Erasing death The science that is rewriting the boundaries between life and death

Sam Parnia

Book - 2013

A leading expert on the scientific study of death, the human mind-brain relationship, and near-death experiences demystifies what happens to human consciousness during and after death.

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Subjects
Published
New York : HarperOne c2013.
Edition
1st ed
Language
English
Physical Description
344 p. ; 24 cm
Bibliography
Includes bibliographical references.
ISBN
9780062080608
0062080601
Main Author
Sam Parnia (-)
Other Authors
Josh Young (-)
Review by Choice Reviews

Erasing Death provides compelling evidence that death is a process, not a moment. Cell death in the brain and liver can go on for hours after the heart stops. When then, does one say a person has reached the point of permanent death? The new frontier in cardiac resuscitation focuses on prolonging the state where cells are still viable (by cooling the body) and buying time to reverse whatever underlying condition caused the cardiac arrest so as to improve survival rate. Achieving maximum survival benefit with quality functioning also requires teamwork and attention to postresuscitation care. Worldwide, there is much variation in survival rates, and education of health professionals about resuscitation is not adequate. Parnia (director, AWARE study; Stony Brook Univ.) asks if bringing people back to life involves more than pushing back time boundaries, but also if future criteria for defining death should include consideration of when a person's consciousness, psyche, or soul are lost and cannot be retrieved. Advances in resuscitation science demonstrate that there is a significant period of time after death in which death is fully reversible, and as science progresses, limitations will continuously be challenged. Overall, a fascinating book, well documented with 50 pages of citation. Summing Up: Recommended. All levels/libraries. General Readers; Lower-division Undergraduates; Upper-division Undergraduates; Graduate Students; Researchers/Faculty; Two-year Technical Program Students; Professionals/Practitioners. L. K. Strodtman emerita, University of Michigan Copyright 2013 American Library Association.

Review by Library Journal Reviews

Parina's (medicine, Univ. of Southampton, UK) provocative book explores advances in "resuscitation science," i.e., the techniques health-care providers employ to restore function to a heart that has stopped. Advances in the practice allow individuals who have been without heart function for longer and longer periods to be restored to life without subsequent damage. These advances, Parina argues, should alter our current understandings of the relationship between the body and consciousness, since people who have been clinically dead can be brought back to life. He explores what have traditionally been called near-death experiences, renaming them "actual death experiences" because many of those who supposedly have them have stopped breathing or having heart function. Some of those who are said to have been brought back report meeting loved ones or a God who affirms their religious beliefs. The last part of the book describes Parina's AWARE study, an attempt to scientifically measure, using objects located in a standard hospital room, what people see during an actual death experience, as well as limitations of the study. VERDICT Part philosophy, part medicine, and always thought-provoking, this book will appeal to readers interested in near-death experiences, views of the afterlife, and end-of-life care.—Aaron Klink, Duke Univ., Durham, NC [Page 97]. (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Review by Publishers Weekly Reviews

Returning intact from experiences humans could not previously survive fascinates Parnia, director of the AWARE Study and critical care medicine specialist. Formerly the provenance of soap operas and B-grade horror movies, resuscitation from the dead is possible after "ten minutes without a heartbeat," an old estimate of when one's essence would be lost to permanent brain damage. The more we can reverse death the less we can define it; death no longer refers to a specific moment, but a process we can interrupt at key intervals. Parnia advocates "erasing" death, an effort so radical it could obliterate human life. Collecting testimonials describing the so-called "other side," he combines "revelations"—retained sensory memories and perceptions of movement—with traditional scientific methods to examine breakdowns in human systems, seeking critical links that, if restored, forestall dying. What happens when bodies live again, but are still likely to die from medical problems? Scientists push to comprehend consciousness when neurons don't fire, but cannot explain why near-death experiences are "luminous" for some while resulting in depression in others. While "resuscitation science" is not new, its progress extends ethical dilemmas about when medical ability should be used to restore life. (Mar.) [Page ]. Copyright 2013 PWxyz LLC

Review by PW Annex Reviews

Returning intact from experiences humans could not previously survive fascinates Parnia, director of the AWARE Study and critical care medicine specialist. Formerly the provenance of soap operas and B-grade horror movies, resuscitation from the dead is possible after "ten minutes without a heartbeat," an old estimate of when one's essence would be lost to permanent brain damage. The more we can reverse death the less we can define it; death no longer refers to a specific moment, but a process we can interrupt at key intervals. Parnia advocates "erasing" death, an effort so radical it could obliterate human life. Collecting testimonials describing the so-called "other side," he combines "revelations"—retained sensory memories and perceptions of movement—with traditional scientific methods to examine breakdowns in human systems, seeking critical links that, if restored, forestall dying. What happens when bodies live again, but are still likely to die from medical problems? Scientists push to comprehend consciousness when neurons don't fire, but cannot explain why near-death experiences are "luminous" for some while resulting in depression in others. While "resuscitation science" is not new, its progress extends ethical dilemmas about when medical ability should be used to restore life. (Mar.) [Page ]. Copyright 2013 PWxyz LLC

Review by Publisher Summary 1

A leading expert on the scientific study of death, the human mind-brain relationship, and near-death experiences demystifies what happens to human consciousness during and after death.

Review by Publisher Summary 2

Drawn from meticulous research, one of the world's leading experts on the scientific study of death, the human mind-brain relationship and near-death experiences demystifies what happens to human consciousness during and after death. 25,000 first printing.

Review by Publisher Summary 3

Erasing Death: The Science That Is Rewriting the Boundaries Between Life and Death reveals that death is not a moment in time. Death, rather, is a process'a process that can be interrupted well after it has begun. Innovative techniques have proven to be effective in revitalizing both the body and mind, but they are only employed in approximately half of the hospitals throughout the United States and Europe. Dr. Sam Parnia, Director of the AWARE Study (AWAreness during REsuscitation) and one of the world's leading experts on the scientific study of death and near-death experiences (NDE), presents cutting-edge research from the front lines of critical care and resuscitation medicine while also shedding light on the ultimate mystery: What happens to human consciousness during and after death? Dr. Parnia reveals how some form of 'afterlife' may be uniquely ours, as evidenced by the continuation of the human mind and psyche after the brain stops functioning. With physicians such as Dr. Parnia at the forefront, we are on the verge of discovering a new universal science of consciousness that reveals the nature of mind and a future where death is not the final defeat, but is, in fact, reversible.

Review by Publisher Summary 4

Erasing Death: The Science That Is Rewriting the Boundaries Between Life and Death reveals that death is not a moment in time. Death, rather, is a process—a process that can be interrupted well after it has begun. Innovative techniques have proven to be effective in revitalizing both the body and mind, but they are only employed in approximately half of the hospitals throughout the United States and Europe. Dr. Sam Parnia, Director of the AWARE Study (AWAreness during REsuscitation) and one of the world’s leading experts on the scientific study of death and near-death experiences (NDE), presents cutting-edge research from the front lines of critical care and resuscitation medicine while also shedding light on the ultimate mystery: What happens to human consciousness during and after death? Dr. Parnia reveals how some form of “afterlife” may be uniquely ours, as evidenced by the continuation of the human mind and psyche after the brain stops functioning. With physicians such as Dr. Parnia at the forefront, we are on the verge of discovering a new universal science of consciousness that reveals the nature of mind and a future where death is not the final defeat, but is, in fact, reversible.