Near-death experience and out of body phenomenon during torture--a case report

Torture. 2011;21(3):178-81.


A case of a near death experience (NDE) associated with an "Out of body" phenomenon in an African man as a result of torture is presented. Although NDEs occur in approximately ten per cent of survivors of cardiac arrest, case reports emerging from the medical examination of torture victims are lacking. This may be due to cultural/linguistic barriers and fear of disbelief. Low NDE incidence during torture would suggest that torture techniques rarely induce the critical brain ischaemia considered necessary to provoke an NDE. Alternatively psychological or physical characteristics of torture may render NDE harder to recall. Proof of low incidence during torture would counter the theory that NDEs are a psychological response to perceived threat of death. NDEs often induce transformational benefits in patients' lives and for this reason the author urges physicians to consider the possibility of NDE amongst torture victims under their care. A request for information about similar cases is made.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Attitude to Death*
  • Consciousness / physiology*
  • Death*
  • Heart Arrest / epidemiology
  • Heart Arrest / physiopathology
  • Heart Arrest / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Torture / psychology*