it to be). If you think about it, he is more or less conceding that there is another dimension that we go to. For how could there be bad consequences if we
        just disappear ? Remember, these people’s brains were not working.(assuming that they were part of the study, that is)

        Now where I do like to definitely highlight caution is in the case of people who’ve tried to commit suicide who somehow we’ve managed to bring back – and believe me, we get those – those people tended to have had, in my experience, very frightening and disturbing experiences that I would definitely warn people off doing that. But those, at least, who’ve died from natural causes, they, I don’t think they should be afraid of death, we understand what happens when people die, and that’s the one conclusion that I think we can make.

      • Dr Penny Sartori February 25, 2013 at 4:51 pm #

        Hi Tim, you ask very good questions. If we just disappear, one thing I always wonder about is the life review. What is the purpose of having a life review if death is the annihilation of our consciousness? There is also a lot of evidence in reminiscence in the elderly so again what is the purpose of this? Why would we need to reflect if there was no way to improve or modify our behaviour in this lifetime if consciousness ends after death of the physical body?

        Mmm…the bit you quoted from the interview I don’t think is completely accurate. I strongly agree with Dr Parnia that suicide should be warned against. There are many documented NDEs that have resulted from NDEs where the person realises that they take their problems with them so suicide will not be a means to escape any problems. There are cases of unpleasant NDEs that have occurred during suicide attempt, however, there are also neutral experiences that are neither pleasant or bad and there are cases of pleasant NDEs too. Some therapists in the USA have used cases of NDEs in their treatment of people who have had multiple suicide attempts and if the patient can engage with the NDEs they can have a positive effect and reduce their likelihood of attempting suicide again.

        I too am of the belief that when our own death is imminent, through natural causes, we should not be afraid to die. However, one other thing is that Dr Parnia fails to address frightening NDEs. I don’t think these should be ignored as the ones I came across in my prospective study were very real to the people who experienced them. There was nothing confusional about them and their levels of carbon dioxide were normal. Therefore I think we need to research these further so that we can understand them better and support people who have them. It is important to discuss these as much as pleasant NDEs so that people are aware and may in some way be prepared if ever they find themselves in the position of having a frightening NDE. If you look at the cultures that had Books of The Dead, these include (especially the Tibetan Book of the Dead) seeing images of wrathful as well as pleasant deities. To concentrate on only pleasant NDEs gives an incomplete perspective on NDEs.

      • Stuart February 25, 2013 at 10:42 am #

        I think it is important for both sides of the NDE debate to retain a sense of doubt on not alone the opposite perspective but their own perspective also, as it is the only way correct knowledge will be accumulated in the NDE field (For me this should apply to all fields of study be it science, theology, philosophy, politics etc) as doubt for me is a cornerstone of good knowledge.

      • Dr Penny Sartori February 25, 2013 at 5:00 pm #

        Hi Stuart, yes I agree it is always best to have a sense of doubt on both sides of the NDE debate.

  14. Sheila February 25, 2013 at 3:06 am #

    Between now and the conference, please try to read “ten thousand sorrows” by elizabeth kim. Also “sunday best” by robbie neale. Both books suggest these is a very strong link between fundamentalist christianity and frightening near death experiences and/or frightening spiritual experiences.

    I myself was raised in a hardline fundamentalist christian family. My dad tried to convert the whole district and surrounding districts. Argument being “you must contend for the faith no matter what”. Needless i was bullied at school by both my fellow students and teachers. The bullying was both physical and psychological. Both my parents are descended from french hugenots. The french hugenots are descended from the arabs. I think those angels in my near death experience may have been the earthbound spirits of these hardline fundamentalists who wanted me to bleed to death and then they would have grabbed the opportunity to seize my soul and torture me in flames for eternity. I now think these earthbound spirits of hardline fundamentalists have created a lake of fire and brimstone to torture all the vulnerable souls they can lay their hands on. Once they’ve thrown you into the lake of fire and brimstone i doubt you’ll get out. As for people who are vulnerable, is these any way they can escape these spirits and thus a grissly eternity. Hope this blog’s not too long.

