In research published in Resuscitation, the journal of the European Resuscitation Council, Peter Fenwick, a consultant neuropsychiatrist of the British Institute of Psychiatry, and Sam Parnia, a clinical research fellow and registrar at University Hospital, Southampton, announced that consciousness exists independently of the brain, based on their interviews with 63 people who had survived an almost-fatal heart attack.
They discovered that seven had experienced the so-called near death experience. Of those, four qualified under the Grayson scale, the narrowly defined medical criteria for assessing the validity of near-death experiences.
The four survivors, who included three non-practising Anglicans and one lapsed Catholic, recounted feelings of peace and joy, heightened senses, encountering a mystical being and coming to “a point of no return.”
“There is nothing physiological that explains this phenomenon. The only factor in common is that those who had the experience had more oxygen in their brain,” Fenwick told the Register. The presence of high levels of oxygen actually enhances the credibility of the experiences, since some near death skeptics suggest that oxygen deprivation is what produces the effects described by survivors.
Added Fenwick, “The first really interesting point is that all who referred to the experience referred to it taking place during the period of unconsciousness. We know how unconscious they were — they were brain dead according to clinical criteria.”
Fenwick and Parnia argue their research reveals that the mind outlives the brain.
Source: Paul Burnell “New Research Confirms Life After Death.” National Catholic Register. (January 7-13, 2001).