Journal of Exceptional Experiences and Psychology www.exceptionalpsychology.com Published by the Journal of Exceptional Experiences and Psychology in Atlanta, Georgia, USA. ISSN 2327-428X
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Volume 1 Number 1 Summer 2013
Board of Editors Erika A. Pratte, M.A. Jacob W. Glazier, M.S. Ed., NCC, Ph.D. Student Board of Reviewers Jean-Michel Abrassart, Ph.D. Candidate
Callum E. Cooper, Ph.D. Candidate
Shaye Hudson, M.A.
Jack Hunter, Ph.D. Candidate Edward Justin Modestino, Ph.D. Christine Simmonds-Moore, Ph.D. Leslie W. Oâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;Ryan, Ed.D., NCC, LCPC
Annalisa Ventola, B.A. Cover Artwork Erika A. Pratte, M.A. Stock photo courtesy of wyldraven (http://wyldraven.deviantart.com)
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Table of Contents Letters from the Editors.........................................................................................................................4-5 Erika A. Pratte & Jacob W. Glazier Demons on the Couch: Spirit Possession, Exorcisms and Dissociative Trance Disorder................7—14 Michael Sersch Paranormal Phenomena: Should Psychology Really Go Beyond the Ontological Debate? .........15—22 Jean-Michel Abrassart Toward a Grounding of Parapsychology in Phenomenology: Psi as a Function of Sorge.............23—31 Jacob W. Glazier Portrait of Rhea White: From Parapsychological Phenomena to Exceptional Experiences..........33—37 Renaud Evrard
Charles Clayton: Ordinary Mystic..................................................................................................38—45 Kelly Bainbridge One Foot in Two Worlds: Near Death, but Still Alive...................................................................46—52 Suzanne Degges-White & Melissa Adkins Wilmoth A Nudge in the Right Direction......................................................................................................53—55 Janet Langley Gift for Grandpa.............................................................................................................................56—57 Kimberly Wencl Book Review, The Paranormal: Why People Believe in Spirits, Gods and Magic........................59—61 Michael J. Rush
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Welcome to the first publication of the Journal of Exceptional Experiences and Psychology (JEEP). What started as a hopeful thought, an almost whimsical inclination, has metamorphosed into a community endeavor that has taken flight and landed in many places across the globe. While I hope JEEP soars even farther in years to come, I am humbled by how much it has already accomplished; our review board has members from both North America and Europe, all of whom are highly knowledgeable in their specialties and are very gratifying to work with. Our readers and submitters are also from places around the world, and have been ever encouraging and seem just as excited as my co-editor, Jacob Glazier, and I do. JEEP was in part inspired by the late Dr. William Roll, who started the research journal Theta in 1963 with the Psychical Research Foundation. As a graduate research assistant at the University of West Georgia, I was charged with archiving the research Dr. Roll left to the university’s Special Collections, which included submissions from Theta. One day I came across a folder of submissions that were denied because they were poems about a person’s experience and Theta was dutifully a scholarly journal. However, in the rejection letters to the poets were sincere apologies from Dr. Roll that the journal could not accept their submissions, although he would like to do so. This was only one instant amongst many where I came across an article that portrayed Dr. Roll’s sincere and humble desire for a more integrated community, but it was the spark that kindled the flame. It had me asking myself, “Why not?” And as talks with Jake ensued and ideas were being made, the thought became, “Let’s do this.” And let’s not just do this, let us be this; let’s be a more integrated community. I hope that JEEP is at least one brick in the bridge between the scholarly study of exceptional experiences and the people with the experiences. Thank you to our review board who has helped us immensely. I truly appreciate the work you have done and continue to do with JEEP, and for your patience with us as we learned how to manage JEEP more gracefully. Thank you to the authors of the following submissions; I am glad that you found JEEP a worthy home for your pieces, especially with it being brand new. Thank you to Dr. Christine Simmonds-Moore for helping me to further my studies in parapsychology while at West Georgia and to Dr. Suzanne Durham of Special Collections for a similar gift as well. And of course, thank you to my co-editor and friend, Jacob Glazier. I am glad that we are taking the voyage on these roughly charted seas together. Again, welcome to the first publication of JEEP. I hope you find it quite exceptional.
Erika A. Pratte
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This debut issue of the Journal of Exceptional Experiences and Psychology has been akin to giving birth for me. Perhaps it is a stretch for me to make such an analogy since I will never know what it is truly like to give birth. Nevertheless, it still captures the essence of what this process has been: contractual, painful, relieving, joyous and ultimately prideful. My hope is that you, the reader, will not only recognize the fruition of these experiences in this issue, but also the worth, diversity, and ingenuity of the newborn journal proper. When Erika and I first began discussing the idea of creating a journal, we knew that we wanted to do something pioneering. We both had similar interests in phenomenology, clinical praxis, and pluralism; interest in using a variety of methods like art, poetry, or stories to aid in making meaning out of exceptional experiences. We also knew that we wanted a broad audience that consisted of both regular people and scholars. Similarly, we wanted to make JEEP an international forum, which is reflected in the residences of our review board (the United Kingdom, France and the United States of America) as well as those of the authors in this issue (again, from said locations). Of special note is the latter because writing an article that is not in your first language is no easy task. Our international authors were exceptionally patient, cooperative, and collaborative during the review process. They have offered an invaluable perspective. In JEEP, you will see a spectrum of articles and artifacts that expand the notion of what constitutes scholarship. In fact, I believe that many traditional distinctions that have been used to classify erudition seem to fail—or at least leak. Case-in-point, in this issue it is difficult or sometimes impossible to distinguish between a pure research manuscript versus a storied account (e.g., Bainbridge; Degges-White & Adkins Wilmoth; Evrard). For me, this kind of heterogeneity is a great strength and speaks to the imaginative, inventive, and forward-looking approach of the journal. Hand-in-hand with this kind of perspective, you may have noticed, is the replacement of the word paranormal with exceptional, which we cannot take credit for coining. I owe the word to Dr. Christine Simmonds-Moore (e.g., Simmonds-Moore, 2012a, 2012b) whose Exceptional Experiences course I audited during the first semester of my Ph.D. program. What’s more, we are all indebted to Rhea White (e.g., Evrard; White, 1997) for advancing the phrase Exceptional Human Experiences (EHE) and for advocating for a person-centered approach as opposed to experimentalism, which has traditionally been hegemonic in parapsychology. I also want to thank Dr. Simmonds-Moore for being my guidepost in the world of parapsychology. I want to thank our review board members who all have diligently worked with us during our first go-around with the review process. Thank you for your time and energy, which I know is a valuable commodity. Special thanks to Jack Hunter and Cal Cooper for their extremely helpful guidance. The authors, thank you, for the quality and diversity of your work. Also, thank you to all of you who submitted your work to JEEP—ultimately, this journal would not be possible without you. Last, but certainly not least, I want to thank my co-editor and partner-in-crime, Erika Pratte, for her astute grammar skills, email wielding prowess, and amazing artistic abilities (e.g., see the cover). I can tell that this is a discipline that Erika cares passionately about, and I have no doubt that she will continue to make valuable contributions to the professional scholarship. To all our readers, I sincerely hope you enjoy baby JEEP and stay with her as she grows and matures over the years to come.
Jacob W. Glazier References Simmonds-Moore, C. (2012a). Introduction: Overview and exploration of the state of play regarding health and exceptional experiences. In C. Simmonds-Moore (Ed.), (pp. 7-24). Exceptional experience and health: Essays on mind, body and human potential. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Company, Inc. Simmonds-Moore, C. (2012b). What is exceptional psychology? Journal of Parapsychology, 76(supplement), 54-57. White, R. (1997). Dissociation, narrative, and exceptional human experiences. In S. Krippner & S. M. Powers (Eds.), Broken images, broken selves: Dissociation narratives in clinical practice (pp. 88-120). Washington, DC: Brunner/ Mazel, Inc.
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Peer Reviewed Articles
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Demons on the Couch: Spirit Possession, Exorcisms and Dissociative Trance Disorder Michael Sersch
Abstract This paper looks at the phenomenon of demonic possession in an attempt to understand how contemporary clinicians can better treat clients who believe that they are possessed, in keeping with the proposed updates to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of the American Psychiatric Association (APA, 2000; APA, 2013). Similarities between possession states and dissociative disorders (formerly multiple personality disorders) are examined, and suggestions for clinical practice in a culturally and religiously sensitive manner are discussed. Keywords: Exceptional experiences, demonic possession, dissociation identity disorder “At its root, therapy derives from a word meaning ‘to hold up, to support.’ Therapy gives us the satisfaction of being useful... and often therapy does some good. Yet it can also feed our sense of self-importance, and inadvertently fuel our fear of futility. Therapy is not the same as healing.” (Norris, 2008, p. 141) Introduction Vomiting, profanity, levitation, blasphemy. The images of demonic possession have infiltrated American culture. Much of this could be due to the enduring popularity of the 1973 movie, The Exorcist (Blatty, 1971, 1974; Cuneo, 2000, 2001), and the subsequent subgenre that the film helped create (including the recently released film The Possession, 2012; Rothman, 1996). Incidents of reported demonic possession and requests for exorcisms seem to be on the rise. The Roman Catholic Church in the US has been making a concerted effort to increase the number of trained exorcists (Burke, 2011) and Evangelicals, Pentecostals and Fundamentalists have increased ministries involving exorcisms or deliverance prayers to drive away unwanted spirits (Cueno, 2001). Minority religious communities composed of immigrants and their children have also brought exorcisms and spirit possession practices further attention, as in the case of the young Hmong girl with epilepsy featured in The Spirit Catches Y ou and Y ou Fall Down (Fadiman, 1997). This paper is not an attempt to prove or disprove controversial concepts like demonic possession. Rather, this paper hopes to build upon those who have already reported upon the phenomenon (Baglio, 2009; Cueno, 2001; Goodman, 1988a, 1988b; Wilkinson, 2007) in order to better understand it. Furthermore, a number of mental health practitioners have directly addressed spirit possession among their clients (e.g. Bell, 2001; Bell, Ellason & Ross, 1998; Crabtree, 1997; Isaacs, 2010; Peck, 1995, 2005; Kiev, 1966, 1973, 1979). This paper begins with the assumption that demonic possession is a phenomenon that some patients believe they experience, often as a culturally sanctioned explanation for symptoms that outside observers might ascribe different explanations to. The purpose of this paper is to attempt an answer to the question, “How can a culturally sensitive clinician treat a person who believes himself/herself to be possessed, in a manner that is both ethical and effective?”
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Journal of Exceptional Experiences and Psychology Review of Literature Bourguignon (1976) surveyed the work of anthropologists who examined 488 cultures, and discovered that 437 held beliefs associating altered states of consciousness (ASC), or trances, with spirit possession. In commenting on these findings, Davies (1995) writes: “possession is not a fiction, not a pretense, not a kind of folk belief. Possession is a powerful psychophysiological experience that is so widespread in human cultures that the potential for the possession experience is part of the genetic inheritance of all people” (p. 25). Goodman (1988b) notes that belief in spirit possession necessitates a belief in individuals having a spirit that can be possessed by an alien force, which she calls “soul theory”. However, this does not include experiences of delusions. Greenblatt (2011) associates the success of the Western world with the scientific worldview, the mechanical approach that dismisses the “soul theory” and consequently, the possibility of an outside force possessing that soul. Given this mechanical set of assumptions, any person who reports being possessed by an outside spirit becomes labeled as mentally ill (Spiegel et al., 2011). It ought not to be presumed that Western psychological insights are exclusive, or even superior. As Waters (2011) has argued, when looking at the results of the World Health Organization’s study of recovery rates of schizophrenia (Hopper & Wanderling, 2000), societies that have a strong belief in spiritual forces affecting a person’s mental health are more effective than Western, medical approaches in dealing with persistent mental illnesses. Many cultures view the world from positions that very considerably from dominant, Western approaches (Ivey, D’Andrea, & Ivey, 2012). When approaching a client, from whatever culture or sub-culture they are from, it is important to remember their unique and personal experiences of the world. As Spiegel and colleagues (2011) have noted, a patient’s belief in spirit or demonic possession does not require the therapist hold the same belief, only that they respect such a belief as valid from the world-view of the patient. Many contemporary thinkers automatically dismiss all reports of possession as an inadequate diagnosis that can better be explained using medical, mechanical diagnoses (Shermer, 2003). For example, Norris (2008) quotes the novelist Joyce Carol Oates in saying that, demonic possession is “a primitive stage in our comprehension of mental illness we like to believe we’ve advanced beyond” (p. 37). Spiro (1998) labels “the scientific fallacy” which is the belief that every phenomenon can be explained away in the mechanical-medical model. In writing about the faith healing and exorcism rituals performed in the time of the fall of the Holy Roman Empire, Fr. Gassner, Midleford (2005) writes, “there are dangers in reducing the experience of demonic possession to some supposedly more fundamental psychopathological condition, to neurosis, hysteria, psychosomatic disorder, and so forth” (p. 83). Csordas (2002) has acknowledged that to explain all types of illness in medical terms, especially if the suffering person prefers to use other explanations, is to ignore the experiencer’s world-view in favor of our own. As a cultural phenomenon, demonic possession can be socially advantageous. Linde (2001), in a memoir of a year of mental health work in Zimbabwe, notes how some African tribes emphasize possession and exorcism while others accept Western modalities or had alternative approaches to treatment. Some European cultures (like Italy and Ireland) continue to associate mental illness with stigma (Baglio, 2009; Kiely & McKenna, 2007) and among some Pentecostals and Evangelicals in America exorcism is seen as a rite of passage (Cueno, 2001). Baglio (2009) cites the Association of Italian Catholic Psychiatrists and Psychologists, which report that more than half a million Italians see an exorcist yearly.
