Beyond Near-Death Experiences - By Dr Frans J. Cronjé

I was asked in late 2014 to present information on this rather unusual topic at a neuroscience discussion forum. Additional background is provided during the talk. The abstract is below the video window. [CLICK HERE FOR THE ABSTRACT]


Please feel free to share your comments, but kindly consider the validity and the nature of the observations in question, rather than debating a particular conclusion or interpretation.

The main objective is to clarify concepts and also to provide a framework in which productive discussion and collaboration is possible. To do this, I have deliberately tried to use, introduce and even create some neutral terms so as to establish clearer distinctions. 

It is a work in progress, so please be gentle… 




Frans J Cronjé, MBChB(UP),MSc

Baromedical Facility

University of Stellenbosch - Tygerberg Campus.

Room 0073 (Hyperbaric Center)

Education Building

Francie van Zijl Drive

Tygerberg Campus


Cape Town


Tel: +27 (21) 938 9810/08

Fax: 086 5515 347






Out of body- (OBE) and near death experiences (NDE) challenge many of the core tenets of science, particularly within the disciplines of neurology, psychology and psychiatry. Whilst there is scientific evidence supporting their validity, many questions remain unresolved: Both OBE and NDE’s depend entirely on the recollections of the individual who has had the experience. Also, any possibility of residual biological support by the body, however remote, discourages universal acceptance of an extracorporeal theory - even if the person was clinically dead at the time of the event. Therefore, a natural extension would be to consider evidence of sentience or life after biological death or even burial.


Whilst certainly not an original concept, until relatively recently the main sources of information on this have been from religion or folklore rather than the findings of formal scientific research. It is therefore not without some irony that certain transcendent phenomena – such as ghosts – have not only survived amidst the progress of science, but have actually become ‘visible’ by some of its advances – such as photography and electromagnetic sensors. As such these phenomena have been migrating gradually into the domains of more mainstream science over the past 150 years.


The reception remains rather cold, however: these ‘paranormal’, ‘parapsychological’ or psychic studies remain contentious. Also, given their implications to the materialist foundations of modern science, they face many ideological barriers and methodological challenges. Nevertheless, to dismiss their findings based on a theoretical prejudice would be unscientific; it would also convert healthy scepticism into unhealthy cynicism or scientism. Indeed, many major scientific advances have occurred in the wake of studying the unpopular, the anomalous and the exceptional. Moreover, transcendent phenomena are an accepted part of reality for the majority of humanity. Therefore, at the very least, a review of the evidence may offer additional insights on the nature of life and consciousness itself.


As such, this presentation explores the available evidence for these phenomena; their universal, trans-cultural characteristics; as well as some of their psychosocial and scientific implications.