A Perinatal Interpretation of Frightening Near-Death Experiences: A Dialogue with Kenneth Ring by Christopher M. Bache, Ph.D.

Source: A Perinatal Interpretation of Frightening Near-Death Experiences: A Dialogue with Kenneth Ring by Christopher M. Bache, Ph.D.

In 2009, I was brutally made to remember an NDE-type experience I had at age four and in the context of a surgical procedure. After it was brought back to my memory I struggled in making sense of it and “integrating” it. I’m fairly certain that this experience contributed to my lifelong C-PTSD, but is not its root cause. Before I digress any further: I had always wondered about NDEs and if they were all they are allegedly said to be in the literature. I had my doubts. Now this paper pretty much reconciles my doubts with my own thoughts surrounding all reports on NDEs both ancient and more recent in so far as they might be an echo to traumatic experiences made before, during and after child birth, largely referring to Stanislav Grof’s idea of “birth perinatal matrices” in four stages.
I have to say that this makes more sense than anything else I’ve been reading on the subject in years – going on five years as of today. To me, it’s a conclusive and comprehensive “stab” at reconciling post-traumatic symptoms with near death experiences and revealing their similarities as to their genesis.
If nothing else, this paper offers at least an additional view on NDEs and non-conventional states of consciousness as they occur during psychedelic experiences. Worth a read, I think. And to me a potential answer to a lot of questions I’ve been harboring. See for yourself, if so inclined.


Addendum as of January, 25th, 2020:

I revisited Dr. Bache’s eloquent and most conclusive and enticing essay. To me, he suggests a quite propelling presentation of reconciling frightening NDEs with difficult experiences undergone in LSD therapy that seeks to revisit and resolve problematic content along the perinatal matrices as devised and employed by Dr. Stanislav Grof.
I will agree that the similar nature of difficult BPM ‘material’ and frightening and distressing NDEs are quite striking and lend themselves to being perceived as somewhat related in that they may offer a perspective on the same source, i.e. unresolved material when not having completely transitioned all four stages of the perinatal matrices. I found particularly useful information in Bache’s suggestion that frightening NDEs might be reframed as incomplete NDEs altogether that got stuck prior to resolving into the transpersonal realm of one’s being and ‘ended’ in a rather devastating, utterly anguishing experience of personal annihilation, often referred to as ‘ego death’ (something, which is also predominantly known from the effects of ketamine). When viewing distressing NDEs from that perspective, I tend to ‘buy’ Dr. Bache’s argument in that one and the other – difficult BPM experiences and distressing NDEs – might be rooted in the same source, i.e. some of the fundamental experiences of the human condition.
Whewee…. only took me some years of getting into this, then setting it aside to manage the triggered anxiety, then coming back and also hearing another round of interviews on NDEs and what they might be evidence of a.s.o to somewhat ‘finally’ categorize my own experience at age four as ‘either-or’ :-), in that both approaches offer a very conclusive idea about just what the heck it was that I experienced so early into my life.

However…. the incurred damage is still prevalent, disability and incapacity still a fact, access to more efficient, more helpful therapy – like e.g. LSD therapy – nowhere in sight. I guess, I’m going to have to keep finding and pulling strings as to how to make it possible for me, where the effects of all the above have landed me in a quite frankly almost impossible and from the point of view of a rich life intolerable situation. I still need…. a small series of miracles (some of which I’ve been lucky to see manifest from my concerted, persevering efforts along with simply a grain of luck or – if you’re spiritually inclined – some help from… somewhere else than the visible realms 🙂 )

9 thoughts on “A Perinatal Interpretation of Frightening Near-Death Experiences: A Dialogue with Kenneth Ring by Christopher M. Bache, Ph.D.

  1. Not sure if you heard of this, but thought I would drop by and leave a comment. I have not gone through the full text of your link but I am familiar (ish) with Grof’s work op BPM’s, having had several days course on the subject, several holotropic breathing experiences and some ayahuasca trips. The darkest memory I have of prenatal trauma is that of my twin brother dying in the womb. That brought me right into hell. I had no knowledge of vanishing twin syndrome (VTS) or the effects of it at that time in my life. Based on a several second spontaneous experience which I am sure was a re-living of what had happened before I wrote down 10 points which I realised were ‘odd’ about me and had been shaped in that experience. When reading my first book on VTS I found that those 10 were either chapter subjects or otherwise important paragraphs in the text itself. It was like a homecoming – into a hell of enormous loss and sadness that is, but it was.

