Dr. Sam Parnia, a critical care doctor and the director of resuscitation research at Stony Brook University School of Medicine, has written a new book discussing ways in which people can be resuscitated after they previously would have been considered clinically dead.
“Although most people think this takes place in only four or five minutes, we now know that actually brain cells are viable for up to eight hours … We now understand that it’s only after a person has turned into a corpse that their cells are undergoing death, and if we therefore manipulate those processes, we can restart the heart and bring a person back to life.”
Parnia’s suggestion is not new; in fact, as researcher Jan Bondeson notes in his 2001 book “Buried Alive: The Terrifying History of Our Most Primal Fear,” “In 1787 the French doctor Francois Thierry published a book in which he stated his conviction that most people did not die until some time after the onset of traditional signs of death.”
To make sure that the “dead” had really irrevocably passed on, Thierry suggested that all major cities in France should have special “waiting mortuaries,” in which the recently deceased would be laid out in rows on floors or tables and carefully watched by monitors who would wander among the corpses looking for signs of anyone coming back to life.
It was only at the point in which the bodies would begin bloating and putrefying (along with the appearance of maggots and flies) that the corpse would finally be considered dead enough and sent for burial. There is no record of the job turnover rate in the waiting mortuary attendant profession, but it was likely high.
Throughout most of history, medical knowledge of anatomy has been poor and indirect, partly because of fear and taboos against cutting open corpses. Finding the boundary between life and death has concerned humans for millennia; fears of premature burial obsessed many in the Victorian era and in fact some caskets were equipped with tubes and equipment leading to the surface so that bells and flags could be raised to alert groundskeepers in case the “dead” awoke.
Public uncertainty about the line between life and death (and fear of premature burial) was widespread, as Bondeson notes: “By the early nineteenth century, the danger of premature burial had become one of the most-feared perils of everyday life, and a torrent of pamphlets and academic theses were dedicated to this subject by writers all over Europe.
In almost every country, literature on this gruesome topic was readily available, ranging from the solemn medical thesis and the philanthropic call for more waiting mortuaries to pamphlets written by fanatics who claimed that more than 1/10th of humanity was buried alive …”
Compounding the problem, often even the truly dead would not stay buried: in the 1700s and 1800s theft from graveyards was common in London, and grave robbers were making a profit digging up bodies and selling them to anatomists.
Some have suggested that Dr. Parnia is talking about proof of life after death or near-death experiences, but in fact he is simply stating what many doctors have known for decades: Consciousness does not suddenly stop when the heart stops beating and the line between life and death remains murky, even today.
Germany’s Merkel shrugs aside new book about communist-era past, says she never hid anything 2013 05 25
Chancellor Angela Merkel has shrugged aside a book that suggests she may have been closer to East Germany’s communist system than previously thought, saying she’s never hidden anything.
The 58-year-old Merkel grew up in East Germany and entered politics as communism crumbled in 1989. It’s long been known that, like many, she joined the communist youth organization. She has said she ...
‘Lack of public debate on immigration caused Stockholm riots’ 2013 05 25
Mishra Mrutyuanjai raises some points that we discussed with Mikael Jalving about in our Red Ice Radio program, in January earlier this year.
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Stockholm riots spread west on sixth night 2013 05 25
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Stockholm experienced a sixth straight night of riots early Saturday, with cars torched in several immigrant-dominated suburbs, as Britain and the United States warned against travelling to the hotspots.
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Marc Abramsson from the National Democratic Party comment on the Husby Riots in Stockholm 2013 05 25
Sweden could be paying a tough price for its policies on immigrants and multiculturalism. A Stockholm suburb erupted into violence for a few hours, as crowds of angry, masked youths from migrant families burned cars, smashed windows and hurled stones at police officers.
What’s believed to have fueled the riot was the death of a 69-year-old man, allegedly shot by ...
‘They don’t want to integrate’: Fifth night of youth rioting rocks Stockholm 2013 05 25
Youth gang riots in the Swedish capital Stockholm have entered fifth straight night. Hundreds of mostly immigrant teenagers tore through the suburbs, smashing windows and burning cars in the country’s worst outbreak of violence in years.
At least six vehicles were torched throughout the city late on Thursday while the police called for reinforcements from other Swedish cities bracing for further ...