Q and A with P. M. H. Atwater, L.H.D. (Hon.)

An In-Depth Look at the Near-Death Phenomenon

February 2006

P. M. H. Atwater, L.H.D., is one of the original researchers in the field of near-death studies, having begun her work in 1978. She is one of the very few top NDE researchers who have actually had an NDE . Her website is filled with very interesting NDE research information and articles of hers. Her contribution to near-death studies is considered to be one of the most important as her first two books, Beyond the Light and Coming Back to Life, are deemed the Bibles of the near-death experience by researchers and a multitude of experiencers and enthusiasts. Using her firm understanding of police investigative techniques as a protocol, she has specialized in original fieldwork and research that also included sessions with significant others. Her findings are contained in six books (see right). Some of her findings have now been clinically verified. Her research is referenced in the distinguished Lancet medical journal, December 15, 2001 (the landmark Dutch study by Pim van Lommel, M.D.).

ANNOUNCEMENT: "One of the most amazing presentations I witnessed at the big IANDS Near-Death Conference held in Virginia Beach, Virginia, this September, was the talk and video given by Wally Johnston about the case of Joanie Thurston. Why she is alive today only God knows. She is a living miracle. Although far from being in good health, she is still able to get around some and was able to participate via the video by introducing her story. Wally did the rest.

Lest you think that such a presentation was boring or the kind you've heard a "million" times before, let me assure you that because of the way it was handled, the car crash, the way Joanie was found by emergency crews, the blow-by-blow description of her rescue and surgeries, near-death episode, and aftermath, it is among the most fascinating, thrilling, and deeply moving I have seen. When it was over, I went up to Wally and literally begged him to make the presentation into a DVD, so that others could benefit from its message and from Joanie's story. Upon his return to Oregon he sold Joanie on the idea, and, now, both her book and the DVD are available.


I am happy to announce that "Possible Fatal (the book)l" and "And You Still Don't Get It!" (the DVD)" are available for $13.00 each (price includes shipping and handling). Send your check or money order to Acorn Endeavors, P. O. Box 301056, Portland, OR 97294; or order from www.possiblefatal.com ; e-mail Wally@possiblefatal.com .

Here's a brief promo from her DVD that was an outgrowth of the presentation Wally facilitated at the IANDS conference, entitled "Message and Meaning: Using the Near-Death Experience as a Tool for Living."


"At the age of three, Joanie Thurston experienced a terrifying ordeal. With nobody to listen to her feelings, she buried them in her own private cemetery. For 49 years she did the same with many other traumas until 4:10 a.m. on May 13, 1997, when she fell asleep at the wheel, hit a light pole and died. Her body was crushed, her heart was torn and had to be sewn. Then it stopped, but the doctor massaged it for 20 minutes until it started again. She was told to return and tell others of her experiences. This DVD explains the Message(s) and Meaning(s) Joanie acquired from her miraculous NDE and from the writing of her book."


Not only are Joanie's DVD and book unusual and of special interest to the general public, I highly recommend them for anyone in the medical community, rescue squads, school teachers and professors, and for churches. The way the material is presented is unique!" -- PMH

QUESTION 1:  "I had all the beautiful usual 'symptoms' and the continuing absolute awareness of 'truth,' but I also had one I've never seen retold - when I was back in my body after the emergency caesarian in which I stopped breathing for 45 minutes and was stone cold gone. When I came back, for weeks my body felt like someone had draped a heavy skeleton over me. I was hunched over with the weight of it and had to learn to move with it again. I shuffled rather than walked, turned like a robot, rather than a human. Every joint was soooooooo hard to manipulate, and it seemed like such a complicated process. To get a wrist to move in order to work fingers was such a conscious effort. They creaked and grated, bone against bone, very unpleasant, but not painful. It was like my mind was processing the movement of bone, sinew, tissue, muscle, joints - literally as if someone had draped a body over me. I had to figure out how to work it, like a puppeteer being inside a mannequin. It felt very cumbersome and very unevolved. My initial delight years after when I discovered other people had experienced the tunnel and the light of pure love has always niggled that no one else seems to report this dysfunction of the body and soul on rejoining. It's funny, even though I had had a caesarian, it didn't seem to be that area that grated - moving a finger was a slightly comical process. My story is, of course, much bigger, but I wonder if you've ever heard of this strange misfit approach on reintegration after a near-death experience?" -- Jenny

