QUESTION 7:  Were there any distressing aftereffects from your NDE?

Studies have revealed three types of distressing NDEs (dNDEs): (1) "Inverse" dNDEs, where aspects in the dNDE which are found in positive NDEs reported as pleasurable are perceived in the dNDE as threatening; (2) "The Void" dNDEs, existential experiences of vast emptiness, darkness, often a devastating scenario of aloneness, isolation, sometimes negation of being, ego-death; (3)  "Hellish" dNDEs, where the NDEr perceives overtly horrifying or hellish imagery often as an observer but sometimes experiences torment.

Responses and aftereffects of dNDEs include:

1. An enduring awareness that the physical world is not the full extent of reality.
2. Personal life and social relationships are abruptly and permanently overturned.
3. Adjusting to a dNDE is similar to culture shock and reactions to a dNDE are often similar to Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
4. Aftereffects are similar to shamanic pattern of suffering / death / resurrection as an invitation to self-examination, disarrangement of core beliefs, and rebuilding.
5. Not for a long time, if ever, do dNDEs cause the NDEr to lose their fear of death.
6. The late Dr. Barbara Rommer's dNDE study concluded that, in the long run, as with pleasurable NDEs, virtually all dNDEs ultimately become extremely beneficial to the NDEr. They almost always eventually come to see their dNDE as a blessing in disguise.
7. Nancy Evans Bush (2002), a dNDEr herself, who did a study of dNDEs with Dr. Bruce Greyson, has a somewhat different view. Bush observed that the aftereffects of a dNDE is not so easy to define. She noted not one, but three categories of common response to dNDEs:

"The Turnaround" dNDE (e.g. "I needed that"): This response occurs when a dNDE is interpreted by the NDEr as a warning which may lead the NDEr into changing behaviors such as movement toward a dogmatic religious community where strict rules promise protection. This is the response identified by the late Dr. Barbara Rommer where the NDEr eventually comes to see their dNDE as blessings in disguise.


"Reductionistic" dNDE (e.g. "It was only a hallucination"): This response occurs when a dNDE allows the NDEr to repudiate the meaning of their NDE which does not fit into a safe category. Bush speculated that people in this category might find psychological peace, but only temporarily. (p. 106)


"The Long Haul" dNDE (e.g. "What did I do?"): This response occurs when a dNDE causes the NDEr to be "haunted" or struggle for many years with the existential implications of their dNDE. A religious element of their NDE is often expected, but is absent. This category of dNDEr is most likely to seek counseling or therapy.

Although Bush found more categories of response than Rommer did, her conclusion, like Rommer's, is optimistic:

"A psychospiritual descent into hell has been the experience of saints and sages throughout history, and it is an inevitable episode in the pervasive, mythic theme of the hero's journey. Those who insist on finding the gift, the blessing of their experiences have the potential ultimately to realize a greater maturity and wholeness" (p.129).