    10 Out of a 100 pregnancies start as a multiple, only 1 out of 100 is born multiple, so 1 out of about 10 people have lost what I call ‘half of myself’ before they were born. A fetus, a baby is no less human than a child which can not bike yet than when it learns to bike, or a teenager without a drivers license is no less human than when it gets its licence, or an adult without a 50 inch colour TV then when he/she gets the TV. (Edit: although advertised and understood by many as such: being able to do things, or have things, does NOT make a person more of a person – conciousness already exists within when life kicks in.)

    A fetus is alive and has consciousness – less ‘developed’, not fully expressed, not fully incarnated often, but it is there. Having re-experienced the impact of the death of my twin brother as an adult I can only say that I would assume it to be a ‘good’ base for hellish NDE’s (near death experience). It is my understanding today that dying is part of the human experience which the consciousness understands and is ok with. Logically the biology resists it but it can be integrated when the mind/ego does not interfere too much. Experiencing (not seeing; experiencing, re-living) somebody else die which whom you identify as yourself mixes stuff up big time. Like having Kali over for tea. 😦

    Funny idea though, to combine experiences before birth with after death. 🙂 Although, writing about it now I realise the hell was my resistance to him dying. Dying itself is not the problem, though overwhelmingly BIG as an experience it is within the human spiritual domain. The pain comes with the resistance and the longing.

    1. Spot on! Dr. Bache also arrives at the conclusion that resistance to “ego death” in distressing NDEs is the root cause for them to become distressing in the first place. In other words: If you can let go, there’s less or no distress. If you can’t, then… you have a problem. (OK, in your situation the resistance was due to your not wanting for your twin to die – and I’m sorry you had to have this experience… )

      However, for some reason a related blog entry appeared below mine and it talked about NDEs from a skeptic’s point of view. And I belong in that latter category, I’m afraid, in so far as I don’t think NDEs have any inherent value or significance when it comes to pondering the question as to whether or not consciousness might continue after physical death (outside the body and maybe being non-local to begin with as some researchers claim). For the fact is that those who’ve had NDEs and “came back” weren’t dead at all, weren’t they? I’m aware that there are many accounts where people/patients flatlined, sometimes and according to those accounts even for a long time (some part here can’t be all accurate as we know that more than four minutes of zero oxygene to the brain will result in irreversible and often major brain damage). The article went on to say that our memories aren’t accurate “imprints” of actual events entailing and storing all the details along with the major event, BUT rather more like a sticky note with only the most prominent aspects and features of a given situation. As we remember it, our brains fill in the missing pieces to make a consistent story (you can actually test this for yourself – and it can be fun, even! 🙂 Just get together with friends from the past and have everyone give their account of a shared event. Pretty sure that everyone will have an at least slightly different version of the same story as each person involved is likely to fill in the missing pieces according to what they remember – which must not be the same for everyone and often isn’t). The same could be true for NDEs: I don’t doubt that people have experienced what they share later on – presuming they’re in a condition to do so in the first place, i.e. having regained their full cognitive capabilities including speech. I just am not so sure as to exactly when it is that they experienced what they share afterwards. It is entirely possible that there are some compelling experiences that people went through as the body and the brain start their “ultimate shutdown” process. But who’s to say for sure exactly when they had all these amazing things happening to them? In fact, a study was made on dying patients that tracked gamma waves in the brain, which are associated with deeply “spiritual” or mystical and personally meaningful experiences. Unfortunately, this is too long ago for me to remember the exact site I spotted this on or even to remember what bookmark to look for. But the study showed that most patients undergoing cardiac arrest had spikes in gamma wave brain activity that went on for up to three minutes after the heart had stopped beating and thus ceasing flow of oxygene to the brain. (No, it wasn’t Dr. Sam Parmia’s AWARE study, the latter I’m aware of – ha! 🙂 ). This makes a strong argument for the idea that dying patients still had some sort of “conscious” experience even after the brain had already shut down. If they survive and “come back” they will share the contents of these experiences when so prompted and they are typically a report of some type of NDE. If they don’t then we …. well, lose the “control group” there, don’t we?

      too long, didn’t read (tldr;):
      While NDEs may be compelling experiences to the subject with an “ultra real” quality to them, we just can’t seem to pinpoint the exact time at which they occur. They likely have not taken place when the brain had shut down, but shortly before or after they had regained consciousness.

