Cover image for In a world of their own : experiencing unconsciousness
In a world of their own : experiencing unconsciousness
Lawrence, Madelaine.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Westport, Conn. : Praeger, 1997.
Physical Description:
viii, 186 pages : illustrations ; 22 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
RB150.C6 L39 1997 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Up until now, we have had little knowledge of what the state of unconsciousness was like from the patient's point of view. Surprisingly, in a state considered void of human experiences, Lawrence found that the events subjects reported were extraordinary. Her research in hospital units and in the literature reveals that more than 70% of the individuals who regain consciousness remember events during their unconscious period. They heard and understood conversations, had inner dialogues, recognized their emotions, and went out of their bodies. As would be expected, some of the patients' experiences are the now-recognized classic NDEs (near-death experiences).

The author also includes descriptions of related research from nursing, medicine, psychology, and parapsychology. The phenomena described in the book are not easily explained by the paradigm of one discipline. It is the author's point of view that because the phenomena crosses the lines of many disciplines, the answer to understanding and explaining the experiences can be obtained only by using theories and research methods from a variety of related disciplines. The integration of research from such varied disciplines brings a unique perspective to the chapters. Also included are suggestions for caregivers and families about what can be done for patients during their unconscious episode and after their recovery.

Author Notes

MADELAINE LAWRENCE is Assistant Professor, College of Education, Nursing and Health Professions, University of Hartford, West Hartford, Connecticut.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

The scientific literature rarely discusses total unconsciousness, but this valuable book recounts 100 hospital patients' "lived experiences of being unconscious." Lawrence (Univ. of Hartford) conducted interviews and used a phenomenological method for subsequent analysis. Some 27 percent of the 100 patients had no recollection, presumably because of the severity of their injuries. The others fell into such categories as "perceived unconscious" (hearing what was being said), "inner awareness" (recalling inner dialogues, feelings, or dreams), "distorted experiences" (experiencing hallucinations or delusions), and "extrasensory experiences" (having out-of-body experiences, near-death experiences, or "near death visits" in which deceased friends, relatives, and occasionally the "grim reaper" visited them in their hospital rooms). Some of these terms appear here for the first time and are useful constructs. In addition, Lawrence does a commendable job of summarizing explanatory mechanisms from studies in sensory deprivation, personality theory, pharmacology, biophysiology, and parapsychology, although her "extrasensory experience" category would be more accurately called "anomalous experiences" by parapsychologists. Nevertheless, there is much welcome information here. Undergraduates through professionals; two-year technical program students. S. Krippner; Saybrook Institute

Table of Contents

Historical Theories, Assumptions, and Beliefs Paradigms of the Disciplines
Medical Science, Psychology, Parapsychology, and Physics Carol's Experience Total Unconsciousness Perceived Unconsciousness Inner Awareness Distorted Consciousness Extrasensory Experiences Out-of-Body Experiences
Near-Death Experiences
Near-Death Visits
The Grim Reaper Pronounced
Dead but Still Alive
Conclusions, Current Research, and Clinical Implications
Appendix: Further Evidence for Veridical Perception during Near-Death Experiences