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What really happens when you Die • End-of-life-phenomena | An Interview with Peter Fenwick

dr.

Fenwick you are a neuropsychiatristand you are an expert in near-death experiences and end-of-life phenomenabefore I ask you about that what is a neuropsychiatrist I'm aneuropsychiatrist and that means as I'm trained in neurology and psychiatry andI've done that for many years but it's a perfect position to be because you'rebetween brain and mind so you can see both sides of the field and understandthem much better than if you were just a psychiatrist or a neurologist what doesyour daily work involve the day job that I had was dealing with people of braindamage and the psychological problems flow from thatso I dealt with epilepsy and I had large numbers of patients who had seizuresthey had altered consciousness of various types so one can use epilepsy asa model of how the brain works and that was great but in my research they werevery wide as interested in sleep as interested as the equipment came in tolook at brain structure but first of all I was interested in the electricalactivity of the brain EEG and in fact one of the first papersI wrote was on George Harrison to remember George Harrison the Beatle wellhe very kindly came along to our lab and I took his EEG when he was meditatingbecause he had been to see the Maharishi and so on he was one of the firstmeditation records that I got so that then became an interest of mine someditation and unusual experiences spiritual experiences I I studied andthen I became interested in the near-death experience that led on to aninterest in dying and how we die in broad terms what can we learn from thesescans so how does nearest country help usunderstand people it's very good because you get both sides of the picture youcan understand what's going on in their brain you can understand what's going onin their minds so you've got a really quite a close correlation between thosetwo things but it also directs you straight to the fundamental question ofour time and that is what is consciousness is it all brain is itoutside of brain because William James way back the turn of the century saidthat consciousness was outside and the brain filtered it as many people havedone since then whereas others and the main thrust of modern science is toignore that and to say now it's all brain function my own view is that's toolimited I don't think it is for a minute yeah how did you get involved withnear-death experiences and near-death experiences I thought was rubbishabsolute rubbish it only happened in California and it would never ever crossthe Atlantic I knew that and I said so didn't when was that oh that was wayback in the late 1970s just going into 1980 until there turned up in myconsulting room somebody had had a near-death experience he'd had thecardiac catheter in one of our hospitals in London which had gone wrong andduring the process he left his body watched the resuscitation and then hadthe classical near-death experience and so with this as an example I was able tostudy them and I came to the conclusion that they really happened and they had alot to teach us so I had to shift my position from rubbish to reallyinteresting mm-hmm how did you go about studying these phenomena first of all Itook individual cases when I came across them and looked at those from the pointof view of what the people experienced and I set up a number ofstudies some of them I was allowed to do another time wasn't for example in oneof the hospitals I was in I wanted to study people in the intensive care unitand see if they had near-death experiences during their time and when Iput it to that hospitals ethics committee the man who ran the intensivecare unit said none of my patients will have experiences like that it's a wasteof time and so I couldn't do that one then so I went the other route and thatwas to study the experiences that people have had and I was very lucky because in87 I did a television documentary in this country and following it we got2, 000 letters remember letters those things you have been you know not anemail so we've got to thousands of those and that gave us a huge database so Itook the best ones best meaning that most like an NDE and sent questionnairesoff to 500 of them and that became a sample and I learned a lot of veryimportant things from that firstly this sample will never be repeated againbecause 98 percent had in fact not heard of any ease when they had their NDE sothat automatically rules out suggestion and things like that so it was verydifferent the next thing I learned was that when you looked at what caused theNDE it was very very wide from cardiacarrests right through childbirth illnesses going even wider than that youcome down at the end to people who'd be sitting in front of their far oneevening and they would have a near-death experience they got all the phenomenaand if they filled in any of the rating scales they were rated as a near-deathexperience and so I learnt that they are common in our society andthe fact that they are associated only with things like cardiac arrest I thinkwas not to do the work which ourselves and Bruce Greyson in America was doingand that was to say okay we want to study near-death experiences well thenwe want to know what the brain state is now