A near-death-experience, or NDE, is a psychological event that occurs when a person is actively dying. This phenomenon may include welcoming bright lights, an intense feeling of peace or an out-of-body experience which can be explained as a feeling of detachment from the physical body.
NDE’s are surprisingly common, affecting an estimated 4 percent of the US population, as well as up to 18 percent of cardiac arrest survivors.
Today most research is primarily focused on understanding specific phenomenological events during near-death-experiences. However, new research seeks to investigate the frequency and order of events in NDEs. Researchers compared individual’s experiences to a database in order to find any similarities among people.
According to corresponding author Charlotte Martial (University of Liège and University Hospital of Liège, Belgium), “To the best of our knowledge, no study has formally and rigorously investigated whether NDE features follow a fixed order or distribution.” “The aim of our study was to investigate the frequency distribution of these features, both globally and according to the position of features in narratives, as well as the most frequently reported temporality sequences of the different near-death-experience features.”
154 people who experienced an NDE shared their written accounts and experiences with researchers who examined which features were present in each story. Researchers also noted the order of appearance of the different phenomena.
On average researchers found about four different phenomena during the near-death-experiences. Of the participants in the study 80% reported they had a feeling of peacefulness, 69% reported seeing a bright light, and 64% encountered spirits/people. When researchers examined chronology, they found 35% experienced an out-of-body experience as the first feature of their near-death experience, whereas 36% reported returning to the body was the most frequent last feature they experienced.
The results suggest the order in which different types of near-death-experiences occur can be very individual and are unique to the person. The study concluded sequences of NDE features do not appear in a strict chronological order, but rather in a variable one.