    • Dr Penny Sartori February 25, 2013 at 4:57 pm #

      Hi Sheila, I’ll try to get hold of those books (I have a stack of about 50 books to get through so not sure I’ll get chance before the conference).

      Thanks for sharing this information with the blog.

  15. tim February 25, 2013 at 6:01 pm #

    Thanks, Penny, that’s very interesting.
    It is always good to have a sense of doubt about..anything, I suppose.
    On the question of NDE’s I have studied them so carefully. I’ve followed them all the way fron 1975, the ‘explantions’ for them (of which there are now over twenty)for and against proponent and sceptic and I genuinely cannot find a good reason to keep wondering what they mean.
    If there was a physiological explanation, it would have been discovered by now. It’s nearly 40 years since Moody’s book and before that, Kubler Ross. I’m really not trying to convert anyone, I’m not religious either but people need to know that they are going to find oblivion in death even if they want it.
    Penny’s comments about negative experiences worry me, too. I’m not perfect by any means 🙂

    • Dr Penny Sartori February 25, 2013 at 8:26 pm #

      Hi Tim, it is getting harder to doubt that consciousness is not created by the brain. Having been present during the case of Patient 10 and conducting my research it’s given me a totally different understanding to what I was always taught in school and during my nurse training.

      As for the frightening NDEs I’m worried too as I’m far from perfect!! No, I hope no one will get too worried about those comments on the frightening NDEs but they do happen so I’d really like to understand them better. There is no evidence to suggest that bad people have frightening NDEs, in fact people who have been considered role models for society can also experience frightening NDEs. Also, saints and mystics such as St Teresa of Avila have also had distressing spiritual experiences.

      I’ve been doing a lot more reading around this area and I’ve gone back to Christopher Bache’s book Dark Night, Early Dawn which is really interesting. I read it when it was first published and Stanislav Grof mentioned it after I presented my paper at the Bioethics conference last year so I’ve re-read it. Bache suggests (this is brief and probably a bit vague so don’t quote me on this) that the frightening NDE is an incomplete NDE. As NDEs are usually a one off event, it is only one experience that occurs but he suggests that if there was a series of NDEs then other aspects such as the frightening components would be experienced. He also links the experience to to collective unconscious which is really interesting. I’m going to have to explore this further.

  16. tim February 25, 2013 at 6:03 pm #

    sorry…that should read …they are NOT going to find oblivion.

  17. sheila February 25, 2013 at 11:09 pm #

    Hi penny. Any chance you could conduct conferences in australia in all the capital cities and major regional centres. 20% of australians have some form of mental illness and i think most of it is trauma from frightening near death experiences. I once read a paper put out by a mental health organisation in south australia called GROW. One article was written by a young man in recovery from mental illness. It started when he had a near death experience where he went right to the edge of The Lake of Fire and Brimstone. It was after that trauma he became very mentally ill.

    • Dr Penny Sartori February 26, 2013 at 12:33 pm #

      Hi Sheila, it would be great to conduct conferences in Australia and I’d be happy to take part in any forthcoming events there. It all depends on these events being organised over in Australia. The article you read sounds interesting. As yet there is no evidence to conclude why some people have a frightening experience and some have pleasant ones.

      • Sheila February 26, 2013 at 10:51 pm #

        Have you considered sending am email to chris bath at channel 7 melbourne or francesca velperio al channel 7 adelaide. You could do a video conference with them

      • Dr Penny Sartori February 27, 2013 at 11:56 am #

        Hi Sheila, thanks for this

  18. Gary March 1, 2013 at 8:17 pm #

    I have posted to your blog twice (in July 31 2012 @Aug 17 & Sep 1) when one of your contributors was having experiences similar to “Night Terrors” and I said that I would get back to you with more information (that was concerning the Al Sullivan video, which unfortunately is not currently available on YouTube.)

