Taking psychoactive drugs can mirror near death experiences, study shows

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In a fascinating new study, [near-death experience] stories were compared linguistically with anecdotes of drug experience in order to identify a drug that causes an experience most like a near-death experience. What is remarkable is how precise a tool this turned out to be. Even though the stories were open-ended subjective accounts often given many years after the fact, the linguistic analysis focused down not only to a specific class of drugs, but also to a specific drug.

When recollections of drug effects were compared with NDEs, stories about hallucinogens and psychedelics had the greatest similarities to NDEs, and the drug that scored the highest similarity to NDEs was the hallucinogen ketamine. The word most strongly represented in descriptions of both NDEs and ketamine experiences was “reality,” highlighting the sense of presence that accompanies NDEs.

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Because near-death experiences (NDEs) can be transformational and have profound and lasting effects on those who experience them, including a sense of fearlessness about death, the authors propose that ketamine could be used therapeutically to induce an NDE-like state in terminally ill patients as a “preview” of what they might experience, so as to relieve their anxieties about death.

Read full, original post: New Clues Found in Understanding Near-Death Experiences

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