Peter Fenwick (neuropsychologist)
Peter Brooke Cadogan Fenwick
25 May 1935
|Alma mater||University of Cambridge|
|Known for||Near-death studies|
Fenwick is a senior lecturer at King's College, London, where he works as a consultant at the Institute of Psychiatry. He is the Consultant Neuropsychologist at both the Maudsley, and John Radcliffe hospitals, and also provides services for Broadmoor Hospital. He works with the Mental Health Group at the University of Southampton, and holds a visiting professorship at the Riken Neurosciences Institute in Japan.
Fenwick is the president of the Horizon Research Foundation, an organisation that supports research into end-of-life experiences. He is the President of the British branch of the International Association for Near-Death Studies.
Fenwick has been part of the editorial board for a number of journals, including the Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery, and Psychiatry, the Journal of Consciousness Studies and the Journal of Epilepsy and Behaviour.
Fenwick's interest in near-death experiences was piqued when he read Raymond Moody's book Life After Life. Initially skeptical of Moody's anecdotal evidence, Fenwick reassessed his opinion after a discussion with one of his own patients, who described a near-death experience very similar to that of Moody's subjects. Since then, he has collected and analysed more than 300 examples of near-death experiences.
He has been criticised by the medical community for arguing that human consciousness can survive bodily death. Fenwick argues that human consciousness may be more than just a function of the brain.
The plain fact is that none of us understands these phenomena. As for the soul and life after death, they are still open questions, though I myself suspect that NDEs are part of the same continuum as mystical experiences.
Fenwick and his wife are co-authors of The Art of Dying, a study of the spiritual needs of near-death patients. The Fenwicks argue that modern medical practices have devalued end-of-life experiences, and call for a more holistic approach to death and dying. In 2003, Fenwick and Sam Parnia appeared in the BBC documentary "The Day I Died". In the documentary Parnia and Fenwick discussed their belief that research from near-death experiences indicates the mind is independent of the brain. According to Susan Blackmore the documentary misled viewers with beliefs that are rejected by the majority of scientists. Blackmore criticized the documentary for biased and "dishonest reporting", particularly in respect to the theory of consciousness proposed by Roger Penrose and Stuart Hameroff, which Blackmore herself presented as a theory long ago subjected to "the most devastating critique" by philosophers Rick Grush and Patricia Churchland, who, according to Blackmore, took Penrose & Hameroff's "argument step by step, and demolish(ed) each one". However, Blackmore did not mention the existence of a reply by Penrose and Hameroff, in which Grush and Churchland’s arguments are stated to be misleading and with respect to the physiological evidence factually incorrect.
Fenwick and Parnia have said that research from NDEs may show the "mind is still there after the brain is dead". The neurologist Michael O'Brien has written "most people would not find it necessary to postulate such a separation between mind and brain to explain the events," and suggested that further research is likely to provide a physical explanation for near-death experiences. Robert Todd Carroll has written that Fenwick has made metaphysical assumptions and dismissed possible psychological and physiological explanations for near-death experiences.
With Elizabeth Fenwick
- The Art of Dying (Continuum, 2008)
- Past Lives: An Investigation into Reincarnation Memories (Berkley, 2001)
- The Hidden Door: Understanding and Controlling Dreams (Berkley Publishing Group, 1999)
- The Truth in the Light: An Investigation of Over 300 Near-Death Experiences (Berkley Trade, 1997)
- Living with Epilepsy (Bloomsbury, 1996)
Fenwick's interests include hill-walking and fishing. He is married to Elizabeth Fenwick, who co-authors many of his books.
- "Profile at The London Sleep Centre". Retrieved 24 April 2012.
- "Contributors list" (PDF). Imprint Academic Press. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2 January 2011. Retrieved 25 April 2012.
- "Visions of a dying brain, review of a lecture given by Drs Sam Parnia and Peter Fenwick at the University of Southampton". 15 May 2001. Archived from the original on 29 July 2012. Retrieved 18 April 2012.
- Susan Blackmore. "Physics on the Brain". New Scientist Issue 1750. Retrieved 18 April 2012.
- "The Bruce Greyson Lecture from the International Association for Near-Death Studies 2004 Annual Conference". IANDS. Retrieved 18 April 2012.
- Bhugra, Dinesh (1997). Psychiatry and Religion: Context, Consensus and Controversies. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-16512-9.
- "Author biography". White Crow Books. Retrieved 18 April 2012.
- Royal College of Psychiatrists: Spirituality and Psychiatry Special Interest Group. "Consciousness and the Extended Mind: Programme notes" (PDF). Retrieved 25 April 2012.
- "People of The Horizon Research Foundation". Horizon Research Foundation. Archived from the original on 6 November 2011. Retrieved 18 April 2012.
- Atwater, P. M. H. (2007). The Big Book of Near-Death Experiences. Hampton Roads Publishing. ISBN 978-1-57174-547-7.
- "Peter Fenwick: Biography & Resources". Enlightenment Magazine. Archived from the original on 2 August 2012. Retrieved 23 April 2012.
- Wheatley, Jane (6 October 2006). "Life goes on... but even after death?". Irish Independent. Retrieved 18 April 2012.
- "The Art of Dying: A Journey to Elsewhere". Book Review. Publishers Weekly. Retrieved April 23, 2012.
- Peter Roennfeldt. "Near Death Experiences". Retrieved 23 April 2012.
- Grice, Elizabeth (23 June 2008). "How to give death a good name". The Daily Telegraph. London. Retrieved 18 April 2012.
- Susan Blackmore. (2004). "Near-Death Experiences on TV". Sceptic Magazine 17. pp. 8–10. Retrieved 2014-06-03.
- Penrose, R.; Hameroff, S. (1995). "What 'Gaps'? Reply to Grush and Churchland". Journal of Consciousness Studies. 2: 98-111(14).
- Michael O'Brien. (2003). "The Day I Died". British Medical Journal. 326(7383): 288. Retrieved 2014-06-03.
- Robert Todd Carroll. (2001). "Mass Media Bunk". The Skeptic's Dictionary.
- "Debrett's entry: Dr Peter Fenwick". Retrieved 23 April 2012.