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Journal of Exceptional Experiences and Psychology Multiple Personality Disorder/Dissociative Identity Disorder The diagnosis of multiple personality disorder (MPD) became well known following the publication of a case study by Thigpen & Cleckley (1957), The Three Faces of Eve, which was subsequently made into a movie. Another popular book on MPD was a novelization of therapy done by psychiatrist Cornelia Wilbur with a young women, entitled Sybil by Flora Rheta Schreiber (1973).The book was made into a TV film in 1976, with another version done in 2007. There was a significant uptick in diagnoses of multiple personality disorder in the 1970’s (Allison & Schwartz, 1980). Goodman (1988b) claims that the popularity of new religious expressions and drug experimentation allowed people to access altered states of consciousness that they were unable to explain. However, Goodman does not offer any evidence to indicate that people experiencing MPD/DID have a history with drugs use or cult participation and ignores the larger media focus on the disorder. When the APA changed the diagnosis of MPD to Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) in the DSM IV (APA, 1994), Dr. David Spiegel was quoted as saying the reason for the change was that patients were not suffering from multiple personalities, rather they had less than one full personality (Loftus & Kitchum, 1994). Loftus & Kitchum (1994) argue that it is normal for people who are hypnotized to create memories on their own, or to be highly suggestible to therapist leading them in the creation of a memory. Wilkinson (2007) stated, “a good hypnotist can make a patient bark like a dog. An exorcist, less explicitly and unintentionally, can make a patient talk like the devil” (p. 151). As described in the DSM-IV TR (APA, 2000), a person who exhibits the symptoms of DID but whose alters are demons or other spirits of the dead would best be diagnosed as dissociative disorder not otherwise specified (DID-NOS) However, it does appear that the new edition of the DSM will include a category known as dissociative trance disorder, which would include possession (Spiegel et al., 2011). This makes a great deal of sense, as the symptoms are similar in multiple personality and possession, including facial contortions and muscle tension as well as the experience of an alien entity inhabiting the psyche (Goodman, 1988b). It is widely believed that the split that occurs when the individual dissociates is often, but not exclusively due to trauma or other overwhelming experiences (Spiegel et al., 2011). Cardena & Gleaves (2007) state that the trauma is usually serious or significant childhood abuse. Crabtree (1997), Ofshe & Watters (1994) and Loftus & Ketcham (1994) argue instead that multiple personality is created, in part, by the therapeutic alliance that forms between a suffering patient and a well-meaning, but harm causing clinician, making it an iatrogenic disease. Eve Lancaster (1958) states that at the end of her treatment with Drs. Thigpen and Cleckey, she went from having only three alters to sixteen. Dr. Herbert Spiegel had seen the original client who was the basis of Sybil disagreed with Dr. Wilbur claiming that Sybil was being manipulated for the sake of fame and financial gain (Borch-Jacobsen, 1997). Contemporary Treatment Among mental health professionals, Burke (2011) identifies three interpretations of exorcism rituals: they are inherently false and harmful (and may be similar to iatrogenic illnesses like DID), they exist as a placebo, or they are real and may have therapeutic value. Waters (2011) has shown that, if culturally sanctioned, exorcisms can have higher rates of healing for clients than Western approaches, at least for schizophrenia. This is borne out by the observations of Field (1955), Kiev (1973) and Lambo (1957). One unique advantage to such ritual activities is the integration of an emotional and spiritual element, which is missing from the
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Journal of Exceptional Experiences and Psychology Western psychodynamic approach (Good, 1994). When thinking about culturally competent treatment, it should be noted that it is the client who determines what is competent, and not the provider (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 2007). Baglio (2009) encourages priests to consult with mental health professionals in diagnosing clients, but adds the caveat that only if the clinician believes in the possibility of possession. Allison & Schwartz (1980) note that in several cases of persons diagnosed with multiple personality disorders, exorcisms were successful in alleviating some of the symptoms. Of persons with DID, Bell (2001) found that exorcism can be helpful if it fits with the client’s worldview and is conducted in a noncoercive manner. In a review of treatment carried-out on 15 patients with DID who had received one or more exorcism, most had generally positive reactions and outcomes, especially if they found congruence between the style of exorcism and their own belief system (Bell, Ellasan & Ross, 1998). From a Christian fundamentalist and therapist perspective, Page (1989) does allow for exorcism as a therapeutic technique, but urges caution from both a clinical and theological viewpoint. Cuneo (2001) has noticed that out of the 50 exorcisms he witnessed, some people have experienced either an ending or a decrease in their symptoms. He also notes that his study did not follow up to determine length of relief for those who were suffering. He further raised the issue of how the exorcism is approached: is it done coercively, for the wrong reasons, is it a danger to anyone? If yes, then it should not proceed. Rosik (2003) questioned 6 religiously sensitive practitioners with expertise in dissociative disorders about the therapeutic use of exorcism and found a wide variation in responses. Even among those who did believe exorcisms can have a place in treatment, there was a difference in identifying the threshold of symptoms to warrant either an exorcism or deliverance prayer. Rosik (1997), in both personal experience and research, found little evidence for the efficacy of exorcisms and further warns that they may be harmful at times. There is fear that exorcisms with people who have psychiatric illness can convince the sufferers that their issues are spiritual as opposed to psychological, further complicating or jeopardizing future treatment (Baglio, 2009). Midelfort (2005) has noted the lack of success mental health practitioners have had with engaging in exorcisms themselves, which is also shown in the results of Peck (2005). Most disturbing of all is that several deaths have been reported during exorcisms (Cuneo ,2001; Goodman, 1988b; Kiely & McKenna, 2007; Wilkinson, 2007). Midelfort (2005) points out that the exorcist usually operates within the same worldview as the possessed, and any healing that is offered through the ritual occurs within a larger social context. This is born out in Wilkinson’s (2007) conversations with Italians who reported being possessed and exorcised. Several of these individuals reported feeling a sense of relief that they were possessed and not mentally ill. Wilkinson (2007) cites Dr. Mastronardi, an Italian expert on psychopathology, who sees the behavior of priests in exorcisms as, “characterized by humanity and empathy, freely expressed by physical contacts, hugs, stroking, affectionate gestures, placing on of hands, etc. . . This is something a therapist cannot do . . .” (p. 154). Exorcism may work on the dichotomy between healing and curing, if healing is understood as bringing a person back into right relationship with the self and their world, while curing is an ending of a disease (Crossan, 1999). For Lewis (1986, 2003), it is the emotionally and spiritually charged nature of exorcism that is an integral part of the change that can occur in a patient, which is in direct contrast to the detached and controlled experience of Western medicine. For Dr. Steven Jay Lynn (Baglio, 2009) there is possibility of damage caused to patients diagnosed with DID in dredging up memories (which may be false) through talk therapy, but an exorcism allows a clean break. Placebos (Latin for “I shall please”) work in a variety of situations. They certainly seem more effective when the patient believes in what is happening, but there is evidence to suggest some degree of effectiveness
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Journal of Exceptional Experiences and Psychology even if the patient does not believe in the treatment (Jacobs, 2012). Baglio (2009) reports on Michael Hyland, a psychologist who studies placebos (or, as he calls them, therapeutic rituals). He argues that placebos have a dual function, one is the widely understood response expectancy (i.e., I expect the treatment to work, therefore it does). The other function is that the person is a dynamic being whose needs begin to be met in the process of the healing encounter. This reinforces their involvement in the process, helping the person, in Hyland’s terms, “with self-defining or self-actualizing goals” (Baglio, 2009, p. 203). A clinician ought to examine if the supernatural explanations are an attempt to avoid assigned blame. Some psychological problems can be attributed to curses by people who believe in exorcisms, especially in places like Italy, for example. Issues such as depression, physical illness, divorce, financial woes and suicide have also been blamed on spiritual forces, as opposed to other natural explanations (Baglio, 2009). Conclusion Many people, from a variety of cultures, believe in unwanted possession. The suggestions offered by Spiegel and colleagues (2011), which are included on the APA’s DSM website (2013), indicate that the new manual will include a diagnostic criterion that differentiates Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) from Possession Trance Disorder (PTD). The main criteria being that persons suffering from PTD dissociate with demons or other supernatural presences as opposed to DID, which are human personality alters. This change brings the DSM more in line with International Classification of Disease (ICD) diagnosis F44.89 “Other Dissociative and Conversion Disorders, due to trance or possession state” (www.icd10data.com). Such a change further allows clinicians to treat persons who believe they are possessed in a culturally competent manner, collaborating with religious figures in the client’s life or referring a client to a person who may perform an exorcism. Such referrals or collaborations should only be made if the client believes themselves to be possessed and in need of an exorcism without coercion from the therapist or others, they have a belief system that is consistent with belief in possession states and most importantly, the ritual is performed in a safe and respectful manner causing no harm to the person involved. Looking at the results of Peck’s (1998, 2005) in-office exorcisms and the findings of other therapists who engaged in exorcisms for therapeutic purposes (Midelfort, 2005; Rosik, 1997, 2003), it does not appear to be beneficial for a therapist to personally engage in the rite. However, given the recommendations for Roman Catholic exorcists to collaborate with mental health providers (Baglio, 2005; Wilkinson, 2007) and the increasing acceptance of some aspects of mental healthcare among communities that had previous felt resistance (Cueno, 2001), it is possible that a clinician would be in a situation where such a referral could be made. Individual therapists will be forced in such a situation to decide if such an approach is beneficial for the individual, or if the rite might cause further harm, either through ignoring non-spiritual explanations for the symptoms or by feeding into existing pathologies and delusions. This is an individual clinical decision which includes the suffering person’s perspective and worldview but also that of the clinician. Ethically, no clinician can be expected to refer someone for an exorcism if they believe such a referral would be harmful or counterproductive. However, even if the clinician doubts the validity of the exorcism (for example, rejecting the ‘soul theory’) there may be times when such a referral would be a beneficial practice for therapy, even if it is understood solely in term of a placebo. The proposed changes give greater allowance for a clinician to recommend such a procedure without fear of professional reprisal or scorn, and may be in the best interest of some suffering individuals.
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Journal of Exceptional Experiences and Psychology References Allison, R.B. & Schwartz, T. (1980). Minds in many pieces. New York: Rawson, Wade. American Psychiatric Association. (2000). The diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders. Fourth Edition, text revision. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). DSM-5 development: The future of psychiatry. Retrieved January 22, 2013 from http://www.dsm5.org/Pages/Default.aspx Baglio, M. (2009). The rite: The making of a modern exorcist. New York: Doubleday. Bell, D.L. (2001). A phenomenological model for therapeutic exorcism for dissociative identity disorder. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 29, 131-139. Bell, D.L., Ellason, J.W. & Ross, C.A. (1998). Exorcism revisited: Positive outcomes with disassociated identify disorder. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 26, 188-196. Blatty, W. (1971). The exorcist. New York: Harper and Row. Blatty, W. (1974). W illiam Peter Blatty on ‘the exorcist’ from novel to film. New York: Bantam Books. Borch-Jacobsen, M (1997). Sybil: The making of a disease: An interview with Dr. Herbert Spiegel. New Y ork Review of Books, 44, 7. Retrieved on February 5, 2013 from http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/1997/apr/24/sybilthe-making-of-a-disease/ Bourguignon, E. (1976). Possession. San Francisco: Chandler and Sharp. Burke, D. (2011). Demon days: Exorcisms is experiencing a renaissance in American Catholicism. The devil is in the details. Utne, 167, 64- 67. Cardena, E. & Gleaves, D. H. (2007). Dissociative disorders in A dult psychopathology diagnosis. 5th Edition. Edited by M. Hersen, S. M. Turner, D.C. Beidel. Hoboken, NJ: Wiley and Sons. Cortes, J.B. & Gatti, F.M. (1975). The case against possession and exorcism. New York: Vantage Press. Crabtree, A. (1997). Multiple man: Explorations in multiple personality and possession. New York: St. Martin’s Press. Crossan, J.D. (1999). The Birth of Christianity: Discovering what happened in the years immediately after the execution of Jesus. New York: HarperOne. Csordas, T. (2002). Body, meaning, healing. New York: Palgrave. Cuneo, M.W. (2000). “Exorcism.” In Contemporary A merican religion. Ed. by W. C. Roof. pp. 243-245. New York: MacMillan Cuneo, M.W. (2001). A merican exorcism: Expelling demons in the land of plenty. New York: Doubleday. Davies, S.L. (1995). Jesus the healer: Possession, trance and the origin of Christianity. New York: Continuum. Fadiman, A. (1997). The spirit catches you and you fall down: A Hmong child, her A merican doctors, and the clash of two cultures. New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux. Good, B. (1994). Medicine, rationality, and experience: A n anthropological perspective. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Goodman, F. (1988a) Ecstasy, ritual and alternate reality. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Goodman, F. (1988b). How about demons? Possession and exorcism in the modern world. Bloomington: Indiana University Press. Greenblatt, S. (2011). The swerve: How the world became modern. New York: Norton. Hopper, K., & Wanderling, J. (2000). Revisiting the developed versus developing country distinction in course and outcome in schizophrenia: Results from Isos, the WHO collaborative follow-up project. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 26(4), 835. ICD10data.com. (2013). The free medical coding reference. Retrieve on February 12, 2013 from http:// www.icd10data.com/ICD10CM/Codes/F01-F99/F40-F48/F44-/F44.89 Isacs, C. (2010). Revelations and possession: Distinguishing spiritual from psychological experiences. New York: Morris.
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Journal of Exceptional Experiences and Psychology Ivey, A. E.; D’Andrea, M.J., & Ivey, M.B. (2012). Theories of counseling and psychotherapy: A multicultural perspective. Thousand Oakes, CA: Sage. Jacobs, A.J. (2012). Drop dead healthy: One man’s humble quest for bodily perfection. New York: Simon and Schuster. Kiely, D.M. & McKenna, C. (2007). The dark sacrament: True stories of modern-day demon possession and exorcism. New York: HarperOne. Kiev, A. (1966). “Psychotherapeutic value of spirit-possession.” In Trance and possession states. Ed. Prince, R. Montreal: R.M. Bucke Memorial Society. Kiev, A. (1969). “Primitive religious rites and behavior: Clinical considerations.” In Clinical psychiatry and religion. Ed. by E.M. Patterson. pp. 119-131. New York: Little, Brown. Kiev, A. (1973). “Magic, faith and healing in modern psychiatry.” In Religious systems and psychotherapy. Ed. By H.C. Cox. pp. 225-235. Springfield, IL: Bannerstone House. Lambo, T.A. (1956). Neuropsychiatric observation in the western region of Nigeria. British Medical Journal, 2, 13881394. Lancaster, E. (1958). The final face of Eve. New York: McGraw-Hill. Lewis, I.M. (1986, 2003). Ecstatic religion: A study in shamanism and spirit possession. Loudon: Rutledge. Linde, P. (2001). Of spirits and madness: A n A merican psychiatrist in Africa. New York: McGraw-Hill. Loftus, E. & Ketcham, K. (1994). The myth of repressed memory: False memories and allegations of sexual abuse. New York: St. Martin’s Griffith. Midelfort, H.C.E. (2005). Exorcism and enlightenment: Johann Joseph Gassner and the demons of eighteenth-century Germany. New Haven: Yale University Press. Norris, K. (2008). A cedia & me: A marriage, monks, and a writer’s life. New York: Riverhead Books. Ofshe, R. & Watters, E. (1994). Making monsters: False memories, psychotherapy and sexual hysteria. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press. Page, S.H.T. (1989). The role of exorcism in clinical practice and pastoral care. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 17, 121-131. Peck, M.S. (1998). People of the lie: The hope for healing human evil. New York: Touchstone. Peck, M.S. (2005) Glimpses of the devil: A psychiatrist’s personal accounts of possession, exorcism and redemption. New York: Free Press. Rosik, C.H. (1997). When discernment fails: The case for outcome studies on exorcism. Journal of Psychology and Theology. 25, 354-363. Rosik, C.H. (2003). Critical issues in the dissociative disorders field: Six perspectives from religious sensitive practitioners. Journal of Psychology and Theology, 31, 113-128. Rothman, S. (1996). Is God really dead in Beverly Hills? A merican Scholar, Spring, 272-278. Schreiber, F.R. (1973). Sybil. New York: Warner. Shermer, M. (2003). Demon-haunted brain: If the brain mediates all experiences, then paranormal phenomena are nothing more than neuronal events. Scientific A merica, 28(3), 25. Spiro, H. (1998). The power of hope: A doctor’s perspective. New Haven: Yale University Press. Spiegel, D., Loewenstein, R.L., Lewis- Fernández, R., Sar, V., Simeon, D., Vermetten, E., Cardeña, E., & Dell, P.F. (2011). Dissociative disorders in the DSM-5. Depression and A nxiety, 28(9), 824-852. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2007). Substance abuse treatment for persons with cooccurring disorders in-service training: Based upon a treatment improvement protocol TIP 42. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Thigpen, C.H. & Cleckley, H.M. (1957). The three faces of Eve. New York: McGraw-Hill Waters, E. (2011). Crazy like us: The globalization of the A merican psyche. New York: Free Press. Wilkinson, T. (2007). The V atican’s exorcists: Driving out the devil in the 21st century. New York: Warner.
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Michael Sersch is a graduate student at Winona State University (in Minnesota) studying community counseling, and is finishing up an internship at Gundersen Health System, working with persons with mental health and substance dependency issues on an outpatient basis . He has an undergraduate degree in English from the College of St. Benedict/St. Johnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s University. He is married with two children, a cat and four fish, and the family lives in La Crosse, Wisconsin. He has long been interested in the intersection between religion and mental health since deciding not to enter religious life. Winona State University 175 W Mark St Winona, MN 55987 firstname.lastname@example.org
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Paranormal Phenomena: Should Psychology Really Go Beyond the Ontological Debate? Jean-Michel Abrassart
Abstract Mathijsen (2009) argues that in the study of alleged paranormal phenomena psychology should move beyond the ontological debate. In practice this seems to mean focusing only on the psychology of paranormal beliefs and the phenomenology of anomalous experiences. From my point of view, this proposition is not really moving beyond the debate, but instead standing somewhat safely aside from it. This view, that I would like to critically examine, is fairly common in the social sciences. I am arguing here that psychology should not be so quick to move beyond the ontological debate. I also advocate that psychologists studying alleged paranormal phenomena should at least be able to state what their own beliefs are on the topic they are studying. I think that transparency (stating one's own beliefs about the subject one is studying) is preferable to staying safely outside the ontological debate. Keywords: Ontology, paranormal phenomena, spirituality Introduction
In a recent article, Mathijsen (2009) argues that in the study of alleged paranormal phenomena psychology should move beyond the ontological debate: Many decades passed before psychology even dared to address the phenomenon of religious beliefs without prejudice with the necessary distance imposed by the scientific study of a mostly personal and subjective human experience. A similar approach could be taken to research into paranormal beliefs. In studying the impact of religion, spirituality or transcendence on the human experience, psychology does not seek to prove the existence or non-existence of God since this falls outside its paradigmatic field. Similarly, they should not, in our opinion, seek to prove or disprove paranormal phenomena as such (regardless of the form they take: real or illusory, objective or subjective), but should instead take into account that some individuals do adhere to these beliefs. It is this adherence, what it engenders, creates and brings to the individual, what this belief enables or prevents, internally and in different situations, which could constitute a valid subject of a study of paranormal beliefs. (Mathijsen, 2009, p. 329) In practice this seems to mean focusing only on the psychology of paranormal beliefs and the phenomenology of anomalous experiences. He argues that the situation is similar to the one in the field of psychology of religion: psychology doesn't try to prove or disproof the existence of God because it falls outside of its paradigmatic field. In the same way, psychology shouldn't try to prove or disproof paranormal phenomena. Thus, the psychological inquiry into the paranormal should be confined to studying only why people believe in those
