Are near-death experiences (NDE) only a trick played on us by the brain?
Science questions the reality of NDE with new research data.
How right is the evidence?
Ever since the book 'On Death and Dying' by the Swiss physician Elizabeth Kuebler-Ross was published about 40 years ago, and the American researcher Raymond Moody published his bestseller 'Life after Life' in 1975, which contained a number of accounts of what he called near-death experiences (NDE), research on death and dying has become a worthwhile issue.
Swiss physician Dr. Elisabeth Kueber-Ross was the first to publish about 40 years ago the experiences of people on the threshold of death.
Scores of scientific studies have established that dying is a process that runs through a number of definite stages, which occur in much the same way for everybody, notwithstanding age, gender, education or religion. Anyone who believes in a continuation of life after death could consider the result of 'thanatology', as this new scientific study of death has come to be known, as the long awaited evidence in support of this view. Since the 1990's, however, serious counter-arguments worth some consideration have collided with this point of view. In the past 20 years, the neurosciences have gained considerable importance in explaining human life; and brain research has found good reason to oppose the reality of NDE, postulating them to be mere fantasies originating from brain areas which are either oxygen deprived, stressed or permeated with drug-like natural substances. Science has also managed to elicit some aspects of NDE through artificial stimulation of specific zones within the brain cortex, or with the help of drugs. Are we then back to 'square one' regarding the answer to the crucial question of whether there is life after death?
Near-Death Experiences are intriguing
Since faith has lost its primary importance in the shaping of our conception of the world, this role having been taken over by scientific facts, which can both be experimentally verified and are understandable to the human intellect, the influence of materialism has kept growing. That which cannot be proven - for example, life after death - will therefore not be taken seriously and is simply declared as a taboo subject.
This was how the last century was largely characterized by a common fear of speaking out about dying, death and a possible afterlife. We know today that millions of people have experienced an NDE, but until the 1980's hardly anyone dared talk about it openly - and quite frankly, who would enjoy the prospect of being called an eccentric or a nutcase?
Then, all of a sudden, some scientific studies lifted the veil on this phenomenon. These have shown that NDE's are very common throughout the world, thus helping to break the taboo surrounding the subject of death and dying.
Scientific studies of NDEs have demonstrated that dying people go through specific 'stages':
But how can we explain it?
A proof of life after death?
Even if descriptions of near-death experiences do not support the conceptions of heaven and hell or ideas about God's love and justice held by many denominations, NDE research nevertheless made believers think that its findings furnished sufficient proof that life does not end with death. As a rule, those who have gone through these experiences themselves consider the reality of NDE's as irrefutable from the start: according to studies, they lose all fear of death, their outlook on life undergoes a change, and from then on spirituality and religiousness play a major role in their lives, and they often develop special abilities - heightened sensitivity, improved intuition, and at times also healing powers and clairvoyance.
Likewise, people who often deal with death and dying in their professional lives, such as caregivers, nurses and hospice workers, generally consider the descriptions of NDEs to be consistent with their own experiences. The more one is directly involved in the dying process, the more one can clearly experience with the dying person that death is a process of breaking away from the body; the soul consciously leaves the physical shell....
From the beginning, however, science has been sceptical about the interpretation that NDEs prove the reality of life after death. The first fundamental criticism pointed to a crucial weakness common to all studies: for the most part, these were mere compilations of experiences, some of which had occurred far back in the past. Because of the time that elapsed since the incident it was generally no longer possible to retrace the conditions under which the interviewed persons experienced their NDE, or whether or not they had really been clinically dead. It was equally impossible to establish what symptoms they had or the medications they had been given during their ordeal.
Near-death experiences have long been controversial because the exact circumstances were unknown. Targeted studies in hospitals have brought about a change of thinking in the evaluation of these experiences.
Around the turn of the millennium, however, reservations about these studies regarding their 'retrospective character' and thus their limited validity as evidence, could at last be countered. From 1988 to 1992, Dr. Pim van Lommel, the renowned Dutch cardiologist, conducted the first NDE studies under controlled conditions. He interviewed 344 patients who had been clinically dead, but who could subsequently be resuscitated.
62 of these patients gave a description of an NDE. His work, published in 2001, which also included the results of his research into personality changes that came about after such experiences, gave a decisive impetus to the opinion that NDEs represent a proof of life after death. On average, the heart of patients included in Dr. Pim van Lommel's study had come to a complete stop for approximately 2 minutes. This means that as a result of cardiac arrest, a complete cessation of electrical activity in the cerebral cortex occurred after about 10 to 20 seconds. With this study, it was clear that an NDE can also appear under scientifically precise and controlled conditions. Therefore, the question of how to explain these experiences has become more urgent than ever. Even more so, because neuroscientists have recently managed to link many aspects of human life and consciousness to processes in the brain. New imaging techniques have provided the means to observe the interaction of neurons under the skull, and important scientists in the field of brain research have arrived at the sobering conclusion that everything typically human - free will, self-consciousness or an immaterial soul - is no more than the result of brain processes, i.e. of the fascinating interplay of several billion neurons.
