Turnbull, E. (2023). Exploring the experience of encountering living individuals during a near-death experience: A phenomenological inquiry [Unpublished Master’s thesis]. Alef Trust & Liverpool John Moores University.

Near-death experiences (NDEs) have received significant attention, yet limited research has focused specifically on encounters with living individuals during these experiences and their psychological implications. This qualitative phenomenological study aims to explore the experiences of encounters with living beings during NDEs from the perspectives of both the near-death experiencer (NDEr) and the living individuals encountered, highlighting the distinctive features of this NDE subtype. Through in-depth semi-structured interviews, eight participants provided subjective and occasionally intersubjective accounts, providing insights into these encounters and their transformative effects. Encounters between NDErs and living individuals during an NDE are complex and multifaceted, involving unexpected thrusts into the encounter for NDErs and interpretations that appear to be shaped by pre-existing spiritual or religious beliefs for the encountered individuals. These encounters give rise to extraordinary phenomena, such as the sense of empathic connections and out-of-body experiences. They additionally involve distinctive features that go beyond the typical characteristics of NDEs, including the formation of transpersonal bonds, a sense of liberation from perceived victimhood, and a newfound belief in multidimensional consciousness. Participants experienced personal growth, and re-evaluation of values, ultimately leading to a deeper understanding of self and the reconstruction of life’s meaning. Sharing and integrating these experiences presented social and cultural challenges unless they were intersubjective experiences which appeared to facilitate a smoother integration into the social fabric. This study emphasises the need for further research to understand these experiences and their broader significance within near-death phenomena.

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