Living in the Light: Afterward
In 1984, I brought out my book, Heading toward Omega, which was the first major study of the long-term aftereffects of the NDE. What my research showed was that just as the NDE itself comprises a distinctive pattern of elements, so, too, were the changes that tended to develop in an NDEr's life afterward. In the realm of beliefs, values, behavior, and outlook on life generally, NDErs, however different they may have been before their experience, showed astonishing similarities. From a psychological standpoint, it was almost as if they had all undergone much the same initiatory ordeal—triggered by the trauma of nearly dying which then, unexpectedly, gave rise to similar, life-transforming insights—and then emerged from it to speak in a single voice and act from the secret knowledge of a shared vision. The result was that the NDErs I studied, though still diverse in their personalities, tended to share a common psychological profile afterward. In short, most of them appeared not only to be transformed by their experience, but also transformed in much the same way.
In the fourteen years that have elapsed since the publication of Heading toward Omega, many other studies have confirmed my basic findings. 1 In fact, at least eight additional major investigations of NDE aftereffects in the United States, England, Australia, and Italy—indeed in every country so far where such studies have been undertaken—have afforded further evidence of the stability of this pattern. In beliefs, behavior, values, and worldview, NDErs, at least in the West, seem to be much the same following their encounter with near death.