Monday, January 26, 2009

The Scalpel and the Soul - Part II

A while back I wrote a post reviewing The Scalpel and the Soul by Allan Hamilton.

Here's what I wrote"

In the final chapter of the book, he recalls the experience of a woman who underwent hypothermic arrest to remove a basilar tip aneurysm after a nearly lethal intracerebral hemorrhage. "I was not the only one asking to see [the patients records]. Other doctors, researchers, and experts on concsciousness were making similar requests as word of the case spread through the local medical community. Few of us, as doctors, suspected we might encounter something altogether new or unique.... We came with the purpose of explaining it away."

What they were investigating was the woman's memory of the surgury during hypothermic arrest. She could remember conversations as well as the the appearance and jewelry of the attending staff, along with OR procedures.
After this I added.

By the way, this patient wasn't Pam Reynolds. This patient was killed a year later in a traffic accident.
As it turns out, the patient was Pam Reynolds with amalgamations of other patients. This information comes from Gaia. com. While it's not a tremendous disappointment (Hamilton states at the outset that he changed names and identities) there is something more than a little disingenuous about it.

First, Pam Reynolds' case was public knowledge. As far as I know, Reynolds herself made no effort to conceal her identity. On this basis alone, there was no acceptable reason why Hamilton should have concealed the case he was discussing.

The reason he did so is obvious. Reynolds' case was already well-known and controversial. Hamilton wanted a knock-out punch for his final chapter - a real clincher. Reynolds' episode, already under the hot light of scrutiny, was no longer the knock-out punch he needed. So he fabricated another case, like Reynolds'. He called the new patient Sarah Gideon. Just to be certain the case would be differentiated from Reynolds', he claimed the this Sarah Gideon was killed in a car accident sometime after surgery.

Now, to me, this smacks of dishonesty. He cannot, on the one hand, claim that he's neutrally presenting his experiences and on the other fabricate a story with the sole purpose of manipulating readers. Remember, there was no reason for him to conceal Reynolds' identity. There was no one to protect. Hamilton was only protecting himself and the agenda of his book. His manipulation of Reynolds' case was entirely self-serving.

What I find particularly distasteful is that this sort of deception undercuts the very real experiences of real people. It teaches all of us who have had experiences like these (and I am one of them) that we should keep them to ourselves.



Anonymous said...


I've written about this extensively in a previous comment.


upinVermont said...


I don't read the majority of your comments - they're mostly E-Mails to Aaron.


Aaron said...

Larry Dossey did the same thing. He wrote about an NDE account which was an amalgamation of several accounts but didn't say so. Only when people started writing in form more information was he forced to come forward.

I had a similar experience once where I read a very lengthy NDE account which blew me away. It was the most extraordinary account I'd ever read, containing lots of classic NDE elements in astonishing detail. Then at the end there was a blurb about how the account was formulated from memory retrieved from a past life regression. What a let down.