This week the guest is Dr Peter Fenwick. We talk about Near Death Experiences and his new book ‘Shining Light on Transcendence: The unconventional journey of a Neuroscientist’.
What is consciousness? How does it relate to the brain, to the mind? Does it even extend beyond them? And if so, might those experiences — telepathy, extrasensory perception, near death experiences — be called ‘paranormal’ because we can’t explain them by any normal means?
Anything with a firm belief structure, whether it is science or religious faith, limits experimentation and a free spirit of enquiry. I wanted to find a synthesis between these two fields of experience, the measurable and the immeasurable. And it seemed to me that the best – indeed, the only way I could find out more was by finding people who had such immeasurable experiences and studying them.
A few years ago I was introduced by a friend to a philosopher, Alain Forget, who, I was told, had a remarkable ability to give ‘energy. During this ‘energy-giving’ process my friend had been aware of light radiating from him.
My own ego wanted to persuade this unusual man to allow me to put him under the microscope. But in doing so I found myself, perhaps reluctantly at times, under the microscope of his perceptual grasp of human nature. And I realise that it has changed me, and that much of what I thought about myself was not based in reality.
This book tells that story.
Fenwick is a senior lecturer at King’s College, London, where he works as a consultant at the Institute of Psychiatry. He is the Consultant Neuropsychologist at both the Maudsley, and John Radcliffe hospitals, and also provides services for Broadmoor Hospital. He works with the Mental Health Group at the University of Southampton, and holds a visiting professorship at the Riken Neurosciences Institute in Japan.
Fenwick is the president of the Horizon Research Foundation, an organisation that supports research into end-of-life experiences. He is the President of the British branch of the International Association for Near-Death Studies.
Fenwick has been part of the editorial board for a number of journals, including the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry, the Journal of Consciousness Studies and the Journal of Epilepsy and Behaviour.