Aftereffects of Near-death States
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Pattern of Aftereffects
Around eighty percent of the people who experienced near-death
states claimed that their lives were forever changed by what
happened to them. On closer examination, though, a pattern of
surprising dimensions emerged. Experiencers were not
returning with just a renewed zest for life and a more spiritual
outlook. They were evidencing specific psychological and
physiological differences on a scale never before faced by
them. And this was true with child experiencers, as well as
with teenagers and adults.
Various researchers have attempted to profile these changes over
the years. Even without the necessary funding to do clinical
studies, most feel that enough research has been done to justify
acknowledging the aftereffects pattern and making information about
it available. Knowing what is typical for experiencers should
help to alleviate any worry or confusion not only for the
individual involved—but for family and friends, as well as
health-care professionals and the community at-large.
The pattern of aftereffects from near-death states can best be
understood if considered under the separate headings of major
characteristics of psychological and physiological changes.
Details and explanations follow:
Major Characteristics of Psychological Changes
Loss of the fear of death, more spiritual and less religious,
easily engage in abstract thinking, more philosophical, can go through
various bouts with depression, more generous and charitable than
before, form expansive concepts of love while at the same time
challenged to initiate and maintain satisfying relationships, "inner
child" or unresolved issues from childhood tend to surface, less
competitive, convinced of a life purpose, rejection of previous
limitations in life and "normal" role-playing, heightened sensations of
taste-touch-texture-smell, increased intuitive/psychic abilities plus
the ability to know or "re-live" the future, charismatic, a child-like
sense of wonder and joy, less stressed, more detached and objective,
can continue to dissociate or "separate" from the body, easily absorbed
("merge into" whatever is focused on), hunger for knowledge and
learning, highly curious.
- Near-death experiencers come to love and accept others without
the usual attachments and conditions society expects. They
perceive themselves as equally and fully loving of each and all,
openly generous, excited about the potential and wonder of each
person they see. Their desire is to be a conduit of universal
love. Confused family members tend to regard this sudden
switch in behavior as oddly threatening, as if their loved one had
become aloof, unresponsive, even uncaring and unloving. Some
mistake this "unconditional" way of expressing joy and affection
(heart-centered rather than person-centered) as flirtatious
disloyalty. Divorce can result.
- One of the reasons life seems so different afterward is because
the experiencer now has a basis of comparison unknown before.
Familiar codes of conduct can lose relevance or disappear
altogether as new interests take priority. Such a shift in
reference points can lead to a childlike naivete. With the
fading of previous norms and standards, basic caution and
discernment can also fade. It is not unusual to hear of
near-death experiencers being cheated, lied to, or involved in
unpleasant mishaps and accidents. Once they are able to begin
integrating what happened to them, discernment usually
- Most experiencers develop a sense of timelessness. They
tend to "flow" with the natural shift of light and dark, and
display a more heightened awareness of the present moment and the
importance of being "in the now." Making future preparations
can seem irrelevant to them. This behavior is often labeled
"spaciness" by others, who do their best to ignore the change in
perception, although seldom do they ignore the shift in
speech. That's because many experiencers refer to their
episode as if it were a type of "divider" separating their "former"
life from the present one.
- There's no denying that experiencers become quite intuitive
afterward. Psychic displays can be commonplace, such as:
out-of-body episodes, manifestation of "beings" met in near-death
state, "remembering" the future, finishing another's sentence,
"hearing" plants and animals "speak." This behavior is not
only worrisome to relatives and friends, it can become frightening
to them. A person's religious beliefs do not alter or prevent
this amplification of faculties and stimuli. Yet,
experiencers willing to learn how to control and refine these
abilities, consider them beneficial.
- Life paradoxes begin to take on a sense of purpose and meaning,
as forgiveness tends to replace former needs to criticize and
condemn. Hard driving achievers and materialists can
transform into easy-going philosophers; but, by the same token,
those more relaxed or uncommitted before can become energetic
"movers and shakers," determined to make a difference in the
world. Personality reversals seem to depend more on what's
"needed" to round out the individual's inner growth than on any
uniform outcome. Although initially bewildered, families can
be so impressed by what they witness that they, too, change-making
the experience a "shared event."
