Near Death Experiences Reported by People

The term “near-death experience”  or NDE was coined in 1975 in the book Life After Life by Raymond Moody, MD. Since then, many researchers have studied the circumstances, contents, and aftereffects of Near death experiences both under test conditions as well as spontaneously reported by subjects. Here is a brief account of some very remarkable NDEs as reported by individuals who had a close brush with death.

What is an NDE?

A near-death experience is a distinct subjective experience that people sometimes report after being involved in an almost fatal encounter. The experience is marked by a group of sensations like detachment from the body, feelings of levitation, extreme fear, total serenity, security, warmth, a feeling of absolute dissolution, travelling through a tunnel and the presence of a light. Circumstances in which near death experiences are usually reported usually include serious illness or injury, such as from a car accident, military combat, childbirth or suicide attempt. A near death experience can be understood as one of the many forms of out of body experience which people in profound grief, in deep meditation, or just going about their normal lives have also described experiencing that seem just like NDEs, even though these people were not near death.

George Ritchie

The proponent of the NDE concept Raymond Moody began seriously investigating the near-death experience, after he was moved by the account of such an experience gone through by another doctor, George Ritchie. In December, 1943, at the age of twenty George Ritchie died of pneumonia at an Army hospital. Nine minutes later, miraculously and unaccountably, he returned to life to tell of his amazing near-death experience in the afterlife, later recounted in ground-breaking books such as Return From Tomorrow and his follow-up book Ordered to Return: My Life After Dying.

In his NDE, George Ritchie, leaves his body and sees it lying in his bed. He is not aware the dead body in his bed is his. Wanting eagerly to travel to Richmond, Virginia to start college, he finds himself flying in the air toward a city. He arrives at a city and discovers he has lost his solidness. He flies back to the hospital and sees his lifeless body in the morgue and realizes he has died.


Suddenly, a divine presence appears emitting a tremendous light and love. George's entire life appears before him and he is asked about what he did with his life. The divine presence, identified as Jesus, gives him a tour of four different dimensions in the afterlife. At different places on Earth they see spirits continue to live out the consequences of acts such as addiction and suicide of their earthly life. Jesus takes him to a new dimension away from Earth and shows him a kind of "receiving station" where spirits would arrive in a deep hypnotic sleep because of their beliefs. In another dimension, Ritchie sees angry spirits are locked in hand-to-hand combat, trying in vain to hurt each other. In yet another dimension, he observes people dressed as monks engaged in some form of artistic behavior or research. Towards the end of his NDE, Ritchie is taken into outer space and sees a distant city made of brilliant light of a similar description to the city in the Book of Revelation. He then finds himself back into his body.

Carl Jung

In a hospital in Switzerland in 1944, the world-renowned psychiatrist Carl G. Jung, had a heart attack and then a near-death experience. Jung's experience is unique in that he saw the Earth from a vantage point of about a thousand miles above it. His incredibly accurate view of the Earth from outer space was described about two decades before astronauts in space first described it. Yet another important aspect of Jung’s NDE reports him walking towards a doorway framed by lighted candles and being bathed in a powerful feeling that at once stripped away all remnants of his earthly experiences and at the same time infused a sense of immense fullness. Towards the end, he sees the ‘primal form’ of his doctor which is a message that he has to get back to Earth.  His autobiography entitled Memories, Dreams, Reflections describes his near-death experience.

Pam Reynolds

One of the most detailed reports of an NDE comes from woman named Pam Reynolds who underwent a rare operation to remove a giant basilar artery aneurysm in her brain that threatened her life. The NDE is given a medical and scientific analysis by Dr. Michael Sabom, a cardiologist in his book, Light and Death. The size and location of Reynold’s aneurysm made her doctors decide to try out an innovative surgical procedure known as hypothermic cardiac arrest which required that Pam's body temperature be lowered to 60 degrees, her heartbeat and breathing stopped, her brain waves flattened, and the blood drained from her head. In other words, she was put to death. After removing the aneurysm, she would be restored to life. It was during this time that Pam was in standstill, she experienced a NDE. Among the images that she clearly saw during her NDE was herself hovering above the operating table and a doctor sawing into her skull with what looked to her like an electric toothbrush but was later identified as the Midas Rex bone saw actually used by a surgeon. Pam heard and reported later what the nurses in the operating room had said and exactly what was happening during the operation. At some point, Pam's consciousness floated out of the operating room and traveled down a tunnel which had a light at the end of it where her deceased relatives and friends were waiting including her long-dead grandmother. Pam's NDE ended when her deceased uncle led her back to her body for her to re-enter it. Pam compared the feeling of reentering her dead body to "plunging into a pool of ice."

Pam Reynold’s remarkably detailed veridical out-of-body observations during her surgery were later verified to be very accurate. This case is considered to be one of the strongest cases of veridical evidence 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 clinically and brain dead.

Near Death experiences have been variously explained by spiritualists, thinkers, doctors and psychologists.  These veer from one extreme of belief in afterlife to the other extreme of the idea of subject suffering from hallucination; even then most experts usually agree that an NDE is a life-changing experience, signaling that there is more to reality than what has been understood till now.