    In the meantime… The frightening aspect of Nancy’s NDE caught my attention.

    I listened to her interview on skeptiko.com a few times; everything seems to revolve around this quote:

    “I have not the foggiest notion how a Taoist symbol would get into
    the experience of an uninformed New England Congregationalist”

    I did some research and found a path showing how the Yin Yang symbol became a feature of her NDE and why (through no fault of her own) the experience she had was so unpleasant and not one of bliss.

    I do apologise to Nancy for not contacting her directly to check things out, but if you are going to present a paper at the conference in a few days (possibly partly inspired by her experience) then time is short.

    If you would allow me to post what I have found so that it can be judged, I will happily do so.

    Is this fair?

    • Dr Penny Sartori March 2, 2013 at 7:10 pm #

      Hi Gary, thank you so much for your comment. I’d be really interested to hear what you have to say. I’m sure Nancy would be interested to read what you have found. She has a blog called Dancing Past The Dark so you could always post a comment on that too.

      There is far less information on the frightening NDEs so anything you could contribute will be very interesting to read.

  19. Sheila March 3, 2013 at 7:16 am #

    All the best penny. March now. What’s the date of the conference.

    • Dr Penny Sartori March 4, 2013 at 8:03 pm #

      Thanks Sheila, the conference is 9th – 10th March. I’m really looking forward to learning more and meeting all of the other researchers.

      • Sheila March 6, 2013 at 4:39 am #

        That’s this weekend yr conference is. All the best. Here in south australia, this weekend is a long week end. With the conference being recorded on dvd, will it also be available on a memory stick. My bedroom tv has on dvd player but it does have a usb port. It will cost too much in data to download it.

      • Dr Penny Sartori March 6, 2013 at 1:21 pm #

        Thanks Sheila, I’m not sure if the conference will be available on memory stick. I’ll let you know how it goes.

      • Sheila March 13, 2013 at 2:05 am #

        Penny, how did the conference go? What did you learn. Please share it with the forum.

      • Dr Penny Sartori March 14, 2013 at 3:41 pm #

        Hi Sheila, the conference was really interesting. I spoke to a few people who also had frightening experiences and some people said they will email me with details of their experiences. It was a little difficult to understand when people came to talk to me after my paper because of the language barrier. During the conference all of the presentations were translated via headphones so that was great and I was able to understand but it was much more difficult when people spoke to me after as I couldn’t understand as I don’t speak French.

        I’m looking forward to receiving emails from the people who had the frightening NDEs as I’m sure what they have to say will be a great help. I met one man who said that he had been in hell so I am looking forward to reading his email.

  20. john scovell March 4, 2013 at 2:43 am #

    Hello Penny, re OBEs I thought u might find this interesting. A yoga teacher I know was practising meditation and he found himself outside his body and in a friends flat. He wanted to try and confirm if he was really there so he looked around to see if there was anything unusual. He noticed his friend had a new vase – or new something, can’t remember now- a while after he saw his friend and said how’s that new vast. His friend said ‘how did u know about that. U have not been at my place since I’ve had it’ explain that! Thanks john

    • Dr Penny Sartori March 4, 2013 at 8:14 pm #

      Hi John, thank you so much for sharing this experience with the blog. That is so interesting. There are so many cases like this but they go unreported so its great that you’ve put this on the blog for others to read.

  21. Gary March 4, 2013 at 6:55 pm #

    Hi Penny

    This is my reading of Nancy’s NDE based on my own experiences. I may be totally wrong.

    (Only Nancy will know. And I have raised questions that only she can answer.)

    At the very least it may give you ideas about areas worth considering when studying NDE accounts.

    The first thing I did was to take a ‘top-down’ approach to the problem of how an unknown Taoist symbol could influence somebody’s NDE and asked myself the question:

    What happened approximately 40 years ago that can link the USA, Far East and visions of hell..?

