Michael Nahm is a German biologist and parapsychologist, whose psi research has focused on anomalous death-related and biological phenomena such as terminal lucidity, sudden hair whitening in response to stress and the homing abilities of dogs and other animals.
Michael Nahm studied biology at undergraduate level, then gained a PhD on the physiological responses of beech trees to drought stress. He went on to conduct international research projects in forestry science.
Nahm has investigated a wide range of anomalous biological phenomena, including unsolved mysteries such as terminal lucidity (apparent recovery of cognitive functioning in mentally-disturbed patients immediately before death), homing abilities by animals, and the sudden whitening of hair. For many years this work was avocational; in 2018 Nahm accepted an appointment at the Institute for Frontier Areas of Psychology and Mental Health (IGPP) in Freiburg, Germany, where he conducts more formal research.
Nahm has published two German-language books and numerous articles in German and English about various topics of psychical research. His website gives details.
Despite extensive scientific interest, the homing abilities of animals remain largely mysterious. In a 2015 paper, Nahm discusses the work of two hitherto little-known researchers that include remarkable instances of dogs who repeatedly returned to their owners from unknown locations. One archive details the research of Edwin H Richardson with messenger dogs in World War I. The other concerns more systematic experiments performed by Bernhard Müller between 1953 and 1962 involving 75 dogs. Both authors refute normal sensory explanations for their observations. Nahm finds little consensus among animal experts for bird and mammal homing and argues that some underlying psi component should not be ruled out.1
Nahm and co-authors discuss cases of terminal lucidity (which they term ‘paradoxical lucidity’) in which unexpected cognitive functions in patients with severe neurological deficits – dementias, organic brain disease and severe mental illnesses – briefly return around the time of death. In a 2019 paper they review this and related phenomena seeking potential biological mechanisms, and discuss the ethical implications and methodological challenges facing controlled investigations. They conclude that the phenomenon, if confirmed by more rigorously controlled research, challenges standard neurological models, carrying potentially profound implications for treatment of such conditions.2 (See also Terminal Lucidity)
Near-death Experiences From Roman Times
In a review of near-death experiences reported in Roman times, Nahm finds characteristics common in contemporary Asian accounts absent from those in the West, arguing that this offers a new perspective. ‘Mistake cases’ are prevalent – those in which the wrong individual is taken to the realm of death – also ‘correction cases’, in which the intended victim did in fact die after the experient had revived. Nahm also describes ancient cases that contain ostensibly correct predictions and xenoglossy – a hitherto unreported feature of near death experiences – and discusses their importance with respect to both current Asian and Western NDE reports.3 (See also Near-Death Experiencces and Medieval Near-Death Experiences)
Normal Cognitive Functioning in Compromised Brains
Neuroscience posits that human mental functions are generated by brain structures, notably cell layers and tissues in the neocortex. Nahm and co-authors discuss cases in which significant physical deficiencies are found in the brains of individuals who outwardly perform normally or who even display special abilities. These include cases of hydrocephalus – in which accumulating cerebral fluid pushes the brain to the extreme margins close to the skull – and hemispherectomy – in which an entire hemisphere was removed because of conditions such as epilepsy. Nahm and co-authors also consider the abilities of ‘savants’ who display remarkable talents in the presence of compromised brain function. Explanatory models based on extreme brain plasticity and non-reductionist accounts of consciousness are discussed.4
Sudden Hair Whitening
Nahm discusses the phenomenon of sudden hair whitening occurring within hours or days of emotionally traumatic experiences. Since developed hair has no metabolism, it should be impossible for such changes to occur through normal biological processes. He discusses 212 cases in the last 200 years, of which 46 are well-documented and authenticated by physicians. Nahm finds evidence for an anomalous process that may be need to be accounted for by non-causal modelling.5
Nahm reports on the activities of German physical medium Kai Mugge and the Felix Experimental Group (FEG), describing his observations during 21 sittings over a period of more than four years. The phenomena typically included unusual movements of a table, raps on the room walls and the ceiling, and luminous and psychokinetic phenomena, and the appearance of putative ‘ectoplasm’ and apports. He concludes that most if not all of these occurences were fraudulently produced.6
Evolution and Reincarnation
In an afterword to James Matlock’s Signs of Reincarnation (2019) Nahm discusses the importance of childhood reincarnation evidence for understanding evolution. He argues that, since such evidence tends to contradict standard materialism, a more holistic view of evolution needs to be available. Nahm describes an ‘organismically-oriented’ view, where evolutionary processes tap into a fundamental fabric of reality – the same foundations that drive the evidence for past lives.7
Mashour, G., Frank, L., Batthyany, A., Kolanowski, A., Nahm, M., Schulman-Green, D., Greyson, B., Pakhomov, S., Karlawish, J., Shah. R. (2019). Paradoxical lucidity: A potential paradigm shift for the neurobiology and treatment of severe dementias. Alzheimer's & Dementia. 15. 10.1016/j.jalz.2019.04.002.
Nahm, M. (2009). Four ostensible near-death experiences of Roman times with peculiar features: Mistake cases, correction cases, xenoglossy, and a prediction. Journal of Near-Death Studies 27, 211-222.
Nahm, M. (2014). The development and the phenomena of a circle for physical mediumship. Journal of Scientific Exploration 28, 229-283.
Nahm, M. (2015). Mysterious ways: The riddle of the homing ability in dogs and other vertebrates. Journal of the Society of Psychical Research 79, 144-155.
Nahm, M. (2016). Further comments about Kai Mügge’s alleged mediumship and recent developments. Journal of Scientific Exploration 30, 56-62.
Nahm, M. (2018). Plötzliches und ungewöhnlich rasches Weißwerden von Haaren: Eine Übersicht über 212 Fallberichte aus der medizinischen Literatur der letzten 200 Jahre (Sudden and unusually rapid whitening of hair: An overview of 212 case reports from the medical literature of the last 200 years). Zeitschrift für Anomalistik 18, 248-276. 10.23793/zfa.2018.248.
Nahm, M. (2019). Implications of reincarnation cases for biology. In JG Matlock (2019). Signs of Reincarnation. Exploring Beliefs, Cases and Theory. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield; 273-287.
Nahm, M., Rousseau, D., Greyson, B. (2017). Discrepancy between cerebral structure and cognitive functioning: A review. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease 205, 967-972.