how do you know what the brain stateis when a woman is is having a baby you can't it's far too variable and youduring an illness it's also too variable so I took what I thought was the mostsensible when the brain was not working so I took the near-death experienceswhich occurred during cardiac arrest and so we spent a number of years looking atthat so this was a large sample did you get the whole spectrum of near-deathexperiences I think it was pretty nearly the whole spectrum in our culturebecause you have to say that there are certain fundamentals which are culturespecific for example tunnels and light tend to be seen a lot more in Westernexperiences than they do in some of the eastern experiences and if you takehunter-gatherers the experience itself is quite different for example there'ssome nice simple aegs sorry near-death experiences from hunter-gatherers andhere's one example a man had a near-death experience he got into hiscanoe and he paddled for three days so he came to an islandthis is his near-death experience and actually do this and in the island hethen had the sort of experience of an ideal place like the near-deathexperiences do so his was quite differentdon't forget the Japanese when they go they don't actually go down a tunnelusually they usually come to a dark River which they have to cross and theyhave to find a boatman to take them across that sort of thing so there arecultural differences I think one has to realize that andaccept it it's that dependent on your worldview on your background yes thereason for that being cultural differences is very wideit's definitely worldview it's definitely religious upbringing and it'sdefinitely the culture that you're in all these things impact on it what doyou think is the value of NDE research I think that they have two importantvalues one is that they have to be at the cutting edge of research intoconsciousness and one of the things that we're learning is that very powerfulexperiences change people who have them and so people who have near-deathexperiences or change because of them and so that's an interesting fact whichwe need to need to look at the phenomenology of them gives us some ideaabout the nature and structure of consciousness so from that point of viewthey're extremely good and because they've come to be associated bloodpointed out that this is just an association they're much wider than thatwith cardiac arrest and actual death experiences are they a good model of howwe die so from all those reasons I think they're very important do you think thatnear-death experiences provide some kind of proof that consciousness can existwithout a brain is consciousness independent of the brain that's a verywide question and I wouldn't look can consciousness exist without a brain yeswell we'd have no way of knowing would we so the question is a good one I'dformulate it slightly differently I would say all the mechanist s'right isconsciousness secreted by the brain as the brain as the liver secretes bilethat sort of thing or the kidneys you're inis it a product of brain function or is it in fact a filter in some way thatthere is in fact a transcendent reality out there that is filtered by the brainso we get a reduced picture of it and I think those are the two questions I meanI know what my answer is but it's not the usual answer why isthat why do I believe that consciousness exists beyond the brain rather than thatit's secreted like bile in the brain the answer to that is that why would youthink it was only brain function and if you look at the arguments which have putforward there's got to be a very high correlation between brain damage and thechanges in the mind and in the capabilities and so on of the personwho's damaged there's got to be a very high correlation but that doesn't sayanything about causation because causation and correlation are quitedifferent and if you want a really good authority for this statement you canthink about Penfield Penfield was a very very well known neuro surgeon fromCanada and Penfield put electrodes in the brain he's one of the first peopleto do it got a very good idea of what how the brain functions and how it wasconnected together and so on so he spent his life actually looking at the brainand at the end he wrote a book about what did he think what his mind he cameto say there's absolutely no doubt that neurons communicate with each other invery complex ways and complex ways we don't understand yet but the energy ofmind is different and so however much you studyin Europe the neurons you will not in fact get to the energy of mine so it's adifferent dimension altogether now that's from somebody who spent his lifestudying the brain but on the other hand you can get philosophers like DanDennett who says it's all brain I was sittingnext to Dan Dennett at a conference once and I said Dan you don't really believethat do you when you understand when we understandthe neuron will understand consciousness he said absolutely when we numb whenwe've understood the neurons then there will be nothing left maybe a littlesmidgen like that but that's all it's only the brain and that's so you got thetwo camps and each camp will in fact put forward evidence as to why they're rightbut of course I sit in between the brain is enormous ly important has greatfunctions but it can't explain consciousness