Eben Alexander III
|Born||December 11, 1953|
Charlotte, North Carolina, U.S.
|Alma mater||University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill |
Duke University School of Medicine
Eben Alexander III (born December 11, 1953) is an American neurosurgeon and author. His book Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife (2012) describes his near-death experience that happened in 2008 under medically-induced coma when treated for meningitis. He asserts that the coma resulted in brain death, that consciousness is not only a product of the brain and that this permits access to an afterlife.
Early life and education
Alexander was born in Charlotte, North Carolina. He was adopted by Eben Alexander Jr and his wife Elizabeth West Alexander and raised in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, with three siblings. He attended Phillips Exeter Academy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (A.B., 1975), and the Duke University School of Medicine (M.D., 1980).
Alexander has taught and had appointments at Duke University Medical Center, Brigham and Women's Hospital, University of Massachusetts Medical School, University of Virginia School of Medicine, Boston Children's Hospital, Dana–Farber Cancer Institute et al.
While practicing medicine in Lynchburg at the Lynchburg General Hospital, Alexander was reprimanded by the Virginia Board of Medicine for performing surgery at an incorrect surgical site, two times over the course of a month. In one instance, Alexander altered his operative report because he believed the surgery had diminished the patient's symptoms. He was sued by the patient for damages totaling $3 million in August 2008, but the case was dismissed by the plaintiff in 2009. As a result of the mishaps, Alexander lost his privileges at the hospital and was forced to pay a $3,500 fine to the Virginia Board of Medicine and complete ethics and professionalism training to maintain an unrestricted medical license in the state.
Following the release of his 2012 book Proof of Heaven, Esquire magazine reported that Alexander had been terminated or suspended from multiple hospital positions, and had been the subject of several malpractice lawsuits and that he settled five malpractice suits in Virginia within a period of ten years.
Proof of Heaven
Alexander authored Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife in 2012. The book expounds on his near-death experience while suffering from a bacterial meningitis and under a medically induced coma. Alexander describes how the experience changed his perceptions of life and the afterlife. The book was a commercial success but also was the subject of scientific criticism in relation to misconceptions about neurology, such as conflating medically induced coma with brain death. A 2013 article in Esquire magazine refuted many of the claims made in the book. The doctor who treated Alexander stated that certain details cannot be true, such as claims Alexander made about speaking clearly at times he would have been intubated.
Alexander presented related lectures around the world in churches, hospitals, medical schools, and academic symposia, besides appearing on TV shows including Super Soul Sunday with Oprah Winfrey. Alexander has also expanded on his NDE in the Congress of Neurological Surgeons and the peer-reviewed Journal of the Missouri State Medical Association. Proof of Heaven was included on The New York Times Best Seller list for 97 weeks.
The Map of Heaven
Alexander's second book, The Map of Heaven: How Science, Religion, and Ordinary People Are Proving the Afterlife, was published in October 2014, where he again asserted the existence of an afterlife and that consciousness is independent of the brain. Alexander framed his observations with quotations from spiritual teachers and paired them with the recent work of scientists with the aim of bridging religion and science. He cross-referenced spiritual experiences from readers and different religions to build his case on what heaven looked like. The Map of Heaven was number 12 on the New York Times bestseller list during the week ending November 2, 2014.
Living in a Mindful Universe
Alexander's third book, Living in a Mindful Universe: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Heart of Consciousness, was coauthored with Karen Newell, cofounder of Sacred Acoustics and published in 2017.
In 2000, Alexander located his birth parents but he was initially informed that his birth mother did not then wish to meet with him. Later on his birth mother changed her mind and agreed to meet with him. In 2007, Alexander was finally able to meet with both his birth parents and his birth siblings.
- Burkhart, Jesse (December 5, 2012). "Best-seller 'Proof of Heaven' author remembers Winston-Salem roots". Winston-Salem Journal. Retrieved September 23, 2019.
- "Renowned Neurosurgeon Eben Alexander Dies at 91". Archived from the original on August 25, 2018. Retrieved April 30, 2014.
- Washburn, Mark. "'Proof of Heaven' author discusses his adoption at the Westin uptown". The Charlotte Observer. Retrieved September 23, 2019.
- Dittrich, Luke (August 2013). "The Prophet: An Investigation of Eben ALexander, Author of the Blockbuster "Proof of Heaven"". Esquire. New York City: Hearst Communications, Inc. pp. 88–95, 125–126, 128. Page 95: "On August 6, 2008, the patient filed a $3 million lawsuit against Alexander, accusing him of negligence, battery, spoliation, and fraud. The purported cover-up, the changes Alexander had made to the surgical report, was a major aspect of the suit. Once again, a lawyer was accusing Alexander of altering the historical record when the historical record didn't fit the story he wanted to tell."
- Thompson, Dave. "Neurosurgeon reprimanded by state board". The News & Advance. Retrieved September 23, 2019.
- Jarrett, Christian (December 27, 2013). "Butterfly-riding Neurosurgeon Hits Turbulence". Wired. Retrieved June 27, 2020.
- Harris, Sam (October 12, 2012). "This Must Be Heaven". Retrieved May 26, 2018.
- Sacks, Oliver, "Seeing God in the Third Millennium", The Atlantic Monthly (December 12, 2012).
- Ingrid Peschke (October 24, 2013). "Dr. Eben Alexander Says It's Time for Brain Science to Graduate From Kindergarten". Huffington Post. Retrieved June 14, 2014.
- "Dr. Eben Alexander Shares What God Looks Like". OWN TV. Retrieved June 14, 2014.
- Alexander, Eben (April 15, 2016). "Becoming Conscious: A Neurosurgeon Discusses his Transformational Experience". Congress of Neurological Surgeons (Spring 2016).
- Alexander, Eben (2015). "Near Death Experiences, the Mind-Body Debate & the Nature of Reality". The Journal of the Missouri State Medical Association. 112 (January/February 2015): 17–21. PMC 6170087. PMID 25812265.
- Alexander, Eben (2015). "Near Death Experiences: The Last Word". The Journal of the Missouri State Medical Association. 112 (July/August 2015): 275–282. PMC 6170063. PMID 26455057.
- "Best Sellers". Paperback Nonfiction. The New York Times. September 21, 2014. Archived from the original on October 6, 2014. Retrieved October 1, 2014.
- Pearson, Patricia (October 8, 2014). "Eben Alexander Has a GPS for Heaven". The Daily Beast. Retrieved July 3, 2020.
- "New York Times". New York Times. November 2, 2014.
- Burkhart, Jesse. "Best-Seller 'Proof of Heaven' Author Remembers Winston-Salem Roots". Journalnow.com (Winston-Salem Journal).
- Washburn, Mark. "'Proof of Heaven' Author Discusses His Adoption at the Westin Uptown". Charlotte Observer.com.