On Life after Death

Fred M. Frohock

Is death the final event in human life, or does another existence follow? What are the signs and possible proofs of such continuity? Such questions have sparked speculation in philosophy, religion, art, and science throughout human history and remain a familiar concern for even the most casual observer of the human condition. In his provocative new book, Fred Frohock explores the possibility that our existence is neither defined by nor limited to the purely physical—nor is it terminated at death.

Fearlessly pursuing such a sensitive subject, Frohock suggests that death's domain may not be quite the "undiscovered country" lamented by Hamlet. He wades boldly into the debates between hardcore materialists and devout spiritualists; provides glimpses of recent findings in brain research, the so-called mind-body problem, and consciousness studies; and in general offers an idiosyncratic introduction to some of the most provocative and least understood aspects of what we call "conscious" life. In the process, he provides fresh insights into the narratives, claims, and conundrums associated with life after death, near-death and out-of-body experiences, reincarnation, and a host of psychic phenomena that continue to puzzle the experts.

“In his captivating Beyond, Frohock offers us a compelling story line: A tenured professor and department chair writes an academic book in which he sympathetically explores the verisimilitude of reincarnation, zombies, near-death experiences, autoscopy, nonphysical selves, and so forth. . . . To get at the real, Frohock creatively intersperses fictional conversations of guests at a dinner party talking about past lives and other unsettling experiences. He analyzes literature and cinema with verve, all in an effort to see what those narratives can offer. It's original and clever.

—Chronicle of Higher Education

“Frohock brings a fresh, unique perspective to the age-old question of life after death. All who are interested in the possibilities and limits of scientific and critical thinking will find much to weigh and ponder in this thoughtful and probing study. Believing that life after death can be neither conclusively verified nor falsified, Frohock is free to explore a host of theories and interpretations, along with evidence sometimes educed in their support. This is a rewarding book for those who have questions about life's meaning and scope.

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Demonstrating a keen grasp of subjects ranging from neurochemistry to popular culture, Frohock is a sure-footed tour guide through a richly diverse field of research. He considers what past life regression therapy suggests about reincarnation, assessing the credibility of pioneering research by Brian Weiss and Ian Stevenson. He introduces readers to the work of the University of Virginia's Near Death Experience Project, with reports stretching back 35 years, and the Human Consciousness Project's study of 1,500 survivors of cardiac arrest. And he contemplates whether people in permanent vegetative states, like Terri Schiavo and Sunny von Blow, are alive or not—and what these transitional states tell us about death.

Leavened with humor and a Renaissance-style intellect that draws in Tolstoy and Hemingway along with films like Solaris and Blade Runner, Frohock's deep meditations are deftly interposed with brief fictional interludes that humanize his book's more abstract dimensions while exploring claims about the supernatural. Approaching the world's most baffling subjects with a critical eye, an open mind, and an agnostic's heart, Beyond looks beyond the last threshold and points the way toward a better understanding of human existence.

About the Author

Fred M. Frohock is author of Lives of the Psychics: The Shared Worlds of Science and Mysticism, Healing Powers: Alternative Medicine, Spiritual Communities, and the State, and eight other books. He is professor and chair of political science at the University of Miami.