New Research Explains What People Really Feel During the Near Death Experience

The biggest cliché about the near death experience is the bright light at the end of a tunnel and all the memories speeding by. This cliché is actually not totally false.

Most people, who have been lucky enough to have lived through the near death experience, and still be alive, say that they felt relaxation and peacefulness. They have described the experience of a clinical death with the feeling of being disconnected from their own body.

There was a new study conducted on the near death experience, which discovered, that not all the people, who go through it, experience the steps it in the same order. This gives the researchers some hints about the complex relationship between culture and neurology in one’s (almost) final moments.

It might seem, that only a few of us have experienced the near death experience, but actually 4-15 percent of the population have lived through it. And in some of the cases, one does not even have to be dying, it is more associated with the response to a high level of stress than to death itself.

The study was conducted by Belgian researchers, who analyzed 154 responses collected from the International Association for Near-Death Studies and the Coma Science Group. The scientists used the Greyson NDE scale to determine the respondents. The Greyson NDE scale was developed by US psychologist Bruce Greyson and it provides structure and consistency in evaluating experiences by the ones, who have experienced clinical death.

The study showed, that 80% of the participants reported feeling peacefulness, 69% saw a bright light and 64% encountered another individual. Only 5% of the participants experienced “speeding thoughts” and 4% described what they felt were precognitive visions.

22% of the participants claimed to have had an out-of-body experience, which was followed by seeing a tunnel and a bright light. They also described their feeling of peacefulness. One-third had an out-of body sensation first, followed by a sense of returning to the body last.

This gives the researchers hits about the beginning and end of the near death experience. They think that the near death experience regularly starts by a sense of detachment from the physical body and it ends with returning back to the body.

Like with any other research, there are some aspects that should be noticed. For example, the surveys were self-selected, so didn’t include people, who felt uncomfortable sharing their experience. Also, a cultural interpretation should be considered as well – all the participants were French speaking, so it is impossible to know, how much their cultural background influenced their experience.

There should be definitely some more studies with different groups of people to understand which aspects apply to all of us the same way and which are different. With further research, there is also a possibility to get more information about the neurophysiological mechanisms connected to the near death experience.


The study on near death experience does not show any evidence that there is an after-life as well. It only gives us more information about the brain and how it reacts before dying. The near death experience is quite complex and difficult to analyze. Hopefully, there will be some more studies to help us understand the phenomenon better.

Featured Image Courtesy: BBC (

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