Connect with us

Metaphysics & Psychology

Viewpoint: Why Brain Death Isn’t An On-Off Switch

Thirteen-year-old Jahi McMath was declared brain dead after complications arising from a tonsillectomy, raising new questions about how we define brain death, and whether it’s time to revise our understanding of when brains can be revived, and when they can’t.

During her surgery, Jahi went into cardiac arrest, and a lack of oxygen to the brain that resulted in her brain death. She is being kept alive by a ventilator, but according to laws in all 50 states in the U.S., brain dead patients are considered deceased. Her doctors, and a judge in California, where the teen remains at Children’s Hospital in Oakland, concluded that McMath’s brain is unlikely to recover but her parents are fighting the hospital’s plans to disconnect her from life support equipment.

In cases like this— or those like the now eight-year-long coma endured by former Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon and the skiing injury that has left Formula One champion Michael Schumaker comatose for nearly a week— everyone wants bright lines. We want to know if the person is conscious and suffering— and whether he or she can make a meaningful recovery. The rare but real cases where people do awaken from what doctors have labeled as brain death or irreversible coma only make the questions, and the need for answers, all the more urgent.

But the science of consciousness is far from black and white. For one, as philosophers have long noted, we don’t even know how to define it:  I know that I’m conscious, but there’s no way for me to reliably determine whether you are a zombie or a robot, even if I can image your brain. Is awareness of one’s surroundings, and the ability to respond to stimuli, consciousness? Or does consciousness imply something more? When does a baby become conscious? Is my cat conscious? No one really knows.

Only recently have we begun to understand how anesthesia blots out awareness— and even now, in about 1 in 10,000 cases, people do become conscious of the pain and paralysis they experience during surgery, without anesthesiologists being able to detect the problem and increase the medication.

What we do know, however, is that consciousness is not merely something that is present or absent. One recent study, which I wrote about for TIME, for example, explored people’s responses to random sounds like clicks or those that have meaning, like words, as they were given increasing doses of an anesthetic drug:

At low doses of propofol, they stopped responding to the clicks, but remained able to identify words.  This reflects the fact that the brain’s level of arousal isn’t simply related to objective factors like the loudness of a sound; instead, it’s the meaning of what you hear that the brain registers.  A meaningless noise like a click isn’t enough to cut through the increasing drowsiness being caused by the drug, but an important word that may require attention can.

“Probably your name is most salient verbal stimuli you hear,” says [Emery] Brown [professor of computational neuroscience at MIT],   “You can recognize it across the room in a noisy cocktail party.”  He notes that when performing surgery, he makes sure to ask the patient what they prefer to be called so that the medical team can use the name most likely to arouse the person when needed.

MORE:  Study Suggests Way of Preventing Patients from Waking During Surgery

Similar findings emerged when scientists studied the brain activity of Ariel Sharon, the former Israeli prime minister, during his coma.  Although he has never woken up, he showed normal brain activity on an fMRI scan when listening to the voices of his family members compared to when those voices were scrambled into meaningless sounds.  But does that mean that he was in some way conscious?  Perhaps, as Dr. Nicholas Schiff, professor of neuroscience and anesthesiology at Cornell noted when we discussed this topic previously, it might help to think of consciousness as more of a spectrum rather than an all-or-nothing state. In fact, there are clearly levels of awareness, not just “aware” or “unaware.” “Consciousness is a brain process. It’s not an on-off switch, it’s an emergent property,” Schiff said.

That’s the latest thinking among neuroscientists about what distinguishes conscious brain activity and unconsciousness. They are also realizing that consciousness doesn’t seem to be entirely localized to any specific brain region.  While some areas are clearly more important than others, people don’t lose automatically lose consciousness when one particular brain area is shut down, but rather when multiple regions are disconnected from each other. How many connections need to be severed before consciousness becomes impossible— and which ones matter most and where— are questions that experts like Schiff are investigating.

MORE: Waking the Unconscious: The Latest Science on Awakenings

All of this means that finding a completely reliable indicator of the ultimate lack of consciousness— death— is difficult.  While some cases actually are black and white— there is simply no measurable brain activity at all in any region for long periods of time— the question of how to determine this remains a challenge.

For patients who fall into a coma, for example, the longer the coma lasts, the less likely the person is to regain any type of awareness.  But even in these cases, there are exceptions, as researchers found recently that some people who had been in comas for years could be awakened simply by being given the drug Ambien.

Such uncertainty makes cases like McMath’s all the more challenging, since it provides her family even a tiny sliver of hope. The wide range of outcomes, and the extent of unknowns about the brain, complicates medical decision making and undoubtedly adds to both financial and emotional costs. Could more patients showing some signs of brain activity be awakened by the right dose of a drug like Ambien at the right time? How do we know when to let go?

