Raymond Moody

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Raymond Moody
Raymond Moody 1.jpg
Born (1944-06-30) June 30, 1944 (age 75)
Porterdale, Georgia, United States
OccupationAuthor, doctor of medicine
Period20th century
SubjectNear-death experiences

Raymond A. Moody, Jr. (born June 30, 1944) is a philosopher, psychologist, physician and author, most widely known for his books about life after death and near-death experiences (NDE), a term that he coined in 1975 in his best-selling book Life After Life . [1] Raymond Moody's research purports to explore what happens when a person dies. [2] He has widely published his views on what he terms near-death-experience psychology. [3]



Education and early career

Moody earned a BA (1966), M.A. (1967) and a PhD (1969) in philosophy from the University of Virginia. He also obtained a PhD in psychology from the University of West Georgia, then known as West Georgia College, where he later became a professor in the topic. [4] In 1976, he was awarded an M.D. from the Medical College of Georgia. [5] Dr. Moody occasionally taught courses at the University of Virginia as adjunct faculty. In spring 1978 prior to moving to Georgia, Dr. Moody taught his last class at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, within the Corcoran Department of Philosophy, a course entitled Thanatology.

After obtaining his M.D., Moody worked as a forensic psychiatrist in a maximum-security Georgia state hospital. In 1998, Moody was appointed Chair in Consciousness Studies at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

Near-death research

While an undergraduate at the University of Virginia in 1965, Moody encountered psychiatrist, Dr. George Ritchie, who told Moody about an incident in which he believed he had journeyed into the afterlife while dead for nearly nine minutes at the age of 20 (which Ritchie would later recount in his book, Return From Tomorrow, published in 1978). Moody began documenting similar accounts by other people who had experienced clinical death and discovered that many of these experienced shared common features, such as the feeling of being out of one’s body, the sensation of traveling through a tunnel, encountering dead relatives, and encountering a bright light. In 1975, Moody published many of these experiences in his book, Life After Life, in which he coined the term "near-death experience."

In an interview with Jeffrey Mishlove, Moody shared his personal conclusions about his research into near-death experiences:

I don't mind saying that after talking with over a thousand people who have had these experiences, and having experienced many times some of the really baffling and unusual features of these experiences, it has given me great confidence that there is a life after death. As a matter of fact, I must confess to you in all honesty, I have absolutely no doubt, on the basis of what my patients have told me, that they did get a glimpse of the beyond. [6]

Later research

Inspired by the Greek psychomanteums where the ancient Greeks would go to consult the apparitions of the dead (which Moody had read about in classic Greek texts that he encountered while a student at the University of Virginia), Moody built a psychomanteum in Alabama, which he calls the Dr. John Dee Theater of the Mind. By staring into a mirror in a dimly lit room, Moody claims that people are able to summon visions of spiritual apparitions (see mirror gazing).

Moody has also researched past life regression and believes that he personally has had nine past lives. [7]


Criticism of Moody's near-death research

Barry Beyerstein, a professor of psychology, has written that Moody's alleged evidence for an afterlife is flawed, both logically and empirically. [8] The psychologist James Alcock has noted that Moody "...appears to ignore a great deal of the scientific literature dealing with hallucinatory experiences in general, just as he quickly glosses over the very real limitations of his research method." [9]

Moody has been described as a "strong personal believer" in the paranormal. [10] His methods have drawn criticism from the scientific community as many of the personal reports he collected on NDEs were given by the patients themselves, months and even years after the event. Terence Hines commented "such reports are hardly sufficient to argue for the reality of an afterlife." [11]

The philosopher Paul Kurtz has written that Moody's evidence for the NDE is based on personal interviews and anecdotal accounts and there has been no statistical analyses of his data. There also is the question of interpreting such data as has been published assuming that the factual matter is objectively correct; according to Kurtz "there is no reliable evidence that people who report such experiences have died and returned, or that consciousness exists separate from the brain or body." [12]

The philosopher Robert Todd Carroll has written that a characteristic of Moody's work is the omission of cases that do not fit his hypothesis, confirming the aspect of cherry picking. Carroll writes that what Moody describes as a typical NDE may be due to brain states triggered by cardiac arrest and anesthesia. Moody believes NDEs are evidence for an afterlife but Carroll states they can be explained by neurochemistry and are the result of a "dying, demented or drugged brain." [13]

Personal life

Moody was born in Porterdale, Georgia, the son of an agnostic surgeon. [14]

Moody claims to have had a near-death experience in 1991 when he attempted suicide (which he talks about in this book Paranormal) which he says was the result of an undiagnosed thyroid condition which affected his mental state. [14] In an interview in 1993, Moody stated he was placed in a mental hospital by his family for his work with mirror gazing. [15]

Related Research Articles

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Parapsychology is the study of alleged psychic phenomena and other paranormal claims, for example related to near-death experiences, synchronicity, apparitional experiences, etc. It is considered to be pseudoscience by a vast majority of mainstream scientists, in part because, in addition to a lack of replicable empirical evidence, parapsychological claims simply cannot be true "unless the rest of science isn't."