Based on this materialistic outlook, many explanatory approaches were developed for the reported NDEs along these lines, while from 2003 to 2006 additional 'prospective studies' were conducted that were similar in design to Dr. Pim van Lommel's work in the Netherlands. For example, an American study by Bruce Greyson in which 1,595 patients were interviewed (2003) as well as a British study by Penny Sartori (2006) have shown that NDEs can be documented quite frequently during cardiac arrest and complete loss of brain function.
Near-death experiences - only a 'trick' played on us by the brain?
So what is the significance of the brain in near-death experiences?
According to the materialistic world view prevalent in the sciences nowadays, the brain is the centre of our personality and the origin of our consciousness. Consciousness is therefore impossible without the brain, and altered states of consciousness must therefore be connected with processes within the brain and the rest of the body.
This assumption has formed the basis for numerous theories developed in the past years to explain NDEs. The main ones are:
The view that NDEs may ultimately be attributable to brain and body functions recently received further boost from the publication and interpretation of results of experiments and research. For instance, it was claimed that experiences similar to partial aspects of NDEs could be elicited by stimulation of specific brain regions. Wilder Penfield, a Canadian neurosurgeon, was able during surgery on epileptic patients to artificially evoke memory sequences as well as perceptions of light and noise. In other experiments, controlled attempts at out-of-body experiences were done through electrical stimulation as well as with ketamine, a drug that had been used for anaesthesia and could trigger hallucinations by blocking specific brain receptors.
Consciousness exists independently of the body
All in all, can these possible explanations indeed shake the opinion that near-death experiences could be conclusive evidence of survival of the soul or of human consciousness?
As previously mentioned, all these explanations have in common that they emanate from a materialistic world view and they seek to support the basic assumption that the brain is the centre of the human being and that consciousness is not possible without brain activity. All interpretations of research results questioning this mindset will therefore be challenged or doubted from the outset or its consequences not be taken seriously.
Current research on death, especially the latest studies that are limited to patients who were proven clinically dead for several minutes, thus several minutes without heart and brain function, is precisely stuck in this dilemma. On closer examination, such circumstances show that practically all materialistic NDE theories - often presented so thoughtlessly as 'explanation' - are inconsistent with the facts.
Oxygen deprivation, for example, can be excluded as a cause of near-death experiences for several reasons: changes in consciousness, which are attributed to acute lack of oxygen in the brain, are generally accompanied by confusion, anxiety, memory disruptions and reduced speech ability. Nothing of the sort is ever mentioned with NDEs. On the contrary: for those involved, the experiences were clear, well remembered and described without reduction in mental capacity. Moreover, NDEs often happen without oxygen deprivation, for instance during a life-threatening accident or in episodes of major depression.
The release of endorphins also fails to fully explain NDEs. Although endorphins actually act to relieve pain and induce a feeling of wellbeing, these effects persist in the body for several hours, while with a near-death experience the special peaceful feeling disappears immediately upon awakening. Moreover, the main elements of an NDE - the out-of-body experience, the perception of an otherworldly environment or the communication with deceased people - were not reported with endorphins. The same applies to the effect of carbon dioxide.
In addition, on closer examination, what can really be achieved through local electrical stimulation or specific areas of the brain is rather meagre.
For example, Dr. Pim van Lommel examined the details of the epilepsy therapies described by Dr. Wilder Penfield. He writes in his book 'Consciousness Beyond Life' : ' Although he (Penfield) treated many hundreds of patients over the years, no real out-of-body experience with verfiable perception ever occurred and no transformation was ever reported. The effect of this stimulation was, in many respects, quite unlike an NDE.'
In this opinion Dr. van Lommel broached one of the most remarkable phenomena within the scope of the NDEs he documented, for which there is still no scientific explanation. Namely, what people experience during their out-of-body experience - the observation of their own body and also of various people and sequences from a vantage point above the body such as the ceiling - could in many cases be confirmed by other persons involved in the event.
The Dutch cardiologist also scrutinized many more scientific reports, including the work of Olaf Blank, made known by a contribution in the scientific magazine 'Nature'. This researcher had written for the first time in 2002 that, following electrical stimulation, an 'incomplete out-of-body experience' occurred in one of his patients, in which she perceived a distorted image of only her lower legs. Dr. van Lommel remarked: "the title of his article in Nature suggested that he had managed to locate the place in the brain where out-of-body experiences originate. This article received extensive press coverage and caused quite a (premature) stir."
Van Lommel was especially critical of the far-reaching conclusions that were drawn from the observation of only a few cases and his analysis he came to the conclusion that 'not one of the thousands of stimulated epilepsy patients around the world has ever reported a genuine out-of-body experience.'
He therefore debunks as a scientific myth the frequently used 'explanation' that an electrical surge in the dying brain may be the cause of near death experiences. Basically, this is merely an entrenched position for those who would rather not depart from their materialistic view of life. For with the results of death research, this idea remains under scrutiny: when clear conscious experiences are possible while the brain is evidently not functioning, it undoubtedly means that consciousness continues to exist independently of the body.
