One of the greatest mysteries of human existence is whether one’s consciousness survives death. Yet, I find most people don’t think about it much and usually fall into three camps: people that believe there is an afterlife pursuant to their religious teachings, people that believe there is simply nothingness after one dies, and people who don’t know and don’t care. There are very few people that actually think deeply about this issue and study it in any type of logical or scientific manner. That is why I found a recent Wired article about Dr. Sam Parnia so interesting. Dr. Parnia is actively studying whether consciousness survives death using strict medical science.
I decided that we should study what people have experienced when they’ve gone beyond cardiac arrest. I found that 10 percent of patients who survived cardiac arrests report these incredible accounts of seeing things.
When I looked at the cardiac arrest literature, it became clear that it’s after the heart stops and blood flow into the brain ceases. There’s no blood flow into the brain, no activity, about 10 seconds after the heart stops. When doctors start to do CPR, they still can’t get enough blood into the brain. It remains flatlined. That’s the physiology of people who’ve died or are receiving CPR.
Not just my study, but four others, all demonstrated the same thing: People have memories and recollections. Combined with anecdotal reports from all over the world, from people who see things accurately and remember them, it suggests this needs to be studied in more detail.