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Near Death Experiences: Perspectives from Psychology

Near Death Experiences: From the perspective of Psychology

Comments by Dr. Maxine Anderson

Ascent of the Blessed by Hieronymus Bosch, painted in the early years of the 16th Century – this may be the major focus of our discussion.

I may focus on near-death experiences in terms of psychic death, by which I mean when action, impulse, and pre-thinking states prevail over spacious contemplation and reflective thought. Raw undifferentiated affect such as intense rage is an example. I realize this is a rather specialized perception of near-death experiences, but in our current polarized nation it may be useful to consider the lure of group-think and descent into righteous outrage and indulgence in excitement of varying sorts as ‘near psychic death’ experiences. They represent a reversion from our compassionate thought-based humanity toward our reactive, impulsive inhumanity.
Looking forward to our discussion.

The Question of Consciousness – comments by Dr. Don Ross

Technical survival alone forms only part of the answer to how long a human head remains alive after decapitation. The second question must be, how long does the person remain aware? While the brain remains chemically alive, consciousness my cease immediately due to loss of blood pressure, or if the victim was knocked unconscious by the force of the decapitation. Worst case scenario, an individual could, in theory, remain conscious for some or all of their final thirteen seconds.
In fact, when French physician Dr. Beaurieux observed the 1905 execution of a criminal named Henri Languille, he later stated a report he published in “Archives d’Anthropologie Criminelle” that for nearly 30 seconds post-decapitation, he was able to get Languille to open his eyes and “undeniably” focus on him—twice—by calling the man’s name.
Even taking scientific evidence into consideration, there’s no single answer to the question of how long a decapitated head remains alive once it’s been separated from the body to which it was once attached. While it’s likely that the most fanciful of the legends—such as people biting one another post head chopping—are simply legends, at least for some who fell victim to the blade of the guillotine, it’s very possible that their last few earthly seconds may well have taken place after their heads came off