Friday, January 11, 2013

Science, Spiritual, NDE - [Book Review]

"Proof of Heaven"
A Neurosurgeon's Journey Into The Afterlife
 by Eben Alexander M.D.
© 2012 Simon & Schuster

My Rating: ★★★★★

Book Jacket

Thousands of people have had near-death experiences, but scientists have argued that they are impossible. Dr. Eben Alexander was one of those scientists. A highly trained neurosurgeon, Alexander knew that NDEs feel real, but are simply fantasies produced by brains under extreme stress.
Then, Dr. Alexander’s own brain was attacked by a rare illness. The part of the brain that controls thought and emotion—and in essence makes us human—shut down completely. For seven days he lay in a coma. Then, as his doctors considered stopping treatment, Alexander’s eyes popped open. He had come back.
Alexander’s recovery is a medical miracle. But the real miracle of his story lies elsewhere. While his body lay in coma, Alexander journeyed beyond this world and encountered an angelic being who guided him into the deepest realms of super-physical existence. There he met, and spoke with, the Divine source of the universe itself.
Alexander’s story, described in Proof of Heaven is not a fantasy. Before he underwent his journey, he could not reconcile his knowledge of neuroscience with any belief in heaven, God, or the soul. Today Alexander is a doctor who believes that true health can be achieved only when we realize that God and the soul are real and that death is not the end of personal existence but only a transition.
This story would be remarkable no matter who it happened to. That it happened to Dr. Alexander makes it revolutionary. No scientist or person of faith will be able to ignore it. Reading it will change your life.

What I would like to add

In this book, Dr. Eben Alexander describes his astonishing Near Death Experience (NDE), which according to the author stands out quite a lot compared to other peoples' NDEs documented in the past. As a regarded and experienced neurosurgeon, Alexander has a vast knowledge of the brain, and has performed many operations on patients brains over the years of his career. Up until it happened to himself, Dr. Alexander believed that NDEs were complex phenomena produced by the brain, as he thought (as most materialists) that consciousness is a (yet unexplained) phenomenon produced by the brain. His own Near Death Experience, which he had for the duration of about 7 days when he fell into a coma due to a very rare and potentially deadly E coli infection, turned Dr. Alexander's materialist world view up side down.

It's a very personal, well written and edited book. In short chapters the author alternates between accounts of his NDE, the parallel events unfolding in the Intensive Care Unit and detailed medical reports on his condition, as well as personal accounts of the events unfolding with his family at this time. Skillfully he weaves in personal stories which at first glance seem unrelated, yet in the end masterfully complete the picture. Dr. Alexander does a great job in the effort of putting his emotions and accounts on paper. The reader feels a if he/she really gets to know the author, especially from an emotional side.

In the Appendix at the end of the book, infectious disease specialist Dr. Scott Wade, who treated Dr. Alexander during his coma gives his medical report and opinion on the matter.

Dr. Alexander's NDE and the circumstances of his recovery appear to be outstanding in the following regards

  • He is a trained & experienced neurosurgeon (cutting edge of science on the brain)
  • His particular type of E coli (meningitis) infection was pretty unique in regards to the very low probability of infection and his miraculous and full recovery
  • The Infection switched off almost 100% of the Doctor's brain activity
  • The long duration of the NDE
  • The lack of remembrance of his own personality during the NDE

Negative points I have to mention

  • As with most American prints, the paper quality frankly is moderate, even with the hardcover edition. The book jacket (hardcover) however is beautiful to look at (shimmering) and very well designed.

Bottom Line

An great & inspiring book that should be part of every one's library.

Interview with Dr. Eben Alexander on the "Coast To Coast AM" Radio Show