P.M.H. ATWATER'S REPLY: "Having problems getting used to the body after "reentry," sometimes struggling to move body parts, is a fairly common complaint. But I've never heard of a situation quite like you described here where being back in your body was like having a heavy skeleton draped over the top of you. I can appreciate how odd that must have felt.

"What you hear the most often is experiencers saying that they find their bodies most uncomfortable afterwards, that they are heavy, slow-moving, and cumbersome. Remember, when you were on the "other side" of death, your body was spirit-like, perhaps gaseous or filmy or a mere speck of light. Returning to the physical and having to reinhabit what you left can be a jolt, a most uncomfortable one. After my second near-death experience, for instance, I simply could not relate to my physical body as mine. I felt it surely must belong to someone else as I had no memory of or interest in whoever might have lived there before or how it functioned. It took me months of concerted effort to realize and accept that I was no longer "over there" and that this "thing" I was wearing really was mine and I'd better get used to it. I talk about what I went through with this issue in the book Future Memory (Chapter 11).

"I truly feel near-death experiencers are more challenged in this regard than are those who have what are called out-of-body experiences. Yes, out-of-body experiences are a frequent component to near-death states; yet the phenomenon of near-death itself is much more intense and involved than the other and has far-reaching physiological and psychological aftereffects. Out-of-body experiences as an isolated event do not compare. Some may argue with me on this point, still, I used to frequently take trips without my body when younger (we called it astral traveling then) and taught the skill to hundreds of others for years. My experiences and those of others were indeed intense and fully involved. It is from this background that I am able to make the statement I just did.

"Getting used to your body again after a near-death experience can be not only challenging but difficult. That is why it is so important for significant others and for health-care givers to touch an individual whom they suspect is having one, and with their fingers gently trace that person's body as you speak to him or her. This mode of touching helps to reacquaint the experiencer with his or her body. An important first step in the integration process. --

QUESTION 2:  "I have read a lot of information about NDEs and the afterlife on your website and other good sites such as near-death.com. But there is one important issue I have not been able to find information about anywhere: the effect of mental illness on what happens to people when they die.

"It is commonly said that the type of NDE is often the result of the person's state of mind. For example: a person with a lot of negative emotions might have a hellish NDE. Does this mean that the mentally ill, such as people with chronic depression, bipolar, schizophrenia, etc., are more likely to have an unpleasant experience, either in NDEs or after death? Have you done any research about this question, or do you know if this has been studied by someone else and where I can find information about it?

"How much of a person's specific personality traits continue beyond death? For example: if a person has had depression since childhood, which is beyond their control and runs in the family, let's say, does that person continue to feel depressed in the afterlife; or is the problem cured when they die like the way a blind person regains their sight? If it is true that mental illness causes a bad afterlife experience, then why would any soul ever agree to incarnate as a person with genetic or environmental predispositions to become mentally ill? Also, what about people who were not mentally ill until they have a stroke or some brain damage, and that changes their personality against their will: Is it one's personality at the time of death that continues, or is it more important how a person lived their life and the good deeds they did? Could a person die and find out that they suddenly have a very different personality than they did on Earth, because their personality traits were conditioned by the health or sickness of the brain, and the brain is now dead? Thanks for any information you can provide." --

