Near-death experiences and dissociation: Two cases

1993 Journal of Near-Death Studies  
The near-death experience (NDE) literature has long chron icled the observation that out-of-body experiences (OBEs) lead to relief from physical and emotional pain. Researchers have suggested recently that the NDE may be viewed as dissociation. People who are physically or sexually abused, including those who have multiple personality disorder, often develop dissociative defenses and may well leave their bodies to achieve pain relief. This article presents two cases of NDEs that support the
more » ... hat support the supposition that NDEs and OBEs may be a dissociative process. Several years ago I reported the retrospective account of a near-death experience (NDE) triggered by sexual abuse of a pre-teenage girl by her father (Serdahely, 1987-88). In that same article, I noted the case of another woman who had had out-of-body experiences (OBEs) while being molested. She described her OBEs as a "safety valve" to escape the trauma of being abused. Barbara Harris picked up on my suggestion of a connection between NDEs and child abuse and noted her impression that, in her subse quent work with near-death support groups and in the responses she's received to public presentations of her own NDE, "child abuse and incest survivors who have had NDEs are constantly popping up" (per sonal communication, 1987).
doi:10.17514/jnds-1993-12-2-p85-94. fatcat:skx3qovvjbabtmlhdsqfhn2cqm