When our brains are functioning properly, we can appreciate the fact that it is a complex and perplexing wonder. But when they’re not, we tend to forget the intricacy with which they are built, and yearn instead for certainty and simplicity. Understanding the continuum that is consciousness may help us to reach a deeper understanding of what awareness is, how injury and disease can affect these states and ultimately, how to move patients safely from lower to higher states of consciousness.



Metaphysics & Psychology

Man is able to induce controlled hallucinations without psychotropic substances

The human brain is so cunningly designed that accidental damage or malfunctions in the neural network can generate large-scale effects that do not harm a person, but, on the contrary, deliver a lot of new sensations. 

We are talking about hallucinations, influences on the sensory system, which stem from the inside of the brain itself. Modern technologies make it possible to purposefully launch such reactions without harm to humans.

The technique of guided hallucinations is based on the Ganzfeld effect, which states that when the brain receives a powerful stimulating signal in only one area, it automatically begins to “think out” signals in other areas. 

For example, if you peer into the darkness and listen to white noise, the brain draws an imaginary picture, although the eyes do not receive a single photon of light. And if you run noise on the screen in absolute silence, the brain will complement them with sound hallucinations.


One interesting experiment with guided hallucinations was conducted by TV host and inventor Derek Müller, who locked himself in an anechoic and completely darkened chamber for 45 minutes to conduct a sensory deprivation experiment. 

His brain, which at once lost 90% of the signals from the outside world, remained fully functional, and Derek did not go crazy. Moreover, in the absence of external stimuli, he began to feel the subtlest vibrations of his heart and the flow of blood through the veins. 

It was not a hallucination, it was just that the brain switched to processing the signals that remained at its disposal, amplifying them and presenting them in the form of sensations understandable to the mind.

Continue Reading

Metaphysics & Psychology

Angels showed the End of the World to a child from Indonesia?

In early October, on many eschatological and conspiracy sites (The End Times Forecaster ,, a video was posted by a girl named Jacqueline, who lives in South Africa. The video tells that on September 16, in some altered state of consciousness, similar to a lucid dream, Jacqueline was given a warning: on October 10, 2020, there will be some kind of nightmarish geological catastrophe – either a volcanic eruption, or an earthquake. 

Jacqueline does not specify where the catastrophe will occur, but immediately after the volcanic eruption, she saw President Trump in Washington and the destruction of the Washington Monument with fiery stones falling from the sky. The full text of Jacqueline’s video was posted on the forum and can be viewed at the link, but her revelation itself is not very informative. It is only clear that on October 10 something may bang, and very strongly. Another thing is much more interesting. 

Since Jacqueline was shown truly creepy things, she, like anyone in her place, doubted that all this was true. However, she noticed that in her dream, before the horror broadcast began, she was shown a calendar on which she read the KIMIKO inscription.

“Kimiko” is a popular Japanese female name that literally means “wonderful unusual child”, so Jacqueline decided: if she got it right, then she needed to look for a girl from somewhere in Japan who would kind of hint at her deciphering what was shown in her dream. 

Kimiko was never found, but another girl named Catherine was found. She lives in Indonesia, is in 4th grade and is 9 years old. Jacqueline had her dream on September 16, and on September 18 some angels took this Catherine to heaven in a dream and showed her what would be on Earth in the very near future. 

According to Catherine, everything will begin on October 10, 2020, when some kind of catastrophe occurs – a catastrophe, most likely of a geological nature. Buildings will collapse and coastal cities will suffer from terrible tsunamis. At the same time, a terrible rain will pour, which in some regions will flood buildings up to the fourth floor. Thunder will thunder in the sky, which is 10 or even 20 times stronger than ordinary thunder, and after the thunder, hail will fall the size of a car windshield. But besides the hail, all the planes located there fall from the sky. 

However, the End of the World will not happen as life goes on and Trump wins the US election. After that, Israel will begin to restore the Temple, but they will not have time, since a war will start around. At this moment, the Earth will face unprecedented catastrophes.

A huge new planet will appear in the sky and the atmosphere will take on a reddish tint. It will get hotter. H achnut erupting volcanoes, and terrifying winds will become commonplace. And further, in the region of the Bermuda Triangle, a hole is formed in the lithosphere, and armada of some strange flying machines will appear from there. On TV they will say that these are good aliens. 

In parallel , a total vaccination will take place on Earth, after which people who have received the vaccine will be endowed with some unthinkable ability to communicate with their gadgets – phones will show them everything at the click of a finger and connect to subscribers with the power of thought. But happiness will not last long, because then the skin of the vaccinated will begin to turn green and many will be covered with ulcers. Further, these people mutate into a kind of zombie who will engage in cannibalism and those who have not taken the vaccine will become their preferred food. And for those who will not be eaten by mutants, aliens will chase in their flying cars, kidnap, throw bombs at them and burn them with rays. 

Finally, to top it all off, mutations will affect flora and fauna. So, insects will become gigantic, and algae will begin to crawl ashore and whoever gets into their nets will be devoured. Mutations will affect birds, jellyfish, and the rest of the fauna. Dinosaurs and real fire-breathing dragons will appear, which will fly everywhere and pour fire on everything. 