P.M.H. ATWATER'S REPLY: "Eric, you're asking many questions that cannot really be answered. However, I can say the following. Some of those who are mentally ill do indeed have near-death experiences, and they seem clear and coherent about what happened to them, afterwards. In other words, their scenarios are not that different from those who exhibit a sound mind to begin with. Those whom I have had sessions with (extreme depression and schizophrenia), seemed very much improved afterward - as if their near-death experience had healing capabilities and helped them in significant ways (to think more clearly, be less emotional and frightened, less stressed, more fully comprehending their life and life's choices, be more responsible). One of my cases with a woman who had multiple personalities is recorded in my book The New Children and Near-Death Experiences (Inner Traditions, Rochester, VT 2003). The case of Frank Henniker would also fit in this category (pages 147-149 -- these pages are the same for the other case I just mentioned).

"What you noted as typical connecting a person's mental state with the type of scenario they had is not necessarily true, and I talk about this in all my books. The connection is not that straight-forward. I urge you to read the four-types of near-death experiences I discovered in my work, and what I found in the way of a psychological profile that seems to undergird them - identify at least to a point who has what. If you pursue this, you will note that it's not what the person "believes," but, rather, what has been deeply integrated within them, what has been suppressed or repressed, what is at the deepest core of being ... that is what they meet in death. Because we're talking here about the deeper issues of one's being, we are focusing then beyond, far beyond, what a person professes, their personality, what they think. Most people, for instance, have no clear notion of what they "really" believe, what's at the deeper core of their being. You have to be reflective and willing to instigate the inner journey, and do some real "house cleaning" deep within to know what's there. Our deeper nature does not show up in speech nor is it expressed in most people's belief systems.

"In talking about death itself and after death, there is a large body of material that addresses this. From this source, it is said that a person's basic traits follow him or her after death. Example: if you were an alcoholic before you died, you will still have that craving or addiction to alcohol after death - until you "wake up" and realize you can dissolve or release that addiction - you don't need to keep it. The idea of troubled souls still being troubled after death has a long history - explaining most hauntings and ghosts. If you read my book, We Live Forever: The Real Truth About Death (A.R.E. Press, Virginia Beach, VA, 2004), you will learn as I did about levels to the "Other Side." They are like a "layer cake" of various dimensions and levels where we go - none of these "heavens" and "hells" are an end-point. We can progress and go on. We are not confined or condemned to any level. We just think we are. Once we "wake up," our choices, what we learn, take us elsewhere.

"I don't know if any of this really answers your question, but, at least, it should give you pause and inspire you to do some more reading and/or expose yourself to other traditions of experiences." --


Many blessings,

P. M. H. Atwater, L.H.D.
www.cinemind.com/atwater & www.pmhatwater.com

Article Archives

  NDEs & Proof

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  When Children Die

  The Difference Between Soul & Spirit

  Evil People & the Afterlife

  NDErs & Divination

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  Attacks from the Dark Side

  Accidents Versus Predestination

  Guidance from Your Higher Self

  The Interface Between Soul and Brain

  An After-Death Communication

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  Evolution & the NDE

  Alzheimers & Death

  The Difference Between OBEs & NDEs

  An After-Death Communication

  When Does the Soul Leave the Body?

  Are There NDEs by the Blind?

  Is Death Predetermined?

  NDE Peacefulness

  Strange NDE After-Effects

  Can You Explain Reincarnation?

  PMH's Trip to Istanbul

  Revelations and Prophecy

  The NDEs of Fundamentalists

  The NDE and Abortion

  Physical After-Effects of the NDE  

"We cannot keep the life we have on the Earth realm, not our possessions or attachments or relationships. What we can keep is our memories and our feelings of what we have integrated into our heart of hearts from the experience of being here, plus the love we have shared with others." - P.M.H. Atwater

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Books by

P.M.H. Atwater

Beyond the Indigo Children

by P.M.H. Atwater

P. M. H. Atwater connects the arrival of the Indigo Children with the fulfillment of the Fifth World of the Mayan Calendar and other great prophecies, providing detailed information about the world changes that will take place before and after December 21, 2012, and the worldwide ascension of energy now occurring, which will take humanity to the next level of development.