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Journal of Exceptional Experiences and Psychology phenomena and how they experience them. From my point of view, his proposition is not really moving beyond the ontological debate, but instead standing somewhat safely aside from it. This view, that I would like to critically examine, is fairly common in the social sciences. For example, about the UFO phenomena, sociologists like Renard (1988) or more recently François & Kreis (2010) study the belief in the extraterrestrial hypothesis as an explanation for UFO sightings without ever engaging with the ontological debate. I am using Mathijsen's article (2009) only as an example in order to launch a discussion. Even if there is agreement that the psychology of paranormal beliefs and the phenomenology of anomalous experiences are worthy of pursuit in the social sciences, I would like to argue here that psychology should not be so quick to move beyond the ontological debate. I also advocate that psychologists studying alleged paranormal phenomena should at least be able to state what their own beliefs are on the topic they are studying. I think that transparency (stating one's own beliefs about the subject one is studying) is preferable to staying safely outside the ontological debate. Psychical Research, Parapsychology and Anomalistic Psychology The scientific study of paranormal phenomena started during the 19th century with the foundation in 1882 in Great-Britain of the Society for Psychical Research. In the wake of spiritualism, psychical research was primarily about the study of mediumship: scientists would go observe séances and see if they could detect frauds or not. A paradigmatic change happened in the first half of the 20th century because of the seminal work done by Rhine (1934, 1937, 1947, 1953) and the field of psychical research became what is known today as parapsychology. Rhine insisted on the importance of doing experiments in laboratory conditions instead of going to séances, especially in order to establish the reality of the phenomena. Today, the words 'psychical research' and 'parapsychology' are used either to refer to a specific time period in the research (respectively before and after the founding in 1930 of the Parapsychology Laboratory at Duke University by Rhine) or simply interchangeably. Parapsychology studies psi, an atheoretical concept grouping together extra-sensory perception (ESP) and psychokinesis (PK). The concept of psi has been used for the first time in the literature by Thouless (1942). Parapsychology is by nature a multidisciplinary field. That being said, it always has had a close relationship with psychology, as the name itself of the discipline reflects. For example, one of the founders of the American Society for Psychical Research (the US branch of the Society for Psychical Research) was none other than William James. On top of being influential in philosophy and in psychology (a very young science at the time), he also helped start the field of the psychology of religion with his classic book The V arieties of Religious Experience (James, 1902) and on the other hand contributed a great deal to the study of mediumship. In a recent presidential address to the Parapsychological Association, Watt (2005) argued that, in return, parapsychology has an important role to play in keeping mental phenomena and anomalous experiences (like considerations about consciousness, volition as well as the existence of psi) on the mainstream psychological research agenda. Even though parapsychology was from the beginning heavily influenced by psychology, the field of anomalistic psychology was established only recently, following the seminal work of Zusne and Jones (1982). Alcock's Parapsychology, Science or Magic? A Psychological Perspective (Alcock, 1981), published one year earlier, also had a significant influence on the constitution of this field of inquiry. Anomalistic psychology studies unusual (or anomalous) experiences such as near-death experiences, out-of-body experiences, alien abductions, apparitional experiences (like ghost sightings), paranormal cognition and so on. Not surprisingly,
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Journal of Exceptional Experiences and Psychology parapsychology and anomalistic psychology are very closely related. On principle those research programs seem well defined, but in reality things are less clear. As stated before, anomalistic psychology includes also the study of paranormal cognitions (telepathy, precognition and so on) and thus covers also the study of psi. On the other hand, people working in parapsychology often do study anomalous experiences. This large overlap of parapsychology and anomalistic psychology is obvious when consulting various recent textbooks (Cardena, Lynn & Krippner, 2000; Holt, Simmonds-Moore, Luke & French, 2012; Irwin & Watt, 2007; Roberts, 2001), because they mostly cover the same topics. If parapsychology and anomalistic psychology do cover the same topics, they don't do it in exactly the same way. In parapsychology, researchers either try to establish the reality of psi or work on the assumption that it exists. Some parapsychologists argue that the existence of psi has been established beyond any reasonable doubts and thus parapsychology should focus only on studying it (see for example Utts, 1996). Arguably the most famous researcher advocating this position is Radin (1997, 2006). At the other end of the spectrum, skeptics like Alcock (2003) argue that there are still good reasons to remain doubtful about the existence of psi. In the same vein, Wiseman (2010) argues that parapsychologists tend to view positive results as supportive of the psi hypothesis while ensuring with ad hoc hypothesis that null results don’t count as evidence against it. The latest round of debates about the existence of psi happened when Bem (2011) recently published an article claiming to demonstrate the existence of presentiment in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Wagenmakers, Wetzels, Borsboom and van der Maas (2011) raised statistical criticisms, Alcock (2011) methodological ones, and two groups of researchers reported several failures of replications (Ritchie, Wiseman & French, 2012; Galak, Nelson, LeBoeuf & Simmons, 2012). A meta-analysis of presentiment studies by Mossbridge, Tressoldi and Utts (2012) found a small effect-size with a high level of significance. On the other hand, anomalistic psychology is the application of psychological methods to the study of anomalous experiences and associated beliefs. The scientific debate about the nature of paranormal phenomena is especially important for the field of psychology of religion. First, if psi is real or if the survival hypothesis is true, this may have played an important role in the development of religion. Second, paranormal beliefs are at the doctrinal foundation of many cults. Let's take the example of flying saucer cults (the most famous ones at the moment are Scientology and Raëlism). Studying anomalous experiences like UFO sightings and alien abductions is necessary if we truly want to understand where those new religious movements are coming from. What is the Paranormal? “Paranormal” is a very difficult concept to define adequately, to say the least. It refers to a wide spectrum of phenomena and had originally been intended as a means to naturalise the supernatural. Following Tobacyk and Milford (1983), we could suggest that a paranormal phenomenon is a phenomenon (1) that can't be explained at this time by science (2) that can be explainable only if we revise major principles at the very foundation of science (like the principle of causality in physics) or (3) that is not compatible with normal perceptions, beliefs and expectations about reality. The problem with this definition is that a phenomenon is paranormal if a given culture (including the scientific community of that culture at that time) deems it to be. Even the distinction between paranormal and normal won't be found in every culture. At the end of the day, the concept of paranormal seems to be a group of miscellaneous objects of belief. For example, the Tobacyk and Milford (1983) Paranormal Belief Scale regroups under the paranormal umbrella: religious beliefs, psi, witchcraft, superstition, extraordinary life forms and precognitions. Except the
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Journal of Exceptional Experiences and Psychology fact that western culture labels them as 'paranormal', there's not much in common between the action of knocking on wood (superstition), the belief in the existence of the Loch Ness monster (extraordinary life forms) and thinking that Uri Geller is not bending spoons by means of trickery (psychokinesis). On top of all that, there are many things that science cannot yet explain (like for example dark matter in cosmology) that are not considered paranormal. Psychology's Paradigmatic Field The fundamental question I want to ask in this article is: is the paranormal falling outside of psychology's paradigmatic field? Mathijsen (2009) compares the study of paranormal phenomena in psychology to the field of psychology of religion, arguing that they are somewhat similar. The psychology of religion doesn't try to prove or disproof the existence of God because God is a metaphysical claim. It is not so much outside psychology's paradigmatic field than it is outside science's methodological naturalism. The situation is different with alleged paranormal phenomena. The question of the existence (or not) of some alleged paranormal phenomena is not a metaphysical claim, thus science can and should study it. That being said, there are some who would argue that the scientific study of religion does in fact undermine belief and does give grounds to agnosticism or atheism. For example, prominent agnostic Shermer (2011) argues, based on the scientific literature in psychology of religion, that the belief in a supernatural agent with intention is hard-wired in our brain and that this fact, combine with the absence of scientific proof for the existence of God, warrants religious skepticism. On the other hand, apologists would say that to conclude that God doesn't exist because the belief in a supernatural agent with intention is hard-wired in our brain would be to commit the genetic fallacy. Thus, even in the field of psychology of religion, which deals mainly with beliefs in metaphysical claims, to think that psychology can stay outside the ontological debate seems somewhat unrealistic. One of parapsychology's stated goal is to try to establish if genuine paranormal phenomena do exist (especially if psi exists) or if some experiences only seem to be paranormal but truly are not. Based on that stated goal, trying to prove or disprove the existence of paranormal phenomena does fall squarely into parapsychology's paradigmatic field. But what about psychology? Psychology has a lot to say about alleged paranormal phenomena, and not only about why people believe in those phenomena and how they experience them. Let's take one concrete example: in ancient folklore, people used to believe in incubus and succubus, male and female demons who lie on sleepers in order to have intercourse with them. Today, psychology can explain that paranormal phenomena as being hallucinations generated by sleep paralysis. If though most people don't believe in incubus and succubus in the western world nowadays, anthropologists can still find similar folklore, for example, in Zanzibar with the Popobawa. Moreover, sleep paralysis also seems to play a role in the current alien abduction phenomena (Clancy, 2005). As I stated before, the anomalistic psychology's research program is solely about trying to explain paranormal experiences from a purely psychological point of view. It is impossible to say now if this research program will be a success or a failure, but we shouldn't reject it purely based on epistemological grounds. In fact, stating that psychology shouldn't try to prove or disprove paranormal phenomena because it falls outside of its paradigmatic field is already engaging in the ontological debate. The Researcher's Beliefs The idea that psychologists, sociologists or anthropologists shouldn't engage in the ontological debate
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Journal of Exceptional Experiences and Psychology about alleged paranormal phenomena is fairly common in the literature. Where does that idea stem from? Firstly, researchers who advocate this position often perceive the fact that psychology (and neighboring sciences) could try to explain alleged paranormal phenomena in terms of reductionism. For them, when psychology explains an alleged paranormal phenomena (like for example the incubus and succubus I talked about above), it does not really explain it: it explains it away. Reductionism is perceived by them as something intrinsically problematic. This, in itself, is an ontological position about the nature of the paranormal that should be debated in the literature. To give one example of this kind of stance, Lagrange (2000, 2009) argues that sociology should reject a reductionist approach of the UFO phenomena, based on his cognitive relativism epistemology. Secondly, another factor playing into this is the fact that there is a widespread dismissal of the study of alleged paranormal phenomena in the mainstream sciences. There are still many who think that these phenomena are not a worthwhile object of scientific study, even if many ethnographers have reported to have had transpersonal experiences and to have witnessed paranormal phenomena during fieldwork (for more on this see Hunter, 2012; Young & Goulet, 1994). Renard (1998) explains that in sociology the study of parasciences, occult sciences and alternative medicine is still rejected like the study of some minor form of arts (like for example science-fiction in literature) were in the past. I acknowledge that this situation is currently slowly changing, for example in Great-Britain where anomalistic psychology enjoys a growing popularity. Nevertheless, with that in mind, some researchers seem to consider that it would be, from a purely strategic point of view, easier to scientifically study those subjects from a purely phenomenological point of view, while at the same time reassuring their readers that they won't engage in the ontological debate. This is the idea that we often have heard from colleagues in between seminars: that you can work on this kind of topic as long as you don't express the fact that you think that the paranormal do exist; whatever 'exist' means in this context. This leads me to the third point, which is the researcher's own beliefs about the paranormal. Since it could still today be detrimental for someone's academic career to clearly state that he or she believes in authentic paranormal processes (or that psi exists), it is much easier to hide behind statements like "we won't engage in the ontological debate" that "we will purely talk about the phenomenology of the anomalous experience" and that "all that interest us is the psychology of paranormal beliefs". I think that this state of affairs is unfortunate. It is not conducive to a proper debate about alleged paranormal phenomena. I advocate that psychologists studying alleged paranormal phenomena should at least be able to state what their own beliefs are on the topic they are studying. In the scientific study of religion, there is a long history of religiously committed people who have made significant scientific contributions, including Allport (1950), Vergote (1996), Berger (1967) (an Episcopalian who made important contributions in sociology of religion) and many others. If we can imagine that a committed Christian can legitimately study personal prayer, why not a medium studying mediumship? I state the question because for example Biscop (2010) is a spiritualist medium doing anthropological work on this very subject. Similarly to psychology of religion, it is clear that the researcher's own beliefs about the paranormal will influence if not the research itself (with the experimenter effect) but in the least his or her conclusions. I think that transparency (stating one's own beliefs about the subject one is studying) is preferable to staying safely outside the ontological debate. References Alcock, J. (1981). Parapsychology, Science or Magic? A Psychological Perspective. Oxford, Great-Britain: Pergamon Press.
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Journal of Exceptional Experiences and Psychology Alcock, J. (2003). Give the Null Hypothesis a Chance: Reasons to Remain Doubtful about the Existence of Psi. Journal of Consciousness Studies, 10(6–7), 29–50. Alcock, J. (2011). Back from the Future: Parapsychology and the Bem Affair. Skeptical Inquirer, 35(2), 31-39. Allport, G. (1950). The Individual and His Religion. Oxford, Great-Britain: Macmillan. Bem, D. (2011). Feeling the Future: Experimental Evidence for Anomalous Retroactive Influence on Cognition and Affect. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 100(3), 407-425. DOI: 10.1037/a0021524 Berger, P., L. (1967). The Sacred Canopy: Elements of a Sociological Theory of Religion. New York, U.S.A.: Doubleday & Company. Bergin, A., E. (2002). Eternal values and personal growth: A guide on your journey to spiritual, emotional, and social wellness. Provo, Utah, U.S.A.: BYU Studies.
Biscop, P., D. (2010). The Anomalous Anthropologist: Field Experience as an Insider Medium/ Anthropologist. Paranthropology, 1(2), 6-7. Cardena, E., Lynn, S., J., & Krippner, S. (2000). V arieties of anomalous experience – Examining the scientific evidence. Washington, U.S.A.: A.P.A. Clancy, S., A. (2005). A bducted: How People Come to Believe They W ere Kidnapped by A lien. London, Great-Britain: Harvard University Press. François, S., & Kreis, E. (2010). Le complot cosmique : Théorie du complot, ovnis, théosophie et extrémisme politique. Milan, Italie : Archè. Galak, J., LeBoeuf, R., A., Nelson, L., D., & Simmons, J., P. (2012). Correcting the Past: Failures to Replicate Psi. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=2001721 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2001721 Holt, N., Simmonds-Moore, C., Luke, D., & French, C., C. (2012). A nomalistic Psychology. Basingstoke, Great-Britain: Palgrave Macmillan. Hunter, J. (2012). Paranthropology: A nthropological A pproaches to the Paranormal. Bristol, Great-Britain: Lulu.com. Irwin, H., J., & Watt, C. (2007). A n Introduction to Parapsychology (Fifth Edition). London, Great-Britain: McFarland. James, W. (1902). The V arieties of Religious Experience: A Study in Human Nature. New York, U.S.A.: The Modern Library. Lagrange, P. (2000). Reprendre à zéro: Pour une sociologie irréductionniste des ovnis. Inforespace, 100, 6075. Lagrange, P. (2009). Une ethnographie de l’ufologie – La question du partage entre science et croyance. École des hautes études en sciences sociales / Université d’Avignon et des pays du Vaucluse. Mathijsen, F., P. (2009). Empirical Research and Paranormal Beliefs: Going Beyond the Epistemological Debate in Favour of the Individual. A rchive for the Psychology of Religion, 31, 319-333. Mossbridge, J., Tressoldi, P., & Utts, J. (2012). Predictive physiological anticipation preceding seemingly unpredictable stimuli: a meta-analysis. Frontiers in Psychology, 3, 390. DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2012.00390 Vol. 1 No. 1 20
Journal of Exceptional Experiences and Psychology Radin, D. (1997). The Conscious Universe: The Scientific Truth of Psychic Phenomena. New York, U.S.A.: HarperCollins. Radin, D. (2006). Entangled Minds: Extrasensory Experiences in a Quantum Reality. New York, U.S.A.: Paraview Pocket Books. Renard, J.-B. (1988). Les extraterrestres - Une nouvelle croyance religieuse? Paris, France: Éditions du Cerf. Renard, J.-B. (1998). Éléments pour une sociologie du paranormal, Religiologiques, 18, 31-52. Rhine, J., B. (1934). Extra-Sensory Perception. Boston, U.S.A.: Bruce Humphries. Rhine, J., B. (1937). New Frontiers of the Mind. New York, U.S.A.: Farrar & Rinehart. Rhine, J., B. (1947). The Reach of the Mind. New York, U.S.A.: Sloane. Rhine, J., B. (1953). New W orld of the Mind. New York, U.S.A.: Sloane. Ritchie, S., J., Wiseman, R., & French, C., C. (2012). Failing the Future: Three Unsuccessful Attempts to Replicate Bem’s ‘Retroactive Facilitation of Recall’ Effect. PLoS ONE, 7(3), e33423. DOI:10.1371/ journal.pone.0033423 Roberts, R., & Groome, D. (2001). Parapsychology: The Science of Unusual Experience. Londres, GreatBritain: Arnold. Shermer, M. (2011). The Believing Brain: From Ghosts and Gods to Politics and Conspiracies---How We Construct Beliefs and Reinforce Them as Truths. London, Great-Britain: Constable & Robinson. Thouless, R. (1942). Experiments on paranormal guessing. British Journal of Psychology, 33, 15-27. Tobacyk, J., & Milford, G. (1983). Belief in paranormal phenomena: Assessment instrument development and implications for personality functioning. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 44, 648–655. Utts, J. M. (1996). An Assessment of the Evidence for Psychic Functioning. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 10 (1), 3-30. Vergote, A. (1996). Religion, foi, incroyance. Étude psychologique. Leuven, Belgium: Leuven University Press. Wagenmakers, E., Wetzels, R., Borsboom, D., & van der Maas, H.L.J. (2011). Why psychologists must change the way they analyse their data: The case of psi: Comment on Bem (2011). Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 100, 426-432. DOI: 10.1037/a0022790 Watt, C. (2005). Parapsychology’s Contribution to Psychology: A V iew From the Front Line. Presidential Address Presented at the 2005 Convention of the Parapsychological Association, 12th August. Wiseman, R. (2010). ‘Heads I Win, Tails You Lose’: How Parapsychologists Nullify Null Results. Skeptical Inquirer, 34(1), 36-39. Young, D., E., & Goulet, J., G. (1994). Being Changed by Cross-Cultural Encounters: The Anthropology of Extraordinary Experience. Peterborough, Great-Britain: Broadview Press. Zusne, L., & Jones, W., H. (1982). A nomalistic Psychology: A Study of Extraordinary Phenomena of Behaviour and Experience. Mahwah, New Jersey, U.S.A.: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates Inc. Biography Jean-Michel Abrassart is a Ph.D. candidate in psychology at the Catholic University of Louvain (Louvain-la-Neuve, Belgium), affiliated with the Institute for the Analysis of Change in Contemporary and Historical Societies (IACCHOS). His main focus of interest is the study of the UFO phenomena. He published his first book in 2010 on the topic of the psychology of paranormal belief, La croyance au paranormal: Facteurs prédispositionnels et situationnels (Éditions universitaires européennes, 2010). He is an active mem-
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Journal of Exceptional Experiences and Psychology
Toward a Grounding of Parapsychology in Phenomenology: Psi as a Function of Sorge Jacob W. Glazier
Abstract This manuscript undertakes a theoretical study using Heideggerian phenomenology to provide a more robust foundation for parapsychology in the hopes of offering a codifying paradigm. I argue that physicalist and experimentalist approaches to parapsychology make a category error in their ontological understanding of world. Consequently, this analysis shows that psi as understood as mechanism is superfluous insofar as a phenomenological understanding is concerned. Moreover, viewed phenomenologically, psi reveals itself ontologically as a function of sorge, which is relational care or concern. Future directions are proffered as it relates to shifting parapsychology to a human science approach and renaming the discipline to exceptional psychology. Keywords: Exceptional experiences, phenomenology, parapsychology, psi, ontology, sorge, Martin Heidegger
