Wellbeing in adults who had a brush with death

PhD Thesis

Hillemann, A. 2018. Wellbeing in adults who had a brush with death. PhD Thesis Canterbury Christ Church University Salomons Centre for Applied Psychology
AuthorsHillemann, A.
TypePhD Thesis
Qualification nameDClinPsychol

Objectives: A Near-Death-Experience can be a lifechanging event initiating deep posttraumatic growth. Yet people can initially be left struggling with the internal changes and feel alienated from their life and social network. This study investigated whether Near-Death-Experiences also have an impact on people’s happiness, and if so, how long it lasts, and what kind of support they receive in making sense of the event.

Method: Six semi-structured interviews were conducted with people who had a Near-Death-Experience and the data was subjected to Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis.

Results: Five master-themes emerged: Sense of self, Attitude toward life and death, Effects of Near-Death-Experience, Relationship with others, and Experience of happiness.

Conclusion: Almost all participants reported feeling less apprehensive towards death and simultaneously found a greater ability to embrace and appreciate life. Some gained new and profound internal insights that manifested in a renewed sense of self, stronger and more pronounced feelings of life purpose, and could reflect on the Near-Death-Experience as a precious gift. The majority of participants experienced a greater degree of happiness that gradually grew over time. This was largely located internally, which freed them from ‘the hedonic treadmill’ of pursuing it in the outside world. Stigma and a lack of awareness still represent a hurdle for connecting with others and accessing support. Clinical and research implications were discussed.

KeywordsNear-death-experience; happiness; wellbeing; support; interpretative phenomenological analysis
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Publication process dates
Deposited07 Nov 2018
AcceptedApr 2018
Output statusUnpublished
Accepted author manuscript
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