We Live Forever: The Real Truth About Death

by P.M.H. Atwater

P.M.H. Atwater gives details and deep insights into what really happens when you die and what it truly means. She also explores such mysteries as heaven and hell, the soul's existence after death, and the power of prayer.

The New Children and Near-Death Experiences

by P.M.H. Atwater

An in-depth study of children who have experienced an NDE and the pattern of aftereffects which follow. Atwater notes that the child who returns from an NDE is not the same child as before, but is a "remodeled, rewired, reconfigured, refined version of the original." Atwater shows that understanding the NDEs of children can help us prepare for a quantum leap in the evolution of humanity.

The Complete Idiot's Guide to Near-Death Experiences

by P.M.H. Atwater

This 480-page single source book contains all information pertinent to the NDE phenomenon, both positive and negative, as seen from 360 degrees, including new cases and new research, combined in a lively yet respectful style, with five appendices. This book is the "encyclopedia" of the NDE and is the most comprehensive book in the field of NDE studies.

Beyond the Light: The Mysteries and Revelations of Near-Death Experiences

by P.M.H. Atwater

An in-depth investigation of the dynamics of NDE states based on over 3,000 interviews with NDE survivors over a 16-year period. These survivors include adults and children from a variety of racial and cultural backgrounds. Atwater describes the 4 types of NDEs and the basic profile of the survivors of each type. Included are descriptions of NDE-like episodes and other anomalies, the full range of NDE after-effects, "the light" of enlightenment, revelations which NDE survivors bring back, plus a host of material on topics like electrical sensitivity, black angels, and brain shift.

Coming Back to Life: The After-Effects of the Near-Death Experience

by P.M.H. Atwater

Based on extensive interviews with over 200 NDE survivors and thousands of their friends and relatives. Atwater, herself a survivor of 3 NDEs, examines the major after-effects which survivors experience, including: a shifted view of physical reality and disorientation in the world of time and space; expanded intuitive and psychic abilities; spiritual transformation; difficulty with communication and relationships and an inability to personalize emotions and feelings, especially those of love.

Future Memory

by P.M.H. Atwater

"Future memory" allows people who have an NDE to "live" life in advance and remember the experience in detail when something triggers that memory. Atwater has experienced the future memory process firsthand following her own three NDEs. She shows how these "rehearsals" for future events differ from other modes of futuristic awareness such as clairvoyance, precognition, and deja vu. Atwater describes how the unifying and permanent effect of the NDE is a "brain shift" which may be at the very core of existence itself and indicative of higher evolutionary

Children of the New Millennium

by P.M.H. Atwater

This groundbreaking book is the first serious look at the NDEs of children. Atwater believes these millennial children - who possess heightened sensory and empathic abilities acquired at birth or as a result of the NDE - herald the presence of a new race of people on Earth. Atwater explores how these special children will dramatically impact the human condition by helping humankind rediscover the spiritual truths needed to survive in our radically changing world.

Videos by

P.M.H. Atwater

Beyond the Light

featuring P.M.H. Atwater

This video is the startling revelation from P.M.H. Atwater who shares her three, life-changing, NDEs with host Mary Lou McCall. Atwater underwent a transformation to a higher level of consciousness and returned with a message of unconditional love for mankind.

As You Die

featuring P.M.H. Atwater

Available in CD-ROM, DVD, and VHS formats! Atwater leads people through the wonderful journey which begins as one lays hovering between life and death, then leads them away from any fear and despair towards a peace and unconquerable hope, knowing that as we die ... we live forever!

Ebook by

P.M.H. Atwater

A Book of Columns

by P.M.H. Atwater

This ebook contains all of P.M.H. Atwater's columns from the IANDS newsletter "Vital Signs" from June of 1981 until 2004. Proceeds go to support IANDS and its mission.