NDEs, PTSD, and Psychic Phenomena in a Latin American Sample | Alejandro Álvarez

Alejandro Álvarez is a Mexican biologist and PhD candidate currently doing his PhD in the field of Evolutionary Biology. He has been a Student Member of the Parapsychological Association for three years, independent researcher for the last four years, and a member of the Unidad Parapsicológica de Investigación, Difusión y Enseñanza (UPIDE) for the last two years. He is interested in explaining psychic abilities from an evolutionary perspective, a scarce viewpoint in the field. He co-founded the Research Center of Sintergy and Consciousness (CISC).


Introduction: It is widely recognized that Near-Death Experiences (NDEs) are associated with a series of changes in different aspects of people’s lives, such as psychological, spiritual, social, etc. Overall, those changes are mostly positive. Besides, some studies report an increase of psychic (or psi) experiences after having an NDE. So far, most of the studies involving NDErs (i.e., people that undergo an NDE) have mainly focused on European and American populations, and from other countries to a lesser extent.

Here, we present the first study that focusses exclusively on Spanish-speaking people, most from Latin America and a few from Spain. For this analysis, we focus on two main factors: identify if there is a higher prevalence of psi phenomena after the NDE; and evaluate if these types of experiences, given the traumatic context in which they usually occur, can lead to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Methods: We designed a battery of scales that was shared on different social networks through groups related to NDEs, parapsychology, and similar topics. This battery contains: a) the Greyson scale; b) the Transliminality scale; and c) the PTSD revised symptom severity scale. We also included a series of questions related with specific features of the NDE, and a questionnaire related to the presence of psychic abilities before and after the experience.

Results: 181 participants, aged 15 to 48, answered the survey. We discarded 22 that failed to answer the survey properly, and another 18 that did not reach the minimum value of 7 in the Greyson Scale, which indicates that they did not have a true NDE. The most common situation leading to a NDE was having a medical condition (30%), followed by a traumatic injury (19%), and surgical intervention (12%). For 39 of the subjects, their NDE seems to have led to PTSD. The mean value in the transliminality scale was 13, which is about one standard deviation above the average.

We found that men are more likely to have PTSD, and that this disorder is negatively correlated with age (r=-0.30, p=0.01). Also, a negative correlation was found between a high score in the PTSD scale and post-NDE optimism (r=-0.26, p=0.01). Age was positively correlated with NDEs associated with a medical condition (r=0.24, p=0.01). The scores in the Transliminality scale were positively correlated with the Greyson (r=0.28, p=0.01) and PTSD (r=0.31, p=0.01) scales, and the score in the Greyson scale was negatively correlated with that of the PTSD scale (r=-0.20, p=0.016).

Discussion: Although most of the people in our study reported an NDE as a result of situations that could be considered traumatic, the vast majority of them (79%) did not present PTSD. The negative correlation between the Greyson and PTSD scales is quite interesting; it suggests that the deeper the NDE, the less likely a person is to develop PTSD. As expected, it is more likely that people develop an optimistic attitude when they do not experience PTSD symptoms, as indicated by the negative correlation between these variables.

In this study we found that men are more likely to develop PTSD than women. This might be related to the fact that women are more likely to believe in paranormal and spiritual phenomena, which could lead them to assimilate more quickly what they experienced during the NDE and incorporate it into their lives.

Program chaired by John G. Kruth. Download the Abstracts at https://parapsych.org/articles/23/605/ssepa_breakthrough_2022_abstracts.aspx


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Published on January 14, 2024