Fantasy proneness correlates with the intensity of near-death experience

Charlotte Martial*, Héléna Cassol, Vanessa Charland-Verville, Harald Merckelbach, Steven Laureys

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Little is known about the personality characteristics of those who have experienced a "Near-Death Experience" (NDE). One interesting candidate is fantasy proneness. We studied this trait in individuals who developed NDEs in the presence (i.e., classical NDEs) or absence (i.e., NDEs-like) of a life-threatening situation. We surveyed a total of 228 individuals. From those, 108 qualified as NDE experiencers (i.e., Greyson NDE scale total score ≥7): 51 had their NDEs in the context of a life-threatening situation; 57 had their NDEs not related to a life-threatening situation. From those who did not meet the criteria to be considered "experiencers," 20 had their NDE in the absence of a life-threatening situation; 50 had faced death but did not recall a NDE and finally, 50 were healthy people without a history of life threat and/or NDE. All participants completed a measure of NDE intensity (the Greyson NDE scale) and a measure of fantasy proneness (the Creative Experiences Questionnaire). People reporting NDEs-like scored higher on fantasy proneness than those reporting classical NDEs, individuals whose experiences did not meet the NDE criteria and matched controls. By contrast, individuals reporting classical NDEs did not show different engagement in fantasy as matched controls. The reported intensity of the experiences was positively correlated with engagement in fantasy. Our findings support the view that strong engagement in fantasy by individuals recalling NDEs-like might make these persons more likely to report such subjective experiences when exposed to suitable physiological and/or psychological conditions (e.g., meditation, syncope).

Original languageEnglish
Article number190
Number of pages7
JournalFrontiers in Psychiatry
Publication statusPublished - 7 Jun 2018


  • Journal Article
  • near-death experience
  • experiencer
  • fantasy proneness
  • creativity
  • near-death experience-like

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