In search of a new concept of humankind
All researchers on death who have engaged in and published prospective studies in recent years have come more or less plainly to the same conclusion: namely that the current definitions of human consciousness as being seated in the brain are woefully inadequate. In an article for the medical journal 'The Lancet', Dr. Pim van Lommel puts this forward: " Scientific study of NDE pushes us to the limits of our medical and neurophysiological ideas about the range of human consciousness and relationship of consciousness and memories to the brain.'
Among other things, the American researcher Bruce Greyson sums up the situation as follows:' A clear sensorium and complex perceptual processes during a period of apparent clinical death challenge the concept that consciousness is localized exclusively in the brain.'
The well-known British NDE researcher Sam Parnia wrote in a summary (together with his colleague Peter Fenwick): 'The data suggests that NDE arises during unconsciousness. (...) Complex experiences such as are reported in the NDE should not arise or be retained in memory. Such patients would be expected to have no subjective experience, ...as those cerebral modules which generate conscious experience and underpin memory are impaired by cerebral anoxia.'
And the director of another major study on NDE, the Englishwoman Dr Penny Sartori, concludes: " The phenomenon remains unexplained when considered from the current scientific perspective of consciousness being a by-product of neurological processes... The fact that clear, lucid experiences were reported during a time when the brain was devoid of activity - does not sit easily with current scientific belief."
For this reason many critical researchers are looking for a new definition of humankind and of human consciousness and question the central theme of brain research, namely the assumption that consciousness arises as a result of processes in the human nervous system. This is- contrary to widespread opinion - just a guess, for which no evidence or proof has ever been furnished to this day.
It is certainly true that in recent decades medical imaging techniques have made it possible to conclusively verify that a concrete relationship exists between registered brain activity and certain aspects of consciousness. But are these consciousness experiences really always a result of brain activity or conversely, is this activity in the brain the result of the stirrings of consciousness? This question cannot be answered definitely one way or the other at the current state of research. For the time being we must consider the matter as unresolved, but research on death clearly supports the view that the brain does not produce consciousness but rather enables consciousness to be active on the physical level. The brain would then be an organ which acts as a 'receiver' for consciousness rather than as an 'emitter'. In the words of Professor John C.Eccles (1903-1997), it is a 'messenger to consciousness'.
This idea is not new. It was recently merely pushed in the background, because, in the meantime, the neurosciences have provided us with a fascinating insight into the relationships between brain activity and conscious experience. Through this, the materialistic view that represents man as a complex biological machine has received considerable impetus and, as if it were a proven fact, has also found a considerable following in literature and cinematic art as well as wide acceptance among the general public as the dominant conception of the world. In modern science-fiction novels and films, it is often a matter of course that computer-controlled robots can develop consciousness or that human thoughts and perceptions can be manipulated by electronic means.
For critical researchers, however, such bold conclusions are really far-fetched. This is because what is observable in a brain scan can say nothing about the innermost feelings of an individual, which leaves a gaping hole in the scientific case for brain generated consciousness. In other words, the activity of a specific brain area tells us practically nothing of the content of thoughts or feelings. There is no proof that the neural networks are in a position to produce the great diversity of our inner world - which is the actual determinant of our life and consciousness. Some researchers even doubt on the ground of mathematical calculations that the brain of itself would be able to store all the memories of our life, not to speak of the accompanying thoughts and feelings. In short, science still knows nothing about the spirit, the essence of human consciousness.
Perhaps in the future this search for a new picture of humankind, based on the findings of death research, will benefit from the ideas generated from quantum physics. According to this branch of physics, the strict separation between spirit and matter so vehemently defended by materialists does not seem absolutely compelling. For the concepts of quantum physics have made it possible to think that the physical world is influenced by a hidden non-physical reality. In principle, this exactly corresponds to the traditional idea that our body is 'animated' by a spirit or a soul.
A new point of view, which is really an old one
If we allow for the possibility that consciousness is able to exist independently of a material support or receptacle (such as the brain), some of the materialistic explanations put forward for near-death experiences appear in a new light. From these, one can, for example, immediately and without further ado conclude that out-of-body experiences, thus emotional experiences unbound by the physical body, are quite possible for us humans, an indication of which would be that dimethyltryptamine (DMT) is naturally available in the body. Such consciousness experiences would be inappropriate for daily life on earth, so there is a natural blockade system at hand. Moreover, the zinc level in the body would also play a role in this blockade, because zinc is needed to synthesize the neurotransmitter serotonin, which among other things can be converted to DMT. Under extraordinary circumstances, such as facing life threatening situations or through administration of specific DMT injections, this blockade can be overcome, thus rendering the so-called near death experiences possible.
This theory would also satisfactorily explain why studies have shown that older patients tend to report fewer NDEs, with advancing age, zinc level tends to drop in the body. Moreover, short-term memory inevitably plays an important role in the question as to why some people remember NDE's and others do not. If his short-term memory works well, which will usually be the case if a resuscitated patient is not in a coma for several days and needed to be artificially ventilated, the probability that he will report an NDE is significantly higher than a patient who has suffered a stroke or a severe concussion or has been in a coma lasting several weeks.
