A WOMAN who almost died claimed she saw her one-year-old self crying face down in a crib – as a doctor who spent 50 years studying near death experiences said they make us happier.
Barbara Harris Whitfield also saw different scenes from her life and felt exactly the same as she had in those moments.
The therapist, from Georgia, US, suffered respiratory complications while recovering from a back injury aged 32 in 1975.
She said: “As I left my body, I saw my one-year-old self facedown in my crib crying.
“In every scene of my life review I could feel again what I had felt at various times in my life.
“And I could feel everything everyone else felt as a consequence of my actions. Some of it felt good and some of it felt awful.”
It is thought five per cent of people have near death experiences, according to psychiatrist Dr Bruce Greyson – who has spent 50 years working with patients who have experienced them.
He said: "I think the evidence overwhelmingly points to the physical body not being all that we are.
"There seems to be something that is able to continue after the body dies. I don’t know what to make of it.”
In 1988, truck driver Al Sullivan, from Connecticut, recalled looking down at his body as doctors performed surgery – and recalled a surgeon flapping his arms like a bird.
The surgeon told Greyson that, after scrubbing in, he avoided accidentally touching anything by keeping his hands pinned to his chest and pointing at things for his assistants with his elbows.
It was the same flapping Sullivan had described, despite being anaesthetised, his chest cut open and his eyes taped shut.
While Dr Greyson does not know exactly what causes them, he concluded that they make us happier.
He said: “The experience can totally transform someone’s attitudes and behaviour for decades after. I don’t know of anything else so powerful."
As I left my body, I saw my one-year-old self facedown in my crib crying. In every scene of my life review I could feel again what I had felt at various times in my life.
In 1974, Henry, who was in in 40s, attempted suicide after his parents passed away.
He said he was transported to a meadow where his mum and dad opened their arms for him.
And while Dr Greyson was concerned he would attempt suicide again, Henry insisted he never thought of it a second time.
He said: "I don’t think about that at all now. I still miss Mama, but I’m happy now that I know where she is.”
It is increasingly common for people to feel comfortable talking about their experience, his research shows, unlike in the 80s when patients would think they were the only one who had it.
And while all experiences are different, 80 per cent reported to him that they left their body.
Roisin Fitzpatrick suffered a brain haemorrhage in 2004, which she said made her become "pure energy".
She said: "I realised there is no beginning or end. No life or death. It made absolutely no difference if I was in my body; it was not even relevant.
"I had become at one with this incredibly potent, highly charged field of energy."
Dr Greyson's first encounter with a near-death experience was when a student overdosed and she recalled him speaking with one of her friends – despite being unconscious.
Holly, not her real name, even correctly remembered every detail of the conversation.
He said: “My immediate reaction was almost terror: This can’t be happening.
"After a few days, I thought this couldn’t have happened. It must be some trick that people played on me.”
While Greyson does not know what causes them, he debunked suggestions that they are caused by a drop in oxygen levels, electrical activity in the brain or as a result of the powerful drugs given to patients.
And evidence shows that near-death experiences also transforms the lives of those who read about them.
Dr Greyson wrote: “It is my hope that learning about near-death experiences will also give you the spark to reevaluate your life and reconnect with the things that fill your life with ever greater meaning and joy.”
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