Are we humans simply a collection of chemical processes or do we have a separate component that gives us life? What is the relationship between the mind and the brain and what happens to our mind and consciousness at the end of life?
These questions which are as old as mankind itself have been the subject of great interest, discussion and speculation since the beginning of time but with no real decisive conclusion. In fact they have not only been discussed extensively but also to exhaustion in the past, and a new discussion on this subject is therefore nothing new. However, what is new, and is the subject of this website, is an interest by mainstream science to investigate the above questions, which had for many years appeared unanswerable and thus purely philosophical.
This is a very new area of science, which may at first appear somewhat unconventional as most people traditionally associate the issues related to the state of the human mind at the point of death and during the dying process with religion and philosophy. However, recent studies have begun to show that it is precisely research of the human mind at the end of life that may finally reveal the answers to some of the biggest questions regarding the nature of the ‘self’, the mind and our consciousness and their relationship with the brain. In this site, I would therefore also like to explain why in addition to answering a genuine interest and fascination by most people to understand how their conscious self arises and what happens when we die, there is also a growing scientific and social need to conduct research and answer these questions.
As we commence the 21st century, one of the most interesting observable changes in science, has been the widening of its boundaries to encompass a number of traditionally philosophical questions. Perhaps the biggest question of all that still remains unanswered and needs to be understood has been the attempt at trying to understand what it is that actually makes us into the thinking conscious beings that we are? Or put another way, what is the nature of the human ‘self’, ‘mind’ or ‘consciousness’ and what happens when we die? These are three different terms for essentially the same concept to describe how our sense of self-awareness, thoughts, feelings, emotions and memories which make us unique as individuals arise. This subject which had for centuries been considered a purely philosophical issue for debate, has now become one of the biggest challenges facing neuroscience (brain sciences) and from starting off as an ‘unconventional’ area of scientific study, has now been debated and discussed in some of the most highly respected scientific circles.
These questions have now largely been thrust upon science as a direct result of its own progress. The rapid discoveries in science and consequent improvements in medical care have revealed a maze of ethical and philosophical issues, which had traditionally been reserved for the domain of philosophical debate rather than scientific exploration. Although undoubtedly bringing benefits to people, many now feel that the progress of science has itself also begun to threaten issues related to the sanctity of human life and human existence. These issues pose vital questions with very significant practical implications for society, which are current and need to be answered today.
Although far more research is needed, recent studies in cardiac arrest survivors by our team, as well as others have raised questions regarding the relationship of the mind and the brain and have raised the possibility that when we reach the end of our lives, our mind and consciousness may continue to exist. If proven, this will obviously have huge implications for all of society. We have recently attempted to start a new study during cardiac arrest, which may answer many of the traditionally philosophical questions raised above
In the meantime, this website has been established to enable all those who are interested in this fascinating area of research to get updated objective information, as well as having an up to date resource centre.