This means perhaps- as in the case of our nightly dreams - that each individual goes through the same described stages on the threshold of death, but that many simply have no recollection of them. Yet NDE in principle can hardly be compared with dreams, because vivid dreams occur in the so-called REM sleep phase (from 'Rapid Eye Movement', which is a sleep phase recognizable by rapid, jerky ocular movements of the sleeper), in which the brain is evidently very active, while NDEs can also be experienced in phases devoid of brain activity. Moreover dreams, as intense as they may be, do not usually result in dramatic and sustained behavioral changes, while this is exactly what happens in the case of NDEs: these are experienced as more powerful and true-to-life than dreams, and even more intense than daytime conscious earthly life.
On closer examination, none of the materialistic theories so often put forward can really explain what happens in near-death experiences. Nevertheless, such experiences are a well founded indication that our life does not end with death and that we human beings, as expressed in all major religions and other teachings bearing true wisdom, are not only a body, but, instead, that we enliven this body only for a short time...with the help of a powerful tool that enables our consciousness to unfold in the physical world: the brain.
Author: Werner Huemer
Compiled by Edeltraud Grace
As a AIPC graduate myself I would like to share with you a beautiful article about Acceptance that is valuable for Practitioners and private individuals alike. (Counselling sessions)
Your 39-year-old female client seats herself and looks at you with frustration. It’s been many months now since she was diagnosed with the neurodegenerative condition, but she just can’t accept it; life is becoming impossible.
Your 20-something male client suffered a relational breakup seven months ago; this was his “love of my life” and he can’t get over it. He feels completely stuck and keeps coming to session with different plans for contacting his former girlfriend, who has persistently declined to meet up. He just doesn’t get that it’s over.
Your late 50s former colleague recently called you, too. He was fired from your workplace because of “performance issues”: something he is sure was motivated by a conflict he had with a third colleague. He feels aggrieved, and wants help hatching a plan to sue your employer, even though the employer gave him many chances to improve before finally letting him go.
What do all of these cases have in common? They – like all of us at times – are resisting accepting a change that has happened. To resist is natural. As change management consultants are fond of saying, we are hardwired to resist change; our brain’s amygdala interprets change as a threat to the body and releases hormones for fear, fight, or flight (Pennington, 2019). It’s how our body protects us from change. There’s a problem, though. Sometimes the change forced upon us is permanent, and our continued resistance to it keeps us miserable, without having any effect on the situation. Recognising that and embarking on the journey to acceptance may be the only way we can reclaim our inherent birthright of joy. We look into how we may do that.
Some simple definitions will be helpful as we explore this topic.
Resistance is “the act or power of resisting, opposing, or withstanding”, or in psychiatry: “Opposition to attempt to bring repressed thoughts or feelings into consciousness” (Dictionary. com, 2019a)
Acceptance, meanwhile, is “the act of taking or receiving something offered” (Dictionary.com, 2019b)
Stages on the road to acceptance
Imagine this scenario for a moment. Let’s say you come to live in a community which places top priority on being hospitable, so there is a law that citizens must accept into their homes all guests who present themselves at the door. One day you answer a knock only to find there your new guest. Dirty, ugly, unkempt, scowling and mean, yet powerful, the guest comes in, despite your misgivings. Now life gets really interesting. How do you respond?
In the context of mindfulness leading to self-compassion, Christopher Germer (2009) outlines five stages of acceptance, although acknowledging that the process of moving through them from resistance is an iterative, back-and-forth affair, rather than proceeding neatly from the first to the last. Let’s see how these resonate with you – or your anguished, change-resisting clients.
Stage 1: Aversion
At the beginning of the journey to acceptance, we are presented with the change: the unwelcome guest in our analogy. It is at this stage that our resistance is strongest. It’s the, “Oh, no – anything but that!” factor. Some of us go into denial, like the client above who continues to contact the girlfriend as if the relationship were still intact. For others, it may mean a second, or even third expert opinion, or more medical tests, before the terrible diagnosis is acknowledged. Resistance has been likened to “arguing with reality”. As one author noted, however, when she does that, she loses: “but only 100% of the time” (Farmer, 2016).
Mental health experts generally agree that resistance doesn’t change things. Carl Jung observed the paradox of it: “We cannot change anything until we accept it” (Bode, 2007). Yet at this stage, our stuckness is unyielding, our defences against change fully mobilised. Sally Kempton, writing in the Yoga Journal, names a few of them (Kempton, 2017).
Emotional armour. Resistance does have a helpful function (more on that in a moment), but carried too far, it stops being a useful filtering device for us and becomes a wall, a kind of armour. If we have been resisting for a significant period, we may have ingrained the habit so deeply that we are unable to tell if our inner “no” is valid and helpful or just obstructive. An example here could be the couple who knows on one level that their relationship is in jeopardy; genuine intimacy has been slipping away for years. Yet night after night, they flop onto the couch for more television watching, rejecting vehemently the suggestions of intuitive others that they need to talk.
Avoidance. What about the person who loses his job, but then finds myriad excuses for not spending time in the job search effort to get a new one? Or the person who knows she needs to re-organise her finances to accommodate a changed life situation? Perhaps she keeps putting it off because, secretly, she doesn’t understand how money works and really hates facing that she is now forced to live in straitened circumstances.
