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Near-Death Experience and Its Integrative ImprintMarie S. MaddoxDissertationsubmitted to the Faculty ofHolos University Graduate Seminaryin partial fulfillment of the requirementsfor the degree ofDOCTOR OF THEOLOGY

Copyright by Marie S. Maddox, 2015All Rights Reserved

The work reported in this thesis is original and completed solely by me, except forthe acknowledged direction, assistance, and guidance gratefully extended bycolleagues and mentors. This work is not intended for commercial duplication andthe use of the images herein are presented in their original form and with permission.This scholarly work recognizes and acknowledges authors where applicable and ispresented in accordance with the fair use copyright act, section 107 of copyright law.Marie S. Maddox

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS“Not everybody can be famous but everybody can be great,because greatness is determined by service.”Martin Luther King Jr.From beginning to end, many, many people helped to serve to make this dissertationpossible. It is with utmost gratitude that I offer my thanks!To my Committee:Berney Williams: Your intelligence at all levels is exceptional. Thank you forcalling my rampant ADD “curiosity.” Your words helped in reshaping myperspectives.Patricia Norris: My gratitude for stepping in to provide guidance and taking a chanceon a student you had never met. Your sensibility, grace, and expertise touched me inways I cannot begin to describe.Ann Nunley: As always, your innate ability to walk honestly in another’s shoesprovided comfort when I needed it most.Faith Nelson: Thank you for always being ready with a “zap” of energy at the dropof a hat and helping me find my way.David Eichler: Your incredible ability to communicate about anything in anextremely effective and non-threatening manner is something I hope to emulatesomeday.To all my professors at Holos:Every one of you has touched my life and my heart. Thank you for all you do andfor being ray of light in this sometimes mixed up, crazy world.To the administrative staff:Marilyn McGhee: You are incredibly modest, and I love your quiet presence andways of all knowing.Vera Borgmeyer: All hail to the High Priestess! Your wisdom and reverencepermeates all you touch.iv

A special thanks to:Bruce Greyson for his permission to use the Greyson Near-Death Experience Scale.The International Association for Near-Death Studies (IANDS) home organizationwith a special shout out to Bob Frank and Ginette Nachman.The many national and international chapters of IANDS that provide support andinformation for the near-death experiencer and kindly helped in recruitmentassistance, especially:Kimberly Clarke Sharp, Seattle, Washington IANDS,Larry Merrill, Mesa, Arizona IANDS,Chuck Swedrock and Susan Amsden, Phoenix and Tucson, Arizona IANDS,Linda Green, Denver, Colorado, IANDS, andBeverly Brodsky, San Diego, California, IANDS.The American Center for the Integration of Spiritually Transformative Experiences(ACISTE) with special thanks to Sandy B, Dina, and Beverly.Michael Ireland for her willingness and assistance to spread the word.Alex Rodriguez of Mdesign for compiling my content and ideas into somethinguseful.Martina Steiger for planting the seeds.Kathy Josefow for her recruitment assistance.Doris Inness for her computer ability and readiness to assist.Andrea Beaulieu for her creativity and communication skills.Paul Thomlinson and his capacity to make sense out of what seems nonsense to mymind.Caroline Myss for her ability to empower and teach.Michal Levin for her guidance and unwavering love.v

And lastly .Brenda Garrett: You hold a very, very dear place in my heart. You weretremendously patient and kind at a time when my life was totally falling apart. If itwere not for your unwavering support, compassion, and your belief in me when Ihad no belief in myself, this dissertation would never have been possible. Thank youfor launching me on this journey and bringing me back from the brink of so muchdisaster to a much richer and happier life.To my beloveds:Matt Maddox: My beloved husband We live in two different worlds, but yourpatience, support, and kindness with this process has been deeply cherished. I havelearned so much from you, and after all these years, you are still my very best friend.There has never been a dull moment, and I would not have it any other way!! Notonly is the world a better place with you in it, but I am a better person for having youas my partner. Thank you for your wisdom, humor, and patience along the entireway. I love you!Ian Maddox: My beloved son (Ok, I can see you rolling your teen-ager eyesalready. I will keep it brief!) From the day you arrived, you have brought anincredible amount of joy, happiness, and laughter in our lives. Your gifted presencein my life has taught me much, and I hope I will continue to learn well! Thank youfor choosing me as your mom. I love you so very, very, much!Gabi Maddox: My beloved daughter Like the angel you are, you entered our liveswhen we needed you most. You, my darling, are the best daughter a mother couldreceive, and akin to your name, you give me such strength. Love you so very, verymuch!vi

