Parting Visions  Uses and Meanings of Pre-Death, Psychic, and Spiritual Experiences
by Melvin Morse M.D. and Paul Perry 
Book Review by  Karin Schumacher Dyke

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Morse, Melvin, M.D. & Perry, Paul (1994).  Parting Visions  Uses and Meanings of Pre-Death, Psychic, and Spiritual Experiences.  New York, NY:  Villard Books.


Stories from patients, other medical professionals and personal experience round out the sample from which this information on near-death experiencers have been taken.


Dr. Morse uses personal experiences that have been reported to him by patients, as well as reports by other medical professionals to provide him with the research tools that he uses to write this book.  He suggests too, that because these stories have been reported to him and he has a biased belief in the near-death experiences that are reported to him in this book, that this may give the material a “bent” toward his beliefs.


In this book, Dr. Morse reports on experiences considered by some to be “mystical” in nature.  He reports on dreams that patients have had that have foretold their deaths to themselves and family.  He tells of near-death experiences where the experiencer actually meets long-ago-deceased family members and then come back with verifiable detail to support their case.  He also reports on cases of SIDS and how, often, the mother or father will have a “feeling” or “dream” that tells them that the infant is going to die even before it happens.  Most importantly, Dr. Morse presents ways to make the end of a loved-ones life full of dignity and love rather than full of doubt and shame.  The chapters covered in the book include:

      “Visions and real life, in a new light, the SIDS study, the circuit boards of mysticism revisited, the secret club, guided by the light, visions in practice, and the significance of parting visions in everyday life (p.  xvii-xviii).”

Important Concepts and Definitions

SIDS – sudden infant death syndrome

Near-death experience – an experience where patients have physically experienced death and then are resuscitated and come back to life.  The experiences remembered by these patients during the clinical death comprise the near-death experience.


The stories reported in this data are of a qualitative nature.  Dr. Morse also uses his personal papers (such as letters and bedside notes) to complete his experience with patients and medical professionals who report near-death experiences.

Major Findings

(Taken from the chapter entitled, “Afterword (p. 187-190).”)

The chapter entitled, “Afterword” presents information that the family experiences either as the result of the death of a loved on or just previous to the loved one’s death.  The purpose of presenting these stories is to show that the relationship with loved ones does not end after death.  Additionally, it opens up an interesting conversation as to the validity of the near-death experience and how death affects all of the members in a family.

One story presented tells of the case of a man who recently lost his teenaged daughter.  Someone began contacting him at his office with an “urgent message”.  When the woman finally contacted the father, she said that his daughter had “something to show him”.  The father figured that she was some malcontent that had read about the death of his daughter in the paper and wanted money. But then he ran into someone who had been friends with his daughter.  She told him that she had a dream about the deceased girl and that there was a message in the deceased girl’s room for the father. At some point not long after this incident, the father went into the daughter’s room-not his usual practice since the death of the daughter.  In the room, he found a poem written by her prior to her death.  The poem contained information as if she knew that she was going to die.  It told the reader that she was in a better place.  All of this information comforted the father reading it and enabled him to come to terms better with the death of his daughter.

Dr. Morse also presents information about the SIDS study.  He says that 25% of the parents who have children who died of SIDS report having a premonition of some type indicating that the infant was going to die.  He presents that there is something “primal” in the brain of humans not ordinarily activated that has the ability toward things like this, of a mystical nature.

All in all, this book presents a good case for the psychological connection between family members.  Many family members are presented as knowing when a person in the family will die because they are given advanced warning.  Other cases presented in the book illustrate these connections by the family member knowing just previous to their death that they will die.  These family members are then able to say goodbye in such a way as to bring others in the family peace with the death.