From life to death, beyond and back | Thomas Fleischmann | TEDxTUHHSalon

Translator: 陳 俊
Reviewer: Nadine Hennig Ladies and gentleman, I see dead people. What may be a punch line from the film, the movie,
“The Sixth Sense” for you, is dire reality for me. As an emergency physician, I took care of thousands of people when they approached the line
between life and death. Many I could rescue from dying, many I could bring back, but I stood next to more than 2,000 humans when they finally crossed the line
between life and death, and died. What I would like to do with you today is I walk with you the path from perfect well being in life till death. And then we try to look
a little bit beyond death. Don’t be scared,
I’ll be with you all the time. (Laughter) I promise you I will bring you
safely back to life. There are many illnesses
and many injuries, but, actually, there are
just four ways to die, just four ways to leave this planet. What you see [are some little] lines, [these little lines]
on the [right-hand] side are the activity level. This is a perfectly normal activity level. This person is alive and kicking. And then an injury or illness sets in, and this person suddenly dies
from one minute to the other. This may happen with a heart attack,
and this may happen with a car crash. The second way of dying is: Someone is perfectly healthy again, and then a real bad illness sets in, and the health condition of this person
rapidly and constantly deteriorates. This is the case
with fast progressing tumours, for example, with leukaemia,
with lung cancer, or with pancreatic cancer. The third way of dying is: A person is once again perfectly healthy, and then another illness sets in,
and the health deteriorates. Then our therapy starts, and we get this person
a little bit better, but not to the baseline
this person had before. And then the illness gets stronger again,
and the health deteriorates. Once again we try
to help this person, to treat him, and he gets a little bit better, but once again
he will not reach his baseline, not even the baseline he had
before the last deterioration. And so the circle repeats,
and this person approaches death. This is the case, for example,
with heart failure. This is the case with liver disease, or with kidney diseases, and some, quite many, tumours. The fourth way of dying is different. The activity level is very low. This may mean
that this person is immobile, is bedridden, is in a nursing home, may be incontinent, and probably suffers from dementia. This person slowly, slowly,
slowly progresses towards death. Now, let’s have a look. When you proceed
a little bit closer to death, what are the signs and symptoms of those people
who will die within two days? There is scientific evidence for that. And you see those signs
which appear two days before death are very unspecific. At present, we cannot predict correctly which person will die
within the next two days, or not, so will recover. We probably can in the future. We can do this, not by one single symptom,
but by a set of symptoms, or even by a lab test. And I leave it up to you
whether this is desirable or not. What are the signs and symptoms of those people who, allegedly,
die suddenly two hours before their death? 75% of all those
who allegedly die suddenly show signs and symptoms
before their death. Only 25% of those who die suddenly do not show signs
and symptoms before their death. So that means that,
at the present once again, we cannot predict who will die
within the next two hours or not. Those are the ways to die. Let’s make a short survey,
let’s make an opinion poll here. I would like to see your hands. Who of you would like
to die No.1, way No.1? I’m not surprised, I quite often see that. Who of you would like to die way No.4? Not so many. Now, problem is,
by far most people die this way, by far. The most rapidly progressing
kind of way to die is No.4. Not even 10% of us will die No.1. Not even 10% of us will die No.1. So, how we would like to die,
and how we will die, is very different. We all have different genders,
we have different ages, we have different personalities,
and we have different lives. There is only one thing
we all have in common: we will die. For everyone of us, the moment will come
when our heart stops beating, when our lungs stop breathing,
when our brain activity ceases. We are now dead. Can we look what’s happening
to us beyond death? Can we have a glance what happens to us,
what we will experience, shortly after we have died? Actually we can. We can look beyond death, because, of all those people
we bring back successfully, we resuscitate successfully, 20% in the Western countries, and more than 30%
in the Eastern countries, report something to us
which we call near-death experiences. Those near-death experiences
are reported all over the world, and those reports
show striking similarities, and reveal a pattern. This means death sets in, and those people who have
a near-death experience, the first phase is: There is a sudden change. And from one instant to the other, all pain is gone, all anxiety is gone, all fear is gone, all noises are gone. There’s just peace,
calmness and tranquillity. Some report joy. Quite a number report
something startling: there’s an insight. The insight, I am dead now. This is what we call death. This insight is there without any anxiety. The second phase
of the near-death experiences is again a sudden change, and those people report
that they’re floating above themselves. They’re floating above themselves, see themselves
lying down on the stretcher, see us emergency physicians
and emergency nurses trying everything to bring them back. They see from above what we are doing,
and they can listen to what we say. The personality of the person
who is gone is still the same, but they have left their body. We call this out-of-body experience. And what is annoying to us is that those people actually
can describe what we did, and can report what we said
when they come back. We have no explanation for this, and I cannot offer any explanation to you
because there is no brain activity at all. We all feel to build a memory, there has to be at least
a little bit of brain activity, but there is no brain activity. We do not have