but we there is only onetheory in this whole world of what consciousness is and this is StuartHameroff sand Roger Penrose is a theory and this is that the brain in themicrotubules these are structures within the brain acts as a quantum mechanicalcomputer and that it is within that collapse of the wavefunctionin the tubules that consciousness undifferentiated unattached arises sothink of the huge matrix of the brain and these little points of consciousnesscoming into the brain then of course consciousness is woven into the brainand into the circuits of the brain and then you build it up into selfconsciousness now that is about the only theory I know that actually allowsconsciousness to arise in any way at all so it's an important theory you'vewritten a book about the art of dying and described a number of end-of-lifephenomena can you tell us about them I have written a book called the art ofdying and I wrote it because I asked a question he came right out of thenear-death experience research the research said that you go down a tunnelin in our culture you meet a being of light you go into this transcendentreality where you meet dead relatives and spiritual beings you may have a lifereview then you'll come to a border which if you cross you know you're goingto die so it's a perfectly valid question to ask is this near-deathexperience a model of what will happen when you die so we can actually do thatso how do you validate that model what you do is you find out what the mentalexperiences are of the die now in 2000 when I started on this research youcould go into PubMed one of the main medical databases and ask questions likehow many people have published papers on deathbed visions during about five whatabout end-of-life experiences maybe one or two and so you could become a worldexpert you see very quickly you only had to look at seven papers and you knew theliterature and so what I'm saying is that there wasn't anything there so wewent along to our ethics committee and said could we please talk to the dyingso we could get some idea of what the process of dying was like most would wayback in 2000 and they quite rightly said I think no because you may disturb thedying now why did they say that they said it because nobody had ever donethat before and they actually didn't knowso we had to change our tack we had to do a carer study now if you go into ahospice it's less so now but very strong then you find that it's divided intobands through the nurses who are in touch with the patients they see all thephenomena of dying and the doctors who aren't and say it doesn't occur so thereis really quite a significant difference between these two and I have some reallyinteresting stories about this gap between the medical and the nursingstaff as I say it's less now I'll tell you why I did it then I'll tell you thestories afterwards because it makes more sense that way so the Ethics Committeesaid you can do a carer study but you can't ask the dying so he actually did acarer study we did three hospices in a nursing home in this country and we didthree hospices in rotterdam to get a cross cultural component it's not verycross-cultural but it's just slightly different a little bit further away andwe found the most fascinating things and so it's allowed us to put together ameasure of the sorts of things that you can expect the first thing that you mayget is a premonition and that means that you know you're going to die so beforeyou get the diagnosis you learn in a dream maybe or it suddenly comes to youthat you're going to die soon this is the patients or the relatives ah no thepatient's the Dalai Lama says all of us know two years before we're going todied that we're going to die so we're given that information if you look inhis book to see how we know he says two things one of which I can understandslightly and that is the behavior changes and the other is that ourbreathing changes well I don't know what he means by thatbut I can see that one's behavior may change you may get the feeling thatyou're going to die and then across your behavior will change but he says it'svery common in fact it's everyone we didn't find that we felt it was notcommon but not so rare that we couldn't pick up occasional cases of itthe next thing that happens is that a few weeks before you die you getdeathbed visitors now what's the deathbed visitor they are relatives whocome to you they do it in a specific way they may stand outside the room in whichyou're dying or they may come into the room and that's quite common you ofcourse will talk to them and then a number of them will sit on the bed andtalk to you why do they sit on the bed because it's enormous ly comforting toyou to have somebody sitting on the bed I mean if you've ever had any old childyou know you don't just stand up and talk to it you go and sit on the bed andhold its hand and so on well the the relatives can sit on the bed and we tooka hundred deathbed visions and analyzed them for content and we found that theCommunists spoke people who come a first degree but relatives mother and fatherare commonly seen dead spouses are quite common but we also in fact found thatbrothers and sisters come people you don't know occasionally occasionallyanimals not many sorry about that your cat or your dog isnot going to come along so it's mainly first-degree