Frederic W. H. Myers English poet and essayist

Frederic William Henry Myers was a poet, classicist, philologist, and a founder of the Society for Psychical Research. Myers' work on psychical research and his ideas about a "subliminal self" were influential in his time, but have not been accepted by the scientific community.

<i>Life After Life</i> (1975 book) 1975 book by Raymond Moody

Life After Life is a 1975 book written by psychiatrist Raymond Moody. It is a report on a qualitative study in which Moody interviewed 150 people who had undergone near-death experiences (NDEs). The book presents the author's composite account of what it is like to die. On the basis of his collection of cases, Moody identified a common set of elements in NDEs:

Paranormal events are purported phenomena described in popular culture, folk, and other non-scientific bodies of knowledge, whose existence within these contexts is described as beyond normal experience or scientific explanation.

Paul Kurtz American professor of philosophy (1925–2012)

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Betty (Jean) Eadie is a prominent American author of several books on near-death experiences (NDEs). Her best-known book is the No. 1 New York Times bestselling book Embraced by the Light, (1992) describing her near-death experience. It was followed by The Awakening Heart (1996), which was also a best-seller. The Ripple Effect (1999) and Embraced by the Light: Prayers and Devotions for Daily Living (2001) were both published independently.

Near-death studies is a field of psychology and psychiatry that studies the physiology, phenomenology and after-effects of the near-death experience (NDE). The field was originally associated with a distinct group of North American researchers that followed up on the initial work of Raymond Moody, and who later established the International Association for Near-death Studies (IANDS) and the Journal of Near-Death Studies. Since then the field has expanded, and now includes contributions from a wide range of researchers and commentators worldwide.

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Jeffrey Long is an American author and researcher into the phenomenon of near-death experiences (NDEs). A physician by training, Long practices radiation oncology at a hospital in Louisiana. Long is the author of Evidence of the Afterlife: The Science of Near-Death Experiences, which appeared on The New York Times Best Seller list. In 1998, he founded the Near Death Experience Research Foundation, which is concerned with documenting and researching NDEs.


  1. New York Times Staff. Paperback Best Sellers; Mass Market. The New York Times Book Review, October 23, 1977.
  2. http://spirituality.fiu.edu/news/2014/father-of-near-death-experiences/
  3. "Man Behind 'Near-Death Experience' Ponders The Afterlife". The Huffington Post. 12 April 2012.
  4. Chris Aanstoos, A Brief History of the West Georgia Humanistic Psychology Program, "The West Georgia Story." The Humanistic Psychologist, 17(1). 77–85., 1989. Accessed 2010-08-09.
  5. "Life After Life – About Raymond Moody" . Retrieved 24 February 2014.
  6. Life After Life:Understanding Near-Death Experience With Raymond Moody, M.D
  7. Moody and Perry, Coming Back: a psychiatrist explores past life journeys, pp. 11–28.
  8. Barry Beyerstein. (1990). Evaluating the Anomalous Experience. In Kendrick Frazier. The Hundredth Monkey and Other Paradigms of the Paranormal. Prometheus Books. pp. 43–53. ISBN   0-87975-655-1
  9. James Alcock. (1981). Psychology and Near-Death Experiences. In Kendrick Frazier. Paranormal Borderlands of Science. Prometheus Books. pp. 153–69. ISBN   0-87975-148-7
  10. Dunning, Brian. "Skeptoid #261: Near Death Experiences". Skeptoid . Retrieved 19 June 2017.
  11. Terence Hines. (2003). Pseudoscience and the Paranormal. Prometheus Books. p. 102. ISBN   1-57392-979-4
  12. Paul Kurtz. (1991). Toward a New Enlightenment: The Philosophy of Paul Kurtz. Transaction Publishers. p. 349. ISBN   1-56000-118-6
  13. Robert Todd Carroll. (2003). The Skeptic's Dictionary: A Collection of Strange Beliefs, Amusing Deceptions, and Dangerous Delusions . Wiley. p. 251. ISBN   0-471-27242-6
  14. 1 2 Levy, Piet (12 April 2012). "Raymond Moody, Man Behind 'Near-Death Experience' Ponders The Afterlife". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 29 July 2015.
  15. Sharon Barbell, "Play and the Paranormal: A Conversation with Dr. Raymond Moody". Archived from the original on July 7, 2011. Retrieved 2007-11-17.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link), 14850 Magazine, November 1993. Archived on 2011-07-07.