Near Death Experience Theories Analytical Essay by Jenny

Near Death Experience Theories
Looks at neurobiological, psychological and spiritual theories surrounding reported near death experiences (NDE).
# 149350 | 1,930 words | 6 sources | APA | 2010 | US
Published on Dec 11, 2011 in Psychology (Physiological) , Psychology (Theory) , Medical and Health (General)

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This paper explains that a complex scale was developed by Bruce Greyson in 1983 to authenticate and standardize near death experiences (NDE) reported by an individual, thus facilitating research. Next the, author reviews the neurobiological view, which is the most common NDE model that includes REM intrusion, hypoxia/ischemia and temporal lobe activity theories, the psychological approach that deals with dissociation and the spiritual category including transcendental awareness. The paper concludes that there is no irrefutable proof that these theories exist; therefore, the cause and existence of NDEs will remain unsolved and a matter of personal belief.

Table of Contents:
The NDE Scale
Theories of NDE

From the Paper:

"The second neurobiological theory relates to hypoxia and ischemia. Hypoxia is defined as the lack of oxygen to a part or all of the body. Ischemia is defined as the lack of blood flow to a part or all of the body. When a person dies, the heart and lungs stop working. In a near-death experience, this is often the case for a short period of time. During this "death period", no blood or oxygen gets to the brain resulting in hypoxia and ischemia. It is believed that such a state can produce "limbic neuronal depolarization and discharge and endogenous discharge of neurotransmitters" . The most vulnerable part of the brain to hypoxia is the hippocampus. From studies done on rats, it is believed that hypoxia creates an imbalance between excitatory and inhibitory synaptic firing in the hippocampus experiences. The balance is thought to be altered when NMDA (N-methyl-D-aspartate) receptors are activated by an excitatory amino acid released during stress. Acetylcholine levels in the brain also decrease which can be associated with hallucinations and delirium .
"The final neurobiological theory is temporal lobe activity. The temporal lobe of the brain is known to control auditory perception, processing of visual and speech semantics, visual processing, and transference of information of memory from short term to long term. Temporal lobe epilepsy is a type of epilepsy in which seizures affect the temporal lobe and limbic structures."

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Blackmore, Susan J. (1996). Near-death experiences. J R Soc Med, 89.
  • Greyson, Bruce. (2000). Dissociation in people who have near-death experiences: out of their bodies or out of their minds?. The Lancet, 355.
  • Greyson, Bruce. (1983). The near death experience scale: construction, realiability, and validity. The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 171(6),
  • Nelson, Kevin R., Mittingly, Michelle, Lee, Sherman, & Schmitt, A. (2006). Does the arousal system contributeto near death experience?. American Academy of Neurology, 66.
  • Ring, Kenneth, & Cooper, Sharon. (1997). Near-death experiences and out-of-body experiences in the blind: a study of apparent eyeless vision. Journal of Near-Death Studies, 16(2),

Cite this Analytical Essay:

APA Format

Near Death Experience Theories (2011, December 11) Retrieved September 30, 2023, from

MLA Format

"Near Death Experience Theories" 11 December 2011. Web. 30 September. 2023. <>