relativesand we also found in our sample that spiritual beings were seen now thespiritual beings behave slightly differently fromthe relatives they tend to either wait outside the hostel hospice and they'reseen through the window or they may come to the door and some of them come in nowI must point out that this is there's a big cultural element because a paperpublished from the Bible Belt of of America showed that angels were seenvery commonly now in our sample any three percent of people saw angels soit's much smaller over here so I think there is this cultural component to itso there are visitors and spiritual beings are there any other phenomenaaround this as you go closer to death you come into the next stage and in factthese needed to be changed now a bit but what we initially found was that youwent into a different reality a spiritual world then you came back againso this was as if you were getting used to the spiritual world so he went intoit and came back and went into it and came back and it was very important forthe people who were dying and now that is changing and I want to talk aboutMonica rinses theory on this because it's absolutely vitalMonica rents is a theologian in Switzerland and she has had a lot ofcontact with the dying and she's done published three studies now with acancer patients who are dying and one study was I think with about 60 patientsanother one was 240 she's just recently done a dual hospice study now what shefinds is that what we said was correct people do in fact go into this otherreality but if we come now to the dying process itself which is enormous lyinteresting and important and we all need to learn this in fact we should betaught it in in in school and the way that dying I think is it's like thisdeathbed visitors come fine then at some moment you realize you're going to dieand it hits you hard we're not coming back guys this isn't a getting wellprocess it's a dying process and that then leaves you in a very difficultposition because you never come across that before you've always had somecontrol over something you now don't and so you have to start giving everythingup this is absolutely fundamental you have to give up the fact that you'regoing to go on living you have to give up your wife have togive up your cat and your dog to give up your children your family have to giveup your house and your job you've got to give up everything and if you don't youremain attached now attachment is the most difficult thing when you're dyingif you could give everything up you'd have a very smooth transition you gofrom this pre transition where you're attached to transition which is a sortof intermediate one to post transition and in post transition you in fact havegiven everything up you go more and more into the spiritual domain which I'vedescribed to you and it's just like that until at the end you have lost your egoyou've lost that part of yourself which is differentiated you and you becomewhat's called non Jew that means that you do in fact merge with the universeyou have already lost all your trappings of being a body in a purseand you just got this non-duality which is merging with the greatest greatercosmos behind so the idea that you're going to retain a lot of the things thatyou have in this life when you go there you know again see my mum and say hiprobably not but you will probably you could see your mum I don't know but infact you will become Universal so that's what the data shows and the data showsthat if you don't give up all the things to which you're attached then you have avery difficult process in dying because you've got these two processes the oneof fusion with the greater beyond the outer pulling back into the limitedjuicy and what happens then when the dying is more difficult yeah then youhave what is called spiritual restlessness it's it's not a pleasantstate to be in because you've got a lot of anxiety and all the time you're beingpulled back you're being pulled back you're being pulled back it's notpleasant so you ought to know this so when you go into a hospice you shouldhave a lecture on the fact that you're going to give up everything and sothat's that takes you up to the dying processnow before you die I just want to add one other set of phenomena and these arecalled terminal lucidity terminal lucidity is when the the Victorians usedto call it late awakening essentially and what it was is that you suddenly situp in bed say hi to the people around you because actually you don't say howyou say goodbye because you know you're dying and then you lie back and die nowthat's interesting enough but it's much more interesting than thatbecause people who are paralyzed and haven't moved maybe for a yearbeing a long-term care home they can sit up and do it so for that those fewmoments the central nervous system seems to work again appropriately but moreinteresting that to me is the people who have Alzheimer's disease and have infact lost their memories many years back and just being in a care home will situp recognize their friends say goodbye sometimes meet their dead relatives andthen lie back and die so that's a real question for science because how can youdo these things if one just takes the argument that the brain secretesconsciousness because it has to get its health secretion process going again doyou see like that