- British scientists say there is convincing evidence that
a significant proportion of the population possess psychic powers.
- The British Association for the Advancement of Science
was told an increasing number of experiments support the theory of a human
"sixth sense" - an ability which may have its roots in our past,
when the ability to sense the presence of a predator was a matter of life
- The view that people are capable of paranormal feats,
such as premonitions, telepathy, and out-of-body experiences, is supported
by new research by the Institute of Psychiatry, which suggests the human
mind may exist outside the body like an invisible magnetic field.
- The research is being led by Dr Peter Fenwick, a neuro-psychiatrist
at London University, who has just completed a survey of heart patients
claiming to have had "near-death experiences" after their hearts
had stopped beating.
- "There is now convincing evidence to challenge the
current theory that consciousness can only exist inside the brain - and
if you can have consciousness without associated brain function, that is
enormously important for our understanding of the mind," he said.
- For his latest research, 60 patients at Southampton General
Hospital's coronary care unit were interviewed after heart attacks had
left them temporarily brain-dead. Seven reported near-death experiences
- defined by characteristic features such as a feeling of leaving your
body, going through a tunnel and entering an area of "love, bliss
- "The significance of this is that after a cardiac
arrest you lose consciousness within eight seconds; within 11 seconds the
brain's rhythms become flat, and within 18 seconds there is no possibility
of the brain creating a model of the world - so the brain is down,"
said Dr Fenwick.
- "Yet whenever we asked people when their near-death
experiences occurred, they said it was during unconsciousness. If that's
true, their experience was occurring when there was no blood flowing through
the brain - and consciousness would appear to exist outside the brain."
- It could be argued that their experiences occurred in
the few seconds between brain functions being restored and the return of
consciousness. But recent research on a patient in the United States, where
traces of electrical activity in the brain were closely monitored, suggested
this was not the case.
- "That study and other evidence points to the mind
and brain not being identical, and it seems that the mind may operate in
part outside the brain as a sort of field which works in the same way as
a TV receiver receives programmes through the airwaves," said Dr Fenwick.
- "The main question we are trying to answer is does
the brain-identity theory really hold - and the next step is to find more
people who experience leaving their bodies and put symbols on the ceiling
or walls of the ward to see if they are able to detect them."
- Dr Fenwick said the idea of the mind existing outside
the body helped to explain the growing weight of scientific evidence pointing
to genuine psychic powers.
- For example, US trials showed women trying to become
pregnant by in-vitro fertilisation were twice as likely to conceive if
they were "prayed for" by a group of people hundreds of miles
away who had never met them.
- ©2003 Scotsman.com