LONDON (CBS Atlanta) – Movies and books like “Heaven Is Real” and “Proof of Heaven” have returned the concept of near death experiences to the popular culture.
Now the first medical record of the phenomenon may have been discovered by a doctor in France, reports Live Science.
Dr. Phillippe Charlier was browsing through an antique book store when he found a volume on medical history written nearly 275 years ago. “Anecdotes de Médecine” was written by Pierre-Jean du Monchaux around 1740.
The book describes the case of a patient, a famous apothecary in Paris, who lost consciousness and then said that he saw a light so pure and bright that he beleived he must have been in heaven.
In the book, Monchaux speculated that a rush of blood to the brain was responsible for the tunnel of light and sense of euphoria experienced by many who claim they were dead or near dead.
This is opposite to what medical science speculates causes near death experiences. Modern doctors believe a lack of oxygen in the brain is responsible for most if not all of the sensations they feel.
Carlier said he was surprised to find such a detailed account in such an old book, which he bought for 1 euro (just over a dollar).
“I was just interested in the history of medicine, and medical practices in the past, especially during this period, the 18th century,” he told Live Science. “The book itself was not an important one in the history of medicine, but from a historian’s point of view, the possibility of doing retrospective diagnosis on such books, it’s something quite interesting.”
Today, near-death experience is described as a profound psychological event with transcendental and mystical elements that occurs after a life-threatening crisis, Charlier said.
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