just before you die doesn't seem totally reasonable so thatthen you die now the shows not over it's over as far as you're concerned but it'snot as far as your relatives are concerned because many people who have aa close relationship will then okay I can make a visit and this is importantbecause as you come up to death you can actually put off your dying for a bitbecause sometimes some of the deathbed visits as you have said I'm going tocome back on Tuesday and you'll die then but remember that we've got two sorts ofnarratives running one is where you have more control and you probably actuallydo so you can remember that you can negotiate with your relatives if youwant to to live a little bit longer but when you actually die if you have adrive say to go and see a daughter or a son who couldn't be there with you thenyou can visit and the visit is very specific we've got a lot of these andwe've analyzed them and they at the time of death 99% always in halfnah most of the actual time of death and it depends on the mental state of theperson who receives the visit if you receive the visit and you're awakethen it would be a feeling that somebody you know is dying dying the feeling thatthey would like some help in some way or you feel some catastrophe is occurringthere's the sorts of feelings you have if on the other hand you're asleep thenit's quite different you get a narrative dream and here's an example of one awoman woke up I think she was actually in a narrative dream and she sawstanding at the end of the bed her son and her son was dripping wet and her soncame closer and closer to her and as he came closer he became he came into thelight and became transfigured you gave her a message which many of them do andsaid it's okay please don't worry I'm all right and then the whole thing fadednow the interesting point is that she's in Australia and he's in England andwhen she can when the time zones a joust she rings up and she finds that in facthe was drowned at that time in England and so there was a component of what washappening in that he had wet clothes and then his transformation and anddisappearance at the end so that's not an unusual story sometimes they justcome and give their message which is always I'm okay please don't worryand then move on so those are called deathbed coincidences now in our seriesof these 45% of the people who had them didn't know the person was dyingso you can't in any way again blame expectation in very nearly half thecases and I don't think actually explanation of somebody's death is agood explanation at all so that's deathbed vision now that otherphenomena which happened around the time of death and these are light in the roomlight in the room is fascinating it can be very strong and behave like a reallight in other words the room can flood with light and flood out of the doorperience by the relatives only by the relatives into the corridor and thenpeople can pick it up and we had one account of the person woke up at nightfound the light shining to the wrong thoughts he must have left the corridorlight on got out and saw it was streaming out of her aunt's bedroom heraunt was dying went in when you go into this light it's always got the spiritualquality to it and she reported that and she sat down quietly by her aunt whoslowly died now she died the light faded the light fading with death is verycommon so the next thing can happen at the time of death instantly when I saycommon in our series about thirty five percent of the nurses reported light inthe rooms of the dying and in their conversations with the relatives butit's a little bit more complex than that because I've spoken to relatives wherethere's been a brother and the sister and one of them will have seen it andthe other one may not so I think it's going to be an interaction between theperson and what's going on in the dying process so that's light next thing isshapes leaving the body again really quite common lots of stories of that andthey they describe it as first of all some people will describe a sort ofmirror type thing that they see coming up it'sa sort of change in the atmosphere and the other thing is that it can look likesmoke arising or it can have a definite form to it and they're all variations onthe theme and it's very much has its bettin book of the dead describes theselast phases of dying they just describe a mirage they describe smoke and thenthey go into our in sky and white sky which is something slightly differentbut it's a stage further down the line so shapes leaving the body quite commonlight and transformation then clock stopping do clocks really stop well theanswer is yes how do we know because people say their clocks stopped at thetime of death and show it but what interested me is okay so I I accept thependulum clocks you know long case clocks stop because you could see thatsort of got a nice mechanical feel to it but do modern clocks which are LEDs dothey stop what do they do they turn the light out or what and we got one of twoaccounts and this is a nice one somebody came up to tell the person who's diedbrother that he had died when he went into the into his house his brother cameto the door and said there's no need for me for you to tell me I know and when Iasked him how he knew he said look at the clocks and they'd all stopped at thetime of his death and