Many people believe near-death experiences (NDEs) and out-of-body experiences (OOBEs) are true manifestations of a temporary separation of the soul from the body. This website describes several exhaustively analyzed examples of these experiences. For example, the dentureman NDE, the Pam Reynolds NDE, and the Eben Alexander NDE. But is this reality or a misguided illusion? One way of analyzing the reality of this belief is to examine whether memories are located within the soul, or within the physical brain.
Indeed, when viewed from the viewpoint of the mind-model of dualism—OOBEs and NDEs are due to a temporary separation of the soul from the body, which means that the soul is the indelible repository of new and old memories. The reasons for this belief are evident in the descriptions of these experiences.
Accordingly, it is not surprising that many believers in the reality of the soul, and the literal reality of these experiences, consider memory to be one of the many properties of the soul. Indeed, it is a key, and important property of the soul as discussed in the book “Irreducible Mind”.
Any attempt (not least Myers’s) to systematize and interpret the ostensible evidence for human survival of bodily death has to take on board the empirical facts, so far as they are known, of the relationship between memory and the brain. Most modern neuroscientists regard memory as totally a function of the brain, a view which if justified (and it was widely enough held in Myers’s own time) is fatal to the possibility that memory and related features of personality might survive death as Myers hoped, believed, and argued. It is curious how many subsequent persons who have discussed the evidence for survival and its interpretation have failed to take this crucially relevant question fully on board. (page 295 in “Irreducible Mind” edited by Kelly 2007)
According to proponents of the mind-model of dualism, all memories are formed and stored within the soul. Even so the soul must interact with the body in some way if these memories are to be related by the physical body to others. And we know this must happen because:
This is how the mind-model of dualism proposes how memory functions. But is this reality or illusion?
Memory is an absolutely essential property of the human soul—yet even though the soul is supposedly the vehicle of the conscious mind and memory, is unaffected by things affecting the physical body, and is continually conscious—the soul cannot remember actions, deeds and speech performed while the physical body was physically conscious under the influence of some drugs. The above putative memory function of the soul is rendered nonsensical by a simple daily observation by all practicing anesthesiologists.
Anesthesiologists and other physicians regularly inject small doses of a drug called midazolam to reduce anxiety, and to sedate patients. Patients sedated and rendered free from anxiety, are cooperative, perform actions they are instructed, converse, and respond with conscious directed actions and deeds. Yet they nearly all forget everything occurring during the period they were sedated with midazolam. This has profound implications for the location of memory. So how does the mind-model of dualism explain the amnesic effects of midazolam? The explanation is somewhat more complex, so I will put it into the form of a list (see paragraphs 7.75-7.86 in Chapter 7 of Illusory Souls).
Memory is an absolutely essential property of the human soul, yet even though the soul is supposedly the vehicle of the conscious mind, is unaffected by things affecting the physical body, and is continually conscious, and controls the physical body to act and to speak. Yet this amnesia is observed daily, all over the world wherever midazolam is employed for both its conscious sedation and amnesic effects. It is the daily reality of myself, and all other physicians administering midazolam to the patients we treat. The only explanation for all these repeatedly observed facts is that the soul is not the repository of memories, but that the physical brain forms and retains all memories.
The book Illusory Souls provides many different proofs clearly demonstrating the objective lack of any sort of memory function in the soul. Interested readers can read Illusory Souls for detailed descriptions of these many proofs of the illusory nature of the human soul. All such proofs are repeatedly observed during daily clinical practice. Absence of memory in the soul has far-reaching consequences.
Illusory Souls is replete with many analyses of observations from anesthesiology practice and medicine. All such analyses reveal that the soul possesses no memory ability, no ability to sense anything in this world, or act in this world except through the senses of the physical body. The same analyses when applied to out-of-body experiences and to near-death experiences reveal these same things. Insights and analysis using the tools of anesthesiology and medicine, reveal we have no souls with the properties claimed by popular belief systems or world religions. Accordingly, near-death experiences and out-of-body experiences are internally generated hallucinations whose content may sometimes be modulated by external stimuli.
Anesthesia & the Soul is an important new, and free, online book discussing the reality of the soul from the evidence revealed by anesthesia.
Mortal Minds is a step-by-step analysis of near-death experiences revealing the unlikelihod of a human soul with the properties as revealed by NDEs and OBEs. (Published 2005, and available worldwide as printed book, as well as electronic Kindle format from Amazon)