Between life and death
by Beth Aaron
April 08, 2004
(Editor's note: the man who reported his near-death experience has
been changed to Bob Smith.)
Bob Smith, a sophomore psychology major from Las Vegas, said he does
not talk about his experience often.
He said the experience is difficult to describe.
"It wasn't your conventional near-death experience," he said, "with
the light at the end of the tunnel and the family member spirit
Smith said the only "conventional" aspect he can think of in
relation to his experience is the feeling he was connected to his
body by a kite string.
He said he felt as if he was stepping back from his body, but not
witnessing events in the physical sense.
"It was like I got an inverted third-person perspective of the
functioning of my own mind," he said.
Some Eastern religions reference the idea of the "silver cord,"
According to http://www.near-death.com/experiences/research12.html,
a "silver cord" also is referenced in the Bible.
It is defined as the interface between the spiritual body and the
Smith said he believes his near-death experience was related to both
the spirit and the mind.
"Which is how I explain all human perception, for that matter," he
Dr. Randolph Schiffer, professor of neuropsychiatry and behavioral
science, said near-death experiences are often described as
This dreamlike quality is a possible result of metabolic impairment
of the brain.
"What I think it is," he said, "is each person's individual whatever
experiences are most important to them come out in their metabolic
The term metabolic refers to a derangement of brain function by the
stress of whatever has injured a person to the point of near death,
The metabolism of the brain cells can become impaired.
"They talk about a very pleasant experience," he said. "There's a
great variety of things. The common quality, though, is the report
that it's pleasant."
Occasionally, Schiffer said, near-death experiences can be
unpleasant, such as in instances of violence.
However, people in distress are anxious and restless, but almost
everyone he has seen reaches a calm state eventually.
"As if we're wired up when the moment comes," he said, "we're able
to bear it and let go."
Schiffer said another underlying factor similar in most near-death
experiences is the willingness to make a change for the better in
"We self-generate the meanings of our lives," he said. "We all kind
of truck along in our lives because we don't remember time is
Schiffer said those who have gone through a traumatic event that
sparked a near-death experience are more likely to realize they are
Smith said after he went through his near-death experience, he was
"For weeks I was just completely detached," he said. "Still, to this
day, I'm still withdrawn from the rat race of everyday life."
Smith said he tries not to take trivial things seriously and keep
everything in prospective.
He said meditation helps him to stay in touch with what he learned
from his near-death experience.
"Afterwards, it's just a matter of holding onto that," he
said. "Take some time to stop and think about who you really are.
Who you were before you were born, if that makes any sense."
Schiffer said people should not dwell on their mortality, but they
should keep in mind that each day is valuable.
He said people that believe each day matters are more efficient in
their daily lives and make better use of their time.
People should not wait for a dramatic instance such as a near-death
experience to turn their lives around for the better, Schiffer said.
"You should do that anyway," he said, "because life itself is a near