- The average near-death experiencer comes to regard him or
herself as "an immortal soul currently resident within a material
form so lessons can be learned while sojourning in the
earthplane." They now know they are not their body; many go
on to embrace the theory of reincarnation. Eventually, the
present life, the present body, becomes important and special
- What was once foreign becomes familiar, what was once familiar
becomes foreign. Although the world is the same, the
experiencer isn't. Hence, they tend to experiment with novel
ways to communicate, even using abstract and grandiose terms to
express themselves. With patience and effort on everyone's
part, communication can improve and life can resume some degree of
routine. But, the experiencer seems ever to respond to a
"tune" no one else can hear (this can continue lifelong).
Major Characteristics of Physiological Changes
Altered thought-processing (switch from sequential/ selective
thinking to clustered thinking: thoughts bunch together/ideas pop
up), comfortable with ambiguity, heightened intelligence, more
creative and inventive, unusual sensitivity to light and sound,
substantially more or less energy (even energy surges in body,
ofttimes more sexual), reversal of body clock, lower blood
pressure, accelerated metabolic and substance absorption rates
(decreased tolerance of pharmaceuticals and chemically treated
products), often turn to alternative healthcare treatments,
electrical sensitivity, synesthesia (multiple sensing), increased
allergies or sensitivities, can possess ability to heal, a
preference for more vegetables and grains (less of meat),
physically younger looking (before and after photos can
- Sensitivity to light and sound can be a serious issue and may
necessitate some lifestyle changes. While most experiencers
learn to limit sunshine exposure, others can't get enough.
Almost everyone, though, has similar difficulties with loud or
discordant sounds. Many can no longer tolerate "hard" rock
music. The vast majority prefer classical, melodic, and/or
natural sounds, and become passionate about using music to
- Energy surges up and down the body happen to many, and can be
accompanied by "lights" in the air. Researchers usually
regard this as the release of "kundalini" (a Sanskrit term meaning
"coiled energy at the base of the spine"). Supposedly,
kundalini energy and spiritual energy are one in the same, yet the
theory behind this idea remains unproven. To keep in formed
about ongoing research, contact Kundalini Research Network, c/o
Dale Pond, R#5, Flesherton, Ontario, NOC IEO Canada.
- Electrical sensitivity refers to a condition whereby the
forcefield or energy around an individual affects nearby electrical
equipment and technological devices. Usually sporadic in
effect and impact, some experiencers have noticed: watches can
stop, microphones "squeal," tape recorders quit, television
channels change with no one at controls, light bulbs pop, telephone
"drops off," computers suddenly lose memory, and so forth.
Experiencers more at ease with their new traits report fewer of
these incidents than those still in the process of making
- Physical differences, along with attitudinal changes,
eventually lead experiencers to alter their approach to health and
healing, employment, finances, lifestyle and relationship
issues. Many say that it's almost as if they have to relearn
how to use their own body and brain. Once adjustments are
made, the majority come to live healthy, productive lives that are
happier, more spiritually-oriented and energetic than before.
To deny or repress the aftereffects seems to leave individuals
feeling somehow "incomplete," and can foster unwanted
"breakthroughs" years later.
Aftereffects cannot be faked. Nor can you hide your
response to the way they affect you (whether you realize what you
are doing or not).
You may be able to delay their onset or lessen the impact they
have, but you cannot pretend away the complex and life-altering
potential they bring.
Irrespective of any drama brought on by near-death states, what
happens afterward is where true value and real meaning are
It is possible to have near-death-like experiences without the
threat of impending physical death. Children, for instance,
can have death dreams that are unusually powerful. Adults can
emerge unscathed from mishap, or find themselves slipping into a
different meditative state, only to discover later on "they have
changed." If a genuine case, the individual will exhibit the
same pattern of aftereffects as a near-death experiencer.
Adjusting to the aftereffects takes time. The first three
years tend to be the most confusing, almost as if the individual
isn't "fully back." Experiencers and their families are urged
to attend or start a local IANDS group, and to read the following
books for indepth research studies about aftereffects.
Atwater, P. M. H., Lh.D. Coming Back to Life.
Atwater, P. M. H., Lh.D. Beyond the Light, The Mysteries and Revelations of
Atwater, P. M. H., Lh.D. Children of the New Millennium.
Atwater, P. M. H., L.H.D. (2003). The New Children and Near-Death
Experiences. Rochester, Vermont: Bear &
Morse, Melvin, M.D. Transformed By The
Light. (Ivy Books paperback).
Ring, Kenneth, Ph.D. Heading Toward Omega.
Ring, Kenneth, Ph.D. Lessons from the Light.
Sutherland, Cherie, Ph.D. Reborn In The
Light. (Bantam Books paperback).