Friday, September 18, 2015

Vaping near-death experiences?

Will carbon dioxide bars replace Moe's Tavern?

In a 1950s experiment,  a psychiatrist named L.J. Meduna conducted an experiment using varying mixtures of oxygen and carbon dioxide. His subjects were psychiatric patients, with "normal" control subjects. This being the 50s, I'm guessing he didn't obtain true informed consent from the mental patients. Yes, this will save you from those revolutionaries, Marie.

The experiment produced many of hallmarks of classic near-death experiences, including terror, ecstasy, cosmic understanding, a feeling of universal love, and harmony with God, as well as bright lights, tunnels, and vivid colors. Here is one story as recounted in Susan Blackmore's classic NDE book Dying to Live.

Then the colors left and I felt myself being separated; my soul drawing apart from the physical being, was drawn upward, seemingly to leave the earth and go upward where it reached a greater Spirit with Whom there was a communion, producing a remarkable, new relaxation and deep security.

So, perhaps it isn't lack of oxygen that triggers NDEs, but the accompanying hypercarbia (high CO2). In the future, will carbon dioxide bars become the new hot trend, like those ridiculous oxygen bars of the 90s?

"I'll have a near-death experience, hold the near death, please."


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Coma Girl

Coma Girl

Not a miracle recovery, but a miracle of modern medicine

In 2013 I fell into a six-week coma and nearly died after I contracted legionella. The Legionnaire's disease was in turn triggered by immunosuppression caused by the prednisone I was taking for my rare autoimmune disease, dermatomyositis.

I suffered a series of strokes on both sides of my brain when the sepsis caused my blood pressure to plummet. I fell into a deep coma. My kidneys and lungs began to fail, as my body was began dying one organ at a time. My doctors told my loved ones to give up hope for my full recovery. They expected me to die, and even if I somehow lived, I would remain a vegetable or at best left so hopelessly brain-damaged that I would never be same. But unbeknownst to them, while they were shining lights in my eyes and shaking their heads, I was telling them in my coma-dream--my secular version of a near-death experience--to leave me alone because I was trying to get back to sleep. I was experiencing what is known as covert cognition, the subject of my Skeptical Inquirer article "Covert Cognition: My So-Called Near-Death Experience," which appeared in their July/August issue.

But it wasn't a miracle--despite what so many continue to believe--that I recovered so fully. I owe my life not to God, but the miracles of modern medicine, as well as the nature of the watershed-area brain damage I suffered, as I detailed in my article and in this blog.