ABSTRACTNear-Death Experience and Its Integrative ImprintThe objective of this research was to examine if near-death experiencers(NDErs) demonstrated increased levels of integrative and holistic wellness asindicated by the Five Factor Wellness Inventory (FFWEL) in comparison to thenormative data of the FFWEL. The study sought to identify and study thecomponents that make the NDE population unique, especially in those factors relatedto the individual and the totality of integrative and holistic wellness as defined by theFFWEL.The study utilized a custom survey administered through the Internet,combining qualitative and quantitative data provided by the Greyson Near-DeathExperience Scale (Greyson NDE Scale) and the FFWEL. The Greyson NDE Scalewas used as inclusion/exclusion criteria, assisting as a measure of NDE validity aswell as categorizing the type of NDE. The Five Factor Wellness Inventory(FFWEL) was employed to evaluate the five factors of wellness and its inclusivesubsets as designated by the measurement instrument. Supportive qualitativequestions were used for a Pearson correlation between the participant’s perception ofintegrative wellbeing before and after an NDE and the total wellness scores of theFFWEL.Of the initial 87 participants, 78 individuals met the inclusion/exclusion criteriaof the research study, scoring a 7 or higher on the Greyson NDE Scale.Transcendental type NDEs accounted for 37% (29 of 78) of the sample, cognitive33% (26 of 78), affective 15% (12 of 78), paranormal 3% (2 of 78), and 12% (9 of78) were scored as unclassifiable.Results from the Pearson correlation, comparing participant’s perceptions ofintegrative wellness before and after NDE, and the total wellness scores of theFFWEL, showed marginal statistical significance (p . 08).A one-sample Z-test analysis of each of the five factors of the FFWEL, and itscorresponding sub factors, demonstrated statistical significance (p .0001), as well astotal wellness and life satisfaction (p .0001) scores. The local, institutional, andchronometrical contextual results also indicated statistical significance (p .0001)with the only variance in the category of global context (p .0006). Conclusions andsuggestions for future research are presented in the final chapter.Key Words: Near Dearth Experience (NDE), Near-Death Experience (NDE)and Wellness, Wellbeing, Wellness, Integrative Wellness, Integrative Wellbeing,Holistic Wellness, Holistic Wellbeing, Greyson Near-Death Scale, Five FactorWellness Inventory (FFWEL).vii

TABLE OF CONTENTSSectionPage NumberACKNOWLEDGMENTS. ivABSTRACT . viiTABLE OF CONTENTS . viiiCHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION . 10Background and Statement of the Problem. 10Purpose of the Study. 12Importance of the Study . 13Theoretical Frameworks. 15Holistic versus Integrative Wellness . 15Background and Theoretical Framework of the FFWEL. 16The Indivisible Self and Its Measures . 19The Higher-Order Wellness Factor . 19The Five Second Order Factors. 19Contextual Variables . 21Theoretical Framework of the Near-Death Imprint . 23The Research Question and Research Hypothesis . 27Scope of the Study. 27Delimitations and Limitations . 27Definition of Terms . 30CHAPTER 2: REVIEW OF THE LITERATURE. 32The Near-Death Experience . 32Characteristics of the Near-Death Experience . 33Kenneth Ring and the Core Experience . 40Bruce Greyson and the Near-Death Experience Scale. 41Considerations . 42The Art of Integrative Wellness . 42The Role of Emotions. 43Emotional Intelligence and Self-Awareness . 48Happiness and Integrative Wellness. 49Body, Emotion, Mind, and Spirit . 53The Body . 55Emotions. 55The Mind . 57Peak Experiences. 61Religious and Spiritual Experiences. 63Web-Based Surveys . 66Computer Ownership and Internet Access. 66Comparing Web-Based Research and Traditional Methods . 68CHAPTER 3: RESEARCH METHODS . 70The Research Process. 70Recruiting Participants . 71The Survey . 72viii