What is psi? The answer to this question is nowhere nearer to being settled than it was in the time of William James (Felser, 2001). Yet, among some parapsychologists there is still a belief that one day experimental results - perhaps with the help of quantum theory - will prove the veridicality of psi and, therefore, vindicate parapsychology as a legitimate science in the vein of physics. This lingers, even though psi, as manifested in extrasensory perception, has already been empirically established (Targ, 2012). Indeed, providing a definition of psi is tricky business because of a lack of coherence within the parapsychology literature and, perhaps, because of psi’s very nature. Throughout parapsychological history, the theories of psi have proliferated. Beloff (1993) stated that the theories of psi can be divided into two categories: (a) the physical or quasi-physical and (b) the transcendental. Some examples of psi phenomena include extrasensory perception (ESP), psychokinesis (PK), and survival after death (Irwin & Watt, 2007). According to Irwin and Watt (2007), psi is used “to denote the unknown paranormal element in these experiences in much the same way as the letter x represents the unknown in an algebraic equation until its identity is determined” (p. 6). In an attempt to better understand psi, J. B. Rhine (1952, 1953; Beloff, 1993) initiated a physicalist (Beloff, 1993) research approach in experimentalism, beginning in the 1930’s, and has been, what Kuhn (1970) would call, the hegemonic research paradigm of parapsychology in the twentieth century. At present in the discipline, some forms of experimentalism (e.g., Radin, 2006, 2012) attempt to use empiricism as a way for the facts to speak for themselves regarding psi sans theory. This is problematic because facts are, in part, always theory laden (Chalmers, 1999; Feyerabend, 1988). Certainly, not all researchers see this fact as necessitating throwing the baby out with the bathwater because research of this kind still continues. Others, like Carpenter (2012, 2004) and White (1997), have suggested shifting parapsychology to more of a phenomenological, experiential, and holistic approach. In relation to Kuhnian (1970) philosophy of science, I think it is fair to say that parapsychology is either currently in a state of crisis as a result of losing its paradigmatic status in Rhinean experimentalism or has not yet moved past its pre-scientific development and, therefore, was never in a place in which to conducted normal science in the first place. This is evidenced by a recent supplement to the Journal of Parapsychology in which prominent scholars in the field described numerous, sometimes philosophically incommensurable, artic-
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Journal of Exceptional Experiences and Psychology ulations of parapsychology (Palmer, 2012). In this manuscript, I am arguing for the phenomenological approach. In so doing, it is not my intention to create a straw man out of experimentalism by only offering the binary of experimentalism-orphenomenology, of which I clearly favor the latter. As has been stated, there are a plethora of theories and approaches to parapsychology (Palmer, 2012) in which only a meta-review of the literature has the potential to do them all justice. That being said, I am following in Braude’s (1986) footsteps when he states that the experimentalism as initiated by Rhine has failed. As Braude argued, “it is not clear to me why physics should have anything of great interest to say regarding psi phenomena, because it is unclear why physics should have anything of great interest to say about organic activities in general” (Braude, 1986, p. 17). This distinction, as Braude couches it between the organic versus inorganic, is essentially the crux of my argument. That is, in the phenomenological tradition, there is a long held distinction between the study of the natural world, such as in physics and chemistry, and the study of human experience and sociality (Husserl, 1954/1970; Heidegger, 1927/1996; MerleauPonty, 1947; Giorgi, 1976). What I am articulating is that, in general, experimentalism vis-à-vis a natural science, physicalist approach collapses this distinction. Therefore, I am undertaking a theoretical study using phenomenology to provide a more robust theoretical foundation for parapsychology, which could, in turn, provide friction for the development of a new paradigm in which to conduct normal science within the field. Both Roe (2012) and Moreira-Almeda (2012) express hope that parapsychology can coalescence into one such paradigm. I am proffering phenomenology as a means by which to meet this call. I will do this by arguing that psi understood as mechanism is resultant of an experimentalism of the natural sciences as adopted by some parapsychological approaches. To accomplish this, I will employ a Heideggerian phenomenological approach supplemented by Medard Boss’s appropriation of it in daseinsanalysis. Boss’s formulation of the psychotherapy model of daseinsanalysis remained the truest to Heidegger’s philosophy (Askay, 2001) and, as a result, will be most helpful in seeing how psi is experienced in the world. The subsequent analysis reveals that psi shows itself to be a function of the ontological concept of sorge. Furthermore, in this view, parapsychology may be able to more accurately and rigorously engage with its matter of study by shifting its undergirding to that of a human science. Conflated Worlds: Psi as Mechanism The discipline of parapsychology is not accepted by mainstream psychology or science as a legitimate field (Felser, 2001). Conventional psychologists claim that parapsychology is a pseudoscience and the results it produces in the laboratory are the effect of methodological error (Kennedy, 2001). According to Felser (2001), parapsychology is nowhere nearer to developing a broad and overarching theory of psi that would be accepted by scientists or philosophers than it was in the time of William James. I believe this stems from the (historically) widespread adoption of the physicalist experimentalism as advanced by J. B. Rhine (Beloff, 1993), which is contradistinctive to the domain of the discipline’s phenomena; namely, human experience. Physicalism (or metaphysical naturalism) makes the claims that (A) physical properties are all that exist (ontological monism), (B) the epistemology of physics-mathematics is hegemonic and, thus, (C) the mind or consciousness is reducible to the brain (Velmans, 2009). Kelly and Kelly (2012) make clear one of physicalism’s metaphysical axioms,
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Journal of Exceptional Experiences and Psychology that everything in the human mind and consciousness must be generated by, or supervenient upon, or in some mysterious fashion identical with, neurophysiological processes occurring in brains. Ordinary perceptual experiences are presumed to arise through the central processing of identifiable physical stimuli impinging upon our various sensory surfaces, and no other forms of contact with the environment—in particular with any portions of the environment that are remote in space and/or time—are believed possible. (Kelly & Kelly, 2012, p. 27) The view of physicalism as described above and the nature of paranormal phenomena are antithetical as per phenomenology philosophy. This mismatch has led to the proliferation of theory. Case in point, Kennedy (2001) stated that there are at least 11 hypotheses that attempt to explain why the psi effect in the laboratory is so elusive. These theories range from claiming that the nature of psi is inherently rare and elusive to the claim that psi is controlled by nonphysical beings. These varied and sometimes outlandish claims arise from the fact that parapsychologists are trying to look at a phenomenon characteristic to human consciousness and experience through the approach of experimentalism as informed by physicalism. Giorgi (1976) described why the study of consciousness and experience must take a different approach. He argued that naturalistic and physicalist science will never lead to a full understanding of human experience because world and nature are not the same. The natural science approach only recognizes the latter and defines it exclusively in terms of physical and inert matter. It sidesteps the idea of world (a technical term that will be unpacked later), which is inherent to human consciousness. As a result, parapsychology seeks to understand human experience and, yet, takes as its approach physicalist experimentalism, which can metaphysically never understand these phenomena. Parapsychology co-opts the study of nature as defined by natural science and applies it to the study of world (i.e., consciousness and experience). As Giorgi (1976) stated, “the difference between the domain of ‘nature’ and that of ‘world’ is such that one cannot extend the concepts, procedures, and findings, from one to the other without serious distortion” (p. 292). When it sidesteps the world of the individual, parapsychology must posit the process of psi as mechanism in order to explain the terms of the world in the language of nature. This witch hunt for a mechanism (my language), Beischel (2012) stated, is misguided and that “psi will continue to exist sans mechanism” (p. 10). Ontological Distinctions
Through the philosophy of phenomenology, parapsychology may be able to better understand the world of human experience and, as a result, psi. Heidegger (1927/1996) made it very clear that Dasein (his appropriated term for the self; etymologically, Dasein means “there-being”) is a unique being among beings, such that Dasein is the only being whose Being is an issue for it. This definition sets Dasein apart from inanimate objects such as hammers and from organic organisms such as plants and animals. With these beings, Dasein is primordially a being-in-the-world, an underlying, unified structure, which is used by Heidegger (1927/1996) to illustrate that subject and object and intricately linked and that Dasein contains the capacity to experience this. The self, as Dasein, is spread out, so to speak, and ensnared in a matrix of significant relations. Consequently, we are not, “‘egos’ inside bags of skin” to borrow Alan Watts’s quip (1966, p. 9). The epidermis of Vol. 1 No. 1
Journal of Exceptional Experiences and Psychology the body does not confine the “where” or the “with whom” of Dasein in a particular moment (Boss, 1963). Dasein literally stands out into the world extending to its farthest corner, to the most remote thing that can be recalled, perceived, or imagined (Boss, 1988/2000). Our extension in the world – closeness or remoteness – cannot be measured in terms of miles or meters (Boss, 1963). We can be closest to a being that is across the universe from us while, at the same time, furthest from a being that brushes up against the body. The intimacy of our concern and the power of its appeal signify the relationship we have to it (Boss, 1963). The world of Dasein, for Heidegger (1927/1996), has four different meanings. (1) World refers to all the beings that are objectively present in the world in an ontic and factual sense, which Heidegger referred to as present-at-hand (further explication to come). (2) World can function as an ontological term that names the being of those beings named. For example, in parapsychology, world in this sense would mean the region of all possible phenomena under investigation by the discipline. (3) World can be understood ontically in terms of the possible worlds experienced by the self; for instance, the public or private worlds experienced by Dasein. (4) World can be meant in terms of worldliness or worldhood; the ontological and pre-theoretical being of world (Heidegger, 1927/1996). I conjecture that physicalist experimentalism in parapsychology makes a categorical error by conflating world in terms of the self (3) with world in the sense of the objective presence (1). As a result, physicalism must posit the notion of a mechanism for psi whereby a distinct process of information or energy transfer might be said to occur. As Heidegger (1927/1996) stated, “‘nature’ can never render worldliness intelligible … Rather, the other way around!” (p. 61). He argued that nature for the naturalistic sciences are only ontologically comprehensible on the basis of the analytic of Dasein or, for the purposes of this manuscript, the ontology of phenomenology in general. To further elaborate this point, Heidegger (1927/1996) delineated two modes in which we can encounter beings in the world: ready-to-hand and present-at-hand. Ready-to-handedness is the primary way of beingin-the-world and the mode of present-to-handedness only shows up when something with ready-to-handedness goes awry. For Heidegger (1927/1996), three problems can occur which shift our mode of being-in-the-world: conspicuousness, obtrusiveness, and obstinacy. Conspicuousness occurs when an entity is damaged. Obtrusiveness occurs when an entity is missing. Obstinacy occurs when another entity interferes with a project. Entity here is taken to mean a being within the world or an innerwordly being; that is, something that is encountered in the world by Dasein (Heidegger, 1927/1996). When ready-to-handedness encounters either of these three, our mode of being shifts to present-to -handedness. According to Heidegger (1927/1996), the mode of being present-to-hand is that in which metaphysical naturalism (i.e., physicalism) operates. The need for a mechanism of psi arises from shifting from the mode of ready-to-hand to the mode of present-to-hand. Discrete Worlds: Psi as Sorge The previous account has sought to give a “negative” description of the process of psi insofar of its epiphenomenal or secondary characteristics; namely, that (A) parapsychology conflates the world of the self with the world of objective presence and (B) because of this the mode of encountering the phenomenon switches from being ready-to-hand to being present-to-hand thereby necessitating the need to posit a mechanism for psi. However, psi is not a kind of mechanism that needs to be discovered via experimental and physicalist approaches. By maintaining the distinction between the world of the self and the world of objective presence,
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Journal of Exceptional Experiences and Psychology psi reveals itself ontologically as a function of sorge. Sorge, meaning care in German, is a technical term used by Heidegger (1927/1996) to demonstrate the existential meaning of Dasein; the primordial totality of the being of Dasein. Heidegger wrote his magnum opus Being and Time with the intention of unpacking this statement, so I will forgo any hubris by not pretending to be able to do it justice here. Suffice it to say that sorge entails many existential (ontological) and existentiell (ontic) structures such as attunement (mood), being-with, authenticity, being-toward-death, and resoluteness. Even through this brief iteration, for example, understanding psi as sorge could lead to an ontological understanding of the relationship between moods and psi, which has been repeatedly documented in the psychokinesis literature (Braude, 1986; Heath, 2000; Randall, 1982). The ways in which we are attuned to the world determine what beings we experience; attunement is a mood or worldview that assails Dasein (Heidegger, 1927/1996). Our attunement is especially influenced by culture and society. It is unequivocally true that the reigning hegemonic discourse in Western culture is of the natural, physicalist sciences; this has shown to be true for over a century now (Burtt, 1932; Husserl, 1954/1970; Heidegger, 1993). Granted, even though poststructuralist thinkers have certainly eroded this dominance (e.g., Foucault, 1965; Lyotard, 1979), it still pervades vis-à-vis economic and industrial systems. As an example, Hansen (2001) detailed how CSICOP (Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal) is one such agent whereby the mantle of science is ensconced with a particular ideology at the expense of others. From a mainstream science point of view, psi is banished to the fringe. Phenomena like these are either discredited as unrealities or are assimilated into the natural scientific worldview with abnormal status (Dreyfus, 2006). This is actively taking place as evidenced in anomalistic psychology (Holt, Simmonds-Moore, Luke, & French, 2012; Irwin, 2012). The overwhelming influence the mainstream has on our attunement might help explain why individual differences exist in the psi ability. Perhaps this is why psi phenomena are not seemingly recognized or widely accepted in our culture—at least as part of the mainstream. Building on this, Aho (2007), taking a Heideggerian view, believed that it could be helpful to examine the attunement of indigenous cultures and practices. He argued that cultures remaining on the margins of the mainstream society have the hope of providing a connective thread back to an ancient temperament that is prescientific. This could be beneficial for parapsychology because it may provide evidence that the presencing of psi phenomena depends, in part, on cultural beliefs (cf. the journal Paranthropology). An excellent application of this principle was given by Aanstoos (1986) and Roll (1987) in the example of the Iroquois Indian culture. The Iroquois Indians have a notion that they call the long body. They experienced their bodies literally extended out in space to other members of the tribe. An aspect of this kind of bodily feeling, in our culture, might be termed by neuropsychologists as mirror empathy facilitated by mirror neurons (Iacoboni, 2009). Iacoboni asserted that this new discovery by neuropsychology has solved the “problem of other minds.” The researcher wrote, The properties of these cells seem to solve—or better, dis-solve—what is called the “problem of other minds”: if one has access only to one’s own mind, how can one possibly understand the minds of other people? How can one possibly share one’s own mental states with others, making intersubjectivity possible? (p. 666). This is a clear example of how mainstream science assumes a physicalist worldview and, yet, remains oblivious to its entrapments. The problem of other minds has a long history in philosophy (Velmans, 2009) and, I
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Journal of Exceptional Experiences and Psychology would vehemently argue, cannot be solved by a physicalist approach (Heidegger, 1927/1996). To overcome this chasm, mirror empathy or the concept of the long body needs to be described phenomenologically; I assert in terms of sorge; or, as Aanstoos (1986) did, in light of Merleau-Ponty’s phenomenological philosophy. The felt sense that the Iroquois describe in their experience of the long body is a function of their attunement to the world. They experienced themselves and the world in a very different way than we do and, as a result, the presencing of psi phenomena such as the long body is indicative of this unique attunement. Conclusion and Future Directions The present manuscript has argued that the process of psi as mechanism described by physicalist theories in parapsychology is a superfluous when viewed phenomenologically: psi is ontologically a function of sorge, which is relational care or concern. This analysis presents parapsychology with some interesting questions: Human science or natural science? Typically, experimental parapsychologists study psi phenomena by placing subjects in a lab environment. An elaborate set of controls and procedures are put in place. Especially in parapsychology, subjects are assumed to be agents of deceit. As a result, stringent constraints are put in place to control for trickery. It is interesting to consider the “assumptions of deceit” parapsychology builds into its experiments and the effect that those assumptions have on the experience of the participant as well as on the phenomena trying to be examined. Phenomenologically, experimentation is an abstraction derived from the lived world of the participant. Perhaps the human science approach offers an alternative in terms of study the everyday lived experience of individuals (Heath, 2000). As I have argued, Giorgi's (1970; 1976) conception of a phenomenologically oriented human science could help parapsychology develop a cogent paradigm (Kuhn, 1970) and be more in line with the domain of psi as a human experience. Help from phenomenology? An increased dialogue between phenomenological philosophy and parapsychology would be helpful in further elucidating the points of this article and to go beyond by describing other parapsychological phenomena through a phenomenological approach. For instance, interfacing the phenomenology of Merleau-Ponty with psi phenomena can help clarify the role of the body (Aanstoos, 1986). It would be interesting to examine Merleau-Ponty’s (1947) explanation for synesthesia in regard to parapsychology. For him, everyone is primordially synesthetic. Through a developmental individuation process with the world, the five distinct senses emerge. This process falls on a continuum with some people more individuated than others. Merleau-Ponty offers an embodied approach that may be descriptively illuminating for phenomena like PK or synesthesia. Shift to Exceptional Psychology? The word “parapsychology” carries with it the connotations and the background of experimentalism and the physicalist sciences. Many scholars have lamented of parapsychology’s unfortunate prefix - para (Kelly & Kelly, 2012; Radin, 2012; Simmonds-Moore, 2012). Simmonds-Moore (2012) recommended replac-
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Journal of Exceptional Experiences and Psychology ing the term parapsychology with exceptional psychology, which is more encompassing and inclusive. This is in line with Rhea White’s (1997) conception of exceptional human experiences (EHEs). This change, in my view, would also help to distinguish exceptional psychology’s human science approach from parapsychology’s historically more experimental and physicalist approach. I believe that the time is ripe for a new conception of parapsychology as grounded in a phenomenologically informed human science approach. This would be keeping pace with the thrust of research in the human sciences, which is towards more holism, interconnection, and integration. Through such a realignment, parapsychology can not only better understand psi, but also give validation to the real life, lived experiences of everyday people. References Aanstoos, C. M. (1986). Psi and the phenomenology of the long body. Theta Journal, 13/14(3/4), 49-51. Aho, K. (2007). Recovering play: On the relationship between leisure and authenticity in Heidegger's thought. Janus Head, 10(1), 217-238. Askay, R. (2001). Heidegger's philosophy and its implications for psychology, Freud, and existential psychoanalysis. In M. Heidegger, & M. Boss (Ed.), Zollikon seminars: protocols, conversations, letters (F. Mayr, & R. Askay, Trans., pp. 301-315). Evanston, Illinois: Northwestern University Press. Beloff, J. (1993). Parapsychology: A concise history. New York: St. Martin’s Press, Inc. Boss, M. (1963). Psychoanalysis and daseinsanalysis. (L. Lefebre, Trans.), New York: Basic Books, Inc. Boss, M. (2000). Recent considerations in daseinsanalysis. The Humanistic Psychologist, 28, 210-230. (Original work published 1988) Braude, S. E. (1986). The limits of influence: Psychokinesis and the philosophy of science. New York: Routledge & Kegan Paul Inc. Burtt, E. A. (1932). The metaphysical foundations of modern science (rev. ed.). (pp. 15-35). New York: Anchor. Carpenter, J. (2012). Firesight, first sight. Journal of Parapsychology, 76(supplement), 19-21. Carpenter, J. (2004). First sight: Part one, a model of psi and the mind. Journal of Parapsychology, 68(2), 217252. Chalmers, A. F. (1999). W hat is this thing called science? St Lucia, Qld : University of Queensland Press Dreyfus, H. L. (2006). Heidegger on the connection between nihilism, art, technology, and politics. In C. B. Guignon (Ed.), The Cambridge companion to Heidegger (2nd ed., pp. 345-372). New York: Cambridge University Press. Feyerabend, P. (1988). A gainst method. London: Verso. Felser, J. M. (2001). Philosophical sensitives and sensitive philosophers: Gazing into the future of parapsychology. International Journal of Parapsychology, 12(1), 53-82. Foucault, M. (1965). Madness and civilization: A history of insanity in the age of reason. New York: Pantheon Books. Giorgi, A. (1970). Psychology as a human science. New York: Harper & Row. Giorgi, A. (1976). Phenomenology and the foundations of psychology. In W. Arnold (Ed.). Nebraska symposium on motivation: Conceptual foundations of psychology (pp. 281-348). Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. Hansen, G. P. (2001). The trickster and the paranormal. United States of America: Xlibris Corporation. Heath, P. R. (2000). The PK zone: A phenomenological study. The Journal of Parapsychology, 64, 53-72.