Distraction. Some of us “do” resistance in a covert way. On the surface we seem to be going along with the change, but on the inside our minds are worlds away, completely absent from the activity we overtly agreed we needed/wanted to engage. A case in point here is the person who does actually arrive at the meditation mat for the mindfulness practice they acknowledge they need, but once they begin the practice, they are thinking about anything but the breath they are supposed to be watching.
The Aversion stage is painful, yet that very pain – when it reaches an unbearable intensity – comes to be the ticket out of resistance. At some point, we are just so fed up with all the life energy that is being lost in resisting that we begin to look around for another way.
Stage 2: Curiosity
Germer’s second stage is marked by a subtle softening toward the unwanted guest. Perhaps we realise that loathing and avoiding him is getting us nowhere, except to bed in a cloud of fatigue and dread. We see that he is not going away, and we can’t avoid him forever; after all, he lives in the same “house” (our life) as we do. So . . . how else could we regard him? Is there any other way we can find to be with him without being so enraged/disgusted/despairing? Carl Jung is also reputed to have said that we don’t solve our problems as much as outgrow them. Thus at Stage 2, we begin to move toward exploring our reluctance to deal with our uninvited guest. What, we ask, is our denial/avoidance/stuckness all about? What is the fear that lurks behind our strong emotion?
Stage 3: Tolerance – safely enduring
Coming into this midpoint on the road to acceptance, we notice that – even though we still strongly protest that we don’t like him and that it isn’t really “fair” that we have to shelter him – we are somehow finding a way to tolerate our terrible guest. Perhaps we have learned how to modify our daily life routines to accommodate a reduced capacity due to illness. Perhaps we have, albeit reluctantly, begun to engage socially again after the agonising breakup. The important point is that, even if we still fail to admit it to ourselves, we have begun to change ourselves in order to accommodate the change. Our nightmare guest is definitely still with us, but we see that we are surviving despite that. For the record, we may still say we can’t stand him, but we are learning to cope with him. In short, we acknowledge him and his presence, and the psychological pain of resistance is reduced accordingly. If we likened the changed situation to a hostile country on our borders, we would say that a truce is being observed. There is no true peace just yet.
Stage 4: Allowing
This stage is subtly different from mere tolerance. Here we are conscious of thoughts that still come to us about how great things were before The Unwanted Guest arrived, but now we allow them to come, knowing that the thoughts will leave, too. For example, we may see our late friend’s picture and wistfully recall all the marvellous conversations over endless cups of tea; for a few minutes, we ardently wish he hadn’t died. We may see a jogger in fine form and notice strenuous thoughts of frustration that we had to hang up our jogging shoes when our knees got really bad. But after those resistant thoughts, which we can now afford to openly acknowledge, we go back to living in the present moment, uninvited guest (of change) and all. We may still not like to admit it, but life is more or less ok again. We have given the guest the key to the house, so he can come and go as he pleases. Little by little, probably without noticing how it happened, we came to this place of being “sort of” ok with the change, of moving over psychologically to make room for it, even though we still look back in the rearview mirror on occasion, reflecting that “those were the days”.
Stage 5: Friendship
Germer’s last stage – arrival at acceptance and friendship – heralds an exciting development. We said at the outset that resistance has a useful filtering function, because sometimes we are better off when we do resist. If our boundaries are violated, we should resist. If we are disrespected or treated in a degrading manner, resistance serves to let the other party know that they have crossed a red line – and had better cross back over it again to the other side! At this stage of coming to be with an unwelcome and possibly permanent change, however, we are in a different relationship with resistance. At Friendship, we finally come to comprehend the value of the experience we have just been through. Our uninvited guest no longer looks so ugly or so threatening. In fact, to our great surprise, we see cause for friendship with him. That is, we are able to disidentify enough from our initial resistance that we can see the silver lining in the change. We appreciate the insights and lessons gleaned and know that we are somehow larger, more powerful, more deeply connected to ourselves and all of life than we were before the change.
We may note, for example, that after a period of unemployment, we are able to embrace our new work with more profound gratitude – and we learned how to live more simply in the bargain. Dealing with a chronic illness may have taught us to joyously welcome the good days, and learn to be more even-minded with the not-so-good ones. And a newfound self-confidence in relating to people after the breakup may make us seriously attractive to the kind of partner we always wanted. (Stages adapted from Germer, 2009).
Powerful questions to help clients journey to acceptance
As mental health professionals or coaches, we are in the business of reframing, and the journey from resistance to acceptance demands nothing less. Here are some reframing questions that you can use to help clients along the road:
Everyone does one of two things with difficult emotional experiences.
They either store them, or they process them.
When they are stored they stay with you. When they have processed the difficulty associated with them goes forever.
The thing is all unresolved emotional experiences cause difficulties.
Some are minor, and some are not. The obvious ones are sadness and depression. Grief stored away and not processed results in feelings of sadness.