Instrumentation Used in Data Collection . 72The Greyson Near-Death Scale. 73The Five Factor Wellness Inventory (FFWEL) . 73Choice of Statistical Analysis. 75Qualitative Data. 75CHAPTER 4: RESEARCH FINDINGS . 77Demographic Analysis . 77Quantitative Analysis . 79The Greyson Near-Death Scale. 80Composition of NDE Categories. 80Categories of NDEs and Total Wellness Scores . 82Definitions and Measurements of the FFWEL. 83Statistical Data. 87Normative Scores of the FFWEL. 87Comparison of Mean Scores . 89Statistical Significance and the FFWEL . 91Qualitative Wellbeing Perceptions and Total Wellness Scores . 93CHAPTER 5: SUMMARY, DISCUSSION, AND SUGGESTIONS . 94Summary . 94Data Analysis . 95Discussion . 95Conclusions . 97Suggestions for Future Research. 99REFERENCES and BIBLIOGRAPHY . 108APPENDIX A : Recruiting Flyer Long Form. 114APPENDIX B : Recruiting Flyer Short Form. 115APPENDIX C : Informed Consent . 116APPENDIX D : Website Content-Main Page. 118APPENDIX E : Website Content- Study Description. 119APPENDIX F : Website Content-Privacy Policy . 120APPENDIX G : Website Content-Research Results. 121APPENDIX H : Website Content-Study Closed. 122APPENDIX I : Greyson Near-Death Scale. 123APPENDIX J : Sample Questions from the FFWEL. 125LIST OF FIGURES. 126ix

CHAPTER 1:INTRODUCTIONHolism: A theory that the Universe and especially living nature is correctlyseen in terms of interacting wholes (as of living organisms) that are morethan the mere sum of elementary particles.Merriam Webster DictionaryBACKGROUND AND STATEMENT OF THE PROBLEMAs the unfolding of random events often changes our lives, the sum of whowe are is to a great extent the result of our unique personal experiences.However, as the definition of holism implies, the whole of who we are is farmore than the sum of our experiences. For those who have had a near-deathexperience (NDE), this remarkable phenomenon has far reaching implicationsoften changing the individual in dramatic ways, not changing only the sum oftheir parts, but the whole of who they are. As is often the case, striking eventssuch as these often change lives, and for some individuals, these circumstancesprovide incentive for growth and transformation toward holistic wellbeing andwellness.Much has been written and studied regarding NDE and its mechanism, andmany books abound describing a multitude of theories. In the scientific world,there are two main suppositions regarding NDE: these are the materialist andthe survivalist views. Briefly, in the eyes of the pure materialist, the brain andthe mind are the same. The mind simply does not exist outside the contents ofthe bundle of neural connections that make up the brain. In contrast,survivalists believe the mind is a non-physical entity that has meaning outside10

the physiological workings of the brain. Intriguingly, both hypotheses have aplethora of material to corroborate and support their individual beliefs andconclusions regarding the mechanism of NDE.Perhaps the importance of NDE does not lie in the physiological questionsof what occurs during or after death, but in the transformative insights of NDE.Even for skeptics, these effects are difficult to refute as the positive results ofNDE flourish in its scientific literature; however, many of the aftereffects ofNDE have concentrated solely on spiritual and religious implications. Few haveexamined the integrative impact of holistic wellness and wellbeing of the NDEindividual and how these components can be made accessible to others. Thedissection of these components and the potential for offering them as a tool toother individuals has meaningful implications for those who are inclined to seekavenues to enhance their own wellbeing and wellness, including everyone fromthe health care professional to the survivor of an NDE.In the United States (U.S.), the average cost of health care per capita is 8,508.00 per year and comprises 17.6 % of our nation’s Gross DomesticProduct (GDP).1 2 This GDP is, by far, the highest of any industrialized nation.In comparison, health expenditure constitutes 12 percent or less of the GDP inother countries, with 9.5 percent the average among the 34 countries comprisingthe Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).In general terms, 17 cents of every U.S. dollar goes toward health costs,and it is projected by the year 2022 this figure will increase to 19 cents.3 TheU.S. outspends most nations in health care, but paradoxically, quality of care11

