Erasing Death: The Science That Is Rewriting the Boundaries Between Life and Death

( 11 )

Overview

Contrary to popular belief, death is not a moment in time, such as when the heart stops beating, respiration ceases, or the brain stops functioning. Death, rather, is a process—a process that can be interrupted well after it has begun. Innovative techniques, such as drastically reducing the patient's body temperature, have proven to be effective in revitalizing both the body and mind, but studies show they are only employed in approximately half of the hospitals throughout the ...

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Erasing Death: The Science That Is Rewriting the Boundaries Between Life and Death

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Overview

Contrary to popular belief, death is not a moment in time, such as when the heart stops beating, respiration ceases, or the brain stops functioning. Death, rather, is a process—a process that can be interrupted well after it has begun. Innovative techniques, such as drastically reducing the patient's body temperature, have proven to be effective in revitalizing both the body and mind, but studies show they are only employed in approximately half of the hospitals throughout the United States and Europe.

In Erasing Death, Dr. Sam Parnia presents cutting-edge research from the front line of critical care and resuscitation medicine that has enabled modern doctors to routinely reverse death, while also shedding light on the ultimate mystery: what happens to human consciousness during and after death. Parnia reveals how medical discoveries focused on saving lives have also inadvertently raised the possibility that some form of "afterlife" may be uniquely ours, as evidenced by the continuation of the human mind and psyche in the first few hours after death. Questions about the "self" and the "soul" that were once relegated to theology, philosophy, or even science fiction are now being examined afresh according to rigorous scientific research.

With physicians such as Parnia at the forefront, we are on the verge of discovering a new universal science of consciousness that reveals the nature of the mind and a future where death is not the final defeat, but is in fact reversible.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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.)
Pim van Lommel
"Based on his studies on ‘near-death experiences’ (or even better ‘actual-death experiences’), Parnia gives convincing arguments that there is a continuation of consciousness after physical death and that we have to reconsider our current definition of death. An important and highly recommended book."
Library Journal
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
Kirkus Reviews
A pioneer in the field of critical-care medicine poses the profound question: "What does the recovery of consciousness after the complete cessation of heartbeat and brain function" tell us about the relationship between the mind and body in the process of dying? With the assistance of Young (co-author, with Howie Mandel: Here's the Deal: Don't Touch Me, 2009, etc.), Cornell Medical Center doctor Parnia (What Happens When We Die, 2005, etc.) explains that modern medicine now has the potential to bring people back to life after they have suffered cardiac arrest and ensure that they do not suffer brain damage as a result. Using the space program as a model, Parnia suggests the need for a global effort to ensure optimal standards of care available to everyone. He reviews the development of cardiopulmonary resuscitation and up-to-date treatments using mechanical compression devices, cooling body temperature to slow the process of cell decay and administering drugs to increase blood pressure. The problem is that most medical professionals are not technically trained on the most advanced practices, and hospitals are under financial pressure to limit CPR. Nonetheless, Parnia is optimistic that such innovations as direct intravenous infusion of oxygen molecules will cheapen costs. Since it is now possible to resuscitate people who would previously have been pronounced dead, the question then arises: When does death occur? Death is not an event, writes the author, but a process that is sometimes reversible. This idea leads him to question the implications of near-death or after-death experiences. While they do not in themselves substantiate any religious beliefs, there are too many documented cases to be ignored. People from diverse cultures who hold different religious beliefs, including atheism, describe many common features, such as seeing a bright light and a guiding figure, and out-of-body experiences. A fascinating discussion that addresses medical, moral and social issues and their implications for understanding consciousness, self-awareness and the soul.
Wired
“[Parnia] helps bring people back from the dead—and some return with stories. Their tales could help save lives, and even challenge traditional scientific ideas about the nature of consciousness.”
—Pim van Lommel
“Based on his studies on ‘near-death experiences’ (or even better ‘actual-death experiences’), Parnia gives convincing arguments that there is a continuation of consciousness after physical death and that we have to reconsider our current definition of death. An important and highly recommended book.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062080608
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 2/26/2013
  • Pages: 344
  • Sales rank: 705,711
  • Product dimensions: 6.42 (w) x 9.12 (h) x 1.18 (d)

Meet the Author

Sam Parnia, M.D., Ph.D, is a leading expert on cardiac arrest resuscitation, the scientific study of death, mind-brain relationship, and near-death experiences. He is director of resuscitation research and an assistant professor of critical care medicine at the State University of New York. Parnia directs the AWARE Study (AWAreness during REsuscitation). He is a former fellow in critical care medicine at the Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York.

Josh Young is a bestselling author and journalist whose work spans entertainment, science, business, and politics. He specializes in co-writing books with notable personalities in diverse fields.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 11 )
Rating Distribution

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(6)

4 Star

(1)

3 Star

(2)

2 Star

(1)

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(1)

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Sort by: Showing all of 11 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 11, 2013

    Interesting but Technical

    Dr. Parnia seems to be writing a textbook on biology & medical procedure. In fact, the first 5 chapters seem to be a public lobby for better technical equipment for hospitals. Book was written too early as AWARE is lacking too much data to truly be about NDE study results! Very interesting when he DOES speak about case studies though.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2013

    Hi

    Hey guys...

    2 out of 27 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 1, 2013

    HEY STOP

    NO SWEARING HERE

    1 out of 18 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 25, 2013

    Another book rated by nook/texters - absolutely no relevance. T

    Another book rated by nook/texters - absolutely no relevance. There always seems to be one who can't spell anything except objectionable words.

    0 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2013

    To commitee outpost

    Wat r u? Respond to claudia.

    0 out of 14 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2013

    To commite outpost

    You do not have the right to erase erase if people want to do something

    0 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 6, 2013

    The Committee Outpost 4

    Run by J***a leader of the committee

    0 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 16, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 5, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2013

    No text was provided for this review.

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