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Annamaria is a Ph.D. candidate and currently writing her dissertation on
Near-Death Experience: A Mythic Model for Conscious Living and Dying.
She also writes articles for various magazines and her work is primarily focused
n all aspects of conscious living and dying. She is also a member of the
International Association for Near-Death Studies.

What was the precipitating factor that lead you to study the near death experience?

 I started to study the near-death experience when I was completing  an MA
in Consciousness Psychology and became very interested in course material that included the NDE.
I then met a man who had an NDE and was immediately struck by how his experience had 
totally transformed his life. His story was so powerful that I started to 
research the NDE in depth. Later, when my mother became seriously ill, I began 
to become interested in expanding my own knowledge about death and dying and
the  paranormal phenomena that can take place during this time of transition
such as  death-bed visions.

Where can I find the actual studies you mentioned that negate the theory that these experiences
are the result of the change in the chemistry of the brain during the death process?

Details of studies (Dr. Von Lommel and Dr. Peter Fenwick) that negate  the
theory that NDEs are simply a projection of the dying brain can be found on 
the site of IANDS (Internation Association for Near-Death Studies) that gives
a  wealth of personal experience and research into the NDE.

It was stated in your book that one of the "side effects" of the near death experience
is a changed perspective on life.  Would you holdthat this perspective change was due directly
to the experience itself or the result of a simple "rebooting" of the brain?

At the present time it is impossible to scientifically prove what 
actually takes place in an NDE although studies into the experience seem to 
point to the fact that consciousness does not end at the moment of physical  death.
Many people report looking down at their dead body, traveling to  different
locations and having specific information about what is going on  around them
even though they are "dead". All we do know for sure, is that most  of these
people return to normal life with a very different perspective on life  and
how to live it and often make many life changes.

It is my understanding that there are also what we would consider very negative near death
experiences where the person finds himself in dark places with frightening creatures and an
overwhelming emotion of fear.  Would you please elaborate.

There are cases of negative NDEs, in Jungian terms, this could be viewed 
as having to grapple with the "shadow" or denied parts of the psyche. Perhaps,
this is the lesson for some people, as many negative experiences do turn
into  benign ones. Although there is no religious prerequisite for an NDE to
occur,  many people return with strong spiritual convictions and this includes
some that  have had a negative NDE.

In your collection of the personal experiences others have had, which is your favorite and why?

My favorite NDE story, which is in the book, is that of Larry Hagman.  His
account is very interesting, because it would appear that he had achieved 
everything that we think is most important in life: fame, wealth, success and
a long and happy marriage. However, Larry still felt there was something more
to  life and was eager to seek out this deeper meaning. His NDE-like experience
proved to provide the answer to his quest and he emerged from  this
experience having undergone a powerful and life changing transformation. 
Larry is now sure that life continues after death and has become involved in  working for
many charitable institutions. His new perspective on life and the  dying process is also substantiated
n many other similar accounts.

Please, for our readers,  will you address the issue that there is no objective proof for or against the
near death experience as proof of the afterlife.  Thus far, the only purported events have been subjective.

I believe that our knowledge of "consciousness" is very limited. 
Scientific and medical research is very active in researching the NDE and
other related phenomena. Although there is no proof to substantiate exact
explanations  for the NDE or a possible continuum of consciousness following physical death, 
there is no doubt that something very powerful occurs. The NDE may give us a 
tantalizing glimpse of what could happen to us when we die. However, perhaps
the  most important feature of the NDE is that the people who have experienced
such  an event have a very different outlook on life and death.

In the book it is stated that scientists have claimed that it is impossible for a brain dead person
to have cognitive experiences and yet so little is known about the functions of the brain.  If our knowledge is
currently limited in an area, how can we claim that something is impossible?

I think that we do not understand the full functions of the brain, but  we
gain more experience all the time. Perhaps, one day, we may be able to 
provide a fuller understanding of the NDE and all paranormal activity. Right 
now, I believe that we have an important source - people's real-life  accounts.