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Dr J C Barker - The man with pneumonia who willed his own death



Type of spiritual experience


This is fascinating - it is like a self imposed death prayer

A description of the experience

Dr J C Barker  MD, MRCP, DPM – Scared to Death – An examination of fear, its cause and effects

In 1939 I was called to see a coal merchant, aged about forty, in a South-east London suburb.

His wife, who opened the door, was obviously very frightened. I asked her the trouble and she assured me that her husband had pneumonia. I tried to reassure her, saying that there was a relatively new drug on the market which was virtually specific for pneumonia.

She replied with an air of finality that her husband's seven brothers and his father all died of pneumonia.

I had no answer to that. I went upstairs stairs and the patient was sitting up in bed, not looking too ill but appearing very frightened. I asked him why he was so worried and he gave me the same reply his wife had given me.

I repeated my reassurance and examined him. He had lobar pneumonia. I put him on to M & B 693 and he improved, but never lost his depression and fear. I was to learn later that this drug can produce depression.

On the ninth day I said that I would call on the eleventh, the patient being so much better. On the tenth day I received an urgent call.

The patient had died. I am quite sure he unconsciously willed himself to death.

The source of the experience

Scientist other

Concepts and Symbols used in the text or image