      1. Ghegheghe ‘ If they don’t then we …. well, lose the “control group” there, don’t we?’ Yup. And indeed; the only people who can talk about death for sure are those who are dead. 🙂 It is part of my argument too.

        Could you be looking for ‘Pim van Bommel’? He is the Dutch MD who made a wave in the scientific world with approaching NDE scientifically. But I do not know his standpoint – have his book. Now there is a tldr yet one. 🙂

        I’m going to keep your line of thought with me for a while to let it stew. I have not thought or read about it much. I do however think some issues might be solved with changing our views on how things work. You say e.g. ‘his makes a strong argument for the idea that dying patients still had some sort of “conscious” experience even after the brain had already shut down.’ Well, to me, as a laymen, that means that our definition of ‘shut down’ is incorrect. Which, unfortunately coincides with all those people who say that taking organs out of a ‘brain dead’ body is a crime because there is no such thing. Again, I started to agree with that after I heard that they sedate ‘bodies’ so that they do not twist and turn to evade that blades…. :-/

        Hmmm, now I have to come up with something nicer to write as not to end with this horrible thought in mind. Ooh, I really enjoyed this link today: http://www.stanislavgrof.com/wp-content/uploads/pdf/Psychology_of_the_Future.pdf

        Have you met Grof in RL? He has been the teacher and therapist of my therapist but I never met him. Not really sure if I want to though I would possibly like to sort out the VTS with him. If I had the money. 🙂

        xx, Feeling

  2. No, xx, Feeling, haven’t met Prof. Grof in real life nor Pim van Lommel. I have talked to an NDEr here in Germany, though, who has two books out on her NDEs. Her name is Sabine Mehne and she recently appeared as speaker along with Dr. van Lommel at a NDE congress.

    I like your asssessment on the dying brain or death as being wrong. Again, spot on, I think! Right. And I’ve also watched a lengthy documentary with a former nurse with the “organ donation” unit at the clinic she’s worked at. She also came under the impression from what she had witnessed in all her years of professionally assisting doctors when removing organs from “dead people” that we don’t have a very good understanding of the dying process. She became too disturbed from these experiences to continue working in that department.

    On a slightly different note: I hope to … whom- or whatever that consciousness is NOT infinte or immortal, but gets annilhilated upon death. Only thinking of such a thing as eternity has me almost go into shock from panicking so hard I get delusional. In fact, I still have panic attacks every now and then from that thought….

  3. No, xx, Feeling, haven’t met Prof. Grof in real life nor Pim van Lommel. I have talked to an NDEr here in Germany, though, who has two books out on her NDEs. Her name is Sabine Mehne and she recently appeared as speaker along with Dr. van Lommel at a NDE congress.

    I like your asssessment on the dying brain or death as being wrong. Again, spot on, I think! Right. And I’ve also watched a lengthy documentary with a former nurse with the “organ donation” unit at the clinic she’s worked at. She also came under the impression from what she had witnessed in all her years of professionally assisting doctors when removing organs from “dead people” that we don’t have a very good understanding of the dying process. She became too disturbed from these experiences to continue working in that department.

    On a slightly different note: I hope to … whom- or whatever that consciousness is NOT infinte or immortal, but gets annilhilated upon death. Only thinking of such a thing as eternity has me almost go into shock from panicking so hard I get delusional. In fact, I still have panic attacks every now and then from that thought….

    (P.S. I have done some holothropic breathing work some six years ago. It was good. I would have continued if I had been able to continue paying for the sessions; having become disabled and living on welfare handouts, this was not an option, though)

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