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Journal of Exceptional Experiences and Psychology Heidegger, M. (1996). Being and time. (J. Stambaugh, Trans.), Albany, NY: State University of New York Press. (Original work published 1927) Heidegger, M. (1993). Modern science, metaphysics, and mathematics. In D. F. Krell (Ed.), Basic writings (pp. 268-305). San Francisco: Harper Collins Publishers, Inc. Husserl, E. (1970). The crisis of European sciences and transcendental phenomenology: A n introduction to phenomenological philosophy (D. Carr, Trans.). Evanston: Northwestern University Press. (Original work 1954) Holt, N., Simmonds-Moore, C., Luke, D., & French, C. (2012). A nomalistic psychology. Basingstoke, United Kingdom: Palgrave Macmillan. Iacoboni, M. (2009). Imitation, empathy, and mirror neurons. A nnual Review of Psychology, 60, 653-670. Irwin, H. (2012). The pursuit of the paranormal or the study of anomalous experiences experiences? Parapsychology next 25 years. Journal of Parapsychology, 76(supplement), 24-26. Irwin, H. J. & Watt, C. A. (2007). A n introduction to parapsychology. Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company, Inc. Kennedy, J. (2001). Why is psi so elusive? A review and proposed model. The Journal of Parapsychology, 65, 219-246. Kelly, E. F. & Kelly, E. W. (2012). Parapsychology in context: The big picture. Journal of Parapsychology, 76 (supplement), 26-28. Kuhn, T. S. (1970). The structure of scientific revolutions. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Lyotard, J.-F. (1979). The post-modern condition: A report on knowledge. United Kingdom: Manchester University Press. Merleau-Ponty, M. (1947). The primacy of perception and its philosophical consequences. Bulletin del la societe francaise de philosophie, 49, 119-153. Moreira-Almeda, A. (2012). Reflections on the future of scientific investigations on psi phenomena. Journal of Parapsychology, 76(supplement), 33-35. Palmer, J. (2012). A summary and my own perspective. Journal of Parapsychology, 76(supplement), 7-9. Radin, D. (2012). Psi-mediated optimism and the future of parapsychology. Journal of Parapsychology, 76 (supplement), 45-46. Radin, D. (2006). Entangled minds: Extrasensory experiences in a quantum reality. New York: Pocket Books. Randall (1982). Psychokinesis: A study of paranormal forces through the ages. London: Souvenir Press. Roe, C. A. (2012). Parapsychology in the next 25 years - still a butterfly science? Journal of Parapsychology, 76(supplement), 46-48. Roll, W. G. (1987). Memory and the long body. Theta Journal, 15(1-4), 10-29. Rhine, J. B. (1952). The problem of psi-missing. Journal of Parapsychology, 16, 90-129. Rhine, J. B. (1953). Psi, psyche and psychology. In New world of the mind. New York: William Sloan Associates. Simmonds-Moore, C. (2012). What is exceptional psychology? Journal of Parapsychology, 76(supplement), 54-57. Targ, R. (2012). The reality of ESP: A physicistâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s proof of psychic abilities. Wheaton, IL: Quest Books. Velmans, M. (2009). Understanding consciousness. New York: Routledge. Watts, A. (1966). The book on the taboo against knowing who you are. New York: Random House, Inc.
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Journal of Exceptional Experiences and Psychology White, R. (1997). Dissociation, narrative, and exceptional human experiences. In S. Krippner & S. M. Powers (Eds.), Broken images, broken selves: Dissociation narratives in clinical practice (pp. 88-120). Washington, DC: Brunner/Mazel, Inc. Biography Jacob W. Glazier, M.S. Ed., NCC, is co-editor and a founding member of JEEP. He is a Ph.D. student pursuing a degree in Psychology in Consciousness and Society at the University of West Georgia. He has his masterâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and practices at the Center for Counseling and Career Development at the University of West Georgia. Jake is also a Graduate Teaching Assistant. Jakeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s research interests focus on using the ontology of phenomenological philosophy as a grounding for exceptional and paranormal experiences, especially appropriating the phenomenology of Martin Heidegger and Maurice MerleauPonty. Similarly, he specializes in the Descriptive Phenomenological Method to qualitative research as developed by Amedeo Giorgi. As a clinician, Jake is interested in clinical and counseling approaches to exceptional experiences.
University of West Georgia 1601 Maple St, Carrollton, GA 30118 firstname.lastname@example.org
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Jacob W. Glazier
Journal of Exceptional Experiences and Psychology
Letters to the Editors, Personal Accounts
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Portrait of Rhea White: From Parapsychological Phenomena to Exceptional Experiences Renaud Evrard
Abstract In the field of academic psychology, the concept of exceptional experiences has started to find its place, supplanting adjectives such as "paranormal," "transpersonal," "supernatural," "anomalous" or "extraordinary," to describe a whole pan of human experience. Several recent doctoral dissertations and books refer to it directly (e.g., in the references books by psychologists Martina Belz, Jane Henry, Christina Schaefer and Christine Simmonds-Moore; and doctoral dissertations by Thomas Rabeyron and Renaud Evrard). In the United Kingdom, the Universities of Coventry and Greenwich offer, for instance, courses on exceptional experiences. The Utrecht University in the Netherlands even hosts the Heymans Chair of Exceptional Human Experiences. But what does this concept really means? And what is its history? To better understand this, there is no better way than to get acquainted with Rhea White (1931 – 2007 AD), who coined the concept of Exceptional Human Experience (EHE). Keywords: Exceptional human experience, exceptional experiences, Rhea White From NDE to Parapsychology
Then student in the arts and close to beginning a career as a professional golfer, Rhea had a Near Death Experience during a car accident (White, n.d.). In order to make sense of what happened to her, she decided to move towards the study of scientific parapsychology. From 1954 to 1958, she worked at the Parapsychology Laboratory at Duke University with Joseph Banks Rhine (1895 – 1980 AD). This psychologist, trained as a botanist, had led the first university laboratory fully devoted to this unexplored area. His work had already beamed around the world for three decades when Rhea took a place at his side. But, what skills justified her inclusion since she didn't have a real scientific training? Rhea was a top-notch worker who learned very quickly and knew how to serve others. Her specialty: the establishment of bibliographies! For each parapsychological issue or topic, she read the relevant works and edified an annotated bibliography. As a ‘living Wikipedia’, she soon became indispensable for the whole research community. She didn't stop there. She became a recognized experimenter and theoretician. She contributed to redirecting parapsychological research towards "free-response" protocols, where the subjects attempt to guess targets with their own words and images instead of "forced-choice" experimental designs where the subjects were confined to a limited pool of symbols (White, 1964). Rhea had a view of mind far less narrow than behaviorist psychologists on which Rhine based his research. Her work was honored twice: in 1984, she was elected President of the Parapsychological Association (PA), the professional body of researchers in parapsychology; and in 1992, she received the Outstanding Contribution to Research Award - one of the highest distinctions awarded annually by the PA. In her presidential address, she offered a very original view of parapsychology as more a wisdom than a knowledge. She urged her colleagues to be more personally involved in "projects of transcendence.” This meant stopping their experiments in their ivory towers in order to develop another knowledge about so-called "paranormal" experiences. According to White, people who suffer from their exceptional experiences need help that the researchers in parapsychology didn't provide them. To her great vexation, her vi-
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Journal of Exceptional Experiences and Psychology sion of parapsychology did not provoke any revolution, despite a warm welcome by many of her colleagues. Then, she decided to begin by transforming herself…
The Birth of Exceptional Human Experiences In the early 1990s, Rhea broke with her purely parapsychological activities. Being at the head of the Parapsychology Sources of Information Center since its founding in 1981, she undertook to rename it the Exceptional Human Experience Network. Similarly, the wealth of information that was her parapsychological journal Parapsychology A bstracts International became the Exceptional Human Experience journal, accompanied by a newsletter, the EHE News. Since her death in 2007, the resources accumulated on the website www.ehe.org were bequeathed to the Parapsychology Foundation. Rhea White describes how the shift from parapsychology to "exceptional experiences" followed a scathing awareness: In 1990, after nearly 40 years, I realized I wasn't going to live forever on this earth, and if I wanted to understand my near-death experience (at least now I knew what to call it), science was not going to show me, at least not the behaviorist type of science that was privileged by academic parapsychology. In 1990 I decided to go back and study the basic data of parapsychology - the experiences people report. But I soon realized that they could not be viewed properly without considering them along with all the other sorts of non-ordinary and anomalous experiences people have. In a vision I saw the need to study all of them as a single class of experience, which I called 'exceptional human experience'. I have been pursuing this aim ever since (White, n. d., para 5). In 1994, in a special issue of her journal, Rhea elaborated and justified her choice of the words exceptional human experience. She stated, 1. First, EHE’s take a "person-centered" approach, thus putting forward an "experience" rather than an ostensibly objective "event" or "phenomenon" (experience versus evidence). 2. Second, she wanted a general term that can be used for all unusual experiences. Other close terms suffer, she said, from ideological connotations. The only synonymous she had approved was "wondrous" (White, 1994, p. 58), which is not without echoes to the origins of this category, between natural and supernatural (see, Evrard, 2012). With a general term, like EHE, it could be easier to look for connections between different forms of experience. Rhea highlighted the importance of these connections between experiences: making connections encourages the integration process. 3. Third, the adjective "exceptional" nicely introduces the subjective justification of this appointment. That is, the person that has the experience gets to decide whether or not the experience is classified as exceptional. What is paranormal to someone is not necessarily paranormal to that of another. This must be respected, at a given time and for a given person. 4. Fourth, the adjective "exceptional" does not denigrate these experiences in any way. Instead, it is part of their valorization and their legitimation in the hopes that this would ultimately lead to its removing at which time we will be able to speak only of "human experiences". Similarly, Rhea added in her classification (White, 1997) a strange category of already "normal" exceptional experiences that included, among others: aesthetic experience, "Eureka", déjà-vu, empathy, lucid dreaming, coma experience, novelty experience, nostalgia, love at first sight, orgasm, and others.
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Journal of Exceptional Experiences and Psychology 5. Fifth, the adjective "human" is added to clarify here the focus on an experiential dimension that can be verbalized, something that is a priori absent in animals. The term EHE consecrates for itself a new orientation of research and practice. This research program validates the experience of the individual while undertaking a genuine curiosity in strange and exceptional experiences. From Parapsychology back to NDE One might think that Rhea White was no longer in the field of parapsychology. However, this is not how she thought of her journey (White, n.d.). According to her vision, parapsychology - but also science in general - had primarily been a male affair, an androcentric science. Rhea wanted to rebalance the situation by applying a feminist epistemology in parapsychology. Rather than focusing on "psi evidence", parapsychology should be based on the search for the meaning of individual anomalous experiences. This perspective will become more and more important later, especially with the work and support of other women in parapsychology as Susan Blackmore and Caroline Watt. She regarded her new research direction as a dynamic one. It implies that the initial EHE - whether validated empirically or not - begins the subjective process of narrative elaboration related to identity (Brown, 2000). Consequently, the EHE should be first and foremost integrated, validated, and applied for the individual's own growth. To achieve this, we must first make a choice between either the proof or the meaning - both aspects being irreconcilable; the latter being more important for Rhea. White urged her colleagues in the field to acknowledge their own exceptional experiences in order to leave their quest for scientific respectability based on a reductionist and third-person approach. Rhea then left it up to the individual to choose between either belief or doubt, that is to say he or she may decide to adopt a new paradigm, a new vision of the world in which his other experience will be integrated - possibly by being supported by additional experiences and enrichment procedures that increase its symbolism and meaning. Alternatively, he or she may not trust his or her senses and "rationally" explain the experience (according to his or her previous worldview). The individual may rely on the positive or negative value of his or her experience to guide this choice; even though Rhea recognized that some experiences are neutral, having no after-effects. In all cases, the EHE places the individual in a state of cognitive and emotional dissonance in which the experience shifts the individualâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s models of the world and of the self (Fach, 2011). But all EHEs are not transformative because they only have the potential to alter or subvert the life of an individual. They are only transformative if the individual decides to invest meaning into it. Rhea, therefore, qualified EHEs as "pre-paradigmatic" (White, 1994, p. 103). Moreover, at no time did White defend any single paradigm or any one view such as any specific religious or philosophical conception. She remained at this pre-paradigmatic and individual level, talking of "vocation in a secular framework", "call to live lives of transcendence" (White, 1994, p. 46), and "signals of transcendence" as being secular forms of activation of the religious imagination (White, 1994, p. 90). Her Legacy White's experience-centered approach isn't unanimously adopted by those who use the term "exceptional experiences", but it is a historical impulse for these researches. Admittedly, she gave a much too personal and too relativistic of a meaning of what she regarded to be EHEs. While she has adopted a broad definition of these experiences, she tried to classify them seeking for an exhaustive list of EHE forms. In 1997, she listed about 150 potential EHEs, with many overlapping ones, and with some being just common life experiences such as "falling in love," "a time of great nostalgia," or "the euphoria of creating something new." However, this remained for her a "working classification" - that is to say both a classification to work with and a work in progress.
Rhea was looking not so much for a clinical device, but rather a device of a witnessed listening by try-
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Journal of Exceptional Experiences and Psychology ing to enrich these experiences through parapsychological references. At the end of her life, she was working on two books: one on "How to Write the Autobiography of your Exceptional Human Experiences," and her own EHE autobiography that had accumulated over 2300 pages. Rhea White’s legacy continues to be written today through her influence on researchers that take a more human and experimental approach to the study of exceptional experiences. Perhaps she lacked some clinical distance, perhaps she focused too much on transformative aspects, which inclined her to be excessively positive about EHEs and the "privileged people" who tell them. Certainly her career and her adherence to a feminist science make her theory overly activist in many ways, but this strength of character adds to her charm. References
Belz, M. (2009). A ußergewöhnliche Erfahrungen. Göttingen: Hogrefe, coll. Fortschritte der Psychotherapie. Brown, S.V. (2000). The exceptional human experience process: A preliminary model with exploratory map. International Journal of Parapsychology, 11, 69-111. Evrard, R. (2012a). L’exception qui infirme la règle ? Etude de quelques cas réputés psychotiques chez l’adolescent et l’adulte comme frayage vers une clinique différentielle à partir de l’hypothèse des expériences exceptionnelles. Thèse de psychologie sous la direction de Pascal Le Maléfan, Université de Rouen. Evrard, R. (2012b). Clinical practice of anomalous experiences: Roots and paradigms. In C. D. Murray (Ed.), Anomalous experiences and mental health (pp. 89-106). London: Nova Publishers. Fach, W. (2011). Phenomenological aspects of complementarity and entanglement in exceptional human experiences (ExE). A xiomathes, 21(2), 233-247. Henry, J. (Ed., 2005). Parapsychology: Research on Exceptional Experiences. London: Routledge. Rabeyron, T. (2010). A pproche psychodynamique et cognitive des expériences exceptionnelles. Thèse de psychologie non publiée, Université de Lyon II et Université d'Édimbourg, Lyon. Schaefer, C. (2012). A ußergewöhnliche Erfahrungen. Konstruktion von Identität und V eränderung in autobiographischen Erzählungen. LIT-Verlag. Simmonds-Moore, C. (2012). Exceptional experience and health. Essays on mind, body and human potential. New York: McFarland. White, R. A. (n.d.). Who is Rhea White? Parapsychology A ssociation. Retrieved from http:// www.parapsych.org/members/r_white.html White, R. A. (1964). A comparison of old and new methods of response to targets in ESP experiments. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 58, 21-56. White, R. A. (1994). Exceptional human experiences background papers I. New Bern, NC: EHE Network White, R. A. (1997). List of potential exceptional human experiences. In R. A. White (Ed.), Exceptional human experience: Background papers II (pp. 41–43). New Bern, NC: EHE Network. Biography Renaud Evrard is a clinical psychologist working in adult psychiatry. In 2012, he obtained a PhD in psychology at the University of Rouen, France, with a thesis on “clinical differential practice with exceptional experiences”. He is now an associate member of the psychology laboratory EA 3071 of the University of Strasbourg, France. Among his other affiliations are the Institut Métapsychique International (student group),
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Journal of Exceptional Experiences and Psychology and the Parapsychological Association (professional member). His main interests are on clinical, historical and theoretical aspects of parapsychology. He co-founded with Thomas Rabeyron in 2009 the Centre for Information, Research and Counselling on Exceptional Experiences (www.circee.org). University of Strasbourg 4 Rue Blaise Pascal 67081 Strasbourg, France email@example.com
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Charles Clayton: Ordinary Mystic A Developmental Case Study of Transpersonal Evolution Kelly Bainbridge
Abstract This is a personal account regarding an exceptional experience defined as a synchronicity by the author. Keywords: Exceptional experiences, synchronicity, personal account, anomalous experiences
The first time I met Charles Clayton, it seemed like a synchronicity. After completing a semester-long survey of anomalous experiences in a class based on the subject, my mind was piqued with curiosity about the individuals who reported such exceptional psychological phenomena. In class, our studies had been organized categorically to cover a wide range of experiences including synesthesia, transcendent spiritual phenomena, psychokinesis, alien encounters, poltergeists, lucid dreaming, astral travels, hallucinations, psychic healing and past-life memories. The incredible variety and richness of these experiences was captivating, and I continued to wonder at the potential for deeply integrative psychological development that seemed inherent within some of these experiences. I never thought to question why we mostly studied individual cases and single incident reports. All of that changed when I met Charles. The following January I was introduced to Charles by a mutual friend. This quiet, unassuming retired computer programmer had recently enrolled in a few classes in our graduate program. He wasn't seeking a degree but just arrived on his own curiosity. One cold January evening we went to dinner with a small group of friends after class and began what would become a long and fascinating conversation. I was taking a class on transpersonal development at the time, a course which added an interesting perspective to my recent study of exceptional experiences. And just as it sometimes happens, I simultaneously met Charles, a man who presented the perfect example of an evolutionary personal history with anomalous experiences. As I learned about Charles' forty-year journey into the far reaches of psychological phenomena, I was captivated. In addition to being an incredibly seasoned veteran of meditation, he had also logged a vast array of anomalous experiences that I had previously only read about. I was so intrigued with his story that I did the only thing that seemed reasonable: I scheduled a series of personal interviews which I recorded and later transcribed. This article is the result of those fascinating meetings. I hope it invites you to consider the potential of anomalous experiences to bring a unique richness and depth of meaning to the story of a life, and also points to the incredible untapped reservoir of spiritual/transpersonal resources that, when properly engaged, can propel individual growth and development with quantum results. A Falling Through “I was three years old… It’s a recurring dream that I had over a period of several years, it’s actually my earliest childhood memory. I definitely remember having this dream in preschool. So … I’m a kid, and all my friends are kids, and we’re in a desert. I’m a little bit larger than the other kids. I have a little scooter but
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Journal of Exceptional Experiences and Psychology it’s in the desert so I’m lagging behind and I’m not keeping up because I’m trying to scoot in the sand. And they run up to this little ruin, like an old Egyptian ruin. There’s a ramp and they run up the ramp and they fall down into this pit, this deep square hole. And when I get there I don’t fall in because I saw all of them fall in. So I’m standing there at the lip of it and I hear them hollering help, help! So then the question is do I run back and get the adults or do I jump in having no idea how far down it is and if it’ll do me in to hit bottom, or if they’re all hollering ‘help’ because they’re all broken up from the fall, or what’s happened. And I decide it’s gonna take too long to go get the adults so I just jump in to help them. When I hit bottom there’s nobody there, I’m all by myself and I’m in a square pit and there are symbols all around the walls. There’s one snake that goes all around the wall to its tail. And the snake starts moving around and the symbols all start moving around the wall, and that’s the end of the dream, that’s when I wake up. I had that dream over and over again for years. And I took it as meaning (when I got to be an adult and interpreted the symbols) I took the symbols on the wall as karmic symbols for me. The square pit is jumping into manifestation. The square is a symbol of the material, mundane world for me. Like a square meal, a square solid. So I jumped into the mundane world having no idea what it was, what that would do to me, to help. So I’ve always thought that’s what I’m here to do, I’m here to help. That’s how it got started” (Windsor, 2013). Ancient Egyptian ruins. Falling into a square pit. Encountering an ourobouros that brings a wall of symbols to life. A foreshadowing dream, no doubt, as it returned throughout Charles Clayton’s boyhood. Its rich symbolism foretold of his “falling through” from an Egyptian scene into the “square pit” of a lower spiritual realm, where he discovered an age-old symbol found throughout world mythology. A Jungian interpretation of the ouroboros sheds some light on the precognitive nature of Clayton’s dream. “Few images are as enigmatic as the ouroboros, the serpent consuming its own tail. Its roots go back to ancient Egypt where it is first seen in the Pyramid of Unas as ‘a serpent entwined by a serpent’ connoting a union of opposites… It represents the idea of primordial unity or, in alchemical terms, a symbol of the eternal unity achieved by the opus of devouring oneself (ego) and overcoming or assimilating our darker opposite, i.e. Nietzsche’s as well as Jung’s ‘shadow.’ As Jung suggested, ‘The Ouroboros is a dynamic symbol for the integration and assimilation of the opposite, i.e., of the shadow… He symbolizes the One, who proceeds from the clash of opposites, and he therefore constitutes the secret of the prima material’” (Linstead, 2013). This boy with the remarkable recurring dream grew up to become a man whom some would call an ordinary mystic, a machine whisperer, a reluctant shaman. He embodies an interesting type of “transpersonal knower” in that he has had a number of unusually varied and deep transcendent experiences over the span of forty-plus years while balancing an active, well-grounded and exemplary life in the “normal” world. This striking balance or “union of opposites” suggested in his dream is a constant theme throughout his life story.