were flashing his death time that's the story and you butyou get a lot of these stories watches stopping and so on soclock still seemed to stop even in this modern era the other thing is cats andanimals howl at the time of death that's quite common common enough for people toreport it and birds fascinating if you talk to people in hospices they'll tellyou quite often that birds appear on the windowsills with people who are dying Iwish people would do simple experiments you just need one cat camera put it onwindow a person who's dying and compare that with the window somebody who's notdying I mean they're so easy such easy experiments to do and it's either trueor it's not true so birds are commonly seen there was a village inMassachusetts that described a guy who was fond of owls and when he died awhite owl came and sat in the village tree and well documented and they don'thave scenario sir and the owl stayed there until his funeral and after hisfuneral it flew away what does that mean don't know okay others witnessed byothers yeah so these are all all things that happen do you have a sense offrequently these things occurring well we we did a in in our surveys we alwaysasked what the frequency was you can do it in two ways you can see how common itis in the sense that if a lot of our carers saw it is probably a lot morecommon than if they didn't and so I can give you free frequencies very easily talking to carers and deathbed visionswere about fifty percent but since we published these papers other people havebeen doing it and they have done it two ways they have done it by looking at thecharts in that other words doing a child review so seeing how many times peoplehave said they've seen deathbed distances and so on they're all seen anyof these things the other way is to ask the dying if you're in that phase or askthe carers actually or the relatives and it goes way up into the 80s it'sprobably very common but people just don't report it and certainly we knowthat in Monica rensis study 90 percent 90 percent that's almost everyone willgo through this phase of going into this alternate reality and back again andwe'll have to give up everything and go towards non-duality so it's enormous Leeimportant how can we achieve a good death i I'm driven now with all theexperience I've had by Monde occurrences work my work showed that you would gointo this alternate reality you would have your deathbed visitors and then youwould slowly come up to death and many people would in fact then trance andI've got two stories on this one is a great friend of mine Thetis blacker whowas a religious planter and I had an agreement with that is when she died shewould let me know if I died before her I'd let her know said we could in factdiscuss the dying process because we talked a lot about it and she diedbefore I did because I'm still here and she's not and she described what it waslike for her and she said as she was coming up to death this is just a weekbefore she died she had a river of love golden love and light which flowedthrough her room and through the hospice and that's sort of phenomena and I cansee probably occurs quite often but peopleasked about it in other words and they also i dint know how to incorporate itinto their worldview but that sort of thing and another one which is anamazing book he's written a book about it and this is Paul Robertson the leaderof the medici quartet and he and i knew each other very well and paul had anear-death experience and in his near-death experiencehe catalogues the point of dying he says that he gave up his body to join withthe universal consciousness joyfully happily and willingly do you see he wasunattached and i think that's a very good description of the death process wehave now joyfully lovingly and willingly and when he came back he was able totalk about his near-death experience in the way that had changed his life I hadthe same pact before that if I died before him he'd come be with me but infact that I was lucky because I was there the day before he died and he wasin and out of this sort of state but unfortunately I couldn't stay longenough but his wife was there the next day news sort of going down intoconsciousness unconsciousness and he said to his wife tell Peter fennec it'sexactly as we've discussed and then he died interesting I mean you can't get itmuch closer than that so I think the the the picture that we have of dying fromthe evidence of dying people is actually quite good and I think you have to thinkabout giving everything up and then becoming non-dual and merging now one ofthe interesting points about near-death experiences near-death experiences isthat a number of them become non-dual now what do I mean by that this is inconsciousness research and it's one of the most interesting points ofconsciousness research and that is that as you go on theawakening process in other words changing your level of consciousness andbecoming more widely conscious you in fact have one or two features you loseyour narrative self you know this little bits of you the chats to yourself allthe time that goes next you're always in the moment you're not in the past you'renot in the future it doesn't mean anything to you if you ask them what isthe world they say well it's here nah this is it what about what it was likeit's not that it doesn't exist