In general, the girl tells something that is impossible to believe – no reality can stand that. However, the probability that reality is real, according to estimates of the theory of probability, is no more than 50%. That is, we live in the Matrix with a probability of 1/2, although nothing can be proved / disproved somehow. But if we take into account various strange quantum effects and other miracles, then the probability of the Matrix is ​​already seventy percent and 30% remain for a flat / round Earth, for the rest of “natural science”. Therefore, maybe we are now on the eve of the reboot of the Matrix, during which we will begin to load characters from other entertaining games. 

It is possible, of course, that all these stories were invented by her mother, but similar stories are told by other children, and even adults, who were thrown either somewhere into the astral plane, or into the next world, or generally into the deepest warp. Different, unrelated people cannot tell the same tale. Therefore, most likely this is not a fairy tale and there is something in all this. But what – here we do not know, so we just have to wait and see. 

Continue Reading

Metaphysics & Psychology

Clinical death helped the inveterate egoist to change his attitude towards life. He is grateful for this experience

William F. did not live the most righteous life. His selfish, authoritarian behavior caused a lot of suffering to the people around him, especially his wife. And it is not known how his marriage would have ended if one day William had not had an accident.

On that fateful day, November 6, 2019, a man was riding a motorcycle and crashed into a truck as it changed lanes. William tried unsuccessfully to get out from under the heavy truck, as his helmet got stuck under the front axle of the car.

A policeman was the first to come to help, then an ambulance arrived. The motorcyclist was evacuated by helicopter to the hospital. The man in the helicopter told William not to sleep, but he collapsed into unconsciousness.

What William saw in oblivion made a strong impression on him and changed his future life.

xusenru / / Pixabay License

William’s near-death experiences

The next thing I remember happened on a large field. There was a fence about 100 meters away from me. There was a black hole in the fence on the other side of the gate.

I was drawn to the gate. The closer I got, the more love and warmth I felt, the more selfishness and bad feelings went away.

When the gate was about five steps away, and I was about to open it, someone’s hand stopped me, grabbing my forearm. Looking at this man, I noticed a few more.

– You need to stop. I watched you for a long time, son, you made a lot of mistakes. Do you know where you are? The man asked.
“I’m not sure,” I said, looking around.
“You are dead,” he said.

I panicked.

“You’re scared,” he remarked.
– No.
“Then [during your life] you were always afraid of it for no reason,” he said softly. I nodded in agreement, and our dialogue continued.
– Do you feel that everything is under your control?
“I don’t know… no.
– You have never controlled anything in your life. It’s an illusion …
– Yes, you’re right, – I nodded again.
– You are given a choice that many do not have. God gives you a choice: come back and correct your mistakes, or you can go through the gate. If you enter this gate, all the regrets of life will torment your soul until you are given another chance. It will feel like eternity.

I still have regrets about my past life, ”he added after a pause. – If you come back and do not start working on yourself to become better, if you do not find happiness in the righteous way, you will always remember and crave the feeling that you are experiencing in this place now, but you will not get here again.
When you return, recover, heart and mind will be restored. You are given something great … But you understand that God already knows your choice.

Then he looked at me and asked:

– What are you going to do?
“I’ll be back,” I replied.

At that moment, the feelings that gripped me were gone, and I let go of the gate.

“See you again very soon,” he said at last.

Then I woke up and saw my mother. I told her that I was back for good and that I would not go anywhere. She had a tired face.

“You’ve been in a lot of pain,” she said.

I said that everything would be all right with me, and told that I saw Him. She clarified who exactly. I replied that I did not know for sure, but they gave me a second chance. Mom laughed and said that probably my grandfather kicked me in the ass to bring me back here.

William’s life has changed

William underwent several operations, but the doctors said that physically he would not be the same. Among other things, the man had to learn to walk again.

About a month after the accident, thoughts of the pain inflicted on his loved ones and loved ones flooded into William, so he focused on correcting the mistakes of the past and changing his future.

Five months later, William was walking without limping. Now she runs for several kilometers, and the only evidence of an accident is scars.

The biggest proof of the reality of what he saw during clinical death is a complete change in himself, says William.

haomao57 / / Pixabay License

“I saw mistakes, especially in my relationship with my wife, and I understand things that I didn’t understand before. It is strange to think that someone was watching my life from a distance and knew about my actions. If I had not changed, I would have yearned for death. “

“I used to have sociopathic tendencies and no empathy. I have never felt guilt or remorse. Now I am selfless and empathetic, I feel the emotions of others, and it is overwhelming. I know how people feel just by looking at them. This is a kind of intuition.

Remorse and guilt help me re-evaluate the past. I also notice that when I do something instinctively, in the old way, I realize it and I can stop. “

“People believe when I share my experience because they see a big change in me.”

Source: NDERF

Continue Reading