A Breakdown Becomes a Breakthrough Eager for adventure after a fairly typical boyhood in Georgia, Clayton left home to spend the unforgettable summer of 1968 in the Haight-Ashbury district of San Francisco, where he made ends meet working construction jobs and spent his free time as a political volunteer. During this summer he occasionally experimented with mind-expanding psychedelics. When Clayton returned to college in south Florida that fall he was on the brink of a major developmental shift. In his words: “I’m sure everybody feels that they don’t belong here. I believe I do, but I also felt like I was extremely perceptive as a child. I was really perceptive and naïve at the same time. I could really see human nature and was always surprised by it, by people’s behavior. So there was a deep feeling of knowing as early as I can remember, and a deep feeling of being ignorant and naïve at the
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Journal of Exceptional Experiences and Psychology same time. I eventually turned all that off in order to function in the world. I became a mathematical/engineer type of person. I was like a robot… very masculine-brained… very analytical, mathematical. And I repressed that artistic side. And because of that repression… I decided I was not a complete person. I hadn’t learned to have emotions, I had turned all that off… And I didn’t want to be that anymore, so that part of me just … it’s hard to explain… I went through an existential crisis in the late ‘60s and that turned everything around. At that point I decided that I wanted to turn on that artistic, playful subconscious side of me. And I went off into the world to do that” (Windsor, 2013). This turbulent psychological experience proved to be a dramatic turning point in Clayton’s life as he worked to bring repressed energies into consciousness and “become a complete person.” During this transformative period he began to practice regular meditation and found his way (after a brief time as an artist and later designer of research protocols in experimental psychology) into a humanistic psychology program, where he felt more open to explore and express his creative and emotional energy. This phase of Clayton’s young adulthood aligns with the concept of “spiritual emergence” as described by Stan and Christina Grof (1989) in that Clayton’s depression and psychological turmoil were actually the harbingers of an arising spirituality that would eventually result in the integration of his emotional, mental, physical and spiritual capacities. The inner work of bringing these forces into wholeness catalyzed a profound change of direction away from his previously rational, or “cogicentric” way of knowing (Ferrer, 2006) and incorporated what Ferrer labels “marginalized ways of knowing” into Clayton’s daily life. Mastering the Intuitive During his undergraduate studies one of Clayton’s professors suggested he enroll in an extracurricular “Silva Mind Control” class, and very quickly Clayton displayed extraordinary psychic abilities. Following this training he met with another group of meditation students to hone his intuitive skills. In weekly sessions he practiced “reading” the energy of remote individuals to assess their physical health. Each case had certain details that were known to the facilitator, and Clayton received regular evaluations on the accuracy of his psychic diagnostic skills. Much to his surprise he was able not only to sense the target information accurately, but in many cases he provided additional (and sometimes previously undetected/undiagnosed) detailed information about each patient that was later documented to be correct. This formerly ultra-rational, logical mathematician discovered an altogether different way of knowing that was usually more accurate than his sensory perceptions. “It was mind-boggling to me at the time how accurately I could do this. We did this for a year, once a week we’d get together with five new cases. It was a good environment, I got immediate feedback… it was a really good lesson for me. Everybody there believed and had a positive attitude and ... I remember I was just bowled over with things happening that made me believe that there’s another whole level to reality than the engineering/mathematical, and even the artistic” (Windsor, 2013). This period of immersion into regular practice with detailed evaluations was a sort of intuitive boot camp that strengthened Clayton’s confidence in his extrasensory perceptions. It solidified his skills in what Michael Washburn labels “transpersonal cognition.” Washburn observes: “The movement toward a significantly higher percentage of intuitions is only a tendency, a tendency that becomes an actuality only for people who have pursued learning and reflection intensively and for a long period of time” (Washburn, 2000). This development would become a key step in Clayton’s emergence into more mature forms of transpersonal knowing.
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Journal of Exceptional Experiences and Psychology ESP and Higher-Order Synesthesia Another notable occurrence during this time involved an experiment conducted by one of Clayton’s psychology professors. The instructor had invited students to attempt to remotely view a target number in his lab during their dreams (along the lines of the classic Charlie Tart ESP experiment). His teacher “wrote a number on a card and that night we were supposed to go in and try to read the number. Well, during dinner I just look up and I see this big black number superimposed on my visual field, and I accidentally blurted it out and it turned out to be the number. He didn’t believe me. He accused me of having seen him write the number down...” (Windsor, 2013). The fact that Clayton correctly perceived the number is in itself remarkable. The manner in which the information emerged in his sensory field is another interesting feature of this event. Clayton’s perception of the number as a distinct projection in his visual field is in keeping with reports of higher-order synesthesia that involves information processing simultaneously in multiple sensory modalities. V.S. Ramachandran and Roger Walsh have researched the phenomenology of meditators as related to synesthetic perception and reported a higher correlation of cross-sensory activation for physical stimuli among seasoned meditators (Ramachandran, 2001; Walsh, 2013). This expanded perceptual ability appears to be enhanced among advanced meditators, suggesting that it could be a form of accessing transpersonal information that unites and transcends typical modes of cognitive and/or sensory perception. At this time, along with his burgeoning ESP skills, Clayton accidentally discovered a knack for selfhealing. “I remember once I was changing the tire on my car and the jack popped off, and I had my hand under the car putting the tire on it. When the tire came down on my hand I pulled it out as it came down and I left the tops of my fingers on the road because of the weight of the car was on them. My fingers looked like peeled grapes, no fingernails… I was able to stop the bleeding and actually have it all heal back to normal in a weeks’ time” (Windsor, 2013). This dramatic demonstration of healing proved to Clayton that he was indeed advancing in his spiritual abilities. He was eager to experience and learn more. Two Influential Teachers After meeting a teacher named Ann Manser, Clayton began to study her writings on metaphysical concepts that she had collected in a body of work called the Shustah Material. In addition to the lessons provided by Manser, Clayton also met another teacher who helped open his awareness on a deeper level. “… there was a period in my life when I would meditate 4 hours a day, maybe 30 minutes at a time. I’d do it 8 times a day. And I started when I was doing the Shustah Material, which was just a class a week for a year, 55 weeks. You would discuss everything… I don’t know that it really is all that great of material… but it was my entry point. While I was doing that this entity would talk to me in my meditations, and I could ask him anything and he would answer me about this material. So I would get little lectures. I haven’t talked to him in thirty years, but he was my teacher. In the last conversation I had with him he told me he was me” (Windsor, 2013). This “inner teacher” helped introduce Clayton to the metaphysical world. Perhaps it was timely that when he had developed a sense of confidence and mastery over Manser’s work, the unnamed teacher revealed his identity as Clayton’s higher self. This episode marked the conclusion of Clayton’s searching for knowledge in external sources and launched him into a new phase of spiritual development. For the remainder of the 1970s Clayton deepened his practice through an a rigorous meditation discipline and connection to a close-knit spiritual community. “I worked night shift for ten years so I could sense
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Journal of Exceptional Experiences and Psychology the world, so to speak, work on my own awareness. There wasn’t good literature in the early ‘70s… I read what was available in 1971-72 and then I just stopped reading the stuff. Reading didn’t really help me…” (Windsor, 2013). Relying on his direct personal experience of transcendent reality, Clayton continued to hone his practice with nightly meditation sessions where he regularly experienced visual perceptions of “other worlds,” discarnate entities and apparitions. He also experienced lucid out-of-body episodes while in meditative states of consciousness. He relates several excursions during his tenure as a night watchman at the Biltmore House where he “traveled” through the mansion’s different rooms outside of his body (Windsor, 2013). When asked about the nature of his knowing, Clayton related that it is very much an embodied sense, similar to Eugene Gendlin’s “felt sense” (Gendlin, 1978) but also like a form of full-body synesthesia. “I’m very sensory I guess, I feel things with my entire body, so it impinges on all the senses but also I feel it from the inside out. Even physically it’s from the inside out” (Windsor, 2013). One highlight of this phase of Clayton’s life was a unitive experience with nature. He and his partner had recently moved to Nashville, Tennessee without any prior arrangements for employment or housing—they conceived of the move as a grand adventure. Upon arrival in the city they stopped at a reservoir to meditate together. “It was winter and the lake (it was several days later before we discovered it was a reservoir) was frozen over from shore to shore. Banks of solid rock dropped steeply down three or four feet to the ice. Shortly after starting our meditation, we both sensed a presence, associated with the park, welcoming us to our new residence. There was no one we knew to welcome us, so this welcome felt special, loving and uplifting. It also felt like an acknowledgement of some sort. After sitting just briefly in the warm and loving touch of this “angelic” consciousness, the ice started slowly moving. As it moved, the ice at the lake’s edge was crushed and broken on the stony bank. The breaking ice made a sound like thousands of small chimes of different notes, different tones and intensities. It was like a thousand wind chimes playing at random and all at once. It was loud enough that we could even hear the chimes from across the lake. It was amazing how loud and at the same time how delicate each note was. It was absolutely beautiful. We both felt it was a gift from nature. Nature, or creation, was welcoming us, responding to us, and in return we were responding to nature. One could sense a consciousness ranging from a grand presence overshadowing the entire lake to a presence associated with each crack and break in the ice to each of the tensions and forces resulting in a chiming note, which when put together sounded like a symphony of a thousand instruments” (Windsor, 2012). Clayton’s perception of the lake during this memorable meditation is an example of expanded awareness as defined by Kaisa Puhakka: “Things that are bathed in such boundless awareness become vibrant and in a way ephemeral. Yet the materiality and form… do not disappear. Rather, they become transparent, revealing themselves as patterns of energy…. Thus everything remains just as it is, only now seen with astonishing richness and perspicuity” (Puhakka, 2000). It seems fitting that Clayton’s transcendent experience would occur in the context of the lake “breaking the ice,” as in a way this event marked another breakthrough in his transpersonal development. Glimpsing a higher reality consisting of harmonizing energy that is present in all of nature and infuses consciousness seemed to solidify his knowing on the spiritual plane. Turning now to manifesting in the physical realm, he began the next phase of his personal journey. An Integrated Knowing After spending the decade of his twenties working on spiritual development as a member of a medita-
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Journal of Exceptional Experiences and Psychology tion community and in a celibate partnership, Clayton had a second life crisis. This tension resulted in him choosing to depart from the meditation group to learn how to make it “in the real world.” He took additional college courses in the 1980s and went to work as a computer programmer in the physics and astronomy department at Georgia State. This job was the perfect fit as it allowed him the autonomy of schedule to continue a deep meditation practice, the stability of a regular paycheck and good benefits, and most importantly a creative outlet where he could use his mind to solve complex problems. The professors in the department recognized Clayton’s gifts and voiced their appreciation for his skillful handling of many challenging assignments. He met a woman who also worked at the university and fell in love. After their marriage they welcomed three children in three years. This previously unconventional night watchman had made a complete turnaround to join the ranks of the typical American family. He became a soccer coach and devoted the next 26 years of his life to raising children, building a log cabin and working at the university. Rather than abandoning his spiritual practice, Clayton found a way to include it in his daily routine. He taught his soccer players how to focus and concentrate by meditating on different colors. He was nicknamed the “machine whisperer” by colleagues at Georgia State because of his ability to fix almost anything mechanical. One of the physics professors would repeatedly call Clayton down to his basement lab when instruments started to malfunction, and without fail he would observe that upon Clayton’s entry in the lab, “things just started working again.” Clayton explained how this skill is an extension of his spiritual practice: “Things just work for me. I fix things, all I have to do is start messing with them and they start working. I relate to the world as everything is intelligent. Every problem, or every computer program, or even an incident… if I’m having to give it thought and there are emotions, then there’s a personality and an intelligence and I can relate to it. And it can tell me what it needs, or it can respond to me even if I don’t know what it needs…. At some point you get to where you feel the love of creation. The mundane world, even the physical world as harsh as it is, wouldn’t be here, it would disintegrate if there wasn’t love. So you feel the love of everything… and there’s a reciprocity there. If you can feel it, then the people and things around you can feel it in you. So there’s a reciprocity of love. Love is harmonizing, love is healing, so that’s why things work for me” (Windsor, 2013). A life so balanced between physical and spiritual, mundane and ephemeral, that Clayton has created in the last 25 years is nothing less than extraordinary. While many Americans hold onto the paradigm of spiritual life as an ascetic retreat from our materialist culture, his story proves that everyday existence can in fact be informed and infused with deep spiritual practice. This Present Presence
The main focus of Clayton’s current work is pure awareness. He no longer practices a rigid meditation schedule but rather observes an ongoing state of mindfulness while enjoying a very active physical life. He hikes and runs marathons with his wife, bakes his own bread and brews homemade beer. He enjoys his adult children and is pursuing new educational goals. This decidedly earthy existence is characterized by a constant practice of staying aware. “Right now I feel that my life’s mission is simply to go through life with an awareness. I don’t have to verbalize it, I don’t have to tell anybody about it. All I have to do is be aware, and that’s my mission. All I have to do is live my life fully and be aware. So when I go through the checkout line at Kroger I don’t have to say anything, I don’t have to feel anything, all I have to do is have that image, have that perception that that person is whole and one with all of creation. You have to get to the point where you do it without needing to see that it’s so. At some point it just is, and my job is to be here” (Windsor, 2013). Vol. 1 No. 1
Journal of Exceptional Experiences and Psychology Clayton’s state of awareness embodies both detachment and love. He relates his current practice to an ongoing conversation with the world: “…seeing everything as alive and conscious, seeing that love is what sustains creation and that life is communicating with you its intent, all you have to do is read the signs. You have to be attentive. It makes every moment magical, in a way. You have this really positive lovely feeling, you see life and intelligence all responding to you. Life is trying to tell you what life wants you to do. And all you have to do is be open to it. And it just makes things fun” (Windsor, 2013). The emphasis on fun is palpable. The graying whiskers on his sun-streaked beard hide a boyish twinkle in his eyes, and there is a quiet radiance that permeates his aura. One can sense the harmonizing energy that calms cranky lawnmowers and feels a kinship with lakes and mountains. This gentle man with the unassuming looks of a retired computer programmer is without a doubt one of the wisest spiritual teachers I have ever had the privilege of meeting. References Ferrer, J. (2006, April). Transpersonal psychology and the future of religion: A participatory vision for the 21st century. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uyCn-ZKlN8U Gendlin, E. (1978). Focusing. New York: Bantam Dell. Grof, S. M. (1989). Spiritual emergency: W hen personal transformation becomes a crisis. New York: Tarcher/ Penguin. Linstead, S. (2013, February 23). The Egyptian ouroboros and the enigma of our fractal reality. Retrieved from Stephen Linstead Studio http://www.stephenlinsteadtstudio.com/articles/ouroboros.html Puhakka, K. (2000). An invitation to authentic knowing. In T. Hart, P. L. Nelson, & P. Kaisa, Transpersonal knowing: Exploring the horizon of consciousness (p. 26). Albany: State University of New York Press. Ramachandran, V. A. (2001). Synaesthesia - A window into perception, thought and language. Journal of Consciousness Studies, 8(12), 3-34. Walsh, R. (2013, February 23). Can synaesthesia be cultivated? Retrieved from http://www.drrogerwalsh.com/ wp-content/uploads/2011/06/Can-Synaethesia-Be-Cultivated_Walsh.pdf Washburn, M. (2000). Transpersonal cognition in developmental perspective. In T. Hart, P. L. Nelson, & P. Kaisa, Transpersonal knowing: Exploring the horizon of consciousness (p. 194). Albany: State University of New York Press. Windsor, C. C. (2012). Sorcery & transformation final paper. University of W est Georgia, Department of Psychology. Carrollton, GA: N.P. Windsor, C. C. (2013, February 12). (K. Bainbridge, Interviewer) Windsor, C. C. (2013, February 19). (K. Bainbridge, Interviewer) Biography Kelly Bainbridge, a native of Nashville, Tennessee, holds a B.A. in English from Tennessee Technological University. She has worked as senior editor for an independent publishing house in Nashville for more than ten years, and has served as marketing director for a national addiction treatment company specializing in co-occurring disorders. She is the founder and president of Bainbridge Creative, an integrated marketing, content and public relations firm. She is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in psychology at the University of West Geor
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Journal of Exceptional Experiences and Psychology gia and plans to teach and research in the areas of spiritual experience, sexuality and intimacy, PTSD and complex trauma. Kelly Bainbridge University of West Georgia 1601 Maple St, Carrollton, GA 30118 firstname.lastname@example.org
We are currently accepting submissions for the winter 2013 edition of JEEP. Some of the submissions we are looking for include research manuscripts, personal accounts, creative writing, artwork, videos, book reviews, news, letters to the editors, and upcoming events. JEEP is dedicated to the exploration of exceptional experiences, such as survival after death, outof-body experiences, extrasensory perception, psychokinesis, poltergeists, mediumship, and hauntings. Also included are cryptids, abduction scenarios, possession, psychic healing and synchronicity.
