Karl Jansen, Ketamine and Near-Death Experiences

Karl Jansen photo. Karl L. R. Jansen, M.D., Ph.D. is a Member of the Royal College of Psychiatrists and is the world's leading expert on ketamine. He has studied ketamine at every level. While earning his doctorate in clinical pharmacology at the University of Oxford, he photographed the receptors to which ketamine binds in the human brain. He has published papers on his discovery of the similarities between ketamine's psychoactive effects and the near-death experience (NDE) during his study of medicine in New Zealand. Dr. Jansen believes that ketamine can have potent healing powers when used as an adjunct to psychotherapy but warns of the addictive nature of ketamine. Because of this risk, he has developed new methods for the treatment of ketamine addiction. Dr. Jansen left Oxford in 1993 to train in psychiatry at the Maudsley and Bethlem Royal Hospitals. Dr. Jansen welcomes correspondence on the topic of ketamine. He can be contacted via e-mail at k@btinternet.com. 


The following is an excerpt from Dr. Karl Jansen's book, Ketamine: Dreams and Realities, where he documented one man's NDE and how it is nearly identical to a ketamine experience he had a week later. The man lost his wife in a tragic fire and had the NDE while trying to rescue her.

Dr. Jansen's Subject's Near-Death Experience 


I had an NDE about 6 days before the first time I took ketamine because my then partner died. She had a party at her flat and the flat caught fire. I got out of the flat and thought that she was out as well, but she'd been really drunk and she'd slipped and fallen and pushed the room door shut. I got out and shouted, "Christ, she's not here!" and went back up. The flat was full of thick smoke. I thought, "Right, what you do is you get down on the floor and crawl along the corridor." But there was no air there. I crawled along and couldn't see anything. I could hear her and I was trying to push open this door but I couldn't. I was overcome with smoke, and clink! 


The next thing it was like white light and then everything going very fast. All these sounds and things sounding far off and very close and far off, then whoosh!  You're out of your body and there was all this light. All this sounds really crap, like one of those 1940s Old Testament films ... It all happened so quickly. The next thing, it's very bright, you're out of your body, flying through the night and there's light, there's light. Er, well, it's pitch black and there's light - that's a better way of describing it. 


You go into the light and you just feel that everybody who has ever died is there. Not heavenly choirs as such, but there's certainly a lot of people around you and you get waves of concern. And the next thing was swoosh! And it was back to the everyday world very quickly. When I came back it was so abrupt, and I was fine really - I had a very narrow escape. Your first impression would be that you fly up in the air but that can't be. I'd have laughed at myself ten years ago for saying this kind of thing. 


So I had an out-of-body experience and then I got hauled out of the flat by ambulance guys who put an oxygen mask on my face. My partner was on a life-support machine from the Saturday until Monday, when they switched the machine off.  


Dr. Jansen's Subject's Ketamine Experiences 


I had acquired the "K" (ketamine) a week previously for the party, but didn't do it until a few days after she died. It was the first time I had taken "K". 


I had the flat to myself. Everybody was out and I sat in the front room on a big comfy chair and just took this stuff. Within about 5 minutes I was out of my body. I was still numb after what had happened. It was like being outside of myself but still there. 


I could smell this perfume she used to wear. I could sense her all round me. It was like a way out and it was exactly like the out-of-body thing. It was very upsetting and it did shake my atheism, very much so. It made me aware of it not being the end when all this ends. 


I tried "K" again quite a number of times and the same thing happened every time. It was like this pure consciousness. I hadn't any shape. You could fly and you could actually travel although you are still in the same place. You are in the place where everybody is who has ever died. It's this big entity. It's not like an old guy with a beard. It's this sense of energy that everybody who has ever moved on is there together and it was like she was looking after me. Precisely the same thing happened with the "K" as happened in the (burning) flat, which to someone not expecting it would be pretty scary. It was exactly the same. 


I thought that I would never find anybody again and why hadn't I died as well, why hadn't I managed to get her out of that room? I thought it was my fault, I blamed myself for ages. I had a half-hearted idea of taking loads of pills and not waking up but what's the point in that? I've already been to that place once and they wouldn't have me then, so why would they have me the second time? 


Concerned friends and parents made me go into counseling and therapy and to see psychiatrists. I was put onto various things like Prozac, but I was finding that my own "extra treatment" (the ketamine) was doing me a lot more good because "K" is very cathartic. I was doing it because it made me feel better, except the first time when it was quite a shock. It made me feel a lot less unhappy knowing that she was still there in one way or another. It would have taken a lot longer for me to recover if I hadn't taken "K" because it gets rid of a lot of hurt instantly ... It's very reassuring in a way.


"What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the master calls a butterfly." - Richard Bach

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