I'm saying for the future what's to come sayit just in the moment and the other thing is you're unbelievably happyand you're also tending to be transcendent as well your persona is notin the narrative voice and here it's that you have become non-jew land andare merging with reality and there's a man called Jeffrey Martin in the Statesand he's collected 1500 cases of these these are ordinary people who've done itso we know the state exists and we know it the how it exists and the link withnear-death experiences is because of the non-dual features in the near-deathexperience and in dying the question is whether they're the same or not orwhether people might become non Jew in the near-death experience and the answeris yes they do and how do I know that because I've spoken to people who havehad near-death experiences actually it's only to that I only need to whodescribed the non-dual state so you can get a shift in your level ofconsciousness when you come back from a near-death experience so the idea thatthe near-death experience may have something to do with dying and quiteclosely in terms of consciousness and the shiftingconsciousness is beginning to come together in a really interesting way doyou think there's any connection between the way we think and the way we live ourlives and the way we experience our death and what comes after is the sortof life you lead does it influence and the way you die well yes it does but youhave to be very careful here because we have accounts of people who've said it'sall material I'm just going to go into blackness nothing and they say thisbeforehand beforehand that's that's their belief structure and what is quiteclear is that as they come into the death process they've all given up thatidea and they all start looking forward to what's going going to what'shappening to them they don't say they don't believe in anything anymore thesort of things they say one woman who was absolutely sure that there wasnothing there kept on waking up from a coma saying come on get on with itbecause I want to move on do you see and that was quite different from what herstance was so if you have a strong belief in angels will you see angelsprobably that's what the South of North America chose the Bible Belt they showthat if you lead a good life will you will it be different from a bad life andI'm going to just reframe that bit if a good life means that you're not stronglycentered in yourself in other words you're thinking about other people anddoing things like that then when you come to this phase of giving up you cangive up much more easily because you're not centered the other thing is guiltbecause guilt is something which holds up people forvery difficult to give up their guilt all those terrible things they didn'tthey feel guilty about they're very difficult to give up and so if you thinkof somebody who's committed a lot of crimes and they feel guilty about itthen they'll have a lot of difficulty giving up and so my colleagues asked mewhat happens if you're a psychopath and have no guilt I don't know I've neverseen a psychopath die but I assume they may do it very easily I don't know ifthey can give everything up so it's going to be relate the quality of yourlife is going to be related to your capacity to give up and this is going tobe how self-centered you are the more self-centered you are the more difficultit's going to be to give it up the cliche we often find in movies and inliterature that a good person has a good death and the bad guy has a bad death isthis what you observed in in your research how I've described it isarguing from death in normal people and death in people who have spiritualanxiety before as they come up to death so if people are married to anxiety ofthose in fact who are attached and those who are free armed and so you can arguefrom that statement to if you're loaded with guilt or unable to give up yourpersona or your possessions or anything those are the people again havedifficult death so it sort of fits in a bit with literature but not quite it'sit's it just got this twist that you have to be able to give up so let'sassume you're a billionaire and you smile at your friends and say it's allyours now and give it up and sink into death fine no problem many of mycolleagues many doctors would say these are just hallucinations what do you sayabout that so people say all these things that I we were finding and thedying are hallucinations well this is terminalgee isn't it what is a hallucination a hallucination is an experience that youhave and nobody else does so they're many hallucinations so the fact thatthey're hallucinations really is saying nothing but if you look at the data thenpeople relatives in the same room quite oftenno not quite often rarely see the deathbed visitors but they do see themthere are quite good accounts children see them more than adults andoccasionally the hospice nurses see them so on that ground they're nothallucinations in those cases so why are you going to say some of hallucinationsand some aren't it doesn't make any sense calling them hallucinations meanthat you're just keen to get rid of the topic now let's talk about somethinginteresting but they're they're not it doesn't helpyeah they're also so-called hellish near-death experiences what do you sayabout that so some people report hellish