Editor’s Introduction

Brian Terry (real name) received a B.Sc. degree in physics in 1960 and, as research money was difficult to come by, decided to pursue a career in industry rather than further training for research. He has been a Senior Research Officer and eventually started his own company.

I like his account because it is “ambiguous,” i.e., on the one hand it was real and meaningful for him, but, on the other hand we (and he) are culturally conditioned to automatically dismiss it as “just” a drug-induced or illness-induced hallucination. I have long been suspicious of easy dismissals that simply follow cultural prejudices.

“Merely” A Dream or Hallucination?
Brian Terry

My name is Brian John Terry and I was, at the time, 62 years old. I have a somewhat elderly and very ordinary physics qualification (1960) and spent the first 15 years in research laboratories doing research into communication in the presence of noise. I was persuaded to leave research and apply my experience into the design and management of large communication systems and over the next 15 years designed and installed a variety of networks both international and national. In 1990 I took a profitable early retirement and formed my own company carrying on the same work.

In July 1997 my life style (too much eating, drinking, smoking and working) caught up me and my heart called it a day. Obliging me to close my company and give up work. I have yet to establish a satisfactory explanation for some experiences I had during July-September 1997 and I refer to notes that I made in October/November 1997 as soon as I was able to type.

At the end of July I suffered a series of heart attacks and was admitted to the intensive care unit of my local hospital. After about a week I became much worse and was transferred to St George’s Hospital in Tooting (near London) where I underwent emergency heart surgery and had a quadruple bypass. Two days after the operation everything started to go wrong and, in fact, I was unconscious under full life support for an extra 8 weeks.

Needless to say I knew nothing of this until I woke at the end of September in a completely terrified state (which apparently is not unusual) and had no idea where I was or what was real, having had the rather unpleasant and very vivid dreams as described below (these dreams are still as vivid today as when I woke).

Principal Dream Episodes: Much of the dream (or dreams) is now unclear. In particular the order of episodes is confused. However a number of distinct phases can still be remembered. I dreamt that I was due for a major operation and was already in a motorised wheel chair and was in a hospital. I decided that I would have a last night of freedom and somehow left the hospital, still in the motorised wheelchair. The next thing I remember is returning to a hospital, which I knew to be Guys and also I knew it was a different hospital to the one I had left. The staff in this hospital seemed more amused than angry at my sudden appearance and decided to test me for pregnancy. I dreamt that I was in bed in the hospital and in a tower block. To my horror all the staff when they thought they were unobserved turned into little silver entities with round featureless heads. They were busy carrying other silver spheres, which I somehow knew to be patients who had died. I managed to get up to the top of the tower to try and defeat these aliens and decided that a photoflash would kill them. A program of flashing at everybody in the UK was set up under my direction.

It now gets very confused, as if several dreams were occurring together. In my dream I knew that I was in intensive care (I did not know where nor did I know why I was there). I was in a high bed and my family was around me. Yvonne- my eldest daughter- was there and was Yvonne. Patricia- my wife- was there and was unchanged. My youngest daughter Claire was there but her name was Miriam and she was some sort of priestess (pagan), dressed in a long back robe and had an emblem, an inverted crescent moon, round her neck. She was married to an Asian from America who was also some kind of priest. My son Michael was not there at first but I knew that he was a priest (Christian) and married with a large number of children. He was also associated with a pop group, which had a major hit. The record started off with a religious chant (which I loved) and then went into a dreadful pop stuff. Everybody thought I liked the damn thing and not only did they play the record non-stop through loudspeaker high up on my right but the pop group came and played their hit by my bedside. Miriam’s (i.e. Claire’s) husband turned out to be one of the aliens and because he came from America I had reprogram the flash device in kill off the next bunch of aliens.