What people then do they distract themselves by taking alcohol or coffee or other drugs. Of course this does reduce the sadness for a while. (Or think here on distractions like newspaper, Facebook, Instagram, television, online games..). But it does not solve the problem. Grief needs to be processed otherwise sadness stays.
Panic attacks are often caused, but not exclusively, by an unresolved life-threatening experience. Compulsions and phobias are other expressions of unresolved emotional experiences. Compulsions force you down a particular path that you know will allow you to avoid the emotional difficulty. In the case of phobia, you avoid the path that will lead you to problem. All of these problems, the sadness, the grief, the traumas, the depression, the compulsions and the phobias are easily sorted out using BioMagnetic Healing with Hands (according to Virtuosity).
So why do people try to store or suppress their difficult emotional experiences rather than processing them?
There are many reasons perhaps the main reason is that they believe it is too painful to process. Other reasons are that expression of emotion in that particular time may not be appropriate, or they don’t want to appear vulnerable or something more important they believe may be happening.
The basis of BioMagnetic Healing with Hands in the way we are teaching in our accredited Training is that we can feel through our hands when a client is dealing with their difficult emotional experience and when they are avoiding it. So we can keep them on track so that it can be processed completely.
Below video: This can also be applied in self-help by the way. Below a Practitioner showing a client how to help in unblocking some heaviness in the Solar Plexus region
This means that we can help the client process any emotional difficulty without talking about it. Additionally, a BioMagnetic Healing with Hands practitioner can locate wherein a person's body a specific emotion is stored, which areas of the person’s body and energy body is effected and which emotion is important to clear first and they can also test if the person has cleared the emotion completely. A BioMagnetic Healing Practitioner is capable to help with specific hand movements and hand placements above or near the client's body to support the client to release the difficult emotions. A BioMagnetic Healing Practitioner is capable to read the energy body and what is going on. S/he is aware of things the client him or herself might not even be aware of.
A lot of people are reluctant to discuss all of their issues. With BioMagnetic Healing issues can be treated without the need for the client to word them, nevertheless should a client still wish to express what they feel, they can naturally. Nevertheless a lot of people when they visit a Counsellor/Coach or NLP Practitioner or any other Mental health practitioner are all about the chat. But often people with all this chat and talking, people do not say what really is going on.
The unique thing about integrating BioMagnetic Healing with Hands in typical Counselling/Coaching or NLP sessions (or EFT sessions also here the normal even highly trained EFT Practitioner does not really understand a lot about the Energy field and relies on the client’s input) is that we have found a way of processing difficult emotional experiences without talking about it and we are able to help the client to process and release much quicker than without it. A BioMagnetic Healing Practitioner is also capable to know which difficult emotions should be released first. This is due to the comprehensive energetic knowledge a BioMagnetic Healing Practitioner has.
Therefore integrating BioMagnetic Healing in sessions where people wish to address difficult emotions the success rate is much higher, the session frequency shorter and more thorough than using traditional cognitive-based methods all on their own. BioMagnetic Healing with Hands offers every mental health professional an additional method with which they can communicate with the client's true emotional situation in a non verbal way. A situation that is very often avoided and cannot be addressed with traditional methods and then Practitioners are surprised why their clients are getting worse instead of getting better. The BioMagnetic Healing practitioner supports the client to process the emotions and then the difficult emotions do not have any more ill effect on the client. Therefore we invite Counselors/Psychologists, Mental health professionals, NLP Practitioners, EFT Practitioners to come to our training.
We have found that unresolved emotional difficulties lie at the heart of many health issues. As we have said, the obvious ones are sadness and depression but many other illnesses disappear when underlying emotional difficulties are resolved. Headaches, panic attacks, anxiety, sleeplessness, eating disorders, developmental disturbances, concentration difficulties are just some examples of it.
The following is an example from my practice in regards to the quick potential recovery rate and here in regards to a severely ill girl who suffered under Anorexia. For anyone new to anorexia here is a link of the Australian government side: https://www1.health.gov.au/internet/publications/publishing.nsf/Content/mental-pubs-a-anorex-toc~mental-pubs-a-anorex-1
We read also here:” Anorexia nervosa is an eating disorder. It is a severe, very distressing and often chronic mental illness, which can lead to emaciation, physical illnesses such as osteoporosis, and disruption to emotional, social and educational development. It can also be life-threatening. It has a mean duration of five to seven years, but for some people, it can be a life-long illness. Partial relapses and remissions are common, but some people show a steady deterioration.”
The girl at that time was under treatment of a psychologist, a psychiatrist and a medical doctor. Nothing helped, but her condition deteriorated.
The father of the child gave me a desperate call telling me that she is now also not allowed to join school camp due to her frail condition.
The girl already showed signs of recovery after the first session with me! After three sessions over the frame of 3 weeks, she fully recovered. Do you not believe me? Here is the feedback of her father, a few years after she has initially seen me.
Stored unprocessed emotions do damage in so many ways, and healing magnetism can help the client to process the emotions and to become better.
