"Dying to Live" by Susan Blackmore

Susan Blackmore - Dying to Live : Near-Death Experiences

"Other world? There is no other world; here or nowhere is the whole fact."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson (Emerson: The Mind On Fire, p. 382)
I've yet to read this book, but it comes to me very highly recommended. I've had several site visitors ask how a non-beliver like myself can account for NDEs. My personal thoughts are that they are nothing more than experiences in one's own mind. I've had what I thought at the time was a NDE that I go into a bit here.

Anyway, I think a book like this may be very useful in helping us come to terms with our existence so that we work to enjoy this life and to make it a better life for others and for those to come after us rather than to rely on false hope.

The following review is from a site no longer on the internet. . .
"Blackmore argues that Near Death Experiences (NDEs) cannot be explained in terms of either an Afterlife or bare hallucinations. She is not dismissive of either approach, and compares their predictions to NDE reports and experimental evidence. Blackmore has her preferred account, in terms of unusual brain activity and (mis)interpretation of experiences, which she claims is better supported by the data, plus computer modeling, cognitive psychology, even Buddhist philosophy. NDE experiences varies with the individual, the culture, and the circumstances, and they can be set off in a number of ways. One trigger is lack of oxygen to the brain. NDE elements such as the "tunnel experience" can be related to brain features. Feelings of bliss may be the result of endorphin release. NDEs (like OBEs) can seem very "real," which is explained by its being the most stable mental model at the time. "Life reviews" may result from seizures in the limbic system and temporal lobe caused by endorphin release; the breakdown in the model of the "self" gives the "timeless" quality of the review. Finally, Blackmore addresses the question of "deciding to come back," concluding that this is an illusion, itself resulting from the illusion that there is an "I" who decides to come back."

For more information on this topic see Keith Augustine's essay for a skeptical look.

"Death is an indifferent neighbor, whose hedge creeps onto my property. I must trim it back at my own expense and effort ... and without complaint, for I must accept the encroachment of the hedge and forget this slight if I am to enjoy this neightborhood, this house, this life."
-- Matt Berry (A Human Strategy, p. 157)