experiences I have a lot of difficultywith hellish experiences because in the ones that we took from our survey orfrom the letters which people wrote there was always a clear explanation ofwhat a hellish experience was I'll give you an example this man had a near-deathexperience he suddenly realized that he had left his body and was in a hellishrealm and there were loads of devils there and there kept on tricking him and torturing him and he knew he was in ahellish realm because he could feel the flames of hell burning him now as he gotbetter because he was in intensive care he realized that hellish experienceswere in fact coming from the heating pad he washang on and that led to a misinterpretation of the heat sensorydata and the devil so it's quite easy to see because he said these were thenurses that were coming in and giving him injections and doing things likethat so that was his interpretation so this was an illusory experience he wasgetting very close to something which is called an intensive care psychosisbecause they are paranoid they are where people are doing things which arehorrible to you and so it has a rational explanation that you don't have topostulate a hell but the question is is there a hell is there really a hellishrealm of people going to or not it I've had no death experience no true deathexperience which people have reported that there's a hell they just don't doit near-death experiences in our sample itwas 4% now that may be lower because remember ours was a a letter-writingsurvey and are you really going to write into Sundy who's done a program and I'mthe ease and say I'll spent my my NDE being punished and pulled by Devilsrecursion not so we got probably an under-representation of that but theones that we had in our sample I couldn't convince myself that they wereof the same sort of order as near-death experiences now other people think thatI'm wrong there so you can obviously interpret the data either way so whathave you learned from all this is there a special message for our culture Ithink the experience that I have learned about near-death experiences and dyinghave a very strong message to our culture I'm absolutely with Dalai Lamain the first part he says any culture which can't which sweeps death under thecarpet and can't acknowledge it is this is a society which is greedbecause you're collecting things and you're going to have it you can be angrywith people because it means it's fine to have enemies and they are veryself-centered because they're going to live on to eternity if you look at ourculture it's very it's got strong components of that so I think the waythat we medicalised death sweep it away don't talk about it is producing aculture that is exactly one in which we deny our responsibility look everyhundred years we're all going to be swept away like that but yet we won'ttalk about this earth point one the next point is that we ought to start withchildren telling them about what it's like to die fact we're all going to diebring it out into the open and discuss it one of my grandson's came down and hefound that a dog had got into the garden and bitten the head of two of hishamsters now he's confronted by death they're these things that he loveddearly have just been destroyed and so it raises questions do they all go to aguinea pig heaven or are we just all machines what does death means you seethese very fundamental questions you get very early lessons but if you go round aclass of kids and say how many of you have experienced to death many of themhave had grandparents who have died they know about it so it ought to be on theschool curriculum we ought to teach them the death is a normal part of living andin fact you accept death when you accept birth in fact death birth and dying orall part of the same continuum and that it's going to happen to usand it's nothing to be afraid of or fearful of what you have to do is likewhen you go into an exam you want to be prepared for it well when you go intothe final exam of death want to be prepared for it and then youcan talk about the phenomena which occur and so on but it's so important that westopped this process of sweeping it under the carpet and you know why wesweep it under the carpet because we don't die like we used toif this was a Victorian family I would already have two or three siblings thathad died when young we did no antibiotics looking keeping the placekeen and stopping infections was very poorly done so people died and kidsparticularly so death was ever-present so the Victorians were much bettertalking about him than we were have you ever seen a horse going along the roadin our culture now what's it followed by cars at a distance behind it goingslowly no they've all got their fingers on the horns come on move on get onit's not respected do you stand with your arms crossed and your head barredwhen the horse goes by no of course you don't you've got many things which aremuch more important than that because you don't value death simple as that butit's very important nothing strange about it we're all going to do it so wemight learn about it simple doctor Fenwick thank you very much for your timeand your interesting insights and the wisdom from your research thank you verymuch well thank you very much for your questions you.

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