by the Head of Techno-Chemical Division, Jamie king
'TOWARDS THANADRINE': CHEMICALLY INDUCED DEATH-EXPERIENCES
Having been deputed by the committee to research the possibility of producing death-like or deathly experiences through the use of chemical substances, we began by researching the classical features of the NDE. These have been defined by Kenneth Ring (1980) on a 5 stage continuum:
1.feelings of peace and contentment;
2.a sense of detachment from the body;
3.entering a transitional world of darkness (rapid movement through a long dark tunnel: 'the tunnel experience');
4.emerging into bright light; and
5.'entering the light'.
In Ken Ring's studies, 60% experienced stage 1, but only 10% attained stage 5. Culturally, the near-death experience is highly variable from person to person and culture to culture (Gabbard and Twemlow, 1984) For example, the tunnel and the being of light in East Indians are often depicted as the River Ganges and a specific guru. In other words, the content and meaning of an NDE seem to be culturally determined 'as much by intrapsychic factors and by cultural factors as they are by biology' (Gabbard and Twemlow, 1997).
Children who have near-death experiences tend to 'see' their living schoolfellows and teachers, or Nintendo characters, rather than communicating with God, although there have been interesting exceptions (Morse, 1985). Young children may have no concept of death, but they do have a sense of catastrophe linked to the birth trauma. (Gabbard and Twemlow, 1984).
This notion of the death experience as a cultural artefact may be a valuable area of attention for future Necronautical research but discussion of it here is limited perforce. Our delegation considered that enough of the 5-point continuum devised by Ring was taken as being good enough for our purposes and as a start point for investigation. We thereby resolved to begin by attempting to produce as many of possible of the five stages in our experimenters. Ketamine was chosen as a likely start point for its ability to reproduce all features of the NDE, including the buzzing/ringing/whistling sounds common to the beginning of experiences, travel through a dark tunnel into light at high speed, the conviction that one is dead, 'telepathic communion with God', intense visions, life reviews, out-of-body experiences, mystical states and transpersonal phenomena.
An initial round of experimentation was discouraging. In one instance, a large intramuscular injection of 200mg ketamine into the left buttock produced an unpleasant experience of what the subject described simply as ' hell'. The subject travelled through a pipe system and emerged into a small, dimly lit glowing red room. He was 'filled with terror. I had lost my body and had become something resembling a dwarf's hood hanging on a peg. I thought that I would have to stay forever in that room on that hook and I screamed, and screamed...it was my first experience of what eternity really means. I almost became a Catholic the next morning. That experience seriously shook the basis of my disbelief. I thought that people were absolutely mad who wanted to carry on for Eternity without their bodies. It made me fervently hope that the end really is the end.'
This seemed an ominous beginning, but since objectivity was utmost in our mind, we dismissed the negative cultural content of the experience and pushed ahea.
During the course of our investigations, which began some months ago, we have encountered some collateral damage in terms of mental disruption and loss of objectivity by researchers. [Sum] One researcher, who may sadly soon have to hospitalised, has quit the deputation amidst claims that he is able to connect to the Internet without the use of a computer. But given that the NDE is proven to be of considerable therapeutic benefit in terms of enhanced appreciation of life, reduced fear of death, increased altruism, reduced levels of anxiety and neurosis, reduced dependency on substances, improved health and a resolution of psychosomatic symptoms (Rosen, 1973; Greyson and Flynn, 1984, Ring, 1980), we believe that the research is worth pursuing.
procuring large quantities of ketamine, commercial name Ketalar , and embarked with a small group of volunteers with intramuscular injections
'Drugs such as ketamine, and the conditions which produce near-death experiences, may 'retune' the brain and thus provide access to certain states which are usually inaccessible. Ketamine and the specific effects it has on the brain may open doors to realms which are always there, rather than actually producing those realms, just as the broadcast of one channel continues when we change channels on a television set.'
There are those who demand that any explanation put forward for NDE's must be able to explain every case, like a law of physics. It is not clear why this should be so. The NDE is a multi-layered structure, and multi-layered structures are sometimes best explained by multi-layered truths. A particle is also a wave. Unlike a laboratory experiment, odd and obscure cases are not adequate grounds for the wholesale dismissal of a model, and it is also undesirable for such models to over-extend themselves in an attempt to explain every NDE.
'Scratch beneath those flat EKG lines, however, and the stories are a veritable twilight zone of inconsistencies. Some near-death voyagers claim to have met God -but a few saw Elvis or Groucho Marx, researchers say. Others get to heaven not through the famous 'tunnel' but aboard ghostly taxicabs, ferries that cross the River Styx, or spangled cows'.