Send your submission via our website: www.exceptionalpsychology.com
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Journal of Exceptional Experiences and Psychology
One Foot in Two Worlds: Near Death, but Still Alive Suzanne Degges-White and Melissa Adkins Wilmoth
Abstract In this paper, a detailed description of a near death experience (NDE) is shared with readers as an example of one way in which we are connected to other planes of existence. A brief summary of current research addressing the NDE is provided and the narrative of the actual experience is presented through the lens of current understanding of this event and the commonalities shared by those who have gone through this experience. Keywords: Exceptional experiences, near death experiences, personal account
some children, early lessons about death include stories of angels awaiting their arrival at the
pearly gates and a promise that good behavior on earth allows entry into the kingdom where streets are paved in gold. Their first loss is usually a grandparent or a pet and depending on their age when first faced with loss, they may believe death to be a temporary place, like “going to sleep,” or that dying happens to “other people,” not to them. The predominant American attitude towards death is intertwined with beliefs that earthly life is just a temporary stop on the eternal journey of the soul. While many fear death, others eagerly await its arrival as a balm for earthly suffering. A sizable number of us may actually have already experienced the transition from earthly to spiritual life and back again in the form of a near death experience (NDE). There is not a single, categorical definition of what happens during an NDE. However, according to Greyson and Stevenson (1980), these experiences are considered an altered state of consciousness that occurs during a brush with clinical death that includes a loss of consciousness. Thus, simply being near death does not qualify as an NDE. Yet, as Agrillo (2011) noted, it is still very difficult for even medical experts to pinpoint that moment when life becomes death. It is during this liminal period, however, between life and death that the mind, the spirit, or the limitless part of our existence, travels from the space of physical distress to a place of peace and safety. In 1975, Moody published Life after Life, which reflected an effort to describe and to codify NDE experiences. He developed a list of 15 common features of NDEs. Although minor additions to the list were made a couple of years later (Moody, 1977), the shared features of the phenomenon are strikingly similar among individuals regardless of age, gender, or culture. Some researchers have suggested that the more strongly we hold an image of how “the afterlife” should appear, the more our memories of our NDE interactions will reflect that expectation (Murphy, 2001). However, there are enough similarities between diverse individuals’ memories of the afterlife that researchers believe that there is more at play than simply wishful thinking or hallucinations. It is also interesting to note that researchers have found that individuals who we might conceive of as having been “bad” (e.g., attempted suicide) report no qualitative difference in their recounting of their experiences during NDE than those we would consider “good” (Rommer, 2000). The NDE is a unique human experience that still defies explanation. The goal of this manuscript is to present a first-person, narrative account of one person’s near death
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Journal of Exceptional Experiences and Psychology experience. Her story exhibits the hallmarks of NDEs as described in the current literature. This single story is shared potentially to expand the beliefs of those who may doubt the existence of this phenomenon and to affirm the experiences and the wisdom this individual gained during this event. Melissa’s Story According to Melissa, the day of her NDE began like any other hot August day – she dropped off her one-year-old daughter, Ginny, at daycare as she headed on to the high school where she taught English. It was later that afternoon that her ordeal began. There was nothing out of the ordinary on the day that I died. Today was Friday and the end of an exhausting first week of school. After a quick visit to my future dream home’s building site, my daughter and I got back in the car and headed down the dirt road to the main road. Turning out onto this road was difficult because I had to face the top of a blind hill, and I never knew what was on the other side. I sat at the stop sign, repeatedly looking both ways. Anxiety was getting the best of me. Point of Impact I didn’t know why that turn always spooked me, but it always gave me a sense of dread. I wanted to get home, though, so I shook off my senseless fear and pulled out into zero traffic. The next sight will stay with me forever. Was I hallucinating in this heat? In slow motion, a huge boat-like Pontiac from the 1970s came over the hill and swerved over the yellow line straight at us. I was a very good driver and I told myself that I could handle this. Automatically, I pulled to right. Instead of correcting his car, he crossed the yellow line and now we were facing each other. I jerked the wheel all the way to the right, away from the other car, to get my daughter out of danger. His car followed my car, as if we were connected in some way. I actually could see a young man, passed out and slumped over his steering wheel, with a girl in the passenger’s seat, screaming. I had a slice of a second to think, “This car is going to hit us.” I threw my right arm over Ginny and told her that I loved her. I heard, rather than felt, the impact of the car when it hit us. Somewhere in my head, I wondered what had exploded, and then I heard a high-pitched whining sound that would not stop. Later, the state trooper would tell my dad that my car was hit so hard that it went airborne, cut down several trees and a mailbox, and spun around several times before it finally came to a stop, pointing in the opposite direction. Into the Light As Melissa began to describe the moments after impact, she mentioned several of the events that are common to most NDE experiences (see Agrillo, 2011, for a detailed list of relevant events) including awareness of bright light; a sense of timelessness; ethereal beauty in the landscape; as well as a hint of memory of the landscape and experience itself. She also described a sense of being disconnected from her body, although she is able to perceive her body as an amazing thing of unexpected beauty and light. Then...quiet. I am in darkness for a fraction of a second. Then...light. I find myself standing at the top of a hill. I look around, but all I can see is tall grass, reminding me of a field of wheat. The grass is waving back and forth, and the sight is so beautiful that I wonder if the grass is somehow alive, but not alive like ordinary plants. I feel out of place and time, and I know that I have forgotten something that is very special to me.
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Journal of Exceptional Experiences and Psychology Something dear and joyous is tugging at my memory, but I just cannot remember. I let it go, and it sinks down in me, some divine and distant memory, like the memories that were lost when the Titanic sank. For a brief moment, there is sadness. Then, slowly, I feel a seed, buried deeply in my heart. It grows and grows, and spreads its tendrils down my arms and hands, to my fingers. I look at my hands to see what has happened to them. They are just my hands, but they are beautiful, small and elegant, with opalescent nails. I watch them, because they seem to glow. Something moves again inside my heart, and long tendrils grow down inside my legs and feet. I feel as if they once had great importance, but for some reason they have lost their use. But, here, everything works. I look down at my legs and shoeless feet. I jump up and down, enjoying the way they work. Everything on my body not only works, but also I know that I can run like a gazelle, swim like the biggest fish, and fly like a bird. I feel unstoppable and bulletproof. I know that I can do anything, physically or mentally. My legs and feet are glowing from within, and the sight is glorious. My heart clutches again, and I know where these tendrils are going. I feel them crawling in and out of each rib. I feel them crawling along my hips, and running up and down my spine. The feeling is powerful. The tendrils spiral around my neck, and break through to my brain. Something wonderful has happened, and I know that I have a new body, but with the same, silly soul. I am happy that my soul is still there. My heart is now calm. The tendrils are quiet. I touch my head, and I can feel my hair. My frizzy short hair has been replaced by wavy thick locks, which fall down to my knees - the hair that I had always wanted. I touch my face with timid fingers, having no idea what I will find. My face has the same features, but feels firmer and tighter. After seeing and feeling this new body, I turn my attention to the inside. I feel incredible. I’m strong and I’m happy. I have no idea where I am or what has happened to me, but I like it. The emotions I’m now feeling are emotions I’ve never experienced, but always prayed that they existed. I stand quietly, with my eyes closed, and I take measure. Where is Sadness? Where is Hate? Where is Apathy, Remorse, Rejection, Secrecy, Greed, Loneliness, Pettiness, Depression, Doubt, Worry, Resentment, Selfishness, Guilt, Judgment, Loss? I feel pure happiness, but something more, something huge and powerful inside of me, like a jet engine, or a nuclear warhead. It is so difficult to name, because I’ve never felt it. Then it comes rushing to me like an out of control, speeding freight train. I feel Peace. Every sad, painful moment in some distant life that I struggle to remember is gone, wiped away by this tsunami of emotion, this peace. Oh, and it is amazing. It’s silly to say, but I’ve never felt anything like this. I feel as if I now have answers to questions I haven’t even asked. I know everything! I know that my brain has the ability to do anything I want it to do. A Sacred Voice Now, I am hearing something that I cannot understand; in all of this excitement, I am twirling around, and testing my new body. I am screaming and praying, laughing and sobbing all at the same moment. This voice will not go away; I can feel its need to be heard. I must pull myself together. I need to calm myself, to quiet myself. This voice is now demanding to be heard, a voice shouting at me, a voice patiently waiting while I explore this new, incredible me. I am quiet again, heartbeat slowed, with eyes closed. I am not ready for this voice. I think back to all of the horrible emotions that I once owned, and for some bizarre reason, I think that this voice has stripped me of every ugly thought or action. I know that the owner of this voice is not judgmental, so I feel no guilt born from past actions in that other life.
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Journal of Exceptional Experiences and Psychology It tells me to be still and listen. Something shy and lovely begins to peek out of places throughout my body. Then, this voice of one thousand mothers blooms inside of me, as simply as the timid little daffodil breaks through the last winter snowfall. It whispers into my ear, and I fall to my knees. “Love,” it says. “Love is all.” I have been given flawless youth, infinite joy, great wisdom, and the desire to learn everything-all tremendous gifts. Yet, they all step back when I am given pure love. I’ve been given the gift of perfect love, I can feel its awesome, forgiving power, and it’s almost too much to hold inside of me. I want to share it, to give this love inside of me to others, any person who has lost hope and joy. I know that if I share it to every being in the universe, I will not lose even a tiny portion inside of me. I am being taught that when I give my love, more love and joy will be given back to me. I am learning. Love is infinite. As I accept all of these gifts and my new life, that tiny, nagging memory screams at me, begging for attention. But, I let it go. That part of my life surrenders, as it finally breaks away, taking my other self with it. I feel no sadness, only a small desire to know how the story of the other me ends. Love now surrounds me and holds me close, and I somehow know that this new place where I dwell has great importance to me. I look down at myself again, and my entire body is blasted through with white light. I see white light everywhere, and I wonder why I am not blinded. Reuniting with those who have Travelled this Path and Not Returned Another common element of an NDE is being reunited with loved ones who have already died as well as religious figures who have significance for the individual. For Melissa, three relatives were waiting to speak with her in the heavenly landscape she had entered. Walking down a hill, I hear a voice calling out. I believe that someone is trying to reach me. I hear this voice calling again and again. Then, I hear it clearly,”Lisa!” I search for the speaker. Hands go up in the crowd, waving. Finally, I find the source. I can see three people, sitting on a Victorian crazy quilt. When I see their faces, I laugh and scream for joy, like a little girl seeing what Santa has brought her. I see my grandmother, Virginia, for whom my daughter is named. I see her parents. They stand and I run to them. We are hugging and crying, with fat, glorious tears running down our faces. This is my family, but I barely recognize them. All are young, strong, and handsome. Realizing that She, too, is Dead Typically, a person who is in the midst of an NDE will recognize at some point that she is no longer alive in the sense that she once had known (van Lommel et al., 2001). This recognition can bring relief, but also tends to bring a sense of regret at realizing she is needed to return to her earthly body. Grandma Virginia asks me to sit down with them, and we talk about our family. I can’t stop looking at her. Something is wrong here, and I can’t shake this weird feeling. Then it hits me like a ton of bricks. “Oh my God! Wait a minute!” I burst out. “I hate to tell you this, but you all are dead!” My family looks at one another and chuckle. I feel a little left out at their inside joke. Grandma smiles at me, saying, “Well, if you want to call it that, that’s fine.” Again, they find my words funny. I look at them in awe, my big mouth falls wide open, and then I can’t believe what I suddenly know. “Oh, wow! If ya’ll are dead, then I’m dead, too!” I throw my hand over my mouth, wanting to take that obscene word away. I am so embarrassed and I apologize.
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Journal of Exceptional Experiences and Psychology Grandma says, laughing, “Lisa, don’t worry about that. He has a great sense of humor. Where do you think you got yours? He is loving and understanding, and let’s just say that there are thousands of pious, judgmental people out there, who think that they know Him better than other people do. Are they in for a huge surprise!” Recognizing her Place in Time and Space I rise, and walk to the trees, realizing that this is an orchard filled with all kinds of unusual, enticing fruit. The sight and smells are wondrous. The white light is still there, still beckoning me, so I take a step to walk through the orchard. My grandma yells at me, “Lisa, No!” Confused, I ask, “Why can’t I go?” She answers, “You just can’t go there right now. You’ll be back soon enough, and your life will pass quickly. Don’t worry; your family will still be here, waiting for that happy day.” Now we both have tears running down our faces. “Please,” I beg, “Don’t make me go back! I think there’s something bad waiting for me. I don’t know what it is, but I’m afraid of it.” “There’s nothing to fear, Lisa,” she promises. “Years will pass like minutes, and we’ll be together again.” “Grandma, is this Heaven?” I ask. She sighs and says, “After all that you’ve seen, what do you think?” I glance around, taking in the sights of families greeting loved ones and I smile at her. “I guess it is. You would be in no other place.” She tells me that she has something for me. “You remember that we share a love of history and books.” She brings something large from behind her. It is a huge, old book, a picture album. Under each picture are a birth date and a death date. Grandma turns to the last page, and points at the pictures of her father, mother, and herself, Virginia Moran Woods. My grandma’s jovial demeanor changes and she points at the last picture. “I know that’s you,” I say. She points again, and I tell her that I know that’s her, but Grandma jabs at the picture, and yells, “Virginia! Think! Virginia! Ginny!” I feel like someone has hit me with a two by four. That tiny distant memory swims to the top and surfaces, and I realize that this is a photo of my baby and that she’s my life. “Grandma! I have a baby!” The last thing she says is “You have something to do. Your job is not finished.” She smiles at me and nods. Stepping Off the Heavenly Plane Melissa closed her recounting of the experience with a description of being coming back into consciousness at the scene of the accident: I hear chainsaws and people yelling. I don’t know where I am, but I feel like I am dying. Men are pulling me out of a window, and I hear broken bones grating against each other. Someone is screaming, “Where’s my baby? Where’s Ginny?” I wish that she would shut up; until I realize that the screamer is me. I try to open my eyes, but they are filled with blood. I feel the metal of a stretcher, and men pick me up and put me into an ambulance. I am crying because I think Ginny is dead. A kind man with the sweetest voice
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Journal of Exceptional Experiences and Psychology wipes the blood from my eyes. His face will never leave me. It belongs to a huge fireman, with cocoa skin and big brown eyes. I tell him that my daughter is dead, and he touches my face and saves me. “Shh now, it’s OK,” he whispers. “Your baby is fine, honey. She’s perfect. We’re going to the hospital, and I’m going to bring her to you. But you got something to do for her.” “What?” I ask. His brown eyes look at me. He smiles. “You gotta' live, honey. You gotta’ live.” Lessons Learned Melissa recounted that she had been clinically dead by the time the rescue crews arrived and that her blood pressure was only 40/20 by the time they got her to the hospital after reviving her at the scene. Another common element of NDEs is that individuals frequently return from their experiences with new wisdom and a new commitment to living a meaningful life as well as having a renewed belief in their faiths (Alexander, 2012). Melissa shared the following: What changed for me? My faith. I never doubted God's existence ever again. I learned that loving each other is the only reason we are here. We all have one specific job on this earth, and then our time is done. Nothing on this earth is important, except family and love. This life is simply a journey with good and bad thrown in. With great suffering comes great happiness and our happiness depends only on ourselves. Happiness is a choice, and if we need a little help from the doctor, we should take it – doctors were given their knowledge by God. I learned that there are NO coincidences...that we are given two paths and we have free will to choose either. We make the choices and God is not responsible. And above all, I learned that we should follow our dreams, if they are indeed ours. Conclusion In closing, it is important to note that even staunchly “science-religious” individuals are growing in their acceptance of an after-life, whether this is Heaven or some other form of peaceful, safe space (Alexander, 2012). Alexander stated that he spent time in Heaven during a health crisis and that this has caused him to rethink his basic beliefs about the origin of human consciousness. Quantum physicists provide compelling evidence for the existence of parallel universes although we, with inherent human limitations, may be unable to perceive them in our current state of consciousness (Jansen, 1999). Purkayastha and Mukherjee (2012) asked the question of whether it is physiology, physics, or philosophy that tumbles individuals into a sense of space and time travel, but there are not yet definitive answers. However, the lessons and wisdom brought back to conscious awareness by those who have temporarily taken leave of life, as we know it, may be beneficial to all of us, regardless of which side of the fence – or the pearly gates – you stand. References Alexander, E. (2012). Proof of heaven. New York: Simon & Schuster. Agrillo, C. (2011). Near-death experience: Out-of-body and out-of-brain? Review of General Psychology, 15, 1-10. Greyson, B., & Stevenson, I. (1980). The phenomenology of near death experiences. A merican Journal of Psy-
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Journal of Exceptional Experiences and Psychology chiatry, 137, 1193-1196. Jansen, K. L. R. (1999). Ketamine (K) and quantum psychiatry. A sylum, 11, 19-21. Moody, R. A. (1975). Life after life. Covington, GA: Mockingbird Books. Moody, R. A. (1977). Reflections on life after life. St. Simonâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Island, GA: Mockingbird Books. Murphy, T. (2001). Near-death experiences in Thailand. Journal of Near-Death Studies, 19, 161-178. Purkayastha, M., & Mukherjee, K. K. (2012). Three cases of near death experience: Is it physiology, physics, or philosophy? A nnals of Neurosciences, 19, 104-106. Rommer, B. R. (2000). Blessing in disguise: A nother side of the near death experience. St. Paul, MN: Llewellyn. van Lommell, P., van Wees, R., Meyers, V., & Elfferich, I. (2001). Near-death experience in survivors of cardiac arrest. The Lancet, 358, 2039-2045. Wilde, D. J., & Murray, C. D. (2009). The evolving self: Finding meaning in near-death experiences using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis. Mental Health, Religion, & Culture, 12, 223-239.