Author: Edeltraud Grace
Counselling/Coaching/NLP/EFT Session with Healing Magnetism also via Skype
Bach flower therapy in the treatment of a chronic major depressive disorder
By Mark P. Masi. Compiled by Edeltraud Grace
Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine, Nov/Dec 2003, Vol 9, No 6
Reproduced in www.EdwardBach.org (http://www.edwardbach.org/edwardbach.htm) by kind permission of InnoVision Communications, California 92024
Bach flower remedies are a unique form of energy medicine that has become increasingly popular among alternative healthcare professionals; they are classified as homeopathic remedies in the United States and are part of the Homeopathic Pharmacopoeia of the United States (HPUS). Discovered by the English physician Edward Bach during the 1930s, the 38 flower tinctures are believed to heal emotional imbalances such as despondency, despair, and fear. Having been challenged by those patients whose chronic depressive symptoms were refractory to psychotherapy and/or medications, I began integrating Bach flower therapy into my psychotherapy practice about 3 years ago and have witnessed remarkable results. This article describes how the flower remedies were used within the context of psychotherapy to successfully treat 2 patients presenting with chronic major depressive disorder.
At the onset of flower therapy, each patient had been diagnosed with chronic major depression (depression lasting for at least a 2-year period). The Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) was administered to determine baseline functioning.(1) Based on an assessment of each patient's symptom history a selection of corresponding remedies was determined. Using Dr. Bach's guidelines for working with multiple remedies, 2 drops of each in its concentrated form were placed in a 30ml phial, diluted with spring water, and a teaspoon of vegetable glycerin was added as a preservative. From this combination of remedies each patient has prescribed the standard dose of 4 drops to be taken on or under the tongues 4 times a day. Over the next 12 weeks, patient response was monitored through recorded clinical observation, patient self-report, and the BDI, which was repeated at weeks 4, 8, and 12. In clinical practice, a 50% reduction in scores on measures such as the BDI is typically considered indicative of therapeutic responsiveness.
History of presenting complaint
Ms A, a 45-year-old married woman, presented with intense feelings of sadness and emptiness that she could not overcome. Other symptoms consisted of anhedonia, excessive guilt over her condition, significant loss of energy and libido, insomnia, weight gain, and a negative self-appraisal.
She reported that the depressive feelings had occurred most of her adult life, but were significantly present and unrelenting for the past 5 years. She was unable to identify any precipitant of her depression. She complained of feeling extremely overwhelmed by her daily tasks (eg, housekeeping, taking care of the family dog), which she found difficult to initiate and complete, and was easily discouraged whenever she was unable to meet personal goals (eg, following an exercise regimen or completing a household project), which would ultimately worsen the depression. Although she appeared to be a bright and multi-talented individual, she was troubled by an inner sense of vocational and spiritual uncertainty.
Based on her symptoms, Ms A warranted a diagnosis of major depressive disorder, chronic. The significance of her depression was further substantiated by her initial score of 35 on the BDI, which falls within the severe range. She reported 3 previous attempts of antidepressant drug treatment without the slightest success. In 1994, she had been given a 3-month course of sertraline, in 1997 she took venlafaxine for a 3-month period, and in 1999 she was given Effexor for 3 months. When we began treatment, she was not using any allopathic or alternative medicine for her depression.
The patients' depressive syndrome suggested 7 remedies that could be helpful: Mustard (Sinapis arvensis) to ameliorate the waves of depression that seemed to descend for no known reason, Gentian (Gentiana ambarella) to alleviate the discouragement from setbacks, Pine (Pinus sylvestris) to resolve the guilt, Olive (Olea europaea) for the physical loss of stamina, Elm (Ulmus procera) to eliminate the exhaustion brought on by her daily responsibilities, Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) to increase energy needed to initiate and complete tasks, and Wild Oat (Bromus ramosus) to help facilitate spiritual and vocational clarity.
Over the next 12 weeks, Ms A's condition was monitored during her individual therapy session and the BDI was repeated at weeks 4, 8 and 12. Her BDI scores were 35, 11, 12, and 11 respectively. Within 4 weeks the overshadowing sadness, sensitivity to setbacks, and guilt had significantly decreased. During her sessions she began to reveal family of origin issues that seemed to greatly influence the way that she responded to present-day situations, including an underlying level of resentment. Subsequently, at the end of the initial dosage bottle, Mustard, which had been used to address the insidious depression, and Pine which was selected to target excessive guilt, were replaced with Walnut (Juglans regia) to help break away from negative ties from the past, and Willow (Salix vitellina) to relieve bitterness and resentment from emotional injuries of childhood. By week 8 she was noticing a decrease in angry feelings, describing renewed interest and pleasure in life, and reporting an increase in physical energy. By the end of session 12 she was less self-critical, and actively exploring her spiritual beliefs and vocational interests. She had also mustered up the energy to complete a vocational course in welding.