    One word immediately sprang to mind.

    I googled “Vietnam Yin Yang” and found a link to a YouTube video claiming that Yin Yang was Vietnamese!

    From this moment the fog started to clear.

    (In the early 70s the flashing of subliminal images in film and on TV was banned. The advertising industry made no fuss about this they just quietly changed their strategy. The fact that images can be placed into the subconscious is beyond question the controversy is can they be used to change behaviour? Behavioural change in Nancy’s case is not the issue. How the image got there is.)

    I thought that maybe during some of the TV news coverage of the anti-war demonstrations there was a protester holding a peace symbol placard; wearing a Yin Yang T-shirt? (on the subliminal level this is all the exposure that would be required.)
    And if the demonstration had turned violent that would have been the negative association.

    I felt I needed more information to be sure.

    I do not have a copy of her book, but I was able to download a sample in which she states that her NDE happened a year after the first man went into space (1961) so that put events a decade before Vietnam, Hmm…

    Interestingly that was the time during the Cold War when the Berlin Wall was constructed, Bay of Pigs, Cuban missile crisis. And when the US was very fearful of losing the space race: Sputnik, Yuri Gagarin.

    Stress can be a factor in triggering an OBE. So if you couple the pervading climate of fear with her vulnerable personal situation this may have been a ‘tipping point’ for her.
    (A point that will be set differently for each individual. Some people fear flying, others love flying.)

    But I suspect the real story begins much earlier in 1938. Where I found a very interesting newspaper article which I have posted here:

    (Any problems with my links let me know.)

    I am assuming that the “Rev Arthur W Evans” mentioned is Nancy’s father?
    If this is true then the Evans family has direct knowledge of missionary work in Korea.
    Does she have any memory of this time?
    Did her family personally know anybody sent to Korea?

    12 years later an event happened (ironically called the “Forgotten War”)

    quote from http://www.byfaith.co.uk/paul200924.htm

    “The Korean War (1950-1953) began on the 25 June when the Communist crossed the 38th parallel and swept down into the south causing mayhem and chaos. During this war around 240 churches were destroyed (152 Presbyterian, 84 Methodist, 27 Holiness, 4 Salvation Army and others) and 232 Christians were either abducted (taken to North Korea) or martyred.”

    Was she aware of the fate and persecution of missionaries at the hands of the Chinese backed North Korean forces?

    (In her interview on skeptiko.com, Nancy’s experience of being humiliated and annihilated is summarised. And a reference made to entities from another culture and in particular, a Buddhist or Taoist culture.)

    The USA provided 88% of the UN forces fighting in Korea.

    To get into the ‘mindset’ of this war – download and have a browse through this PDF.

    Click to access ct-alpha.pdf

    I am guessing that Connecticut is possibly Nancy’s home state?
    (Casualty lists are available for all New England states.)

    Did she have any friends or relatives on this list or who fought in Korea?
    Were any on the list related to members of her church?
    Did her father officiate at any of the funerals?

    There was plenty of black and white newsreel film, TV news and newspaper coverage of the war at the time.

    It’s important to have a look at this video I have posted at http://kor1.pen.io/
    In the first few minutes you will get a flavour of the war and a interview with a GI
    where you can still feel fear as he recalls events.

    There is also the front page from a newspaper Nancy should be familiar with.

    And finally…

    If you are still wondering where the connection to the Yin Yang symbol is? have a look here: http://www.thememoryproject.com/stories/2672:norman-heide/

    And possibly putting the symbol directly in front of Nancy in the late 50s:

    It’s my feeling that negative NDE’s are caused by not what a person has done themselves, but by what others have done to them.

    Or, in Nancy’s case; environmental circumstances.

    This does not answer any deeper questions about NDE’s, but I do suspect that if anybody has any negative issues they will rise to the surface and take priority over anything else.

