I was watching a TV programme yesterday and the characters were discussing how “hypoxia” created powerful “hallucinations” and this was used a an “explanation” of various Near-Death perceptions …. in other words, hypoxia causes the hallucinations and therefore explains them using a simple application of materialist-reductionist science. Neat, tidy, rational and convincing. Problem solved. There is nothing at all odd or strange about the NDE, nor its associated perceptions of an OBE state and vivid visual, tactile and auditory experiences.
But let’s deconstruct this. Hypoxia is simply a decrease of oxygen in the brain. Why should a lack of a gas create hallucinations? One is a physical substance reacting with chemical and electrical impulses in the neurons of the brain. The latter are images and perceptual sensations that are non-physical in nature and are “perceived” by somethings similarly non-physical (consciousness). So by what known scientific process can a physical reaction between chemicals “create” a whole non-physical narrative that is so effective that it convinces the perceiver that way they are experiencing is absolutely real?
Furthermore this “hallucinatory” state creates its own inner narrative and story line. How can this be? It is simply chemicals and electricity, unthinking inanimate processes. Something most decide that particular images and sensations must be generated by the brain. If this was not the case then surely any “hallucinations” would be a miss-match of unconnected visual, aural, vestibular and tactile stimuli thrown together in a random series of sensations. These should not create a narrative …. a narrative that is DIRECTLY related to the external world as it exists at the time of the NDE.
The NDEr feels that they are floating outside of their body. The hallucination is so powerful that it renders an inner picture that fools the NDEr into believing that what they are perceiving is absolutely real. There is no sensation of dreaming, none of the disjointed inconsistencies of the dream state. In fact it is so identical to a normal waking-state that the NDEr, on their return to “normal” consciousness remembers the OBE state in exactly the same way that he or she remembers memories generated in a normal waking state.
The “hallucination” accurately renders the external environment so accurately that the NDEr genuinely believes that they are floating round in consensual space. The accuracy of this illusion most be total. The NDEr at no stage thinks, “I am dreaming this” or “I am imagining this.” They are convinced that they really are viewing events from a point consciousness looking down at their own body and the events surrounding their potential death scene.
This “hallucination” (which remember is randomly “created” by unthinking, inanimate and therefore unmotivated chemicals and electrical impulses) scripts this amazingly accurate scenario and also populates it with facsimiles of the actual doctors, nurses, paramedics, police, and any other people actively involved in the potential death circumstances. Doctors and nurses are perceived going through medical processes that would be unknown to the NDEr, these process are accurately described afterwards. They are heard discussing these processes ….. sometimes the NDEr floats away from the scene and perceives events taking place miles away and therefore out of any natural perceptual field of the dying persons body. They witness events and discussions that they could not have seen or heard from the scene of their potential demise.
But again all these events are simply an “hallucination” created by hypoxia.
I for one agree totally that these experiences are created by these chemical “hallucinations.” I believe that there is a direct relationship between hypoxia (and all the other neurological and neuro-chemical explanations). However, in doing so I then take things one step further and as the next question, the elephant I the room that materialist-reductionist apologists carefully avoid and don’t want the general public to ask …. and that is what exactly is an “hallucination? and, more importantly, why are these hallucinations so powerful and accurate?
These are the questions I attempt to answer in my forthcoming book. I don’t hide behind clever-sounding labels. I attempt REAL answers to these mysteries, not platitudes. These “hallucinations” can tell us a great deal about the true nature of reality, but these answers can only be found if we accept that “hallucinations” are no different to our everyday perceptions of consensual reality …. they are all brain-generated renderings within a greater perceptual universe ….