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. Raymond Moody's research purports to explore what happens when a person dies. He has widely published his views on what he terms near-death-experience psychology.
|Born||June 30, 1944|
Porterdale, Georgia, United States
|Occupation||Author, doctor of medicine|
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. In 1976, he was awarded an M.D. from the Medical College of Georgia. 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.
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.
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).
- Life After Life (1975) – Collection of anecdotal accounts of the afterlife related by people who have revived after having briefly died.
- Coming Back: A Psychiatrist Explores Past-Life Journeys (1991) – Proposes explanations for past-life experiences.
- Reunions: Visionary Encounters with Departed Loved Ones (1994) – Proposes methods for summoning apparitions of the dead.
- Life After Loss (2001) – Discusses death sense, wherein when someone knows intuitively that someone close to them has died, and also discusses death co-incidents, wherein people who have not died accompany their dying loved one into the afterlife, then return to their bodies.
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. 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."
Moody has been described as a "strong personal believer" in the paranormal. 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."
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."
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."
Moody was born in Porterdale, Georgia, the son of an agnostic surgeon.
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. In an interview in 1993, Moody stated he was placed in a mental hospital by his family for his work with mirror gazing.
- New York Times Staff. Paperback Best Sellers; Mass Market. The New York Times Book Review, October 23, 1977.
- "Man Behind 'Near-Death Experience' Ponders The Afterlife". The Huffington Post. 12 April 2012.
- 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.
- "Life After Life – About Raymond Moody". Retrieved 24 February 2014.
- 22.214.171.124. "Thanatology". Wikipedia. Wikimedia Commons. Retrieved 14 September 2019.
- Life After Life:Understanding Near-Death Experience With Raymond Moody, M.D
- Moody and Perry, Coming Back: a psychiatrist explores past life journeys, pp. 11–28.
- 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
- 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
- Dunning, Brian. "Skeptoid #261: Near Death Experiences". Skeptoid. Retrieved 19 June 2017.
- Terence Hines. (2003). Pseudoscience and the Paranormal. Prometheus Books. p. 102. ISBN 1-57392-979-4
- Paul Kurtz. (1991). Toward a New Enlightenment: The Philosophy of Paul Kurtz. Transaction Publishers. p. 349. ISBN 1-56000-118-6
- 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
- Levy, Piet (12 April 2012). "Raymond Moody, Man Behind 'Near-Death Experience' Ponders The Afterlife". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 29 July 2015.
- 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.
- Raymond Moody, Life After Life: the investigation of a phenomenon – survival of bodily death, San Francisco, CA: HarperSanFrancisco, 2001. ISBN 0-06-251739-2.
- Raymond Moody, Reflections on Life After Life, Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 1977. ISBN 978-0-8117-1423-5.
- Raymond Moody and Paul Perry, The Light Beyond, New York, NY: Bantam Books, 1988. ISBN 0-553-05285-3.
- Raymond Moody and Paul Perry, Glimpses of Eternity: Sharing a loved one's passage from this life to the next, New York, NY: Guideposts, 2010. ISBN 0-8249-4813-0.
- Raymond Moody and Paul Perry, Paranormal: My Life in Pursuit of the Afterlife, New York, NY: HarperOne, 2013. ISBN 0-062-04643-8.
- Raymond Moody and Paul Perry, Reunions: visionary encounters with departed loved ones, New York, NY: Villard Books, 1993. ISBN 0-679-42570-5.
- Raymond Moody and Dianne Arcangel, Life After Loss: conquering grief and finding hope, San Francisco : HarperSanFrancisco, 2001. ISBN 0-06-251729-5.
- Raymond Moody and Paul Perry, Coming Back: a psychiatrist explores past life journeys, New York, NY: Bantam Books, 1991. ISBN 0-553-07059-2.
- Raymond Moody, Laugh after laugh: the healing power of humor, Jacksonville, FL: Headwaters Press, 1978. ISBN 0-932428-07-X.
- Raymond Moody, The Last Laugh: a new philosophy of near-death experiences, apparitions, and the paranormal, Charlottesville, VA: Hampton Roads Pub., 1999. ISBN 1-57174-106-2.
- Raymond Moody, Elvis After Life: Unusual psychic experiences surrounding the death of a superstar, New York, NY: Mass Market Paperback, Bantam Books, July 1, 1989. ISBN 0-553-27345-0.