Our take: Dr. Eben Alexander, a neurosurgeon, is a man of science. But a seven-day coma in 2008 gave him a profoundly different perspective on life and reality as he experienced what is commonly called a near-death experience and a glimpse of the afterlife. A book about his experience is coming out later this month, and here is a column he wrote about it.
As a neurosurgeon, I did not believe in the phenomenon of near-death experiences. I grew up in a scientific world, the son of a neurosurgeon. I followed my fatherís path and became an academic neurosurgeon, teaching at Harvard Medical School and other universities. I understand what happens to the brain when people are near death, and I had always believed there were good scientific explanations for the heavenly out-of-body journeys described by those who narrowly escaped death.
The brain is an astonishingly sophisticated but extremely delicate mechanism. Reduce the amount of oxygen it receives by the smallest amount and it will react. It was no big surprise that people who had undergone severe trauma would return from their experiences with strange stories. But that didnít mean they had journeyed anywhere real.
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