The use of near-death phenomena in therapy
Journal of Near-Death Studies
Though near-death studies have yielded few practical applica tions, some psychotherapists have used insights from near-death experiences (NDEs) to treat a variety of problems. Using hypnosis, relaxation methods, or electric shock to initiate a conversation with a purported spirit "possessing" the patient, the therapist persuades the spirit to join others in a land of ethereal beauty and light similar to the transcendental realm of an NDE, or simply to go directly into the light. Such techniques
... ht. Such techniques are treated as a culmina tion of the spirit's NDE; that is, the purported possessing spirits had their original death experiences terminated prior to entering the transcendental stage, but instead of returning to their own bodies, they appear to have invaded the bodies of others. Some persons may leave themselves open to invasion through substance abuse or occult practices. Most near-death experience (NDE) research concentrates on deter mining exactly what has happened during NDEs, the frequency of their various aspects, verification of information obtained during NDEs, long-term effects on the experiencers, and attempted explana tions. Practical application usually aims at helping medical personnel and the general public to accept the existence of such transcendent experiences, thus preventing people who report them from being dis credited. I review in this article the work of four therapists who have used aspects of near-death phenomena to treat individuals purportedly "possessed" by spirits, as manifested by hearing voices or inner conver sations, severe depression, suicidal thoughts, substance abuse, impul sive or compulsive behavior, phobias, or anorexia nervosa. Mr.