Study: Losing the Self in NDEs

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Losing the Self in Near-Death Experiences: The Experience of Ego-Dissolution

Charlotte Martial, Géraldine Fontaine,Olivia Gosseries,Robin Carhart-Harris,3 Christopher Timmermann, Steven Laureys, and Héléna Cassol

Brain Sci. 2021 Jul; 11(7): 929.

Published online 2021 Jul 14. doi: 10.3390/brainsci11070929

Abstract:

Quote:Many people who have had a near-death experience (NDE) describe, as part of it, a disturbed sense of having a “distinct self”. However, no empirical studies have been conducted to explore the frequency or intensity of these effects. We surveyed 100 NDE experiencers (Near-Death-Experience Content [NDE-C] scale total score ≥27/80). Eighty participants had their NDEs in life-threatening situations and 20 had theirs not related to life-threatening situations. Participants completed the Ego-Dissolution Inventory (EDI) and the Ego-Inflation Inventory (EII) to assess the experience of ego dissolution and inflation potentially experienced during their NDE, respectively. They also completed the Nature-Relatedness Scale (NR-6) which measures the trait-like construct of one’s self-identification with nature. Based on prior hypotheses, ratings of specific NDE-C items pertaining to out-of-body experiences and a sense of unity were used for correlational analyses. We found higher EDI total scores compared with EII total scores in our sample. Total scores of the NDE-C scale were positively correlated with EDI total scores and, although less strongly, the EII and NR-6 scores. EDI total scores were also positively correlated with the intensity of OBE and a sense of unity. This study suggests that the experience of dissolved ego-boundaries is a common feature of NDEs.

The whole article can be read free.

p.s. here again it's probably important to distinguish ego and self, and define these terms precisely.
(This post was last modified: 2022-09-06, 01:24 AM by Ninshub. Edited 2 times in total.)
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  • tim, Sciborg_S_Patel
Quote:Although researchers from various fields have recently generated considerable interest in NDEs, the study of the sense of self in NDEs, in particular, has not received much attention yet. Further studies are necessary to explore this question.

I found this bit interesting in the discussion:

Quote:The results also revealed that higher scores of NDE ‘richness’ were associated with higher EDI (ego-dissolution) total scores. In other words, the richness of the NDE was strongly (r = 0.55) associated with the subjective intensity of the experience of ego dissolution. (...)

Moreover, we observed that the intensity of the experience of ego dissolution was positively correlated with the sense of harmony/unity experienced during the NDE (r = 0.44), as if they belonged to a related construct or phenomenon. One can hypothesize that this feature may be experienced as an inevitable counterpart of the experience of ego dissolution; the blurring of personal boundaries could thus lead to feelings of belonging to a larger whole or ‘unity’, as discussed elsewhere
(This post was last modified: 2022-09-06, 01:37 AM by Ninshub. Edited 2 times in total.)
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Thanks for posting that, Ian. I'm always a bit suspicious of this lot (sorry but that's how I feel) and what their true purposes/motives are. Getting to the crux of the matter, they seem to be arguing that during NDE/OBE'S, people lose their ego's.

However one defines the 'ego', whether it is the cumulation of one's aquired beliefs about oneself (either true or false) or one's actual experienced self (the feeling of having an identity) they suggest it is lost or dropped during the out of body experience (which they don't believe is objectively real anyway). 

This approach allows them to define or bracket out of body experiences with dissociative experiences, which are of course fully compatable with brain pathology. Without sticking up the Greyson scale or Ring's much smaller weighted core, I don't remember loss of ego being mentioned. 

I have read some NDE narratives where this kind of thing is alluded to but I'm pretty sure the vast majority of people report experiencing themselves still as themselves with no loss of anything that is vital about them. They do of course report the loss of the body but they then realise that that wasn't actually them. They still exist as themselves without it. 

So, as I stated, I'm suspicious of their motives. They seem unable to establish that if something looks like a duck, eats, walks, poops and quacks like a duck, it is a duck. They're just too smart to be fooled like me.
(This post was last modified: 2022-09-06, 11:44 AM by tim. Edited 2 times in total.)
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I just want to add something to this which I think is important. The essential question(s) around NDE's is not about the qualitative elements of the experience, those are what they are and will unfold as they are meant to. 

The question is and still is, can people have lucid, well structured thoughts, with reasoning and memory formation without a functioning brain. That is the only really important question, everthing else is just a sideshow.
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Is it possible the "ego dissolution" is a sense of a more porous self, less-boundaried, unified with all that is, and not one that is completely "dissolved"? I'd like to see (if it was possible) the detailed experiences of those participants and what were the statements in the scale that indicated "ego dissolution".

Of course we can also understand that experience as a momentary stage in an "afterlife" transitioning.

But I think it is true that not all NDEs follow the same "classic" pattern.

I was just watching this NDE by a Buddhist where he immediately "became the Light" (Source) "for an eternity" and it just affirmed his pre-existing buddhist beliefs. (Although it's very possible, likely!, that he uses his Buddhist knowledge to interpret the experience.). Apparently it happened during a heart surgery where he flatlined for 5 minutes.

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  • tim
(2022-09-06, 12:49 PM)Ninshub Wrote: I was just watching this NDE by a Buddhist where he immediately "became the Light" (Source) "for an eternity"

I just watched the first few minutes. Assuming I've got the drift of it, I would only say that's unusual but of course it's his experience and I've no reason to doubt or not accept what he's saying. I would disagree with his interpretation (he didn't exist he said, well he did exist a bit...) though, but I wouldn't argue about it. 

