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Doctor finds 'oldest' report of near-death experience in 18th century book

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The oldest record of a near-death experience has been found in France, according to a doctor who happened upon a 1740 medical book, he reported Monday, July 28.

Dr. Phillipe Charlier, a 37-year-old medical doctor and archaeologist from France, says he found the near-death experience in Anecdotes de Médecine, by Pierre-Jean du Monchaux (1733-1766), a book he purchased for 1 euro.

“I was just interested in the history of medicine,” Charlier said in a Blaze report. “The book itself was not an important one in the history of medicine, but from a historian’s point of view, the possibility of doing retrospective diagnosis on such books, it’s something quite interesting.”

According to Monchaux's book, the patient had "lost all external sensations, saw such a pure and extreme light that he thought he was in Heaven (Kingdom of the Blessed)." The report continues to explain that the patient reported a peaceful sensation, and that similar experiences were reported by others of various ages and sexes around the same time period.

"These observations seem to be comparable to those of a 12th c. theologian, who said that at the moment approaching our body and soul dissolution, the latter is lit by a primary light ray (luminositas lucis primae)," Charlier said.

Monchaux also offered a medical explanation of near-death experiences that has little to do with the soul being expelled into the afterlife. Monchaux wrote that strong, whimsical sensations were likely the result of depleting blood supplies in the veins of the skin.

Modern-day skeptics say they have even more scientific evidence that proves near-death experiences are not encounters with God, Heaven, or the souls of passed loved ones.

According to a University of Michigan study called “Surge of Neurophysiological Coherence and Connectivity in the Dying Brain,” near-death experiences are likely caused by the presence of Dimethyltryptamine (DMT), a naturally occurring psychedelic compound present when the brain begins the dying process.

Experts say DMT could explain why people who have near-death experiences report seeing bright lights and having interactions with God and people from their past.

What do you think?

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