Biography Suzanne Degges-White, Ph.D., LPC, LMHC, NCC, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Leadership and Counselor Education at The University of Mississippi in Oxford, MS. She enjoys researching the ways in which people experience the world as we know it and the unique phenomena that arise in our lives. Her research interests include adult wellness over the life span from adolescence through older adulthood, the use of the expressive arts in counseling, and identity development over the lifespan.
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Journal of Exceptional Experiences and Psychology
A Nudge in the Right Direction Janet Langley
“If music be the food of love, play on…” (Shakespeare, 1623/1954)
That phrase from Shakespeare, although quoted out of context, takes on a special meaning for me as I relate an extremely personal and profound experience. Throughout our lives we often encounter that phenomenon so poorly labeled “coincidence” and as a result many of what might better be called “sign posts” are put down to mere happenstance. This leads us to ignore the messages, warnings or even the gifts of insight provided by them as we cheerfully note their passing but not their import. Perhaps I should explain what I mean by the words so poorly labeled coincidence. In my personal dictionary coincidence means two or more things which happen simultaneously without conscious plan or design. If that was the only definition conjured up by the word coincidence I would not have a problem labeling these experiences as such, however over time the word has come to be associated with dismissive shrugs or amused, reassuring smiles which transmit the message “forget it” or “don’t think about it – it’s nothing!” Up until May 1970, I too was as guilty of this short-sightedness as anyone, but then things changed and my perspective was altered irrevocably. In order to more fully clarify why this experience had so great an impact on my life I must first digress into the history preceding that moment of no return. In the summer of 1964 my family brought my aging grandmother to Canada to live with us from England. Her mind, at that time, was lucid although her body was frail and in need of constant care. I was sixteen at the time and found myself enjoying the company of this elderly woman; we had left 12 years before in England. My out of school hours were spent more in her company than with friends and our bond was music. I loved to hear her sing and she taught me many songs that formed part of my lifelong repertoire, for I also sang and was blessed with a voice that charmed, healed and entertained many for the next thirty years. I have said our bond was music and so it was, even when her mind slipped into senility she could still remember all the words to all her favorite songs. The two songs which dominated those last precious years were “Danny Boy” and the old hymn “Jerusalem.” No matter what else might follow, these two melodies always led off our daily sing songs. When my grandmother died in August 1969, I was, to use an overworked word, devastated. Not only because she was gone but because in all my 21 years she was the first person I had ever known who had died. In memory her funeral was a mist of tears and emotional turmoil heightened by my mother’s choice of music for the service. Yes, the casket advanced down the aisle to the organ playing “Danny Boy” – the first chord pushed my overwrought nerves to breaking and I sank down in the pew and sobbed through the entire service, only becoming conscious of my surroundings when the final hymn was sung – Jerusalem. I was not permitted to attend the internment as my mother felt I was suffering too much to be present at the graveside so after we drove to the cemetery I remained in the limousine. Again the next thing I recall of that day is awakening in my bed late in the evening.
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Journal of Exceptional Experiences and Psychology I have now given you the bare facts leading up to the real reason I am writing this article. What follows is a description of a seemingly unlikely, in fact almost impossible set of circumstances which taken as a whole defy the dismissive shrugs and amused smiles. It is a narrative about a single, life altering moment in time. The winter following my grandmother’s death and the early spring of the next year was a time of absolute terror. I imagined every person I saw as a walking corpse – not literally but figuratively. In short I became obsessed with our mortality and the pointlessness of being born if what followed was a black decaying void from which none of us could escape. So deep was this obsession, and so all consuming, I existed in a cocoon of misery that even when I sought counseling and talks with learned clergymen, I remained focused on the prospect of eternal oblivion. On Mothers’ Day in May of 1970, I took a bouquet of flowers to place on my grandmother’s grave. The cemetery was vast and as I have already said I had not been permitted at the grave site. However, as in all well run public cemeteries there is an office where some member of staff can find out where exactly a grave is located and give precise directions. I never went to the office. As I entered the cemetery gates I turned immediately to my left away from the path to the central buildings and walked as in a trance unerringly along one path and another, and yet another, until I came to the grave. Not even aware that I should not have been able to do this I bent to place the flowers near the headstone. It was then that the silent speakers hidden in an obelisk somewhere in the cemetery started to pipe out the first chord of – yes – “Danny Boy.” I dropped the flowers and started to run covering my ears as I ran. Disoriented I found myself at the far corner of the cemetery sitting on a low stone wall. As the strains of “Danny Boy” finished I caught my breath and stayed sitting in order to collect whatever wits I had left. Another song – which I did not recognize started and I was able to recover myself enough to think of finding my way out of the maze of paths and gravestones. As I approached the path to the gates the third song rang out in the overcast sky – the hymn Jerusalem. The shock of the experience took several days to wear off and I sought some sort of logical explanation for this painful coincidence – special requests played on Mothers’ Day? – No I was assured. The selections were made at random and had no specific pattern or program. So why? Why had this happened to me? I felt tortured and, in a way, violated. Why had I been subjected to such pain? Why were the emotional wounds so thinly scarred reopened and left to bleed afresh? And then – not slowly but as if waking from a dreadful nine month nightmare I realized that all my morbid imaginings, all my morbid obsessive preoccupation was gone, erased by that early morning in May. I had been catapulted back into the land of the living from that black morass of despair. Again the question: Why? But this time the answer presented itself with no need for in-depth analysis – the way to remove my sense of loss and the dramatic finality of death was to allow me something that could have been interpreted as a communication from my gran. And what more appropriate vehicle than music and the two songs which I would immediately identify with her? Since that day I have had an enhanced awareness of the phenomenon known as “coincidence” and I have developed a sincere respect for it. By standing back as it were from the incidents themselves I have been able to see what, if anything, the experiences are conveying and make a conscious choice to follow the sign post or ignore it. Was it my gran sending me the message from beyond a physical barrier that she was still with me? Was it a benign and loving ‘universe’ that provided a healing “sign post” that not only profoundly and positively altered my daily life at that time but, in turn, started me on a journey of discovery and acceptance that has continued to be of benefit to me? Was it both? Was it neither? And does it matter? Divine intervention, a message from beyond the grave, a weird and unlikely coincidence. Call it what
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Journal of Exceptional Experiences and Psychology you will. For me it is enough that I had the experience and developed from it. I have placed this incident and its subsequent benefits before you in the hope that by sharing it others will join the ever increasing numbers who have been touched by these awakenings and have grown through them. In addition, and perhaps more importantly, I believe that each of us is on a personal journey of discovery and while we are following the sign posts – be they coincidences, intuitive flashes, precognitive dreams or any one of the myriad examples of our enlarged experience - it is essential that we integrate our expanded and enhanced perceptions into the fabric of our more mundane reality and existence. References Shakespeare, W. (1954). Twelfth night: Or, What you will. New Haven: Yale University Press. (Original work published 1623) Biography Janet was born in England but moved to Canada with her family when she was two years old. Educated in Canada, she and her husband travelled to several countries with the Canadian Foreign Service. Janet is now divorced and is the owner-director of a small English language school in southern Italy. She lives with her small dog and enjoys painting, reading and knitting, in short a quiet and sedentary life far removed from the hectic and much more public life she had as a younger woman. At 64 years old, Janet has had many varied exceptional experiences and is quite content and comfortable with her non-physical reality. It is her sincere desire to share her experiences with others so that they too will accept the “whys” and forget the “hows” of what is termed exceptional.
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Gift for Grandpa Kimberly Wencl
I was excited as I awoke early that Sunday morning.
That day all of my plans and preparations would
come full circle. In a short while we would begin to celebrate my Dad’s 80th birthday. Dad doesn’t like a lot of fuss, but he good-naturedly went along with all of our plans. I had managed to get his birthday celebration on our local 10 p.m. news. I had slept right through it, but many people let Dad know that they had seen it. A picture of Dad was in that day’s paper announcing his milestone birthday. And there were flowers on the altar at church, all in honor of Dad. Our family would gather at a restaurant later in the day to celebrate Dad and honor the role he plays in so many lives. I had hoped to secure a private room at the restaurant, but when I checked early in the week, nothing was available. I was disappointed, but I knew the party would still be the grand celebration I wanted it to be. We arrived at the restaurant and followed the hostess to our table. Much to my surprise and amazement we had somehow managed to get our own private room after all. We were free to talk and laugh and carry on without disturbing anyone. Two of my favorite cousins, Dawn and Beth, also joined us. They loved my dad and were very close to him. As we finished our meal with an extravagant chocolate dessert, we all raised our glasses and toasted Dad. He smiled from ear to ear and got a little teary as he told us how proud he was of his family and how much he loved us. Beth worked for a photographer and she busily snapped photos throughout our time at the restaurant. As we got ready to leave, we all stood proudly around Dad and took a family photo, something we had not done for a very long time. Despite the happiness of the day, I couldn’t help but be sad. If only Elizabeth were here I thought to myself, then this day would be perfect. Twenty-year-old Elizabeth, our family’s first-born daughter and granddaughter, had died in a fire while attending college in 2003. Even though almost nine years had passed, there would always be an empty chair at our family table that no one but Elizabeth could fill. And, it was especially difficult that day when we were celebrating such a happy occasion. The next day I received an email from Beth thanking me for inviting her, and she included some of the photos she had taken. She told me she was concerned when she downloaded the photos and brought the first one up, only to see a large white spot just above my head and on my husband’s arm. Beth was dismayed and she wondered how this could have happened; would this spot ruin all of the pictures? As she slowly viewed each picture, she was relieved to see that the white spot was found only on that first photo of our family. As Beth stared at the photo, suddenly it dawned on her; if Elizabeth had been there, she would have been standing in the exact place where that white spot had been. Could it be, he wondered? I didn’t have to wonder; I knew. What a wonderful gift Elizabeth had given to her family, especially her Grandpa. I printed off the photo and excitedly asked my dad to stop over. “I have one last gift for you,” I told him.
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Journal of Exceptional Experiences and Psychology He came into my kitchen and gently scolded me.“Kimmie, he said, “I don’t need any more birthday presents! Everything you gave me yesterday was wonderful.” “Oh, I think you’ll want this one Dad,” I said, “but you’d better sit down first.” He sat down at the table with a quizzical look on his face. I laid Beth’s email in front of him, which said: Here are 2 pictures from yesterday, I have to correct the lighting on some of the others and then will send more. Can you BELIEVE the first one? I'm not kidding when I tell you that I have NEVER had a white spot show up like that before. Dawn was with me when I downloaded them and we were looking through them. When I first saw it I said "darn it look at that spot on there", totally expecting it to be on a whole bunch of them....then i go to the next one and it's gone and it didn't show up again. Dawn and I looked at each other in disbelief and said "Liz was there too!!” I quietly laid the photo down and Dad stared at it for a few minutes and then was overcome with emotion as he realized the significance of the white spot. We both shed tears of joy at the thought that our beloved Elizabeth had been with us yesterday on such a special day. Love never dies and the bond we all share with those we love is never broken, not even by death. Biography Kimberly Wencl is a retired wife and mother living in southern Minnesota. She enjoys volunteering at her church, being a hospice volunteer and Salvation Army Disaster Team member. In her spare time she enjoys traveling, golf, and reading.
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Book Review The Paranormal: Why People Believe in Spirits, Gods and Magic Michael J. Rush
Title: The Par anor mal: Why People Believe in Spirits, Gods and Magic Author: J ack Hunter ASIN: B00B03HSDI Publisher: David & Char les Price: $8.99/£6.64
Jack Hunter is a PhD student studying Social Anthropology at the University of Bristol. He is founding editor of the journal Paranthropology: Journal of Anthropological Approaches to the Paranormal, co-founder of the Afterlife Research Centre, and is also on the review board for the Journal of Exceptional Experiences and Psychology. One of the key questions Hunter asks in this book is, “How can we be sure that the world-view we have come to accept as dominant is really the best suited for accurately describing the universe?” The Paranormal, his first book, is a response to this question and an introduction to the new and expanding field of Paranthropology; the fusion of anthropology with parapsychology. In seven short but information packed chapters, Hunter starts by discussing some of the anthropological perspectives on ghosts and gods, shamanism and possession, and magic and witchcraft. He then moves on to review the relationship of anthropology to the paranormal, summarises the history of parapsychology, and concludes with a discussion of how these two disciplines can mutually inform each other. The book includes an introduction by Dr. Fiona Bowie, Honorary Research Fellow in Anthropology at the University of Bristol, and an afterword by Dr. David Luke, Senior Lecturer in Psychology at the University of Greenwich and Research Associate at the Beckley Foundation, Oxford. Hunter begins by defining the ‘supernatural’ in broad terms and emphasising the importance of taking a cross-cultural approach. He points out that, in many cultures, the supernatural is not considered to be abnormal or unusual and that the meaning of these experiences is of primary importance, rather than their ontological validity. Similarly, he suggests that any definition of religion must take this into account, including the psychosocial aspect and the role it plays in believers’ lives. Hunter starts by summarising some of the main psychological, sociological, and phenomenological theorists of religion. The psychological theorists include E.B. Tylor who has a theory that religion stems from misinterpretation of dreams and altered states of consciousness (ASCs) resulting in animism; Bronislaw Malinowski, who suggested that religion provides stability in an unpredictable world; and Claude Levi-Strauss, who considered that religious ideas reflect deep structures in the human mind. The sociological theorists include Emile Durkheim’s argument that religion provides group cohesion and social identity; and A.R. Radcliffe-Brown, who sees religions as components in a social organism bound together by performance of ritual. Finally, the phenomenological theorists include: Williams James’ view of such experiences as natural and having a “common core”; Rudolf Otto’s description of the
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Journal of Exceptional Experiences and Psychology “numinous,” that is at once both awe inspiring and fearful; David Hufford’s experiential source hypothesis based on the Newfoundland ‘Old Hag’ tradition; and Andrew Lang’s suggestion that it is actually genuine experiences of the paranormal that lead to supernatural beliefs. In true objective fashion Hunter diplomatically opts to take a pluralistic yet phenomenological approach. Moving on to Shamanism and possession Hunter first of all acknowledges the different conceptions of terms such as the “soul,” “spirits,” and “ghosts,” and the roles that they play in supernatural beliefs. Examples are supplied by the ancient Egyptian system of a five-part soul, and the Trobriand Islanders studied by Malinowski, as well as the Judaeo-Christian tradition. With numerous examples from anthropology Hunter covers spirit worlds, ghosts, monotheism and polytheism, angels and demons, ancestors and saints, other-than-humanpersons, propitiation, Marian apparitions, and psychedelic experiences. He refers to the putative origins of supernatural beliefs in the burial of grave goods during the Palaeolithic period and cave paintings from Lascaux, France from 17,300 years ago. Although recognising that Shamanism proper should perhaps refer only to the Siberian practitioners, he accepts four characteristics of shamanism in general usage: travel to the spirit world, use of ASCs, healing the sick, and taking on animal forms. Hunter distinguishes different forms of spirit possession as voluntary or involuntary, then discusses several theories of possession including: neurological conditions, dissociative identity disorder (DID), social empowerment, and misinterpreted cognitive processes. However, he does not rule out that these experiences could be genuine as reported by those who experience them. In surveying magic Hunter notes that distinctions between so-called “black” and “white” are neither clear-cut nor particularly helpful. He also mentions the often overlooked but important point that branches of magic, such as divination, are part of a much wider cosmological scheme. The theories he reviews are Sir James Frazer’s influential understanding of sympathetic magic; Marcel Maus’ social function of the magician, magical beliefs, and magical rites; and Max Weber’s concept of the decline of magic leading to the disenchantment of society. Also included is Fiona Bowie’s division of witchcraft into medieval beneficent and maleficent magic, Satanic or anti-Christian magic, African and other traditional non-European beliefs, and modern Western paganism. Hunter notes that modern traditions of witchcraft are not necessarily invalidated despite their more recent and syncretistic origins. Of particular interest are the experiences of anthropologists in the field. Hunter provides several accounts of ostensibly paranormal experiences such as Tylor’s participant-observation studies of Spiritualism, Evans-Pritchard’s experience with the Azande, and the even more dramatic experiences of Bruce T. Grindal with the Sisala, and Edith Turner with the Ndembu. From there he follows a rapid tour of parapsychology from Mesmerism, via the Fox sisters, D.D. Home, and Sir William Crookes, to the Society for Psychical Research, Joseph Rhine, and modern psi labs using random number generators and the ganzfeld technique. Hunter concludes that the main findings of psi research to-date are: 1) the involvement of ASCs such as those in dreams, spirit possession, ganzfeld studies, or shamanism, and 2) the importance of mindset and cultural setting, such as the effects of beliefs and expectations on psi phenomena. Finally, Hunter traces the origins of Paranthropology, the anthropological approach to the paranormal. Amongst the forerunners of this new discipline he includes Andrew Lang’s comparative psychical research, Ernesto de Martino’s emphasis on the need for ecological validity, Joseph K. Long’s “extrasensory ecology” that gave rise to the Anthropology of Consciousness, Charles Laughlin and transpersonal anthropology, Patric Giesler’s social perspective of “psi-in-process,” and the work of Young and Goulet that highlighted the experiences of anthropologists in the field and how those experiences affected them personally. The book could be criticised on account of its title: The Paranormal: W hy People Believe in Spirits,
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Journal of Exceptional Experiences and Psychology Gods and Magic. The main title doesn’t do justice to Hunter’s topic, (i.e. Paranthropology) and the subtitle is misleading as he does not attempt to answer the question. To be fair, the answer to this question is not within the remit of the current book. The premise of this book is probably summed up best in Hunter’s own words, ‘To remove spirit possession, or indeed any supernatural practice or experience, from its cultural context and interpret it in alien terms is to lose sight of the true nature of the experience, and what it means… Paranthropology, therefore, takes a bold step in attempting to interpret supernatural systems of belief from the perspective of those who subscribe to them’. On the whole, this is a useful and very readable overview of the growing field of Paranthropology that can be recommended to anyone interested in allied fields such as transpersonal psychology, religious experience, or parapsychology. Despite the book being an introduction there is much here to discover that provides exciting new avenues of exploration.
Biography Michael (Mike) Rush is the Vice-Chair of the Alister Hardy Society for the Study of Spiritual Experience (AHSSSE). Rush graduated from Keele University in 1997 with a BSc in Biomedical Science (Hons) and from the University of Wales, Lampeter in 2009 with an M.A. in Religious Experience. He has recently completed a PGDip in Consciousness & Transpersonal Psychology at Liverpool John Moores University. Rush has had several papers and reviews published in journals and by the Religious Experience Research Centre. He is also a member of the BPS Transpersonal Section, the Association for Transpersonal Psychology, and the International Association for Religious Freedom.
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