and health care outcomes are poor.4 In fact, in a June 2014 report released byThe Commonwealth Fund, the U.S. ranks last in healthcare among the 11nations studied.In the U.S., citizens do not live any longer than those countries that spendmuch less on healthcare. Current life expectancy in the U.S. is ranked at 26th at78.7 years, which is slightly below the OECD average of 80.1 years.Switzerland and Japan have the highest life expectancy of any countries at 82.8years and 82.7 years, respectively.5 However, their health care expenditures areconsiderably lower with Switzerland spending 5,643.00 per capita onhealthcare and Japan, 3,213.00.The research data supports that simply relying on expensive mainstreamhealthcare for longevity, individual wellbeing, and collective wellness is not thetotality of the answer when it comes to healthcare and wellness. It appears thereis much more than meets the eye when balancing the components of a costeffective healthcare system and the factors that enhance and promote wellbeingand wellness.PURPOSE OF THE STUDYThe objective of this research was to examine if near-death experiencers(NDErs) are imprinted with the factors of integrative and holistic wellness usingthe Five Factor Wellness Inventory (FFWEL) as a measure of physical, mental,emotional, and spiritual health. These measurements were used to examinewhether evidence exists for increased integrative and holistic wellness in the12

near-death experience (NDE) population, in comparison to the normative dataof the FFWEL. The purpose of this research was to identify and study thecomponents that make the NDE population unique, especially in those factorsrelated to the individual and the totality of holistic wellness.IMPORTANCE OF THE STUDYIn our Western culture, wellness is often equated with proper diet,exercise, and good mental health. These three lifestyle factors play aninordinate amount of importance in the Western ideal of wellness. Diet andexercise have been well advised and researched, and the ideals of good mentalhealth are reflected in the West by the profuse rise in use of anti-depressants.6Unfortunately, little is discussed in our Western medical model regarding thesignificance of emotional and spiritual health and their related factors ascomponents of holistic and integrated wellness.When Candace Pert demonstrated the link between peptides and otherinformational molecules as carriers of emotion, science began to link theenormous effect our physical, mental, and emotional state had on individualwellbeing.7 The Western paradigm began to quiver a bit, but presently, the ideaof an integrative wellness medical model is still far from the norm. Culture, themainstream media, and to a large degree the scientific community, have notcaught up with Pert’s conclusions.The idea of integrative wellness has been described as the link betweenthe body, mind, and spirit, but this model is integrative wellness in its most13

simplistic form. In fact, Dr. Andrew Weil asserts, “Integrative medicine takesaccount of all aspects of the individual—mind, body, and spirit—and how theyfunction in unity.”8 Over the last decades, scientific research has presentedevidence signaling emotions are a formidable component of the integrativeparadigm, but rarely, if ever, do we encounter the words: body, emotion, mind,and spirit.9 10 The current triune representation of integrative wellness does notinclude all the multi-factorial facets of holistic wellness, especially the roleemotions play in physiological wellbeing and wellness.As holistic wellness is a unique, intricate web of a multitude of factorsencompassing the bio-individuality of the whole individual, the dissection ofholistic wellness into its various integrative components is helpful to discoverwhat factors, including emotions, allow humans to live meaningful and healthylives. By examining the many elements of integrative and holistic wellness, weare better able to understand how these components relate to the interactingwhole to include and transcend the sum of its elementary parts. This isimportant not only to the individual but to the sum of the whole and all that itencompasses.14

THEORETICAL FRAMEWORKSHOLISTIC VERSUS INTEGRATIVE WELLNESSJ. C. Smuts, one of the first pioneers of holism, summarizes the nuancesof holism and integration as:“Holism in all its endless forms is the principles which works up the rawmaterial for unorganized energy units of the world, utilises, assimilates, andorganises them, endows them with specific structure and character andindividuality, and finally with personality, and creates beauty and truth andvalue from them. And it does all this through a definite method of wholemaking, which it pursues with ever increasing intensity from the beginning tothe end, through things and plants and beasts and men. Thus it is that a scale ofwholes forms the ladder of Evolution. It is a continuous and universal processof whole-making that reality rises step by step, until from the poor empty,worthless stuff of its humble beginnings it builds the spiritual world beyond ourgreatest dreams.”11Based on Smuts interpretation, The PI defines integrative wellness as thetotal unification of the art of interweaving the scales of wholes that compriseholistic wellness. It is the embodiment of the constant fluctuating process thatmoves an individual toward holistic wellness, creating a more unified wholethat is more than the sum of its parts. Therefore, the process of holistic wellnessis the overall, unified, and endless scales of wholes that comprise anindividual’s emotional, physical, cognitive, social, emotional, and spiritual state.Holistic wellness enfolds integrative wellness. Neither integrative nor holisticwellness precludes the presence of disease or dilemmas.15

