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The divided self: Near death experiences of resuscitated patients: a literature review

By Robyn Cant, Simon J. Cooper, Catherine Chung and Margaret O'Connor

Abstract

This paper explores the prevalence of ‘near death experience’ phenomena associated with a resuscitation event and examines the current state of evidence for causation. Patients’ reports of unusual recollections associated with a period of unconsciousness (perceived as approaching death) have fascinated individuals and the medical fraternity. Near death experiences (NDE) are reported in 4–9% of general community members and up to 23% of critical illness patients, although they can occur in healthy individuals who may think they are in peril. One explanation is that paranormal visions that include seeing bright lights, a tunnel and having feelings of peace may be a stage of enlightenment as death approaches. More objective explanations point to neuro-chemical changes in a stressed or dying brain as explanation for nearly all the elements of near death experience. However if this is so, NDE should occur in all patients who are critically ill and near death. In general, patients report positive psychological outcomes after a near death experience. Nurses can support patients during a time of crisis by assisting them and their families to comprehend the experiential event using effective communication and listening skill

Topics: Near-death experience, Nursing, Post-resuscitation, 1110 Nursing
Year: 2012
DOI identifier: 10.1016/j.ienj.2011.05.005
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