History of presenting complaint
Ms B, a 40-year-old divorced female had suffered from symptoms of depression since childhood. She complained of feeling sad with frequent crying spells, loss of energy, decrease in libido, and an inability to find joy in life. The waves of sadness would manifest for no apparent reason and last for several weeks. These episodes would suddenly show temporary improvement, only to return within a short period of time. She had recently become engaged and conveyed ambivalence about the relationship with her fiancé. She reported a tendency to procrastinate and described a pattern of perceiving others in a critical manner yet found it extremely difficult to verbally express anger. The patient's depression first manifested at age 9 following the death of her grandfather. At the time of implementing Bach flower therapy into her treatment she was taking sertaline 100mg/d. She had been taking the medication for 2 years and reported that while the intensity of the depression had improved the dysphoric states continued to plague her. She had also engaged in 3 courses of psychotherapy, each of which helped to improve self-confidence and decision-making but did not alleviate the depressed mood. The first took place 10 years earlier and lasted for 7 years. The second took place 2 years earlier and lasted 6 months. I had been seeing Ms B in weekly psychotherapy for 6 months prior to adding the remedies to her treatment regimen. Based on the symptoms, her diagnosis at the onset of flower therapy was major depressive disorder, chronic. Her overall level of depression was in the mild range as reflected by a BDI score of 12.
Analysis of the patient's current complaints and the history of her depression suggested the following combination of flower remedies: Mustard (Sinapis arvencies) to address the dark clouds of depression,
Star of Bethlehem (Ornithogalum umbellatum) to heal the wounds caused by her grandfather's death which precipitated the depression, Olive (Olea europaea) for exhaustion, Hornbeam (Carpinus betulus) for procrastination, Beech (Fagus sylvatica) for the critical spirit towards others, Agrimony (Agrimonia eupatoria) to address the tendency to repress unpleasant emotions, and Walnut (Juglans regia) to help facilitate the transition into marriage. An adjustment to the combination was made during week 6 when Star of Bethlehem was replaced with White Chestnut (Aesculus hippocastanum) to address unwanted worrisome thoughts, which had surfaced.
Over the next 12 weeks, Ms B's condition was monitored during therapy sessions and the BDI was repeated at four-week intervals. The BDI scores were 12, 13, 6 and 2 respectively. By the eighth week of Bach flower therapy the frequency of depressive episodes per week was decreasing and she was reporting more pleasure in life. She was also expressing her feeling states with greater ease to her fiancé, which resulted in reassurance about the ensuing marriage. By session 12 the sadness had subsided, and the negative mental preoccupations had dissipated. She reported renewed ability and vigour in completing tasks, an increase in libido, and feeling less irritable and annoyed.
The flower remedies appear to have no side effects and do not seem to interfere with any form of treatment including homeopathic, herbal or allopathic medication. It is important to recognize that the remedies seem to act as catalysts in releasing unwanted negative psychological states. (3) Consequently, they appear to augment psychotherapy, a healing modality which also aims to work through rather than repress negative psychological states.
Although there is a preponderance of testimonials from patients and practitioners regarding the healing benefits of Bach flower therapy, there are few published accounts regarding its effectiveness in treating psychological illnesses. To date, the only published study is that of Campanili in which 115 patients suffering from depression and anxiety were treated with the remedies. (4) The researchers reported improvement in 89% of the cases and noted that the remedies were observed to be completely safe with no indication of even the slightest side effect. There has also been one small double-blind placebo study showing the effectiveness of the remedies in alleviating situational stress.(5)
An estimated 14 million Americans suffer from chronic major depression, a condition that can result in significant impairment in the overall quality and productivity of life. Tragically, approximately 15% of these individuals commit suicide. The cases of Ms A and Ms B are described because of the positive results these 2 women experienced when Bach flower therapy was used in their treatment. These examples support the work of Campanili and colleagues and are encouraging because they suggest that the remedies may bring about relief for those who struggle with chronic depression even when other methods of treatment have been unsuccessful. Before using the remedies, both of these women had endured unrelenting depression for many years. Ms A had engaged in three prior medication attempts, while Ms B had undergone a lifetime total of eight years of psychotherapy and 2 years of psychotropic intervention.
Practitioners who gain experience in using Bach flower therapy in the treatment of patients with chronic depression are often quite satisfied with the results. As illustrated by these cases, the remedies can be used in conjunction with psychotherapy and conventional antidepressant medications. However, in order for the clinical community to place faith in this branch of alternative medicine, scientific studies examining the efficacy of the remedies as a treatment for chronic depression are needed. Hopefully, researchers with interest, funding, and expertise will emerge to evaluate this healing modality.
1 Beck. AT. Ward. CH. Mendelson. M. Mock. Jerbaugh. J. An Inventory for Measuring Depression. Archives of General Psychiatry. 1961; 4:561-571.
2 Gerber. R. A Practical Guide to Vibrational Medicine. New York. NY: HarperCollins 2000
3 Richardson-Boedler. C. Applying Homeopathy and Bach Flower Therapy to Psychosomatic illness. New Delhi. India: B. Jain. 1998.
4 Campanini. M. Bach Flower Therapy: Results of a Monitored Study of 115 Patients. La Medicina Biologica. 1997; 15(2): 1-13.
5 Cram. JR. (In Press). A Psychological and Metaphysiological Study of Dr. Edward Bach's Flower Essence Stress Formula. Subtle Energies.
Mark P Masi PsyD
Mark Masi is in private practice in Arlington Heights, IL, and is adjunct faculty member, National-Louis University, Elgin, IL.
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