I haven't got to where he (if at all) tells us why his heart stopped. Maybe he was having a cardiac cathaterisation? or a pacemaker implanted? I was talking to someone last year who had this proceedure and his heart stopped on the table.

He then immediately found himself not in a brilliant light, but floating over a row of trees in the hospital car park, looking at the emergency doors of the building he was in. He defintely existed, just that he wasn't in the hospital anymore. I suppose my friend might have gone on (further to the light) to not exist but he didn't feel that was going to be the case (obviously).
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(2022-09-06, 01:26 PM)tim Wrote: he didn't exist he said, well he did exist a bit...

I don't know if he said he didn't "exist"? More like this "silly" self no longer existed, but "he" existed as the light.

Maybe some souls are more advanced and go back directly to Source. Maybe that's one perspective we can have (being in the Source), as opposed to being in the perspective of the soul. Speculations.
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  • tim
(2022-09-06, 01:21 AM)Ninshub Wrote: Losing the Self in Near-Death Experiences: The Experience of Ego-Dissolution

Charlotte Martial, Géraldine Fontaine,Olivia Gosseries,Robin Carhart-Harris,3 Christopher Timmermann, Steven Laureys, and Héléna Cassol

Brain Sci. 2021 Jul; 11(7): 929.

Published online 2021 Jul 14. doi: 10.3390/brainsci11070929

Abstract:


The whole article can be read free.

p.s. here again it's probably important to distinguish ego and self, and define these terms precisely.

Trying not to be a negative Nelly about this type of questioning system in studies... However...
If I ask the same number of people that they used in this study about some experience, which I have then cherry picked because they are schizophrenics, that doesn't make the accounts from this group of schizophrenics any proof or evidence of anything except similarities in delusional schizophrenic hallucinations.
My point simply being that this kind of human experience is not evidence of anything. It is ok as a comparison between similar human experiences.
What we end up with are varying accounts of what people experience when they die and are brought back.
However real these feel, however similar, it doesn't provide actual evidence that we can use to actually define anything real or helpful to the rest of us except that it has helped to alleviate the fear of death for some.

Regarding the obvious different levels and descriptions of dissolution of self, ego change, light beings, or other religious-type experiences... these would have to be universally similar or the same for them to be significant. If these show patterns and differences due to beliefs, religions, or other pre-programmed memory, it becomes proof that this is not universal, but could be belief oriented or "programmed" in one way or another. Thus just erupting due to stress.
We also have no proof of WHEN these experiences actually happen, and could be a part of the reanimation process or drugs used to achieve that.
Any scientist could induce this sort of experience with a healthy dose of DMT, in practically anyone. And we have the theories (maybe some proof?) that this might be happening when people die. DMT dissolves or disrupts the standard version of self in many people, and creates these experiences to a very similar extent, without the part where they were dead.
So, we would, or should, be checking for DMT in these cases.

Like with other hallucinations, perhaps considering bufotenine in schizophrenia, anything seen or experienced under the influence of DMT or death chemistry, or lack of oxygen, can't be considered important or interesting to real answers except in the context of the cause and source. I don't see as much interest in the pink elephant of the intoxicated, and nobody assumes this elephant is real.

If the discussion is about self as in ego or personality definitions (again), soul, whether or not we are more parts, or less, split into many parts, or whatever, I think it is time to define better REAL experiments around this theme. Since NDE can't be studied, created, or repeated, they are not a good source of actual data.

I don't know why, but I always have trouble accepting anything said by people who were in distress that end up describing experiences that only happened to them in this distressed mode. 

I go into negative mode when they attempt to suddenly claim that this is the way it is, like it is some religion that can't be challenged, that everyone has to be like this, that this applies to everyone, or that anything experienced like that has any merit, etc.
To me, these appear to be obvious examples of delusional brain damage in progress.

I just can't wrap my brain around the idea that this is in any way helpful. They pick these examples, present them, toot this horn, and call it done, but none of this is in any way proof, science, evidence, or anything helpful in my personal life.

The heresay of dead people brought back to life, to be used as a possible truth or real evidence, or to define what survives death, or to define what our being is actually composed of, or defining the ego, or some soul, or whatever, is not possible. You can only use these descriptions to define possible experiences when the body is dying, or dead, but can still be revived, but not what happens after that is no longer possible. Anything attempting to do that is assumption, hypothesis, guessing, or wishful thinking. 

IMHO, hallucinations, DMT, and drunken pink elephants should be included in your logic if you are willing to accept what they are presenting here as truth and evidence for survival, or accept the ramblings of oxygen deprived people as the truth about the composition of the parts of consciousness, awareness, ego, soul, etc., on a global human scale...
Hi Durward, you're saying several things in this post but I'm trying to clarify for myself one of those things. Are you saying in effect that you don't think NDEs are anomalous/paranormal, that they're just brain-based?
(2022-09-08, 01:47 PM)Ninshub Wrote: Hi Durward, you're saying several things in this post but I'm trying to clarify for myself one of those things. Are you saying in effect that you don't think NDEs are anomalous/paranormal, that they're just brain-based?

Durward's... rambling rant, for want of a polite-sounding way of saying that, suggests as much, with all that talk about hallucinations, being able to supposedly induce something extremely similar with DMT, oxygen deprivation, etc.

I am vividly reminded of the discussions on here about all of that from a few years ago or so. I've lost track of the passing of time on here, alas. I've been too much of a lurker...
“Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.”
~ Carl Jung



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