BACKGROUND AND THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK OF THE FFWELThe FFWEL is based on Alfred Adler’s theory of Individual Psychology.Adler was a general practice physician, in the early 1900’s, who recognized alink between physical illness and psychological functioning. For several years,he studied with Freud but left this circle after concluding Freud’s views were nolonger congruent with his own. Later, Adler went on to formulate his ownpersonality theory taking into consideration the social-psychological,developmental, and cognitive aspects of the individual. This was known asIndividual Psychology.Individual Psychology is based on the belief an indivisible whole exists ineach person, and each individual functions as a whole being.12 Adler believedinterdependence existed between society and the individual, in contrast toFreud’s belief in the schism of the divided personality in relation to the self.Adler felt the struggle of the individual was not so much in the personality, butin the way the entirety of the person oriented the self to the outer world andtheir goals. Adler’s theory united the personality with the holism of theindividual and the world at large.The FFWEL is organized on the basis of Adler’s original theories of holismand Individual Psychology. The FFWEL was developed as a way of definingholistic wellness via evidence gathered through the model of the IndivisibleSelf. The purpose of the FFWEL is to establish and demonstrate wellness as aholistic integration of the body, mind, emotion, and spirit. Wellness, in thiscontext, is more than the mere absence of disease. It is a scale of integrated16

wholes, where an alteration in one factor causes a change in all other factors. Itis a way of living that includes a concern for optimal health and wholeness wellbeyond the physical level.The FFWEL is based on theory of The Indivisible Self, which is a multifactorial model oriented toward holistic wellbeing and wellness through theintegration of the creative, coping, social, essential, and physical self. Thesefive factors are further broken down into 17 additional ordered componentscorrelating with the five factors of the creative, coping, social, essential, andphysical self. Its structure is shown in figure 1.13Figure 1. The Five Factor Structural Model and Wellness17

Included as a component of the FFWEL, are contextual variables. Similarto Adler’s belief in the interdependence of society and the individual, theFFWEL uses variables of context and its relationship to human behavior. Theseenvelop the contexts of localities, institutions, global events, and chronometrical(lifespan) elements. Their relationship to the FFWEL is shown as figure 2.14WELLNESSFigure 2. The Indivisible Self18

THE INDIVISIBLE SELF AND ITS MEASURESThe Indivisible Self is relevant in its totality. However, to fully understandits function in the FFWEL, a more thorough examination is necessary. Itssingle higher order holistic wellness factor, the five second order factors, andthe contextual variables are discussed below.THE HIGHER-ORDER WELLNESS FACTORThis is exemplified by the bold Wellness heading in figure 2 on theprevious page. In this case, holistic wellness is defined by the sum of all itemsof the FFWEL as a measure of overall wellbeing.15 In terms of holism, theindividual is more than the sum of its parts. Likewise, holistic wellness andwellness as defined by the FFWEL, is more than just the sum of the parts of theFFWEL and The Indivisible Self model.THE FIVE SECOND ORDER FACTORSThe Creative SelfThe Creative Self is considered to be those aspects that each of usformulates to express our uniqueness to the outside world.16 Within theCreative Self lie five subsets of factors: Thinking, Emotions, Control, PositiveHumor, and Work. Research supports the notion that the manner in which onethinks affects both the body and emotions. Control is the perception of onehaving some capacity to influence everyday life and its events. Positive Humor19

and appropriate beliefs have a role in thinking and perceiving clearly andaccurately, so one can formulate a suitable response to arising situations. Workis another element that can either enhance or detract from the humanexperience. All these factors have the potential to decrease stress andstrengthen the immune response in the physical body when functioning atoptimal levels.The Coping SelfIn the Coping Self, there are four components.17 These are RealisticBeliefs, Stress Management, Self-Worth, and Leisure. Beliefs regarding one’sself have an impact on how an individual responds to life’s events. If thesebeliefs are unrealistic or delusional, stress can arise. However, with

Near-Death Experience and Its Integrative Imprint Marie S. Maddox Dissertation submitted to the Facul