The bed that I was in was quite high and attached to me were a number of pipes, which led to a huge tank in the hospital grounds. A chap called George ran this facility. The tank was full of bits of people and other things and had a large drain at the bottom. I dreamt that I was led out to the tank (still in my bed or wheelchair) and I knew that I was going to be tipped down the drain. I remember now that I was very frightened but determined that I would not disappear without trace and as we passed by the metal support of the tank I reached out place my wedding ring, my watch and a handful of money on a shelf. We arrived at the drain and I was tipped down this black plastic hole. I fell through and landed in bright sunlit, to my considerable surprise and relief. Both Michael and Miriam were there and as I lay helpless on my back Miriam who was still dressed in her priestess role leant over me and said with sadness that this was all for the best and plunged a long dagger into my heart.

I am unsure as to whether the next episodes came after or before the above but I relate them as they come back into memory.

I was in St. Paul’s cathedral in London and was involved in an “entertainment” of some religious significance although I have no idea what. My part was at the end where I suddenly appeared at the front of the stage dressed in a golden body suit and posing with arms and legs outstretched as though I was on a cross. The next thing I found myself reclining, still in the golden body suit, on a collection of rocks. In front of me was a set of gates separating two towers. To the left there was seemed to be a bearded face which I knew to be an enemy and indeed was diabolical. As I watched the face started to rush towards me and I pointed my hand at the oncoming face and forced it back with a ball of golden fire. I think that I returned to this dream sequence many times and each time I became weaker. I knew that I was in the most terrible danger and I very clearly remember (even after this time) raising my left arm and pointing to the sky and calling out “O God help me and if You do I will make an act of contrition!” (I have no idea what I meant!) Out of the corner of my eye I then saw a blue tide washing over the rocky scene coming in from the left and I felt a warmth and great strength being “fed” into me. I saw a huge hand coming down from above holding a golden sheet and placing it behind me behind some tiles arranged in a circle.

This last episode is the principal dream sequence which is causing the soul searching. I have yet to reach a satisfactory explanation. These notes are being written nearly year after the events, but the sequence below is still vivid in my mind and I have to understand what, if anything, it means. What did I experience if anything? The real problem with this type of experience is that it is subjective, with no objective evidence to support it. I think normally that I would have dismissed the whole thing as a drug induced hallucination but for the fact (this can be verified) that as soon as I woke, I was most insistent that my wife answer a question, “Where was my wedding ring?” Somewhat puzzled, she told me that she had taken it off, together with my watch, and they were at home.

I told her about the dream sequence where I had been bunged down the hole. I was then able to tell what was real and what was just a dream and I told my wife about the “religious episode,” thinking that it would entertain her.

There was an uncomfortable silence and I learnt for the first time the seriousness my condition. Since then I have tried to understand just what if anything really happened

There seems only a few possibilities, none of which are completely satisfying.

Just coincidence, and none of the dream episodes are meaningful?

A drug induced hallucination: If a drug induced hallucination, what triggered it? A real transcendental experience? Did I become aware of my situation despite being deeply unconscious? There seems no doubt that at times I was “aware” of my surroundings: for example, Pat played one of my tapes and tears rolled down my cheeks, Pat asked me if I disliked the music and I am told that I nodded. Apparently the staff never discussed my condition within earshot but it could be that I did hear something even in my drugged state and realised my danger. If that is the case, where did I get the strength to stabilise after 28 arrests in the half hour? My condition was such that serious consideration was being given to switching off the Life support.

{note added 9/10/98: Dr Shattles- my cardiologist- tells me that I made a serious attempt at dying with a total of 75 arrests, which would appear to be a record as far as he knows}

I have tended to assume that the time of maximum danger was the period referred to above, but I continued to arrest, although nowhere near the frequency. I also was suffering from a multitude of organ failures of varying severity. Did I continue to draw strength throughout, or was there but one “injection” which was sufficient to carry me through? If a transcendental experience, what was it that gave me the strength? Was this a religious experience? Is there, contrary to all my previous beliefs, a personal God?

Contributor’s Comments on the Experience

Although now retired, the experience has caused me to re evaluate many of my previously held opinions.

I asked Mr. Terry if could elaborate on this – Editor

Your other question is difficult to answer but I am less sure about my materialistic stance. I am reading a great deal about Theology, Evolution and abiogenesis, but have not as yet come to any opinion.