    You could argue that Nancy sacrificed her opportunity for bliss to empathise with others and their suffering.

    I will follow up with a few more thoughts, but I think this is enough for now.

    Good luck at the conference.

    • Dr Penny Sartori March 4, 2013 at 8:38 pm #

      Hi Gary, thank you for such a lengthy and carefully considered comment. You have a very thorough, inquisitive mind and your thoughts on this are really helpful. I’ll contact Nancy and see if she is able to answer the questions. Yes, I think Nancy mentioned that her father was a minister when I met her a few years ago so I think Rev Arthur Evans must have been her father. (We had a lot to talk about as Nancy’s family are Welsh like me)

      Your comment is really useful as the bit at the end ‘You could argue that Nancy sacrificed her opportunity for bliss to empathise with others and their suffering‘ fits in with what Christopher Bache has suggested. He believes that during some frightening NDEs people are tapping into the collective unconscious and experiencing the suffering of others. So interesting that you mentioned this. I’ll try to explore this further. Many thanks for all of this.

    • Max_B March 4, 2013 at 11:27 pm #

      I dunno, I’ve read the start of Nancy’s book, up to just beyond her own NDE, but have not yet got around to finishing it. I really only bought it to read about her own experience, but never got much further.

      I rather struggled to empathise with the feelings behind the message she took from her experience, probably because Nancy tells us nothing about her life prior to, or following, her NDE.

      Unless I have more background knowledge of the persons life to place the NDE in context I find it difficult to understand. In her case, I’m sure if I knew more about her, it would make more sense. I sort of get the impression, that lack of personal information in the book is probably intentional.

  22. Sheila March 24, 2013 at 10:41 am #

    Penny, i just googled “link between mental illness and frightening near death experiences”. One item,i’ve emailed you the link, said that mental illness can and does cause frightening near death experiences. The article said that religious visions/spiritual experiences is one of the hall marks of mental illness. Anyway, please post some more comments on this forum about what you learned at that conference in france.

    • Dr Penny Sartori March 24, 2013 at 8:26 pm #

      Hi Sheila, thanks for this I will have a look in more depth. I’m working on a post about the conference. Sorry for the delay, I’ve been really busy and I had to go away for a few days. I should have something about the conference quite soon.

  23. Sheila March 26, 2013 at 6:58 am #

    Ever read the book “the road less travelled”. Part of that implies that religious fundamentalism causes frightening spiritual experiences. This could well include frightening near death experiences.

    • Dr Penny Sartori March 28, 2013 at 2:53 pm #

      Hi Sheila, thanks for this. I’ve got the book but didn’t get around to reading it. I’ll try to get around to reading it soon.

  24. john scovell April 18, 2013 at 8:30 pm #

    Penny, I have read that in an OBE people may think they have a body which is in a certain position but in fact they are pure consciousness and not actually where they think they are and that may be why they don’t see the target. Does this seem feasible to you? Thanks. John

    • Dr Penny Sartori April 19, 2013 at 3:56 pm #

      Hi John, this is a very interesting suggestion. Yes, this is a possibility. Two patients in my study said that the reason they did not see the symbol was that they didn’t know there were any hidden symbols and that they were too interested in what was going on around their body that they weren’t looking around the monitor.

      • Stuart April 30, 2013 at 9:15 am #

        Just wondering Penny from all the studies that have been conducted has their been any post examination into where the most commonest place patients ‘seen’ or ‘looked’ in their OBE, persumely after looking at their physical body. For example is the bedside locker the next place most commonly reported or just a over arching view of everything?



      • Dr Penny Sartori May 1, 2013 at 2:55 pm #

        Hi Stuart, in my study the two patients who had good veridical quality OBEs just had an overarching view of the whole scene. You raise a good point though and it would be interesting to see if this was the case with the other prospective studies. To my knowledge I don’t think any post examination of this point has been undertaken but it is certainly worth looking into.

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