QUESTION: Is there any research that has been done where a human becomes clinically dead and is then brought back to life?
KEVIN WILLIAMS: I will assume you are referring to so-called “Flatliner” experiments of the kind seen in the excellent movie “Flatliners” with Kiefer Sutherland. By the way, Kiefer’s father (Donald Sutherland) had an actual NDE which I describe in my Hollywood NDE page. “Flatliner” experiments are not going on as far as I know, but there are medical procedures and studies which come very close. Here is a list:
(1) Doctors routinely do “electrophysiological heart stress tests” which involves the insertion of a catheter into a patient’s heart to deliberately induce ventricular arrhythmias. I saw a documentary by Tom Harpur called “Life After Death” where this procedure was taped. The woman went into a heart arrhythmia and lost consciousness. If I remember correctly, the woman was interviewed and had an out-of-body experience. But such heart patients are probably not volunteering for the procedure although they may have an option not to have it done.
(2) Doctors do a rare surgical procedure for removing basilar artery aneurysms in the brain called “hypothermic cardiac arrest” where a flatline condition is induced. In cardiologist Dr. Michael Sabom’s book entitled “Light and Death,” he included a detailed medical analysis of a woman named Pam Reynolds who underwent this procedure and had an amazing near-death experience. This operation required the following:
a. Pam’s body temperature be lowered to 60 degrees
b. Her heartbeat and breathing stopped
c. Her brain waves flattened
d. The blood drained from her head
For all practical purposes, the doctors put her to death. After removing the aneurysm, she was successfully resuscitated. During the time that she was in “standstill,” she experienced an NDE and remarkably detailed veridical out-of-body observations during her surgery which were later verified to be very accurate. This case is considered to be one of the strongest cases of evidence of veridical perception in NDE research because of her ability to describe the unique surgical instruments and procedures used and her ability to describe in detail these events while she was in clinical and brain death.
(3) Test pilots are routinely subjected to extreme gravitational forces in a giant centrifuge to simulate the extreme conditions that can occur during aerial combat maneuvering. Under extreme g-forces, fighter pilots lose consciousness and have a near-death experience. Dr. James E. Whinnery is the researcher who wrote a technical report for the National Institute for Discovery Science about this phenomenon and in doing so proved the NDE to be a real phenomenon.
(4) An initiation ritual performed by Native American Indians during the 1800’s to induce an NDE is performed today by people who are into “body suspension.” According to the Suspensions and Tensions website, the Indian ritual, called “O-Kee-Pa” involved the young male initiate to be: “suspended by either set of piercings from the roof of a lodge. In extreme pain, followed by trance, the young men were hung up for about twenty minutes to seek communion with The Great White Spirit. Legend has it that initiates traveled out of their bodies in this state and were guided through unseen worlds by their Ka-See-Ka who knew the way. The O-Kee-Pa journey was like a canoe trip on a tricky river: the initiate submitted and just rode in the canoe while the Ka-See-Ka steered it to appropriate vistas and to avoid rocks. Through the years, neighboring tribes, especially the Arikara and Minnetaree, were exposed to the Mandan ritual and developed their own piercing rites, often more severe …”
It appears that the Native Americans understood the value of having young men experience an NDE. And there are organizations of people today who actually perform this ritual. See Fakir’s Body Play website. Personally, I think that if there was a safe method to induce NDEs in people, our society would benefit greatly by giving everyone over the age of 18 an option of undergoing an induced NDE. Think of the possibilities. Perhaps such a thing will be done in the future. Perhaps that would be a great way to speed up the evolutionary development of the human race.
Accurate movie reenactments of the O-Kee-Pa ritual can be seen in the Richard Harris films A Man Called Horse and Return of the Man Called Horse. A documentary film of a real modern day O-Kee-Pa style suspension can be seen in the film Dances Sacred and Profane shot in Wyoming with Jim Ward and Fakir as initiates. When this film was released on videotape it was called Bizarre Rituals.
I read a news article a few months ago where someone was advocating an alternative to the death penalty for convicted murderers (For the sake of this article I will refer to them as “convicts”.) Instead of executing them, they could instead be given the option to be subjected to a safe “flatliner procedure” where an NDE would be induced. While the convict was in flatline, they might be told, “It’s not your time to die” or “You have not completed your mission in life and must return” (as practically all NDErs are told) then the convict would have to be set free and closely monitored. A result such as this would suggest the “convict may be innocent after all. If the convict could not be revived from flatline, it would indicate it was indeed time for the convict to die which may suggest him/her may have been guilty. In a vulgar way of putting it, this alternative to the death penalty is similar to the soldier’s platitude of: “Kill them all and let God sort them out.”
But this alternative would benefit not only the convict, but science and society in general. The benefits to the convict is experiencing the aftereffects of having an NDE some of which are: having an encounter with a “higher consciousness” or “God” and that it implies, being imbued with a greater love for all humanity, transforming from a religious person to a more spiritual one, learning how death is not the blessed “end of everything” and that we are indeed held accountable for all our actions and thoughts, etc.
The benefits to science would be enormous. Before the murderer would be induced into flatline, a secret message(s) could be installed in the area where the flatline condition would be induced. This message would be placed where it could only be read by a person who is floating out of their body and observing themselves near the ceiling as many NDEs involve. While the convict is in flatline and if they are able to read this secret message and reveal to those performing the procedure what this secret message is, this result is nothing short of proving that consciousness can exist separate from the body. It would be highly suggestive of a reality where life continues after death in some afterlife state. And if these same results occurred by subjecting many such convicts, then materialistic scientists would have to admit to a reality where consciousness can separate from the body under strict laboratory conditions repeatedly satisfying the scientific method. As a matter of fact, such experiments are currently underway involving patients in an emergency environment having spontaneous cardiac arrest and not convicted criminals.
Society would greatly benefit from this alternative as well. It would be the ultimate type of criminal rehabilitation giving such “condemned” convicts the type of reform society has largely been unsuccessful in achieving. However, I am sure this alternative to the death penalty will not be permitted in society any time soon because of the ethical issues it raises and how it “flies in the face” of efforts currently underway to abolish the death penalty altogether.
But I hope medical science will be brave enough someday to allow volunteers to safely undergo such flatline experiments to induce NDEs for the sake of scientific study. Perhaps in the future, bringing people back from death will be a far more safer and effective procedure as it is done today. Nevertheless, I envision a future where volunteers would be permitted to undergo such flatline experiments for the sake of science. Such volunteers would be the equivalent to the American Gemini astronauts who first went into space. If and when that day comes, and scientists begin looking for volunteers, I will try to be the first one on the list to volunteer. The final frontier is not space; it is death and the possibility of an afterlife journey beyond it. Beam me back up Scotty!
Links to Experiments Involving Out-of-Body Experiences
- Dr. Charles Tart’s successful verification of out-of-body perception in a test subject: www.near-death.com
- Experiences of the drug ketamine inducing out-of-body experiences: www.near-death.com
- Dr. Timothy Leary’s LSD research inducing out-of-body experiences: www.near-death.com
- Contemporary O-Kee-Pa suspension (body modification): www.suspension.org
- Wikipedia article on contemporary body suspension: en.wikipedia.org