a scientific explanation for this, but we know this phenomenon is there. In the next phase,
there’s again a sudden change. In the third phase, those people who have
a near-death experience describe that they are
in a dark, confined space. There is complete blackness. 98% to 99% of all those people
who have a near-death experience describe this being
in a dark, confined space as comfortable, as pleasant,
as warm, and soothing. But 1-2% of all those who have this near-death
experience in this stage describe it as frightening. 1-2% say there are terrible noises,
terrible smells, and terrible creatures. And what those 1-2% tell us resembles strongly the pictures
by the medieval artist Hieronymus Bosch. One might suggest that Hieronymus Bosch
had a near-death experience, or a vision of a near-death experience. But once again this is only 1-2%; 98-99% describe it as pleasant. And what is maybe comforting, is that a certain proportion of those 1-2%
who describe it as unpleasancy [say] it later turns
into a pleasant event. These unpleasant, near-death experiences
in this third phase of the experience are not linked to any personality
or to any religion. I used to say, if we could show that, let’s say, Catholic people
have no unpleasant near-death experiences, and protestants [do], then we would have billions
for our research in near-death events, but this is not the case –
we [cannot] predict [any] of this. Now comes the fourth stage. The fourth stage means: Out of this complete blackness,
a light begins to shine. This light is far away. This light is very warm,
very bright, very attractive. Towards this light, out of the blackness,
a tunnel is starting to form. Those people are strongly
attracted towards this light, and start to fly towards this light. This light gets lighter
and brighter and closer. Then comes the last phase
of the near-death experience. Only 10% of those
who have a near-death experience reach this last phase. In this last phase,
once again there’s a sudden change, and there’s a beautiful surrounding, beautiful colours,
some say beautiful music, and a feeling of unconditional love. In this last phase, it may happen that those people
who have a near-death experience have a flash forward
through their whole life, starting from their birth, over all major events in their life
till their death. Not everyone has this,
but some describe it. Some describe that they meet,
in this last phase, relatives who have died before, and are greeted by them. Not all of them, but some of them,
report a being made out of light. And this being made out of light
oozes out unconditional love to them, and they feel very, very warm
and happy to be in this place. But half of those who are in this last stage
of the near-death experience say that, at this point,
they decided to come back, mainly because they feel
that there is a task in their life which is not fulfilled yet,
and has to be fulfilled. The other half tells that either the relative,
or the being out of light, tells them to go back because there is something
which has to be done still in life. Once again, I do not have
any scientific explanation for that, we just know that it is there. All these phases, all these experiences,
are well described, and occur all over the world. While this is happening, we emergency physicians
and emergency nurses do everything we can
to bring these people back, we do everything we can
to bring these people back. Resuscitation by live people is easy: call for help, and push hard, push fast,
in the centre of the chest. That’s all. Do that until the ambulance is there. For us emergency physicians, resuscitation is a very complex
and complicated task. You have to know a lot
to resuscitate people properly. At the present, we can bring back
7% of those we try to bring back, hopefully, more in the future. Now comes something very interesting. Those people whom we bring back
and had a near-[death] experience reveal certain personality
changes after that. And those we bring back,
and have not had a near-death experience, do not show these personality changes. The difference is very significant. The personality changes are, people who have
a near-death experience are, after these near-death experiences, more empathic, they are more social oriented, they lose their interest,
may lose their interest, in materialistic values. They are more spiritual,
not more religious, but more spiritual. And what is very, very interesting, they completely lose their fear of dying. 98-100%, [according]
to the different studies, of all those who had
a near-death experience completely lost their fear of dying. How do I dare to talk to you
about this topic? I’m not an expert in dying,
I’m still alive. I’m not an expert in near – Now, I may be called an expert
in bringing people back: this is my job for many years now. I have never had
a near-death experience of my own, but when I started
to study near-death experiences, what happened to me
is that I found everything familiar. Everything. Each phase, each twist,
each turn sounded very familiar to me. So, if I had known this all before,
there might be an explanation for this. Science knows a phenomenon which is called
“empathic near-death event”. Empathic near-death event occurs if someone is there at the moment of death
of a very close, beloved family member, or a relative. If someone is there
at the moment of death, or someone who is very close to him dies, one might suggest that this person
shares his near-death experience with a person who sits next to him. Now, I told you at the beginning, I was with more than 2,000 humans when they crossed the line
from life to death, and died. And maybe, over the years,
at any point in time, those started to share
their near-death experiences with me. Over the years, I developed exactly
the same personality changes as those who had a near-death event, though I never had one myself. This includes that I completely
lost every fear of dying, I know, it’s nothing
to be afraid of, not at all. And this, my dear friends, is a message
I would like to share with you today. And maybe sometime,
when we meet on the other side, then tell me whether
I told you wrong today or right. (Applause) Thank you. (Applause)

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