Phenomenology of near-death experiences: a cross-cultural perspective

Transcult Psychiatry. 2008 Mar;45(1):121-33. doi: 10.1177/1363461507088001.


Near-death experiences (NDEs) include a set of subjective experiences encountered by people who were close to death or were faced with life-threatening situations. Reports have suggested that the phenomenology of NDE might differ across cultures. This article is aimed at providing an updated phenomenological perspective by comparing NDEs in a cross-cultural context. We compared the various descriptions of NDEs from a phenomenological perspective. There were similarities between particular cultures, which differed from typical western European experiences. This article concludes that although there are common themes, there are also reported differences in NDEs. The variability across cultures is most likely to be due to our interpretation and verbalizing of such esoteric events through the filters of language, cultural experiences, religion, education and their influence on our belief systems either shedding influence as an individual variable or more often perhaps by their rich interplay between these factors.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison
  • Culture*
  • Death*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged