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Volume 3, Number 1


Page 1: Journal of Exceptional Experiences and Psychology Summer 2015
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Journal of Exceptional Experiences and Psychology

Published by the Journal of Exceptional Experiences and Psychology.

ISSN 2327-428X

This work is licensed under a

Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Jean-Michel Abrassart, Ph.D. Candidate

Eberhard Bauer, Dipl.-Psych

Callum E. Cooper, Ph.D. Candidate

Alexander De Foe, Ph.D Candidate

Guido De Laet, Dipl.. - Counseling

Renaud Evrard, Ph.D

Shaye Hudson, M.A.

Jack Hunter, Ph.D. Candidate

David Luke, Ph.D.

Jennifer Lyke, Ph.D.

Kini Roland, M.A. Student

Leslie W. O’Ryan, Ed.D., NCC, LCPC

Annalisa Ventola, B.A.

Erika A. Pratte, M.A.


Board of Reviewers

Cover Artwork

Erika A. Pratte, M.A.

Volume 3

Number 1

Summer 2015

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Table of Contents Letter from the Editor …………………………………………………………………………………..4

Au Revoir Papa: The Lived Experience of After-death Contact Phenomena ……..……………..6—12

Michelle T. Knight

Anthony: An Exceptional Child ...………….................................................................................13—17

Mary Ann Harringon

The Paradigmatic Breakdown: A Model to Define the ExE Dynamics …………………...…….19—29

Renaud Evrard

Clarification of Terms and Concepts Defining Parapsychology and Related Disciplines: Reply to Ev-

rard (2014) and Update ……………………………………………………………………,…….30—40

Michael Tremmel

Exploring the Role of Focused Attention Followed by Non-Focused Attention on a Random Event

Generator by Potential Recurrent Spontaneous Psychokinesis Agents ………..….……………..41—51

David S. Schumacher, Jennifer L. Lauer, & Joey M. Caswell

The Disparity of a “Standards of Care” for Spirit Mediumship as a Permissible Behavioral Health Care Profession: A Literature Review (Part 1 of 2) ……………………………………………..…….52—62

August Goforth

A Review of the 58th Annual Convention of the Parapsychological Association and the 39th Society

for the Psychical Research International Annual Conference ……………..…………………...….64-67

Erika A. Pratte

The Science of Spirit Possession, 2nd Edition …………………………………………………..68—69

Erika A. Pratte

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Letter from the Editor

Welcome to the 6th edition of the Journal of Exceptional Experiences and Psychology. In this publi-

cation, we have two personal accounts, four research articles, a review on the PA Convention/SPR Conference

and a book review. Michelle T. Knight tells us a bit about her experience as a medium with an example from

when her father passed. Mary Ann Harrington shares a few experiences she has had with her former-student

Anthony, a person living with autism whom she likes to call a “spiritual savant.”

In the first research article, Renaud Evrard elucidates us on the finer details of naming when it comes

to exceptional experiences. In this same vein and as a response to Evrard, Michael Tremmel also helps to de-

fine parapsychology and related areas in his article. In “Exploring the Role of Focused Attention Followed by

Non-Focused Attention on a Random Event Generator by Potential Recurrent Spontaneous Psychokinesis

Agents,” we see a rather quantitative article that has found a home in JEEP due to its focus on subjective fac-

tors and inspiration from Dr. William Roll. In the last article, August Goforth presents a strong case for Stand-

ards of Care regarding spirit mediumship in behavioral health care. Lastly, I give to you a review of this year’s

joint PA Convention/SPR Conference, as well as a book review on The Science of Spirit Possession.

Thank you for picking up this edition of the Journal of Exceptional Experiences and Psychology. I

hope you enjoy it and look forward to winter 2015


Erika A. Pratte


Submission Deadline for Winter 2015 is October 1, 2015 The Journal of Exceptional Experiences and Psychology publishes research

articles, personal accounts, artwork, music, creative writing, and letters to the

editor on subjectively anomalous experiences. Please send all inquiries and

submissions to

[email protected]

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Personal Accounts

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Au Revoir Papa

The Lived Experience of After-death Contact Phenomena;

A Narrative Reflection

Michele T. Knight


Spretnak (1991, p. 22) asks the question, “How can we come to realize that we live in a participatory universe

– that each of us, each minute part of us, is a node within a vast network of creative dynamics – unless we en-

gage in practices that awaken our minds to the realities of such participation?” In seeming response to

Spretnak’s challenge to engage in practices facilitating such participation and in acknowledgement of his pro-

posed participatory universe, this article presents a narrative reflection of the lived experience of one of many

such personal accounts of anomalous phenomena experienced throughout my life; in this instance after-death

contact (ADC) phenomena occurring at the time of my father’s death in 2001. Such experiences have the po-

tential to create profound psychospiritual and attitudinal shifts which can impact the experient’s assumptive

world-view and spiritual belief-system, altering and reshaping ways of seeing, knowing, and being in the

world. Wren-Lewis (1974, p. 42) notes that findings from social science research report that such experiences

“shatter the notion that human beings are limited to the horizons of the ordinary everyday world.” In addition,

and as a result of their reported prolific occurrences ADCs conjointly reveal that individuals can indeed be

construed as nodes within what Spretnak conceptualises as a vast network of creative dynamics.

We are living in a complicated pe-

riod in relation to our understanding of

“extraordinary” phenomena. Naïve materi-

alist approaches are more assertive than ev-

er, in anthropology and in the world more

generally. At the same time, the taboos

against admitting to the reality of the para-

normal are weakening. There is a growing

body of writing which takes the paranormal

and the extraordinary seriously, while bring-

ing to it the same academic standards that

any other subject matter would require. This

is a valuable and important development,

and it helps open the way to new modes of

understanding in the sciences and social sci-

ences that will not reject scientific rationali-

ty, but expand that rationality so as to in-

clude more of the world of human experi-


Geoffrey Samuel, Research Group on the Body, Health and Religion (BAHAR), 2012

The Point of Origin

It seems to me that all events, all seemingly

chance happenings are meaningful. In domino fashion one event leads to another which precipi-tates something else, and before it’s realised we can find ourselves journeying toward a destination we would once never have envisaged or perhaps anticipated. All events that have occurred in my life, particularly those pertaining to the anomalous have acted as a stepping stone serving to bring me back to what I define as the point of origin; that moment in my life when as a three year old child I awoke during the night to find gathered around my bed what I called then and still do, the “shining people”.

As a child I had always been very much aware of two things. The first was that I knew in-tuitively that I experienced life very differently to those around me; the lens through which I looked at the world was quite singular. Second, I was acutely aware that I felt deeply and knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that something intangible yet tangible stood behind all that I could see. It was

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almost as though in a perverse way my senses con-trived to work against me to produce a screen which prevented or obscured my seeing of what that was. Yet I also had, metaphorically speaking, eyes-within-my-eyes; an ability enabling me to see beyond that screen. This duality of seeing has re-mained with me my entire life and is one of the cornerstones of the worlds I inhabit and of my in-tersubjective relationship with them.

The advent of the shinning people heralded a life of duality which granted me entry into both the material universe in which I lived as an embodied being and the non-material universe which inter-penetrated it, evidenced by what I experienced after they first came to me; prophetic dreams (where I would dream of events to come which would then occur), visitations (where I would be visited by the shinning people), out of body experiences (where the boundary between sleep and wakefulness disap-peared such that upon waking I would know that I had been “away”) and what I now know to be mys-tical experiences (where I would feel and be aware of the presence of an all-loving, constantly present immensity which continually pressed itself against me, flooding my mind and being).

These events formed a layered structure with-in my being and psyche which framed both my ed-ucation of anomalous phenomena and my familiari-ty with it. As a direct result of these experiences I knew there existed a limitless non-material reality beyond that which I could physically see, hear, feel, smell and touch. As my childhood progressed I learnt and understood that these two distinct reali-ties, these “places of being” not only co-existed with one another, they interpenetrated one another. Furthermore, they bonded together in an intersub-jective relationship which appeared to create the conditions whereby embodied and disembodied individuals could interact. Of course this can’t be empirically proved, yet it was how I experienced life as a child then, and it is how I experience life as an adult now.

While both “places of being” had distinct phenomena which defined and delineated them, the boundary between the two was permeable. In a practical and tangible way I was educated into knowing that the materiality of human beings did not define their existence, nor did physical death end that existence. Human beings were something above and beyond their material bodies and emo-tional and psychological selves. As a result death was normalised as was, “life-after-death” as were “the dead”. There was nothing special or mysteri-ous about it, it was just how things were. I learnt when still a young child that human beings did not cease to exist when they died, they just went to live

somewhere else. Intuitively I remained silent throughout my

early years, and while I never disclosed my experi-ences I frequently wondered why I experienced life in this way while others did not. I was in my teens when my mother told me about my great-grandmother and her extraordinary mediumship ability. Born in 1890, great-grandmother Rees who heralded from Durham of County Durham in North Eastern England was a Spiritualist and a trance me-dium. According to my mother the “gift” as it is known, skipped my grandmother and my mother to take up residence in me. For the first time I had a frame of reference which enabled me to conceptu-alise why I experienced life in the way that I did. Despite this inheritance and though I have been asked a number of times by the other side to be-come a practising Medium I have always declined, knowing intuitively that the purpose of my life-journey is to lead me in a different direction.

ADC Phenomena

While some ADC phenomena are “felt” or “sensed” or “dreamt”, other phenomena are experi-enced via the physical senses. The disembodied can be smelt, they can be seen, they can be heard, they can be felt when they touch the skin and they can manipulate matter. I’ve had items fly across a room, relocate from one room to another, com-pletely disappear never to be found again or, when believed to have been lost, suddenly, and for want of a better word, materialise in very unusual cir-cumstances. Touch keys on a keyboard can be de-pressed, radios, lights and clocks can switch on or off or stop, curtains can move or sway, doors open or close and telephone calls with the voice of the disembodied clearly audible can occur.

Social Science research has identified a number of typologies or characteristics delineating ADCs which can range from the feeling or sense that one is “somehow being watched” to a “full-blown sensory experience – olfactory, auditory, visual and occasionally tactile” (Bennett & Ben-nett, 2000, p. 140). Such occurrences are generally spontaneous and have been found to occur without provocation; it is the disembodied who initiate the engagement. Some individuals experience one phenomenon, while others can experience a range of phenomena. Definitions of what constitutes ADC phenomena are replete in the Social Science literature however I rather like that termed by re-searchers from the After Death Communication Re-search Foundation ( The Foundation have been ac-tively conducting on-line research into after-death

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encounters since the late 1990s and define ADC as “a spontaneous experience of communication with a deceased friend or family member.” Typologies include:

Visitation dreams: Unforgettable, extraor-

dinarily vivid or highly significant dreams, where the experient feels that the dream is more than a dream because they have di-rectly interacted with the deceased.

Visual appearances: The deceased is seen

in partial or full form, and may appear as

either solid or semi-solid. The deceased

may appear to be illuminated from within

by a light.

Mental telepathy: Communication from

one mind to another which is heard in the

mind of the experient and believed to be

that of the deceased.

Auditory or voice experience: The audible

voice of the deceased is clearly heard ei-

ther in close proximity or through a tele-

phone call, a computer, or a mobile tele-


Olfactory or sense of smell: Scents either

associated with or used by the deceased

are smelt by the experient and may include

floral scents, pipe or cigarette smoke, per-

fumes and colognes or particular foods.

Unusual behaviour of birds or animals:

They appear unexpectedly in places or at

times when never before seen and are as-

sociated in various ways with the de-


Symbolic experiences or synchronicities:

Rainbows presenting at unusual times, but-

terflies appearing repeatedly and staying

with the bereaved, finding objects associat-

ed with the deceased or meaningful hap-

penings believed to be directly associated

with and/or attributed to the deceased.

Protective experiences: These are happen-

ings believed to protect the experient, or

which prevent a tragedy or a suicide. The

experient may receive a warning directly

from the deceased regarding an impending

tragedy or may receive support and en-

couragement when experiencing suicidal


Third-party experiences: The bereaved

receives a sign/message which comes

through a third person, either a child or an

adult who has the extraordinary experi-


Fourth-party experiences: The bereaved

receives a sign/message that comes

through two other people, one highly intui-


Out-of-body experiences: The bereaved

experiences an out-of-body experience and

reports seeing the deceased.

Psi kappa experiences: Movement of ob-

jects (falling or flying through the air,

moving from one place to another), a clock

stops or starts at the moment of death,

lights or other electronic equipment ran-

domly switching on and off.

Sentient experiences: The sensing of the presence of the deceased, often felt as an intuitive awareness or inner knowing that the deceased is in close proximity. This can also include a tactile or sense of touch experience such as being embraced, kissed, or touched on the arm or shoulder by the deceased or a divine being.

These characteristics illustrate the variance

and diversity of ADC. Through them the disem-bodied not only make themselves known, they blur the boundaries between life and death and chal-lenge our understandings and notions of what we are and how we live.

Across the Threshold

In 2001, after a seven year battle with cancer my father died from complications associated with Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. His battle had been a harrowing one, involving the entire family, and one which had been borne with agonising psychologi-cal suffering and deep emotional pain. The cir-cumstances surrounding his death were such that after a short period of being particularly unwell he had been admitted to the Intensive Care Unit of the local suburban hospital, an act in itself which gen-erated a suffocating fear and uncertainty regarding the trajectory of his illness. Upon visiting the fol-

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lowing morning, my mother had been advised by the attending doctor to contact immediate family as his situation was rapidly deteriorating.

Upon entering his room I immediately no-ticed two things. The first was that a disembodied or non-material being was standing next to my fa-ther’s bed whose presence was unknown by any save me (which was not entirely unusual). I knew intuitively that it was the responsibility of this be-ing to act as a “spiritual midwife” who had the task of guiding his entrance into the spiritual universe. I also knew that of all those gathered around the bed, the being knew that only I was aware of it. Sec-ond, even though the family were gathering by his bedside my father had absolutely no idea that his death was imminent; he simply thought he was sick and the family were paying a visit.

As the hours wore on and the moment of his physical death approached I watched the monitor recording his heart beat and brain activity indicate that his vital signs were slowing. Prior to seeing the “flat-line” on the screen however, I suddenly saw him standing outside his body looking at us and I knew then that he had left his physical body; he was now disembodied and was in effect a non-material spiritual being.

My father did not believe in life-after-death. He was an atheist who believed that when physical death occurred the individual simply ceased to ex-ist, an attitude which was the focus of numerous conversations between the two of us during his ill-ness. My father held this attitude in death as he did in life. The concept of life-after-death was so com-pletely and utterly foreign to him that he simply did not have the capacity to comprehend where he now was or what was taking place in his life. This was compounded by his now internal state of utter and total bewilderment and confusion because at one moment in time he was lying in bed looking at all of us, his eyes shifting from face to face, and we at him, and then in the next moment he was standing next to the head of the bed being completely ig-nored by everyone. He could not understand why nobody was looking at him nor could he under-stand why he was laying in the bed when he was standing next to it. What in fact had happened was that his sense of self had shifted and whereas once it had resided in his material body in which he had enjoyed life as an embodied being, it now resided outside his material body. From his perspective he was in two places simultaneously, which was just not possible. How can you be in two places at once?

He looked at me and saw that I could see him. I mentally spoke to him telling him that he was now “dead” and that he needed to go with the

spiritual being who had come to guide him into the spiritual universe. He didn’t understand what was happening. He didn’t know where he was, he did-n’t recognise anything and because the landscape was unfamiliar he hesitated, preferring to stay close to his physical body because that was all he knew, that was all that he recognised, that was all that made sense to him. During his life he had never devoted himself to spiritual or existential matters and was a materialist and an empiricist in the true sense of the word. Those qualities were painfully evident now as he struggled to comprehend what was taking place.

I looked at my family gathered around his bedside. They were all looking at him in bed, some were crying, my mother touched his face while one of my brothers held his foot, which I did think ra-ther odd at the time; none were aware of the spir-itual drama taking place before them. I mentally told my father that he was now a spiritual being and that the death of his physical body had enabled him to enter the spiritual universe. I told him that he had to step away from his physical body, that there was nothing to fear and that even though he didn’t understand what was taking place he needed to trust me. I repeated this, again emphasising the fact that he needed to trust what I was saying.

With great reluctance he began to move away from his physical body. The monitor flat-lined and the nurse came to remove his oxygen mask. Amidst the weeping I kept mentally encouraging him to go with the spiritual being, telling him that he was safe and that soon everything would make sense to him. Although this was difficult for me, I knew that it was time; he had to leave. Tubes were gently removed from his body, machines were switched off and as I watched I saw my father turn away from himself in the bed and, accompanied by the spiritual being, begin to move away. I wished him “au revoir” and then quietly, gently, he faded from my sight.

Family came and went and after they had all left I remained alone with my father’s body for some time. The medical staff had moved him into a curtained room which had a solitary window through which sunlight streamed. Looking out I saw clouds scudding across the sky. I stood in front of it for a moment or two. Dad would have liked the view; it looked out over the ocean. Still-ness hung in the air. I touched his cheek, it was still warm. I held his hand watching the blood drain away, feeling it gradually become cool in my own. In the privacy of my time alone with him I cried, thinking of the terrible torment of the past few months and in particular of his fear of dying and the difficulty he had had in coming to terms

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with the, as he believed it, complete annihilation of his existence. I felt so terribly alone, especially as I knew there was no one to talk to about what had just occurred between my father and me.

Suddenly, and completely unexpectedly, the room was flooded with an exquisite fragrance and I was overcome by the scent of what seemed to be hundreds of flowers all releasing their perfume in a heady and intoxicating rush. It was so intense that it cut through my reverie jolting me into sudden awareness. I was astonished, especially because there were no physical flowers in the room, and then before I could even begin to make sense of what had happened I felt non-material arms encir-cle me lovingly, hold me and communicate word-lessly that they knew all that had transpired, and beyond, and then they were gone, as was the fra-grance. The experience, which left me reeling, lasted no more than a few seconds but it was the impact of it that was so important. I knew irrevo-cably that though I was “alone” I was not in truth alone. There were others, disembodied, who were aware of what had taken place and because those others were aware of my sadness and loneliness, because they knew it was only I who had partici-pated in the spiritual transition of my father had come to comfort me; they had crossed the thresh-old. Their knowing was the acknowledgement I needed and their actions bore witness to my sorrow and despair providing comfort and understanding.

Three days later I saw my father in the spir-itual universe, or rather, and as I like to acknowledge, I saw him with eyes-inside-my-eyes. He was in a state of absolute bliss and was over-joyed at the fact that he was alive. He simply couldn’t believe it. His blissful and joyous state was both in stark contrast to and a sharp divergence from the initial bewilderment and “culture shock” he experienced immediately after his physical death, at which time he had had no conception of life after death nor of the non-material spiritual uni-verse. Although he didn’t do this I could almost imagine him jumping into the air and clicking his heels together in glee. I hailed him mentally word-lessly communicating how happy I was for him. He looked toward me and smiled. Feeling a sense of joy myself for his now altered state of under-standing and comprehension I wished him well in his new life, said a final au revoir, and watched, as he had done so previously, gently fade from my sight.

A number of years later, and following the death of my husband in 2004, I visited the gravesite of my parents. My need for comfort over-rode the intellectual comprehension that my parents were physically dead, that their bodies lay buried under a

mound of earth and that their flesh was rotting and decaying in the caskets in which their physical re-mains lay. I knew they were not there, but the gravesite was a link to them. If I touched the earth that covered them it was analogous to touching them physically.

Completely overwhelmed by my emotions I had lain on the grass that blanketed their bodies. Suddenly I was aware of their presence. They stood a short distance from me yet close enough for me to see the concern on their faces. My husband was also present and standing discretely to one side. My father called me by the name he had ad-dressed me as a child, and then I felt his concern and fondness wrap itself around me and hold me, just for a moment. He was never one given to such gestures in life which rendered his actions all the more poignant. Then my mother in her usual prag-matic manner told me that all would be well and of course in time it was. I’ve not seen my father since then, some ten years or so now, but that doesn’t matter. What does matter is that despite the fact that we live in different “places of being” the bond of love knows no bounds, uniting in death as it does so in life.

Final Reflections

Jung articulated with reference to himself

that his views are “grounded in experience” (1977, p. 1731), so are mine, shamelessly, subjectively so. Emerson wrote, “The influences of the senses has in most men overpowered the mind to the degree that the walls of space and time have come to look solid, real and insurmountable; and to speak with levity of these limits in the world is the sign of in-sanity” (2012, p. 8). I agree. As a result of these experiences, I completed a doctoral research study exploring ADCs within a context of adult bereave-ment. The study has its origin in the lived experi-ence of my own bereavements which unexpectedly provided the psychosocial and psychospiritual con-text for the returning deceased. I didn’t envision that my doctoral work would privilege the transper-sonal. The fact that it does is something entirely out of my control and absolutely contrary to the direc-tion I had planned for myself. It was my intention to further develop my current interest and work in health education policy and reform for Indigenous Australians.

Many years ago a friend told me that God laughs when we make plans. I resented the state-ment then especially because I had my life all mapped out. However, after completing my doc-toral research I have to agree with those words. Are our lives pre-destined? I’ve often wondered about

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that. Are seeds sewn into our internals at birth which grow into proclivities and drives which natu-rally propel us in a certain direction and to a certain life purpose irrespective of what it is that we think we should be doing?

The occurrence of ADC suggests that some-thing profound is not only occurring but being communicated as well. ADC, the lived experience of it, is an experiential allegory of potential psy-chospiritual growth and transformation. This po-tentiality can be utilised by the experient to re-evaluate the meaning of their existence as a human being, the meaning of life, and the meaning of their relationship with the sacred or the spiritually infi-nite. It invites the individual to consider life and one’s participation in life from a transpersonal per-spective. I fancy that we become more human per-haps because our values of what it means to be hu-man change. Through the coming together of the embodied and the disembodied a conjunction be-tween two realities, one material the other non-material, is created. It is within this space, and the stillness of reflection that can follow, that we are invited to become the living principle of a truth in action because in some way, unique to all who ex-perience ADC, we know irrefutably that the dead do not die and this knowing changes our under-standing and fills us with hope, wonder and awe at what it is that we are, and what it is that we are des-tined to become.

Death is the putting off of the physical body. It is an event that enables the individual to live as a disembodied non-material spiritual being in the non-material spiritual universe. ADCs can be profoundly transformative because of their inter-subjective nature with the experient. The possibili-ties then of accepting the invitation to “see the same different” (VanKatwyk, 2006, p. 26) are not only thought-provoking they could promote the growth of what Maslow terms, “the serious peo-ple” (1964, p. 56). These are those whom he de-fines as “the earnest ones, the seeking, questioning, probing ones, the ones who are not sure, the ones with a ‘tragic sense of life’, the explorers of the depths and of the heights” (p. 56). Correspond-entially we see the humanising of the individual and their psychospiritual growth in a philosophical context, as we do the educational aspect of ADCs reported in countless research findings, an element which again finds communion with Maslow:

An education which leaves untouched the en-tire region of transcendental thought is an education which has nothing important to say about the meaning of human life. (1963, p. 3)


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VanKatwyk, P. (2006). Seeing the Same Different: The, “Living Human Document” in a Post-modern Context of Clinical Pastoral Educa-tion. In T. St James O’Connor, C. Lashmar & E. Meakes (Eds.). The Spiritual Care Giver’s Guide: Transforming the Honeymoon in Spir-itual Care and Therapy (pp. 19-33). Canada: Canadian Association for Pastoral Practice and Education.


Michele T. Knight, BHSc, MASc, PhD is a Social Scientist and an early career scholar with the Uni-

versity of Sydney, Australia. Her research into af-ter-death contact (ADC) has its origin in the lived experience of her own bereavement and the return-ing deceased and in the communal and attitudinal response to those experiences. Her doctoral thesis entitled, Ways of Being: The alchemy of bereave-ment and communiqué (2011) is a qualitative heu-ristic study. Her research aligns with others in that the subjective experiences and understandings of the meaning of death, the dead and ADC indicate a changing and shifting theoretical and intellectual discourse which is revisioning how individuals conceptualise what they are, why they exist and why the returning deceased, by their cross-cultural presence offer humanity an invitation to consider life from a transpersonal evolutionary perspective.

Friday 4th – Sunday 6th

December, 2015 York Marriott Hotel,

Tadcaster Road, York, UK

7th Conference

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When I first met Anthony, he climbed on

everything and seemed to prefer to walk on tables. Unlike many of my students who were hyper-sensitive to sensory input, Anthony appeared to be hypo-sensitive. He did not appear to feel his body enough. Each morning, he would run from one end of the cafeteria to the other, much to the dismay of other staff members. It seemed to me that he need-ed to do this to feel his body. Most people inter-preted his incessant running as hyper-activity. I sensed his hyperactive movements were needed to feed his hypo-active system. Anthony was on medicine for hyperactivi-ty, which never quite made sense to me. It seemed to exacerbate his movement disturbances. Often, if Anthony improved in one motor area, he showed decreased function in another. For example, if he was focused on copying words or pictures, he would get stuck executing accomplished gross mo-tor activities. At times, he was so impaired that he could not even put on his coat or feed himself. I remember him “getting stuck ” on the way to the serving line in the cafeteria and on his way to the bathroom. Usually, a slight push would get him started again. It reminded me of scenes in the mov-ie "Awakenings." Anthony often looked up at the sky as if he were seeing things that were invisible to the rest of us. He seemed totally entranced with whatever it was that caught his attention. Anthony was also nonverbal. During classroom activities, he was of-ten required to select correct responses from a field of choices. When doing so, he never looked at the answers; yet, his responses were invariably correct. It appeared as if his spirit was controlling his body from above as his arms awkwardly reached out to select the correct word or picture response. It was phenomenal to watch.

In the fall of 2001, right after 9-11, Antho-ny’s behavior, which was always intriguing, be-came astonishing and alarming. He also was just beginning puberty and perhaps that had something

to do with it. Anthony had always been a compul-sive eater. Now, he refused to take in any nutrition. He would bring a favored snack item to his lips and then push it away. Even more frightening, he refused to drink water. Throughout the day, he would run from the room, find a position and face north. Often his arms would be at his sides with his palms outstretched similar to what you see in Christian statues. At other times, after finding his preferred spot he would assume Muslim prayer po-sition on the floor, hands at sides and head bowed

forward. He was always facing north. Facing north became an obsession. If head-ed north, Anthony walked forward. If headed south, he insisted on walking backward. When headed east or west, he walked sideways, so his eyes were always facing north. When we were on our daily walks through the woods, he adjusted his stance to always insure that he was facing north, turning from side to side as he twisted and turned on the meandering trails. I often thought about it, but I never did attach a compass to his head to see how close to north he was able to maintain. During this time, Anthony would jump up from a seated position and land on the narrow back of a typical classroom chair. As frightening as it was to witness, he seemed to know the exact fulcrum point and never once did I witness the chair even slightly tip.

The situation was obviously out of control. His mother and I, fearful of his lack of in of liq-uids, had him admitted to the county mental health complex for evaluation. His medication was changed and his newly adopted odd behaviors be-gan to slowly subside. Most importantly, he began to drink and eat again.

Anthony became very proficient at using PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System). The first time he really seemed to get it was in Feb-ruary, the second year he was in my class. It finally clicked that if he gave me the picture of the candy heart, he would actually get a candy heart. Soon

Anthony: An Exceptional Child

Mary Ann Harrington


This personal account tells of a few experiences the author, a now retired teacher, has had with a student who is autistic

and seemingly telepathic.

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after that initial realization, he was selecting the correct pictures from a huge field of choices. At the time, I had all my walls covered with strips of Vel-cro with Mayer-Johnson pictures attached, and I had put them in categories. This way, I would al-ways have the pictures handy for visual cues. It al-so helped the kids search and recognize categories.

Another breakthrough came: Anthony, un-prompted selected multiple non-specific pictures to get me to understand him. During a group activity, he stood up, walked over to the walls and selected three pictures. He took a picture of a stick of butter, a picture of a nut, and a picture of a quarter. I was totally confused, but I knew I had to stop what we were doing and investigate. The picture of the quarter made me think of the vending machine in the teacher's lounge. I remembered he ran in there earlier in the day. So I then took Anthony to the vending machine to see if this combination of tick-ets made any sense. Sure enough, there was a pack-age of "Nutterbutter" cookies that he wanted. Of course, I bought them for him in celebration.

Although Anthony could now spontaneous-ly use PECS and could copy printed sentences on his own and at the computer, he could not generate any typed or written communication on his own. Like many of his peers, he needed the visual cues provided by PECS and/or Speaking Dynamically Pro to initiate interactions. Our last year together, he was finally able to initiate by drawing pictures of desired snack items he wanted.

After I was no longer Anthony’s teacher, I planned to visit his class. I decided to get him some favored treats to see if he would draw pictures to request them. The night before, as I was in the su-permarket, I was thinking of him as I selected his favorite items to share with his class. I got him a few fish candies, a tiny pack of chocolate chip cookies, and a tiny pack of donuts along with his beloved butter cookies. The next day I visited his class, but I forgot about the treats and left them in the car. When I was about to leave his classroom, I remembered. I drew a picture of the butter cookie and told him I had some in the car and would bring them in. He took the piece of paper, drew a circle and put marks in it to indicate the chocolate chip cookies. He then drew a donut and a triangle with a spine through it, which I assumed indicated the fish can-dy. It was if he had said, "Don't forget the choco-late chip cookies, the donuts and the fish candy!"

I was flabbergasted. How did he know what was in my car? Was it non localized telepathic link because I was thinking of him so intently while I was selecting the items the night before? Was he reading it in my energy field? Or was he capable of

remote viewing? I recently asked him that question. He typed with FC support. "I was listening to your thoughts in the grocery store the night before. I can move my soul anywhere I direct it, but I do not go to your car or home uninvited. Our energy path is direct."

In the summer of 2014, I began working with Anthony again. He had been a former student of mine from ages eight to thirteen. He is now twenty-six years old. It is wonderful to see the handsome, capable young man he has become. I recognize the child, I knew; he still likes to run and jump and stare into space. Generating typed and printed words without a partner is still impossible, but we haven’t given up. In so many ways, though, he is more mature, organized, independent and aware. He has better impulse control, enjoys life, and it is a pleasure to hang out with him. Much of that is due to his inspiring mom. Anthony's mother holds high expectations for him, yet allows him to be himself. Anthony said it best, when he typed with support: "My mom - the best mom for me."

I sense Anthony, and like many other non-verbal souls, is an intellectual and spiritual savant. Because of his significant language, movement, and sensory issues, the untrained eye does not rec-ognize him. Anthony sometimes appears to physi-cally uncomfortable. This discomfort may have encouraged him not to fully integrate in his body, which in turn allowed for a stronger connection with the subconscious mind, soul, collective uncon-scious, spirit. Choose whatever term or terms that makes you comfortable. Coming from this higher vibration, where all information is instantaneous and not dependent on sensory channels, appears to be his reality. Like others, Anthony’s expansive soul appears to align with my energy field in a way that allows him to feel comfort - a form of entrain-ment that enables him to subdue his chaotic flow and lower his vibration to a level that balances his knowing - to a point where he can express a stream of consciousness. I speculate that I serve as a bridge to allow this to occur. I feel it has helped him understand our communication system. In turn, he serves as my bridge for increased understanding of the subconscious mind or spiritual states. Thus far, I have not become proficient in his world, nor has he in mine. But, I believe, we both have bene-fited from the entanglement.

Anthony uses picture or word exchange and voice output communication aids to make basic wants and needs known. Anthony uses supported typing, often referred to as FC or RPM, and telepa-thy for complex open ended communication. FC-Facilitated Communication is a strategy, where I provide physical support as a nonverbal person

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types. RPM-Rapid prompting method differs, in that he hits the keys on his own as I hold the com-munication device. In my experience, both support-ed typing strategies have an energetic component. I can always hear the word before it is typed. Telepa-thy is a form of direct communication where I intu-itively listen and type what I hear. Anthony typed most of the dialogue that follows with FC support and some with RPM. A few times, he stood up in the middle of his process, walked off to the bath-room and expected me to continue. He would then come back and take over again right where I left off without ever missing a beat. This is a new pro-cess, he is teaching me. I believe those interested in consciousness and quantum mechanics. experts might be able to use these types of communication to develop a deeper understanding of principles of the universe. I have been exposed to these beautiful, complex souls for over twenty-five years. I remain open to their teachings, yet continue to question what I don't understand. The following dialogue are ques-tions, I recently asked Anthony about his different, but not unique way of being. I also asked him for advice to better understand him and others like him. I end with a sample of his writing about Ni-kola Tesla, that allows the reader a glimpse of An-thony’s view of consciousness. Please read with discernment. I personally hold Anthony's commu-nications with me in high regard, but there hasn't been research into the process. Until then, I must share authorship as I am energetically and physi-cally part of the process. And I am fallible. I have always been and continue to be on uncharted ground. I look to Anthony and others like him to teach me the ropes and explain the process. I hope that someday scientists will take these anomalies seriously. These amazing souls are underutilized. Until then, all I can do is share what I receive. Be-low are some questions I recently asked Anthony about the process, and his atypical, but fascinating perceptual reality: Me: How do you feel? Anthony: I feel like a fish out of water most of the time. I am gasping for air in an atmosphere that is alien-too narrow in scope to contain my being. I struggle to conform but feel restricted by the re-quirements needed to stay grounded. Much turbu-lence in my energy flow. Wish I could stay on the path, so to speak, without your energetic Input. It is like oxygen to me. Me: Any suggestions on how I can help you?

Anthony: Keep regarding me as whole person body, mind, and spirit. I am integrating more than I can currently show you. It is happening at a cellu-lar, atomic level. Molecules are aligning in circular open spirals, requiring me attune to their frequen-cy. Each encounter leaves me a little more stable than before. Know that your prayers and healing energy reward me with God's dearest treasures of hope and love. Reassure you that I am coming home to source of creative potential. I am stronger than I have ever been. Me: What do you see when you stare into my eyes? Anthony: See energy. Hear. Feel soul. Great few as close. Awesome job determining heart felt need. I see your soul in its entirety. Unless you brave and the energy is strong, I fear to change directory. Please dream in waking state. Use your intuition-really great range when you trustful. Realize your training is required so that you ready to receive thought forms. Energetics are at play here. Multiple frequencies are surging through you trying to es-tablish a rhythm of sustained power. Few under-stand your knowing but more will come into your circle, charging you with light and love. Energetics key to sustained power. Rhythm sustains flow. You are relaxing Into this state of higher electrical charge-magnetism increasing. Me: What is most important thing I can do for you energetically? Anthony: Clear energy. Infuse me with positive light forms. What are positive light forms? Energy that is con-densed and contained in the physical body. Me: How do I do that? Anthony: Think of nothing. Feel light coming in root chakra. Picture it coming from the earth con-densed and funneled in through a spout. Feel densi-ty and weight increase. Contain it by the bounda-ries of the physical body. Me: How do you send your thoughts to me? Anthony: You are interpreting the waves I send you. I impress thought forms on your brain stem and you chose word for expression. I initiate and you follow. Free thought waves merely attaching to your words. Me: Am I hearing you correctly, especially when

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you walk off and expect me to continue typing what I hear from you telepathically? Anthony: You [are] easy to transfer. However, I wander off often, allowing you to forge your truth with mine. This is part of your training process. Our language is being taught to you. Remember to give silence time to lead us together. Give yourself time to access me from a distance. Cherish the mo-ments when I talk to you from increased distance. This is necessary for our progression and my lead-ership. So much is being taught to you simultane-ously. I ask only that you respect my way to train you-teaching you how to ride advanced thought forms. Empowering you, empowers me. Empower-ing me, empowers other souls of a similar vibra-tion. You know who they are. Advanced souls waiting for you and others to catch up. Many fre-quencies being adjusted. Surrender to the process as I and others have told you before. You must re-linquish all control. Me: Do you have any limitations of language or accessing knowledge? Anthony: We can speak any language our partner speaks because we are not communicating in words we are transferring thought forms for them to un-consciously interpret. All knowledge is in the soul. I can access my soul knowledge and the soul knowledge of all those I choose to commune with. Me: How accurate is my current understanding the supportive typing process you are using to answer these questions? Anthony: You are on the right track. Think in terms of facilitator weakness. We are great teachers but limited by the facilitators lack of readiness. Keep looking for facilitator breakdown. You break down when you cease to trust what I send to you. Me: Why do you stop typing when I force my mind to go blank? Anthony: You know that destructive interference occurs when you do not follow my train of thought. I am under your influence energetically, but not controlled by your thoughts. When younger, I pla-cated you by typing what you asked until our pow-er needed to shift. Me: Why must I look at the keyboard even when you don’t? Anthony: You have to look the letters so I can fol-

low your visual pathway. Without our energetic link, I cannot get to my target area. The reason be-ing is that I am dreaming most of the time. Try to control your movements in a dream and you will understand my predicament.

I receive your image sent in that state but cannot replicate it with out your visual guidance. I find it easier to see through your eyes in a dreamlike man-ner because dreams are receptive receivers hearing information, but unable to duplicate without con-scious control of movement. I need your conscious-ness to refine my communication.

Altered out of body states do not provide the bodily control that most typical people have. I adjust to your frequency, but I cannot move my body as I would like. Me: Why can't you type higher dimensional or spiritual thought forms without my partnership? Anthony: Typically, I know how to navigate thought and energy transference, but I cannot trans-fer spiritual principals into linear representation without a filter. You serve as that filter. Your eyes, your ears, your touch all bring me down from my dream state into your limited way of interpreting a gestalt existence that is not word dependent. It is a feeling state filled with nuances language can’t capture. You realize time without distance is not explainable to you but it is a reality in a dream experience. Me: Why is each typing partnership different? Anthony: Underneath each relationship, central theme feeds the channels that engage the higher selves to merge in order to dialogue. The realm of potential, creates a force field that allows the dom-inant partner to drive the conversion in the direc-tion he wishes. You still not realize that total free-dom adverse to our “heart formula" of Kool loving support. You actually reward my efforts when you not think, just hear my voice talking to you. Be very brave and teach others what I teach you. You are getting stronger and stronger at letting my po-tential come through. Me: Why do I as your partner need to know the question asked? Anthony: You create barriers in our share channel

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of expression, if you haven’t any idea where I am headed. This occurs because you lack the basics of cohesive thought transfer. Seldom can I freely im-press on your brainstorm if you are not privy on some level where I am taking you. You lack the ability to unconsciously choose a word for the thought form being transferred when you are obliv-ious to where I may be going. Me: How are you progressing? Anthony: You are helping teach me how to sepa-rate thought forms. I now recognize your thoughts and mine as separate streams of awareness. Each of us is tempered by the other. That is true, but our individuality is intact. I see “me" as separate during more waking moments. Hope you understand that this jump in awareness gives me the push to indi-viduate more each time we are together. Me: Which strategies are most helpful? Anthony: You never give up. I mirror that attitude. You rigorous in your resolve. You rid me of fear of failing. You are like lovely open line of light to fol-low? In that path of light, I feel strong magnetic pull to stay present. You anchor me in your area of existence like a tethering chord. I know I won't be pulled out to sea. Me: Do you have any other suggestions? Anthony: Stay present and focused on listening to my words. Help me smooth out energy flow through joint meditation, music, and prayer. Love, trust and forward thinking has helped you help me, and I think you're healing energy turns feelings into words. Really new way of transmitting. It teaches dreams can be controlled with respectful partner.


Mary Ann Harrington, MA has worked for over twenty-five years with children and adults with au-tism. Much of the time she served as a classroom teacher. She has always been drawn to those who are non verbal or demonstrate minimal verbal capa-bility. Mary Ann believes these amazing kids and adults demonstrate a multi-dimensional awareness and evolving form of telepathy that continues to expand and deepen her understanding of con-sciousness. Anthony is one of the many amazing souls who continues to challenge, teach, and in-spire her.



about something you’ve

read? Submit “letters to

the editor” for

publication at

[email protected]

Check out Mary Ann’s Youtube channel, featuring videos of Anthony!


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Peer Reviewed Articles

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The Paradigmatic Breakdown: A Model to Define the ExE Dynamics Renaud Evrard

Some Basic Notions Reality and Real, Ontology and Paradigm

A first important distinction required for this model is the one between the “reality” and the “real.” These two terms are ambiguous and, de-pending on the authors, seem interchangeable. Ac-cording to the French psychoanalyst Jacques La-can, the real is what objects to knowledge (Lacan, 2001). The real imposed itself to the subject and, when he/she tries to understand it by a process of knowledge, he/she actually builds a “reality” which, for its part, belongs to the register of the imaginary. This notion of reality as an inevitably relativist experience is also found in the construc-tivist approach, as opposed to realism. However, even there, this experience is rooted in the real. Ed-gar Morin thus speaks of a “co-constructivism” to avoid the image of a reality as a solely mental con-struction. He describes a “collaboration of the out-side world and of our mind to build reali-ty” (Morin, in Bougnoux & Engelbach, 2008). In his phenomenological model of ExE, in-spired by the philosophy of Thomas Metzinger (2003), the German psychologist Wolfgang Fach (Fach et al., 2013) speaks of a “Reality Model,” which produces some redundancy in our vocabu-lary: reality is always a model, although we usually swim in the illusion that it has all the qualities of objectivity and truth we lend to the real. To keep this constructivist option, we can extend this dis-tinction to the one between “ontology” and “paradigm.” Our model is in fact close to the model of the American psychiatrist John Mack (1999, 2005), who speaks of “ontological shock/clash” as well as “ontological resistance” to describe the re-sponses to experiences he describes as

“extraordinary.” Nonetheless, it seems more appro-priate to retain Thomas Kuhn’s concept of “paradigm” (Kuhn, 1962), which refers more to the register of the imaginary, to relative and changing knowledge. Moreover, Mack derived his theories from his numerous friendly discussions with Kuhn. These details put aside, Mack’s terms refer to the same object, namely what he also calls “worldviews” as “organizing psychological sys-tems” by which a given individual orders his/her knowledge from his/her direct experience and learning. According to French psychologist Thom-as Rabeyron (2010, p. 80-81), the pattern identified by Mack in his study of abduction experiences can be extended to all ExE. This is what provides the model of the paradigmatic breakdown by describ-ing what happens when an experience (local varia-ble) is not or hardly inscribed in a personal worldview (global variable). Paranormal and Dissonance It must be remembered that Festinger, Riecken, and Schachter (1956) introduced the con-cept of “cognitive dissonance” with a study of peo-ple with paranormal beliefs (in aliens, mediumship, and apocalypse) they were forced to revise when their ideas failed. This concept is now classic in social psychology, even if it is still a debated topic (Vaidis, 2011). It is very useful to describe the dy-namics of ExE, contrary of the notion of “paranormal” which is full of implicit interpreta-tions. In fact, to say that an experience is “paranormal” summons the anthropological predi-cates associated with this term (Hansen, 2001), the cultural and scientific “norms” which are supposed to be its counterparties, and, above all, it suggests


This article is a continuation of the attempts to define exceptional experiences (ExE) and their epistemological frameworks (Evrard, 2014a; Abrassart, 2013; Tremmel, 2014). The model proposed here is not really original: it is rather at the crossroad of ideas discussed independently by many authors. Its aim is to define ExE without any reference to a "paranormal reality" – but without ruling it out – while improving the understanding of their

dynamics. For brevity, the multiple clinical and epistemological implications of such a model will be only sketched.

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that one already knows something about the factu-ality of the experience. To qualify an experience as “paranormal” implies a judgment of reality even when no scientific investigation has been conduct-ed. This is all the distance that separates an “experience” from an “event” or a “phenomenon” which is dissolved with this simplistic categoriza-tion. Consequently, authors are usually forced to use other additional terms, i.e., “subjective paranor-mal experience” (Neppe, 1993) or “experience lived as paranormal” (Rabeyron, 2006). In addition, the concept of “paranormal” refers to the parascientific corpus of anomalistic disciplines (parapsychology, ufology, cryptozoolo-gy, etc.). However, we can’t say if all ExE, espe-cially when they are not investigated, overlap with what these parasciences call “spontaneous cas-es” (Evrard, 2014a). When they are still only wit-ness accounts, they must be treated as such by fo-cusing on their singularity and subjective appraisal. Rather than prematurely applying anomalistic cate-gories, it is necessary to remember that the para-normal is not the same for everyone. In the words of Rhea White, to whom we owe the term Excep-tional Human Experiences, “The one who lives the experience is the final arbiter as to whether or not his experience is ‘exceptional’. This may not be obvious to others” (White, 1994, p. 36; see Evrard, 2013a). Indeed, when defining ExE according to the model of the paradigmatic breakdown, we actually face various forms of dissonance (Renard, 2011, p. 71): Dissonance between the expected normal

and the manifested paranormal: it’s the novelty of the extra-ordinary.

Dissonance between the expected paranor-mal and the manifested normal: as in the case of failed prophecies, disclosure of ma-gician's tricks, etc.

Dissonance between the expected paranor-mal and the manifested paranormal: for ex-ample, when observing the banality of the messages transmitted by spirits or aliens.

In addition to these forms of intra-subjective dissonance, it is necessary to consider the status of the experience over time and in the interaction. For the same individual or one that gathers his/her testimony, an experience will some-times be described as paranormal, sometimes not, depending on a host of factors. The paranormal at-tribution is also rarely immediately and even more rarely permanently applied on the experience (Irwin, Dagnall, & Drinkwater, 2013). The phe-

nomenon of “retroactive dissonance” (Inglis, 1977) found in observations of paranormal events shows that the paranormal or pseudo-paranormal status of an experience varies over time. The model of the paradigmatic breakdown is trying to account for this dynamics of dissonance rather than freezing things. And it applies even in cases where the para-normal attribution is uncertain, because this doubt seems inherent to the dynamics of ExE. Anomaly, Deviation, Exception, and Breakdown In his model, Fach (2011) produced a syn-thetic definition of ExE as “basic anomalies in the Reality Model.” The notion of an anomaly, in its various meanings (Atmanspacher, 2009), is at the heart of the epistemology of parasciences but also of the structure of scientific revolutions (Kuhn, 1962). Subsequently, Fach used the notion of “deviation” (Fach et al., 2013) to avoid this nega-tive scientific connotation. However, in our view, it seems more evocative to use the term “breakdown” because it better reflects the dissonance process involved. The concept of “deviation” suggests a relative consonance or compatibility between the experience (local variable) and the model (global variable), but it is not the major element to identify ExE, only one possible and even desirable state of their integration process. The logic at work in the ExE is not the one of the deviation from a norm, but of the exception to a rule. Because, again, a norm refers to an objec-tive law while a rule refers to a subjective law. It is therefore not necessary to minimize the gap be-tween the anomaly and the Reality Model, since this gap is primarily a subjective feeling. The ExE dynamics may be only felt from a certain degree of dissonance, when the deviation becomes breakage. In his study of the marvelous and the ex-traordinary, the French sociologist Jean-Bruno Re-nard also used the concept of breakdown, described as “epistemological,” in the sense that “the marvel-ous changes the ordinary representation of the world” (Renard, 2011, p. 34). He draws a parallel with the “epistemological breakdown” discussed by Michel Foucault (1966), that is to say, a col-lapse in the foundations of knowledge. But this no-tion was first popularized by Gaston Bachelard (1938) who used it to describe the passage from prejudice to the real, from experience to reason. Access to science, according to Bachelard, involves accepting to contradict the past. The rupture im-plies to reject some previous knowledge, but also opinions, beliefs, preconceptions, and other “epistemological obstacles.” Only then could be revealed new knowledge and true science. Later,

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following the work of Kuhn (1962), the notions of “paradigm crisis” and “paradigm shift” were popu-larized. Talking about “paradigmatic breakdown” supports the idea that what happens with ExE is a cognitive process similar to what happens in the formation of the scientific mind, proceeding by de-construction and reconstruction thanks to a dia-logue between assumptions and empirical observa-tions. Researchers have shown that adult resistance to science could begin in childhood, with painful experiences of conflict between common sense and scientific information, where trust in the source of information plays an important role (Bloom & Skolnick Weisberg, 2007). The problem for science teachers is having to confront the alternative expla-nations already invested by the students. Experi-ences, knowledge and dissonances seem to interact in any acquisition of knowledge throughout life.

Models of ExE Dynamics

Several convergent models have been de-veloped independently to account for the psycho-logical responses to a confrontation to the “paranormal.” We will present three of them: first, the initial model of Rhea White; then the “hermit crab syndrome” described by the Belgian psycholo-gist François Mathijsen; and finally the model of the French sociologist Jean-Bruno Renard. Model of Rhea White In a rupture with the experimentalist ap-proach of parapsychologists, White has developed what she called a “dynamic” model of ExE. This model considers the initial ExE – whether verified or not on the objective plane – as the beginning of a subjective process of narrative development of identity (cf. Brown, 2000). For the individual’s growth, ExE must be integrated, validated and ap-plied. To do this, White identifies two steps: The individual must first make a choice be-

tween either the proof or the meaning, both aspects being irreconcilable, wrote White (1994, p. 1) on the base of her personal tra-jectory (Evrard, 2013a).

Then – or rather echoing the first choice – the individual must choose between either belief or doubt, that is to say he or she may decide to adopt a new paradigm, a new vi-sion of the world into which the experience will fit – possibly by being supported by additional experiences and enrichment pro-cedures that increase its symbolism and

meaning. Alternatively, he or she may not trust his or her senses and “rationally” ex-plain 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 White (1994, p. 127) recognized that some experiences are apparently neu-tral, having no valence or after-effects.

In all cases, the ExE places the individual in a state of cognitive and emotional dissonance in which the experience shift the individual’s Reality Model. But all ExEs 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 (Hunt, 2000). White, therefore, qualified ExEs as “pre-paradigmatic” (White, 1994, p. 103). Moreo-ver, at no time did White defend any single para-digm 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). Thus she had set up a network to pro-mote listening and peer-support of ExE-witnesses and encouraged the practice of “the autobiography of ExE” as a mean of narrative development of identity. Model of François Mathijsen

François P. Mathijsen, as part of his doctor-al thesis in psychology at the Catholic University of Louvain-la-Neuve, conducted a qualitative study on the relationship between teenagers and spiritism (Mathijsen, 2010, 2011). Mathijsen (2009) had pre-viously published a very interesting article focusing on the epistemology of the psychological research on the paranormal: he proposed to refocus on the individual, to use more qualitative studies, and not to seek a debate on the evidence of the paranormal (for a discussion, see Abrassart, 2013). He invited the psychology of the paranormal to reposition around experiences and beliefs, without prejudging of to their real or illusory, pathological or non-pathological nature. This positioning converges to a conceptual framework in which ExE can be glimpsed in the form of “unresolved cognitive and emotional processes of paradigmatic changes.” With respect to young people’s practice of spiritism, Mathijsen showed two things. First, they

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seem to have an anxious personality profile in search of a better control over their environment, as many publications already support (Mathijsen, 2011). Spiritism and other paranormal beliefs ap-pear as modes of coping in order to maintain inter-nal stability. Second, there would be a recurring cogni-tive process in these young people engaged with spiritism. Mathijsen identifies it as the “hermit crab syndrome” (Mathijsen, 2010, 2015), by analogy with the changes of shell necessary to the develop-ment of this crustacean, but which forced it to pass through periods of vulnerability. This syndrome is presented as a cognitive level (pattern) rather than at a psychopathological level. For these young peo-ple, the experience of the paranormal will destabi-lize their understanding of the world (called “paradigmatic structure” by Mathijsen), following various levels of violence and drama, which will be accompanied by anxiety. To avoid this, the young people will oscillate between denying their experi-ence and accept it as real, leading to expand or change their “paradigmatic structure.” Mathijsen notes, from a sequential analysis of his material that the denial is crumbling over time, or by dint of repetition of the experiences. And in the case of acceptance of the perceived phenomenon, to label it as “paranormal” helps neutralize its ambiguity (see also, Lange & Houran, 1999) and to integrate it into a new paradigm. Hermit crab syndrome goes through 4 stages:

“First stage: cognitive disturbance. This oc-curs when confronted with a disturbing situ-ation. Perception (subjective or not) of something that is completely beyond what the mind can admit or understand.

Second stage: the fight for cognitive control. An attempt, of varying duration, to maintain the paradigmatic information which enables an understanding of reality, either by denial, or by weighing up arguments and counter arguments.

Third stage: cognitive disruption. The barrier of doubt or self-persuasion crumbles. Per-ception prevails over reason. The paradig-matic information with which reality is un-derstood is called into question. This cre-ates a paradigmatic void, a sudden instabil-ity in the knowledge structure, which leads to anxiety (hermit crab syndrome).

Fourth stage: paradigmatic growth. The state of anxiety will be resolved either by reject-ing the cognitive disruption and establish-ing permanent doubt (permanent second

stage), or by accepting a paradigm shift that brings some stability to the internal struc-ture.” (Mathijsen, 2010, p. 356-357)

Figure 1: Four stages of hermit crab syndrome (Mathijsen, 2010) One of the advantages of this model is that it focuses on the non-linearity of the processes in-volved: the dissonance increases discontinuously, depending on the repetition of the experiences, their conditions of occurrence, prior beliefs, and other confirmatory and disabling factors that will weigh in the struggle for cognitive control. This syndrome also seems absolutely not specific to young people and spiritism practice: it could be effectively generalize for any ExE (Evrard, 2014b). In this model, the third stage is ambiguous since it actually refers to an alternative: its outcome is either an evolving Reality Model (paradigmatic growth) or the strengthening of an activist doubt position which seeks by all means to keep the Real-ity Model in place (permanent fight for cognitive control). Many of skepticism’s militants claimed to have lived ExE (especially in adolescence) that subsequently boosted their efforts to debunk para-normal and break the illusions of others, based gen-erally on a rationalized idealization of the material-ist paradigm. Le Maléfan (2008) indicates that this shift towards skepticism in late adolescence is a common resolution of teenagers’ interest in the paranormal, but didn’t provide empirical evidence for that. Mathijsen (2015) provided data to support the mediating role of paradigm shift (measured through a self-reporting 5-point scale of five items) on 675 young people aged between 13 and 25 years old: one of their major options to eradicate cogni-tive dissonance resulting from some distressing anomalous experiences is to review the way to look

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at them, through a paradigm change. This can af-fect personality permanently in a way that overlaps with measures of schizotypy. Mathijsen distin-

guishes two types of paradigmatic expansion ac-cording to their degree of continuity with the origi-nal paradigm: either an “expanded paradigm” where the experience of the paranormal is integrat-ed into the old paradigm at the cost of its partial revision, allowing it to contain the anomaly; or a bifurcation to a “neo-paradigm,” resulting in a total rereading of all things through a “paranormal grid,” which approaches the magical ideation in schizoty-pal disorder (Mathijsen, public defense of his the-sis, 29 November 2011). By reversing his model, Mathijsen (2015) also showed that schizotypy changes the way the world is seen, and can increase the number of ExE through the mediation of a par-adigm shift. A schizotypal person may seek confir-mation that perceived reality is indeed paranormal, as biased cognitive process which contributes to symptom formation also contributes to symptom maintenance. Then ExE would reinforce schizoty-pal beliefs and interpretation of reality. In short, the last stage should be renamed to avoid suggesting that the purpose of this recurrent process taking its source in ExE is the “paradigmatic expansion,” a formula that propo-nents of a spiritual discourse tend to over-invest (Grof & Grof, 1989), creating a new attractive norm (“evolution of consciousness,” “spiritual growth”). There is a lack of evidence suggesting that the transition to a neo-paradigm or an expand-ed paradigm is the best way to integrate an ExE, so that, from the perspective of the clinician, we need to leave open the possibility that the final stage re-

mains the expression of a conservative doubt, which also seems to play a stabilizing role. Model of Jean-Bruno Renard

Sociologist Jean-Bruno Renard proposed a speculative model to account for this tension, this wobbling time when the subject is forced to relativ-ize a knowledge that he ordinarily used as a bench-mark. He defines the experience of the marvelous as a sensory experience, categorized as extra-ordinary, and inseparable from a controversy over its interpretation (Renard, 2011, p. 16). Renard dis-cerns a fundamental process of hesitation, with three “successive branches” in a switch between rational-natural and “marvelous” explanations (Renard, 2011, p. 70): Reality status: Is the phenomenon an unreal

(illusory) or real fact? Normality status: If the fact is real, is it ex-

plicable or inexplicable (deviation from known laws of nature)?

Hermeneutic status: If the act is abnormal, what interpretations can we move forward?

According to this model, cognitive disso-nance is not first. It would occur only after the sub-ject has drawn conclusions about the reality and the abnormality of his or her observation (Renard, 2011, p. 70-71). This is consistent with the work on the precedence of paranormal experiences over par-anormal beliefs (Lawrence, 1998; Irwin, Dagnall, and Drinkwater, 2013). However, we can consider that the development of such judgments of reality and normality are already using cognitive opera-tions where the dissonance has all the time to inter-pose. Renard (2011, p. 66) adopts the same hesi-tation in his analysis of typical speech of the wit-ness of extraordinary facts, where he spotted four steps, the order may vary. For example, a witness thinks he sees an airplane (semanticized), then ob-serves that the craft is strange (not semanticized), has a composite form (quasi-semanticized), and concluded that he saw a UFO (neo-semanticized). There would be production or use of signifiers that were not in the ordinary speech, when the latter fails to account for the experience. However, for Renard (2010), if the subject is developing his/her own cognitive and subjective rationality (therefore without falling into the irra-tional), he or she is challenging the scientific knowledge of his or her culture: “Fantastic beliefs challenge the ordinary knowledge (doxa) or the

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scientific knowledge by transforming absolutely true propositions in usually true propositions. They challenge the absolute of the dogma or of the or-thodoxy, going from a binary logic of absolute truth (yes or no, true or false, probability equal to 1 or 0) to the logic of the probable truth (probability between 0 and 1)” (Renard, 2010, p. 120). Renard (2010) then sets some typical be-liefs that are opposed to given dogma, as if each subject had to go through them, as if we need these beliefs to explain other beliefs. On this point, we differentiate ourselves from this sociological theory since, in our view, we must retain the idea that the subject does not dispute a doxa, but a rule, that is to say, a subjective model of reality built in the course of the personal history, a “global variable” and not an objective invariant. And thus his or her belief will be the result of both an experience and the rule which it contradicts, and it is of no use to reduce this mixture to a stereotypical belief. Renard highlighted that the resolution of the paradigmatic breakdown is not necessarily the ad-herence to a new knowledge. “The rationalist re-duction and the marvelous expansion thus appear as two normal processes of the human psy-che” (Renard, 2011, p. 36). Strengthening the pre-vious paradigm seems to be a viable alternative for some individuals, such as those that take advantage of conformism or social supports.

Clinical Implications

By not presenting anymore ExE as experi-ences fixedly interpreted as paranormal, the model of the paradigmatic breakdown could fertilize sev-eral psychological and sociological studies on ExE. In my opinion, the implications that seem the most obvious are the clinical ones, with, again, the con-vergence of several works.

ExE and Traumatic Break-ins

In her study of traumatic life events, Ronnie Janoff-Bulman (1989; Janoff-Bulman & Timko, 1987) also proposed a similar view when she dis-cussed “world assumptions” in a manner close to Fach’s Reality Model, and outlined the process of “assumptions shattering.” These preconceptions about the world could be undermined or revised following exposure to traumatic events (but keep-ing in mind there is no traumatic event per se, only an unfortunate match between a subject and an event). The new hypothesis that replaced the previ-ous could be more negative. Janoff-Bulman has developed a psychometric tool that distinguishes different sectors of our beliefs about the world.

However, these assumptions about the world could also have a protective function. Those who do not have the appropriate world assumptions for that they will live would not benefit from this psychological protection. This may be reflected in their intense suffering and the hardship experienced during the reconstruction of their cognitive schema. Janoff-Bulman (1989) describes several attitudes to maintain the assumptions already established (avoiding coping) or to gradually eliminate disso-nance (active cognitive coping). Applied to ExE, this model invites to search for the clinical effects of the various world assumptions and coping strat-egies when facing the traumatic break-in of the strange. ExE and Transformations The psychologist Mike Jackson (1997, 2010) analyzed the “gray area” between spirituality and psychosis on the basis of case studies. He con-cluded that certain criteria intended to be pathogno-monic of psychosis may apply to experiences that are not pathological in themselves. Some psychotic-like experiences should be considered a “benign schizotypy” (Jackson, 1997) or “benign psycho-sis” (Jackson, 2010). Going even further, he pro-posed to address ExE (psychotic-like and spiritual experiences taken together) as based on the same psychological process: a creative problem solving, linked to certain personality traits. Although the fate of this problem solving can be a failure, it would be inappropriate to generalize these findings and make ExE a necessarily morbid process. In 2010, Jackson reformulated the problem solving process by providing a model of benign psychosis in terms of the paradigm shifting pro-cess, which has many similarities with our model of the paradigmatic breakdown. Psychosis could thus resolve itself normally, hence its ability to be benign. But in this model, everything is symmet-rical: there is no criterion by which to solve the spiritual-psychotic paradoxes. These experiences are either constructive or destructive; their apprais-als either benevolent or malevolent, etc. It lacks criteria for a differential diagnosis of the abnormal-ities occurring during this process. Jackson (2010, p. 153) accommodates himself with that when he suggested, in a very theoretical way, that clinicians might make interventions during this paradigm shifting process to accompany its resolution, with-out explaining where, when and how they should intervene. The value of his work is predominantly in the way it decreases the distance between the clinical practice with psychotic-like experiences and the one with ExE (Evrard, 2014b).

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However, the focus on the “transformative” effects of ExE encourages caution. Too few rigor-ous studies can objectify them univocally (Evrard, 2013b). In his qualitative analysis of near-death experience, the French psychologist Pascal Le Maléfan (2010) discussed the impressions of “transformation” which are one of its most signifi-cant impacts (Greyson, 2000). The persistent memory of the experience takes shape as a “new point of origin of the subject.” However, inter-individual differences persist. According to Le Maléfan, it’s not the subjectivity that is chang-ing, but ego instances of the personality, especially the ego ideal. The ExE comes to adjust the struc-ture of certain subjects through the register of the imaginary, as if the imaginary plays the role of a suppletion by dragging subjective rearrangements. Le Maléfan (2010) offers a nuanced de-scription of this “transformation” so much valor-ized by some authors: First, it would not be a systematic effect but

an always singular opportunity. Second, this “resubjectivation on the ego”

may be more or less successful – and we can think to the negative impacts of some near-death experiences as breakdown of social ties or depression (Greyson, 2000).

A form of jouissance is actualized in this experience, a jouissance which provided such a wellness that the experiencer can

remain fascinated by his/her own demise or by the afterlife he/she glimpsed.

This fascination has to be cut by a process of symbolization that will help the subject to restart on the side of life. Because, final-ly, it’s because this jouissance had encoun-tered a “phallic stop point” that the subject was unable to leave, to cross the deadline.

From the structural analysis of several ExE, for non-psychotic psychical structures, Le Maléfan (2010) describes a process of wobbling of the fun-damental fantasy which structures the subject, caused for example by a “hole in the real” or ex-treme situations where the subject anticipates his/her own demise. A break occurs, whose course is described by our model only in its cognitive aspect. The hallucinatory is summoned to support this rup-ture, during all the time of the wobbling period. In certain individuals, following their subjective con-struction, this break will result in ego-rearrangements establishing a new relationship to the desire. This kind of production is not automatic and is dependent on the way the desire was consti-tuted. This process would be salutary because it would allow stabilization and transformation of the fundamental fantasy that flickered. In her study of narratives of ExE, German psychologist Christina Schaefer (2012) concludes that the concept of “existential shock” – derived from Mack’s “ontological shock” (Mack, 1999) –

Author Local variable Global variable Process Outcomes

Mack Extraordinary

experience Worldview / On-

tology Ontological shock/clash Paradigmatic expansion

White Exceptional

Human Experi-ence

Paradigm Subjective process of narrative development

of identity

Transformative poten-tial

Fach Anomaly / Deviation

Reality Model / /

Mathijsen Paranormal experience

Paradigmatic structure

Hermit crab syndrome Paradigmatic growth or

permanent fight for cognitive control

Renard Extraordinary or marvelous experience

Doxa Epistemological break-

down Rationalist reduction or

marvelous expansion

Jackson Psychotic-

spiritual expe-rience

Paradigm Creative problem solv-ing / Paradigm shifting

Benign psychopatholo-gy with paradigmatic


Le Maléfan Exceptional experience

Fundamental fan-tasy

Wobbling of the fantasy Ego-rearrangements


Traumatic life events

World assump-tions

Assumptions shattering Coping strategies for the reduction of the


Evrard Exceptional experience

Paradigm Paradigmatic break-

down Reduction of disso-


Table 1: Comparison of multiple models of the ExE dynamics

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as a result of ExE is at least questionable. The con-sequences of the ExE are indeed very different: they do not always lead to psychological or meta-physical changes. When they do, these changes may be minor as the development of a more or less pronounced curiosity for the paranormal. It also happens that they are sources of profound changes, both positive and/or negative, at the cognitive and/or at the behavioral levels. But they also frequently lead to profound mental suffering in part generated by the difficulty to integrate the ExE and their af-tereffects (Belz, 2009). Given this situation, the clinician must re-main open to the different possibilities that could reduce this dissonance, both cognitive and emo-tional. The rationalization favorable to the previous paradigm can be a healthy way; as well as the para-digmatic expansion can have a soothing effect. Therefore, some neutrality regarding the destinies of this process should guide the attitude of the cli-nician. One can’t define in advance, without rely-ing on the subjective coordinates of the experi-encer, what is the best way forward. The integration of the ExE, in the form of a reduction of the dissonances they generate, can be-come a therapeutic target. However, is an experi-ence with paranormal themes that would be fully integrated into the life history still an ExE? One can imagine that, without the typical tensions linked to the ExE dynamics, these experiences cor-respond to a different psychological material. There would be a mismatch between the clinical perspective and other measures of paranormal be-liefs and experiences. An ExE that is not associated with any concerns and/or distress would not require the same care because it does not have the same value as a clinical sign. The same distinction is made between psychotic experiences – which have a high prevalence among the general population – and psychotic symptoms associated with a request for help – whose prevalence is half the latter (Van Os et al., 2009). Surveys on the prevalence of ExE should therefore be distinguished from sociological measures of paranormal experiences by incorporat-ing measures of the appraisal associated with each experience, for example by assessing the correla-tive need for care (Landolt et al., 2014).

Conclusion Since the early days of the societies for psy-chical research, paranormal experiences were pre-sented as anomalies that would compel scientists to change their paradigms. This claim has not facili-tated their study. Indeed, the researchers found themselves in the same position as experiencers,

that is to say, to face situations that they could not incorporate into their currently established models. This context generated an epistemological tension, causing anxiety, polarizing reactions ranging from hostile skepticism to a marginalizing enthusiasm. It does not prevent the possibility that ExE change our way of understanding certain psychological phenomena (beliefs, psychosis, etc.), but does not encourage us to anticipate the coming revolutions. Because this tendency to take ExE as objective evi-dence (of psi, paradise, spirits, aliens...) implies to forget that they are also and primarily experiences to subjectify. Our model relies thus on a good dose of reflexivity: are we able to describe the complex process that characterizes ExE without tipping one-self in this process, without breaking with ambient models or having as only horizon a paradigmatic expansion? Are ExE exceptions that disprove or confirm the rule? These stories of the unusual, the strange, or the exceptional for a subject can receive various prosaic explanations to which results of scientific experiments and rigorous investigations in parasci-entifc areas should not be assimilated. These para-scientific disciplines have everything to gain by not claiming a monopoly on ExE, because they exceed their jurisdiction. Thus, ExE, as defined according to the model of the paradigmatic breakdown, in-vites us to study spontaneous phenomena of disso-nance in the clinical field, so that they have much to learn from previous work on the various forms of dissonance and dissonance reduction strategies; and they can, in turn, enrich them.

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Renaud Evrard is a clinical psychologist working in adult psychiatry and associate member at the psychology laboratory EA 3071 at the University of Strasbourg, France. In 2012, he obtained a Ph.D. in psychology at the University of Rouen, with a thesis on clinical differential practice with excep-tional experiences. With Thomas Rabeyron, he co-founded in 2009 the Center for Information, Re-search and Counselling on Exceptional Experienc-es (

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The ongoing discussion about the orienta-

tion of research into the paranormal and related topics originated from a comment Jean-Michel Abrassart (2013) made on a paper by François Pierre Mathijsen (2009). Subsequently, Mathijsen (2013) replied and Renaud Evrard (2013) com-mented on Abrassart’s paper. Next, Abrassart (2014) replied to Mathijsen’s critique and I com-mented on each of the preceding papers with an emphasis on the usage of terms (Tremmel, 2014a). The discussion made a detour with a revised ver-sion of my paper (Tremmel, 2014c), published in the German Zeitschrift für Anomalistik [Journal for Anomalistics], including open peer commentaries by Evrard (2014c) and Wilfried Kugel (2014), to which I replied (Tremmel, 2014b).

In his reply to my original paper, Evrard (2014a, p. 14) remarked that in his view, I have

reintroduced as much confusion as I have removed. Consequently, I will endeavor to allay any confu-sion I may have caused and expand on some of the points made previously. An abridged version of Evrard’s reply, translated into German, was pub-lished as his peer commentary. Thus, large parts of the following reply are translated from the reply I have previously made to the peer commentaries.

On the Definition of Parapsychology

Evrard (2014a, p. 14) cited sources that

consider the research into spontaneous cases of os-tensibly psychic experience to be important; ac-cording to Irwin and Watt (2007), research into spontaneous cases and experimental parapsycho-logical research may cross-fertilize each other. Ev-rard remarked though that such a shuttling between natural sciences and humanities, between phenom-ena (supposedly a subject matter for the natural sci-

Clarification of Terms and Concepts Defining Parapsychology and Related Disciplines:

Reply to Evrard (2014) and Update

Michael Tremmel


This rebuttal to Evrard’s reply (2014a) clarifies that experiences and phenomena, as well as humanities and

natural sciences, are and should be correlated with each other in psychology as well as in parapsychology.

Proof-oriented, phenomenological, and process-oriented research may work in conjunction with one another.

Contrary to Evrard’s view, empirical research regarding objective correlates of lucid dreaming, out-of-body

experiences, and near-death experiences does exist. Abnormal psychology and anomalistic psychology are

concerned with distinct matters and are not to be confused. I did not define anomalous experiences as experi-

ences deviating from an objective norm as my definition also includes experiences deviating from subjective

expectations. The term exceptional experiences, used as a set expression, is problematic because it puts psy-

chic experiences in a certain context, its positive connotation is not endorsed by everyone, it is not suited to

depathologizing respective experiences, let alone to normalizing them, and what counts as exceptional is too

arbitrary. There are arguments against the inherent elusiveness of psychic phenomena, and there are numerous

theoretical approaches that do not assume such elusiveness. There are numerous person characteristics that

both occur in people who are prone to exceptional experiences and figure in successful experiments, and future

research may potentially reveal a more consistent psychological profile of such people. Among problems

based on the personal interpretation of the experience, there are also problems based on the experience itself,

demanding objective assessment using established categories. In addition to the rebuttal, the updated definition

of anomalistic psychology on the website of French’s research unit is commented on.

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ences) and experiences (supposedly a subject mat-ter for the humanities), is destabilizing (p. 15). In psychology, one has come to terms with precisely such a “destabilization” for more than 100 years (see, e.g., Wundt, 1896). Psychology analyzes and describes both mental processes and behavior. It is an interdisciplinary undertaking that cannot be un-ambiguously assigned to the humanities, natural sciences, or social sciences and eclectically avails itself of various perspectives, such as of the biolog-ical perspective, the behavioral perspective, the cognitive perspective, the psychoanalytic perspec-tive, and the subjectivist perspective (Nolen-Hoeksema, Fredrickson, Loftus, & Lutz, 2014, Chapter 1).

Parapsychology can be conceived as a sub-discipline of psychology by name. Apparently, Dessoir shared this conception when he coined the term, as did J. B. Rhine when he adopted it. Against this backdrop, it is only consistent that Ir-win and Watt (2007), as well as many other para-psychologists and proponents of the reductionistic variant of anomalistic psychology, do not shy away from putting proof-oriented research, phenomeno-logical research, and process-oriented research—and therefore phenomena and experiences—in rela-tion to one another without equating them with one another (Cardeña, Lynn, & Krippner, 2014, Part I).

Evrard went on to state that with a parapsy-chology between natural sciences and humanities we cannot be sure if “paranormal factors” always apply to unconventional experiences (p. 15). In-deed, such an expectation would be undue. Natu-rally, neither reductionistic nor non-reductionistic explanations apply to all unconventional events automatically and such events can also remain un-explained. Nevertheless, such explanations can be applied to individual experiences and events.

Abrassart (2013) and Mathijsen (2013) have not debated the possibility of an epistemic inde-pendence of anomalistic psychology, as Evrard claimed (p. 15). Rather, they have debated the pos-sibility of epistemic independence of the research into the paranormal in general, that is, the research in the context of psychology and related disci-plines. Abrassart quoted anomalistic psychology merely as an example of a discipline that is not ep-istemically independent, but is attempting to deter-mine the ontological status of the experiences and phenomena investigated. This is like parapsycholo-gy, although a reductionistic perspective is taken (cf. French & Stone, 2014).

Only Evrard (2013) claimed parapsycholo-gy as an “experimental science of psi phenome-na” (p. 29) and inclusive anomalistic psychology as a complementary, epistemically independent disci-

pline. As explained previously, parapsychology cannot be reduced to its experimental research (Tremmel, 2014a, p. 34). Likewise, anomalistic psychology (inclusive as well as exclusive) refers to experimental findings and thus is not epistemi-cally independent (Cardeña, Lynn, & Krippner, 2014; French & Stone, 2014). A disentanglement of anomalistic psychology and parapsychology, as Evrard (2014a, p. 15) proposed, would set parapsy-chology back by more than 50 years, to the period of behaviorism.

Evrard claimed that there is a lack of empir-ical research on the objective correlates of lucid dreaming, out-of-body experiences, and near-death experiences, which is why such experiences are better explored and explained in neuroscientific or psychological studies than in parapsychological studies (p. 15). Such a use of terms is occasionally also found in the parapsychological literature, alt-hough it is undifferentiated and thus may be con-fusing. The first two kinds of studies are equated with reductionistic research approaches, the latter one with non-reductionistic ones. As mentioned previously however, there are also reductionistic approaches to be found in parapsychology (Tremmel, 2014a, p. 32). Moreover, non-reductionistic approaches are also explored in neu-roscientific and psychological studies. Consequent-ly, a study investigating ostensibly psychic experi-ences or phenomena and considering one or more psychological factors is both a parapsychological study and a psychological study, irrespective of the approach.

Empirical research regarding objective cor-relates of all experiences mentioned certainly exist (Cardeña, Lynn, & Krippner, 2014, Chapters 6, 7, 12). There are no non-reductionistic correlates to be expected regarding lucid dreaming, which is not a central topic of parapsychology and not to be confused with prophetic dreaming. That is to say, there are no correlates that are indicative of a psy-chic nature of lucid dreaming. Apart from that, ob-jective correlates of lucid dreaming indicative of genuine self-awareness while dreaming were found long time ago (LaBerge, Nagel, Dement, & Zar-cone, 1981) and continue to be found (Voss et al., 2014). The existence of non-reductionistic corre-lates of out-of-body experiences or near-death ex-periences is controversial. Research regarding such correlates does exist however, and a yet insufficient state of evidence does not constitute a rebuttal (Truzzi, 1998).

Evrard stated that hypotheses like the gen-eral extrasensory perception (GESP) hypothesis make the empirical testing of such experiences very complicated (p. 15). Even though the different

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ostensible ESP experiences are often reduced to GESP in experimental, proof-oriented research, this problem may be addressed by phenomenologi-cal and process-oriented research, which may also be the case for the other experiences mentioned. This approach, in turn, may impact experimental paradigms and hypotheses.

On the Definition of Anomalistic


Evrard still claimed that parapsychology and anomalistic psychology had been merged with each other in the past (p. 15; cf. Evrard, 2013). He is right that abnormal psychology has also covered parapsychological topics in the past and thus one may speak of a merging. However, he draws a con-nection between abnormal psychology and anoma-listic psychology that does not exist in this way. Abnormal psychology can be defined nowadays as…

….the study of mental, emotional, and be-havioural aberrations. It is the branch of psychology, concerned with research into the classification, causation, diagnosis, pre-vention, and treatment of psychological dis-orders or psychopathology. […] Abnormal psychology is not synonymous with clinical psychology, which is mainly concerned with professional practice and focuses pri-marily on diagnostic tests and the applica-tion of different treatment approaches. The essence of abnormal psychology is its em-phasis on research into abnormal behaviour and its endeavour to classify the wide range of mental and emotional aberrations into coherent categories and to understand them. Abnormal psychology serves as a backdrop or guide to clinical practice. (Lazarus & Colman, 1995, p. ix) In short, abnormal psychology is concerned

with abnormal (i.e., pathological or subpathologi-cal) experiences and abnormal behavior, inclusive anomalistic psychology with anomalous (i.e., as a rule non-pathological) experiences, and exclusive anomalistic psychology with subjectively anoma-lous experiences (cf. my definition of anomalistic psychology and French’s definition in Tremmel, 2014a, pp. 31, 33). This differentiation coincides with the differentiation that I made between abnor-mal and anomalous (Tremmel, 2014a, pp. 30–31). There is merely some resemblance between abnor-mal psychology as it was defined in the early years of the discipline (cf. Bridges, 1929–1930), when

abnormal had a more neutral connotation, and in-clusive anomalistic psychology. However, as shown previously, anomalistic psychology—unlike abnormal psychology—has emerged only recently (Tremmel, 2014a, p. 31). Thus, there can be no talk of an historical merging. Additionally, even in the early years of abnormal psychology, pathological experiences were one of discipline’s main con-cerns, which is not the case for anomalistic psy-chology.

In fact, the change in definition of abnormal psychology over time, which was possibly initiated by publications like the paper by Hunt and Landis (1935), might be the very reason why abnormal has a negative connotation today. Webster’s New International Dictionary of the English Language explicitly records the negative connotation as early as 1934 and notably places it in the context of psy-chology (cf. “Abnormal,” 1932, 1934).

Evrard (2014a, p. 16) assumed that I disa-gree with the reductionistic approach of exclusive anomalistic psychology. In fact, I only disagree with labeling this approach anomalistic psychology because it is solely concerned with subjectively anomalous experiences from a reductionistic per-spective. As explained previously, using such a comprehensive term so exclusively does not appear justified to me (Tremmel, 2014a, p. 32).

Evrard claimed that I had defined anoma-lous experiences as experiences that deviate from “an objective law or norm” and thus anomalous as synonymous with terms like psychic, paranormal, etc. (p. 16). However, my definition neither refers to objective nor to certain laws or norms. Instead, my definition explicitly includes but is not limited to deviations from subjective expectations accord-ing to unscientific explanations of the world (Tremmel, 2014a, p. 33). As explained previously, the meaning of anomalous is too inclusive to be used synonymously with psychic, paranormal, etc. (Tremmel, 2014, p. 31). I merely stated that in re-search of (subjectively as well as objectively) anomalous experiences—no matter whether under the name of inclusive or exclusive anomalistic psy-chology—, an objective approach that considers the ontological status of the experience is usually applied (Tremmel, 2014a, p. 35–36).

Evrard assumed that according to my argu-ment, anomalistic psychology monopolizes the term anomalous experiences and withholds it from disciplines that provide non-reductionistic ap-proaches (pp. 16–17). However, the way I have defined the term anomalistic psychology, the disci-pline explicitly includes non-reductionistic ap-proaches (Tremmel, 2014a, p. 33). According to my definition, parapsychology is a subdiscipline of

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this inclusive variant of anomalistic psychology. Research into anomalous experiences is not re-served for a certain discipline and should explicitly take place interdisciplinarily. Consequently, a neu-roscientist, for example, dealing with the anoma-lous experience of synesthesia is moving in the field of neurosciences and anomalistic psychology at the same time.

On the Definition of Exceptional


Evrard stated that a dream is not a psycho-analytic experience per se because it also occurs in other contexts. Likewise, a telepathic impression, provided it exists, is not a parapsychological, transpersonal, or schizophrenic experience per se because it also occurs in other contexts. Instead, labeling a telepathic impression as an exceptional experience preserves it from taking place in a cer-tain context (p. 17). This comparison is flawed be-cause labeling a telepathic impression as an excep-tional experience actually places it in the context of experiences that are conceived as rare or superior, as well as in the context of telepathic impressions recognized as such. At the same time, such a label-ing marginalizes telepathic impressions that are experienced and yet not recognized as telepathic (Tremmel, 2014a, pp. 33–34). Instead, according to the very definition and general usage of the term psychic, a telepathic impression is a psychic experi-ence regardless of the context (“Psychic,” 2010, 2014). This is not to be confused with a parapsy-chological experience in the narrow sense (Tremmel, 2014a, p. 27).

Evrard suggested that the term exceptional experiences to describe specialness is advantageous because people can easily endorse this connotation, whereas other terms tend to stigmatize such experi-ences (p. 17). It can be argued that while some peo-ple endorse this connotation, others do not, and this creates a bias when it comes to the applicability of the term exceptional experiences. In fact, the term does not normalize such experiences. That is, it does not function as a label for a deviation that is neither special nor pathological, but may depathol-ogize such experiences at best.

However, when all of the term’s connota-tions are considered, even its depathologizing func-tion is questionable. Exceptional has been used to refer to mental handicap, especially in the context of special education. As a consequence, the term is frequently used as a substitute for abnormal in or-der to avoid the latter term’s stigma and thus func-tions as nothing but a euphemism in such a context (“Exceptional,” 2001, 2002; “Irregular, Syn. 4.”

2001). In turn, the usage of exceptional in the con-text of clinical parapsychology immediately sug-gests a euphemistic connotation and thus is unsuit-able.

Evrard remarked that the French equivalent of anomalous, that is, anomal, is confounded with the French equivalent of abnormal, that is, anor-mal, and thus cannot be used without a negative connotation (p. 17). Indeed, in French and German, the difference in meaning is not as clear as in Eng-lish (“Abnorm / abnormal / anomal / anormal,” 2011; cf. “Anomal,” 2001; “Anormal,” 2001). Still, the case is fairly clear for the English language, today’s leading lingua franca after all, so one may use the equivalent term in these languages corre-sponding to this example, ideally with a hint at the meaning of anomalous in English.

If a negative connotation is to be absolutely avoided, exceptionnel is surely not the closest French term expressing something anomalous, as Evrard put it (p. 17), because of its positive conno-tation. Notably, none of the English-language dic-tionaries I have looked into uses exceptional in its definition of anomalous. Looking at the definition of anomalous I provided (Tremmel, 2014a, p. 30), several terms can be derived that paraphrase as-pects of anomalous while still having a relatively neutral connotation, such as uncommon (French peu commun or rare, German ungewöhnlich or sel-ten), unusual (French inhabituel, German unüblich), or unexpected (French inattendu, Ger-man unerwartet).

Furthermore, the usage of the term excep-tional experiences is inadequate because what counts as exceptional is all too arbitrary. In every-day use, anyone may call any experience an excep-tional experience. Thus, also in the scientific con-text, the definition of exceptional experiences is easily blurred. Rhea White (1990, 1997) coined this term as a set expression to refer to subjectively anomalous experiences (e.g., experience of lucid dreaming, synesthesia, alien abduction experience, mystical experience, psychic experience). Howev-er, more recently, researchers associated with para-psychology (e.g., Brusewitz, Cherkas, Harris, & Parker, 2013) have used the expression in a way suggesting it refers to subjectively paranormal ex-periences (i.e., experiences forming the basis of paranormal beliefs, excluding, e.g., experience of lucid dreaming, synesthesia, and mystical experi-ence), further examined in the revised version of my paper (Tremmel, 2014c).

On the Definition of Clinical


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Evrard assumed that the transposition from in vivo conditions to in vitro settings is limited be-cause in vitro phenomena are elusive and not of the same subjective value. He alluded to failures to find a consistent psychological profile of people who are both prone to exceptional experiences and able to reliably cause phenomena in experiments. Evrard also referred to a study by Wackermann et al. (2003), the results of which contrasted with spontaneous cases (p. 16). As shown previously (Tremmel, 2014a, p. 34), the decline effect, to which the elusiveness of ostensibly psi phenomena is attributed, has been interpreted diversely (Colborn, 2007). The interpretation of this effect as an inherent characteristic of psi is only one of sev-eral hypotheses. The declining effect size in ganzfeld research might be an artifact; additionally, a rebound effect becomes apparent (Storm, Tressoldi, & Di Risio, 2010). Studies in medi-umship research have scored effect sizes of d = 0.7 and 0.9 (Rock, 2013, p. 278). These examples speak against elusiveness as an inherent character-istic of psi; moreover, in the latter studies, the in vitro settings are fairly closely oriented toward in vivo conditions.

In the literature, numerous person character-istics have been identified that both occur in people who are prone to exceptional experiences and fig-ure in successful experiments (see, e.g., Cardeña, Lynn, & Krippner, 2014; Irwin & Watt, 2007). The fact that no clear psychological profile has emerged yet might be due to the fact that comparatively lit-tle value is attached to phenomenological and pro-cess-oriented research. Some promising constructs, like transliminality (Thalbourne & Storm, 2012), are still relatively young and little studied. Howev-er one might assess the progress in this area, the fact that a clear profile has not yet been found does not mean that such a profile does not exist (Truzzi, 1998).

Wackermann et al. (2003) considered an interpretation of their results based on the general-ized quantum theory (von Lucadou, Römer, & Wa-lach, 2007). However, a validation of this theory was not the aim of their study. The results could also be explained by other theoretical approaches, which possibly build a bridge to spontaneous cases.

Evrard stated that endo- and exo-perspective, experience and phenomenon are irrec-oncilable for von Lucadou (p. 16). However, there are numerous other theoretical approaches in addi-tion to the generalized quantum theory and von Lu-cadou’s model of pragmatic information (Irwin & Watt, 2007, Chapter 8). It is dubious that a few, insufficiently validated theoretical approaches have apparently resulted in the development of a new

terminology (exceptional experiences, internal/external phenomena, etc.), the terms of which have already started to supersede established terms and categories (see Evrard, 2014b, p. 143). The usage of such terminology discriminates against diver-gent theoretical approaches and complicates con-nections to existing concepts as well as comparison with competing approaches.

Indeed, Evrard (2013) had not argued that exceptional experiences should be the only basis for approaches in clinical parapsychology (Evrard, 2014a, p. 17)—which I also did not attribute to him (Tremmel, 2014a, pp. 34–35)—, however, this con-ceptualization dominated this discipline more re-cently (Tremmel, 2014c, pp. 270–271).

Evrard stated that the discrimination of what is paranormal and what is ordinary is relative and socially constructed; the concept of exceptional experiences does not relate such experiences to a body of knowledge or pseudo-knowledge (p. 17). As shown previously, in the scientific context, the term paranormal is not only contrasted with ordi-nary but also used with meanings that are associat-ed with concrete theoretical concepts (Tremmel, 2014a, pp. 28–29). Everyone may have an opinion about what is paranormal. However, the paranor-mality of paranormal beliefs is not the same as the paranormality of paranormal experiences and phe-nomena as defined by parapsychologists (Tremmel, 2014a, pp. 24–25). Thus, the paranormal in the sci-entific context of parapsychology is not “everyone’s business” (Evrard, 2014a, p. 17). The idea of a certain paranormal experience, say the experience of telepathy, may be socially construct-ed, the paranormal experience itself, provided it exists, arguably is not (see Hacking, 1999, Chapter 1). When evaluating such an experience, the knowledge generated through the scientific method has its advantages compared to knowledge generat-ed through other approaches that do not rely on systematic empirical validation.

Evrard stated that if researchers are interest-ed in how people deal with haunting experiences, general knowledge should be put aside (p. 18). If this approach is taken, people who do not claim such experiences should also be questioned on characteristics of haunting experiences, but without using terms like haunting experience, psychic expe-rience, exceptional experience, etc. As explained in the revised version of my paper, such an approach is also directed toward putting aside the general knowledge of the subjects (Tremmel, 2014c).

Next however, Evrard stated that if some-one does not have any problem with a ghost in his or her house, the “dynamics” of the “anomalies in the Reality Model” are not there, and he or she may

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have no reason to seek help (p. 18). Thus, he actu-ally applied certain knowledge and interpreted such experiences using the model by Fach (2011). More-over, Evrard stated that the concept of exceptional experiences has the virtue of dispensing with some implicit normative premises (p. 17) and is overtly relativist; but researchers know where the elements are by which they understand the experiential situa-tion (p. 18). This shows that this interpretation of the concept of exceptional experiences ignores es-tablished categories while it implies the mentioned theoretical approaches.

Evrard stated that what constitutes psi is not defined objectively because it depends on a thresh-old of statistical significance in experimental re-ports (p. 18). Indeed, psi is not to be defined by ex-perimental parameters alone. Thus, I reject limiting parapsychology to experimental research. Instead, a comprehensive definition of psi needs to be built upon further theoretical considerations, as well.

Evrard stated that in the clinical psychology of exceptional experiences, the experiences are an-alyzed from the point of view of the experiencer, not on the basis of psychology. Furthermore he claimed that contrary to anomalistic psychology, the goal is to help the clients to cope with their condition, and not to impose the best scientific the-ory available (p. 18). Indeed, imposing a scientific theory can hardly be considered a proper therapeu-tic treatment. Still, scientific findings, like the ones from anomalistic psychology, can be applicable to the clinical setting. In order to offer a treatment, a diagnosis is usually to be made first. Evrard stated himself that plenty of prosaic hypotheses exist to understand the clients’ experiences as fully normal (p. 20). Such hypotheses are not to be imposed on the client, yet the clinician needs to get an idea of what he or she is dealing with.

Evrard asked how a clinician can determine when he or she is facing genuine psychic phenome-na, if he or she does not try to control them (p. 19). In a clinical setting, proof based on scientific rigor is not required. Still, the genuineness of the experi-ences at hand can be assessed and the assessment can be helpful to the therapeutic process, see, for example, Gerding (2012) on Tarazi (1990). A “position of undecidability” (Evrard, 2014a, p. 18) is only appropriate if the client is only dealing with secondary effects. That is, the client suffers from mediate effects based on the personal interpretation of the experience, which may be, for example, emotional problems related to cognitive dissonance (Festinger, 1957) caused by the experience (cf. Kramer, Bauer, & Hövelmann, 2012; for a discus-sion about how in one form or another cognitive dissonance is included in various models of excep-

tional experiences, see the excellent review by Ev-rard, in press, in this issue). However, there are al-so primary effects of objectively anomalous experi-ences that exist independently of the personal inter-pretation of the client, further explained in the re-vised version of my paper (Tremmel, 2014c). Ex-amples include problematic effects of the kundalini experience (Hofmann, 2013) as well as synesthesia. Primary effects might also be caused by ostensibly psychic experiences.

Evrard stated that the belief that “paranormal experiences” call for “paranormal therapies” has long been an obstacle to the devel-opment of a clinical practice with exceptional ex-periences (p. 19); the scope of this practice con-tains experiences that seem weird or anomalous even for an open-minded parapsychologist (p. 20). Even though I had stated that genuinely psychic experiences might need a distinct method of treat-ment (Tremmel, 2014a, p. 35), I had not claimed that this method needs to be paranormal. The no-tion that paranormal experiences call for paranor-mal therapies seems to be based on the unfounded assumption that paranormal experiences are funda-mentally different. As shown previously, the term paranormal has repeatedly been defined as unex-plained but in principle explicable and contrasted with supernatural, defined as in principle inexpli-cable (Tremmel, 2014a, pp. 24–25, 28). Simply, the experiences in question may only appear to be supernatural or weird because research has not ex-plained them yet. Whatever treatment may be found to be appropriate for whatever primary effect that may be found, such treatment will not need to be unexplained.

Evrard called my example of the schizo-phrenic telepath a “stereotypical mytheme” and feared that encouraging psychotic patients in the belief of possessing psychic abilities could rein-force their delusions. He did not think that a differ-ential diagnosis would be of any help to distinguish genuine spontaneous psi from symptoms of mental disorders because such a division is based on the unfounded assumption that these two aspects can-not coexist (p. 19). Certainly, genuine psi experi-ences, provided they exist, and mental disorders may coexist. My example was designed to suggest just that. Yet, the idea that a differential diagnosis would not be of any help is based on the unfounded assumptions that mental disorders and psi experi-ences do not interact and that psi experiences do not cause problematic effects on their own.

More research is needed to determine if the allegory of the schizophrenic telepath is actually only a stereotypical mytheme. In case it is not, the implications for treatment approaches are surely

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not straightforward. Encouraging psychotic pa-tients in their paranormal beliefs may indeed rein-force their delusional beliefs. On the other hand, psychotic patients are not delusional all their life and unnecessarily pathologizing a non-delusional belief that is based on a genuine ability might also be unhelpful. Yet, much more research is needed before implications for treatment approaches are foreseeable.

Evrard assumed that thematic classifications such as the one found in the edited volume by Cardeña, Lynn, and Krippner (2014) are confusing and unworkable in a clinical setting. Instead, he promoted the phenomenological classification by Fach (2011) (p. 20). The individual clinical setting certainly determines if such classifications are in-deed confusing and unworkable. Some of the expe-riences listed in the volume are hallucinatory expe-riences, the experience of lucid dreaming, mystical experiences, psi-related experiences, and the expe-rience of synesthesia. These are not diagnostic cat-egories. Still, these experiences are distinct and can be differentiated from each other, even if several of them occur at once. As shown in the revised ver-sion of my paper, the division into internal, exter-nal, coincidence, and dissociation phenomena by Fach (2011) oversimplifies things (Tremmel, 2014c). The assessment may be more difficult if clients claim to have subjectively paranormal expe-riences and offer their own interpretation of them. However, the classification found in Cardeña, Lynn, and Krippner (2014) may clearly be of use when dealing with objectively anomalous experi-ences and primary effects.


The definition of anomalistic psychology on

the website of French’s research unit was changed after my original paper (Tremmel, 2014a) was pub-lished. Now it says—

Anomalistic psychology may be defined as the study of extraordinary phenomena of behaviour and experience, including (but not restricted to) those which are often la-beled “paranormal”. It is directed towards understanding bizarre experiences that many people have without assuming a pri-ori that there is anything paranormal in-volved. It entails attempting to explain para-normal and related beliefs and ostensibly paranormal experiences in terms of known psychological and physical factors. (“What is anomalistic psychology?” 2014, para. 4)

In comparison to the original definition (see French, 2001), this revised version by adding the term a priori now does not entirely exclude non-reductionistic hypotheses anymore. It also explicit-ly concedes that its research topic is not restricted to phenomena that are often label “paranormal”. Thus, the definition might be compatible with the definition I proposed (Tremmel, 2014a, p. 33).

On the other hand, the definition does not state that anomalistic psychology is concerned with anomalous experiences but extraordinary phenome-na of behavior and experience. The term extraordi-nary has a similarly positive connotation as excep-tional. As explained previously (Tremmel, 2014a, p. 32), this anomalistic psychology is actually con-cerned with exceptional experiences, that is, expe-riences that are subjectively conceived to be para-normal or anomalous. The repeated use of the term paranormal in the definition still puts the emphasis on this aspect of research.

In short, this revised definition might be nothing but lip service. Future publications will show if objectively anomalous experiences like lu-cid dreaming and synesthesia are actually part of this anomalistic psychology’s research agenda. Un-til then, only anomalistic psychology proper—the inclusive variant—, embodied by the edited vol-ume Varieties of Anomalous Experience (Cardeña, Lynn, & Krippner, 2014), is actually concerned with the full range of anomalous experiences. On the other hand, the discipline that is concerned with subjectively anomalous experiences as well as par-anormal beliefs and puts emphasis on reductionistic approaches—the exclusive variant—may better be called psychology of subjectively anomalous expe-riences and paranormal beliefs.


Evrard concluded that exceptional experi-

ences are not spontaneous cases and not meant to be studied (p. 20). Indeed, clinical (para‑)psychology for people with exceptional experienc-es is a valid approach acknowledging that such ex-periences may occur and cause problems. At the same time, this approach falls short of acknowledg-ing that various kinds of such experience exist and that classifying them based on their objective char-acteristics makes a difference.

First, because the expression exceptional experiences connotes rarity, Evrard’s comparison to research into spontaneous cases immediately suggests itself. However, notwithstanding the elu-siveness paradigm, regularly occurring or volition-ally induced anomalous experiences exist as well, including ostensibly psychic experiences

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(Anderson, 2006), and the research into such expe-riences. Even though spontaneous cases may be reported more frequently, regularly occurring and volitionally induced cases deserve researchers’ and clinicians’ attention just the same.

Secondly, the label exceptional experiences is not suited to depathologizing respective experi-ences, let alone to normalizing them. Departing from my previous view (Tremmel, 2014a, pp. 35–36), I now maintain that the term ought to be aban-doned in scientific discourse, too. The term is not incisive enough because it functions as a set ex-pression whose intended meaning is not obvious. By contrast, the terms subjectively anomalous ex-perience and subjectively paranormal experience are immediately comprehensible, even without a definition. If the use of the term exceptional experi-ences is to be continued, it is advisable to clarify whether it is used to mean subjectively anomalous experiences or subjectively paranormal experienc-es.

Thirdly, as shown previously, clinical para-psychology ought to also involve objectively anomalous experiences and study them, preferably interdisciplinarily (Tremmel, 2014a, pp. 34–35, 2014c). Although therapeutic and scientific aims ought not to be mixed, clients can certainly be re-cruited as subjects for research. It would be prema-ture to call current scientific theory into question on the basis of individual insufficiently validated models and to support solely a subjective approach. Still, the following statement by Wilhelm Wundt (1896), who is known to have played a substantial role in co-founding psychology as an independent, scientific discipline, applies to psychology and ac-cordingly also to the subdiscipline of clinical para-psychology: “The purpose of psychology would be too narrowly defined if one wanted to merely as-sign the subjective experience to it” (p. 23, my translation).


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Michael Tremmel, Dipl.-Psych., studied psycholo-

gy and medicine at the University of Giessen, Ger-

many. He is currently a doctoral researcher at the

Bender Institute of Neuroimaging, University of

Giessen, and is studying Indo-Tibetology at the

University of Marburg, Germany.

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The parapsychological phenomenon of ex-pressive psi, typically referred to as mind-matter interaction, has been studied and reported on exten-sively throughout the history of the field (Radin & Nelson, 2003). The term psychokinesis (PK) has been given to the apparent ability of human opera-tors to employ conscious intention in order to influ-ence physical systems at the macro-scale (detected by the eye) or micro-scale (detected with advanced equipment and the effects apparent only with deep-er statistical analysis) (Irwin & Watt, 2007). This interaction between consciousness and random physical systems, such as Random Event Generator (REG) devices, has also been found to occur on a global scale (Nelson, 2002; Nelson et al., 2002), with groups of people (Radin et al., 1996; Jahn et al., 2000; Kokubo et al., 2002), and with pairs of people or individuals (Radin & Nelson, 1989; Jahn et al., 2007). Further experiments have shown that PK-induced deviations in randomness are possibly due to human operators consciously attempting to exert an influence on these external physical sys-tems (Schmidt, 1972; Dunne & Jahn, 1992; 1995). In addition to this, studies employing REG devices

in which groups of people engaged in various ac-tivities without direct conscious attention toward the device still resulted in REG output that deviated significantly from chance expectation (Nelson et al., 1996; 1998). The random output of REG devices demon-strating statistical deviations during non-focused attention was postulated and shown to be correlated with the emotional state of those thought to be in-fluencing the resultant data (Bierman, 1996; Blas-band, 2000; Lumsden-Cook, 2005; Caswell et al., 2014a). Therefore, the poltergeist phenomenon provides an opportunity to further elucidate the subjective factors affecting statistical REG behav-iour since multiple dimensions are involved in this setting, such as non-focused (possibly subcon-scious) PK, negative emotional appraisal, anoma-lous object movement (macro-PK), and environ-mental electromagnetic effects, some of which are suspected to be involved in this form of anomalous consciousness-correlated process (Caswell, et al., 2013; Caswell et al., 2014c; 2014d; 2014e). The poltergeist phenomenon has been asso-ciated with the hypothesized subconscious release of stress via PK-like effects by a living human agent and has subsequently been termed Recurrent

Exploring the Role of Focused Attention Followed by Non-Focused Attention on a Random Event Generator by Potential Recurrent Spontaneous

Psychokinesis Agents

David S. Schumacher, Jennifer L. Lauer, & Joey M. Caswell


The purpose of the current report was to explore the feature of focused attention followed by non-focused at-tention associated with statistical anomalies in a random physical system in the presence of apparent RSPK

human agents. The role of focused attention in the specific context of RSPK phenomena has previously been suggested for future investigation by prominent researchers in this area. Previous investigation of two suspect-ed RSPK cases were re-evaluated for the potential influence of participant attention on the output of a Random Event Generator (REG). In each case, the RSPK agents were asked to consciously attempt to influence the data

output of the device. Participants then continued normal activities while not engaging their attention on the REG while random data output continued to be collected. The results suggested that focused followed by non-focused attention by apparent RSPK agents resulted in moderate statistical deviations in an external random physical system which may warrant further investigation in a controlled experimental setting. Future studies are needed to elucidate additional psychological factors involved in producing these anomalies, specifically

those which might affect the directional features of the observed random deviations.

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Spontaneous Psychokinesis (RSPK). Much like the PK phenomenon, this process has been found to occur at both the macro- and micro-scale (Roll, 1968; 1977; Palmer, 1974; Stanford et al., 1975; Irwin & Watt, 2007). Furthermore, various psycho-logical factors may be involved in RSPK, especial-ly the emotional state of the apparent focal human agent (Roll, 1968; 1972; 1977; Carpenter, 1993). This anomalous process typically occurs in a natu-ral field setting and, as a result, RSPK agents in previous research have had very limited success in laboratories attempting to induce PK effects through active mental focus on associated tasks (Roll, 1977; Carpenter, 1993; Bauman, 1995). In previous studies, the only PK activity from the sus-pected RSPK agent that occurred in the lab oc-curred when the subjects did not actively focus on the PK task (Carpenter, 1993; Bauman, 1995). Bauman (1995) showed that the suspected RSPK agent attempting to influence the electrical dis-charge from either a nerve cell of a sea slug or a piezoelectric crystal could only demonstrate PK-like anomalies during periods when the participants were not actively engaged in attempting to induce an effect. This was also the case on a macro-PK level with testing of the well-known RSPK agent Tina Resch (Carpenter, 1993). This contextually specific focused attention-null effect relationship followed by significant re-sults during non-focused attention may be due to the RSPK agent becoming attached to, bonding with, or finding a sense of “resonance” with the REG device and/or subjectively enjoying the tests during periods in which individuals focused their conscious intentions on affecting the device (Jahn et al., 1997). Once the RSPK agent bonds with and becomes “resonant” or “emotionally close” to the device (Jahn et al., 1997; Roll, 2003), then they may be able to exert a residual influence during periods of non-focused attention. This concept, specifically with regard to poltergeist cases, was seen as particularly vexing yet important to well-known RSPK researcher Dr. William Roll. As Roll noted in later discussion with Dr. Michael Persinger (2014), he often found that while macro-scale objects involved in sponta-neous anomalous movement would tend to remain stationary when observed, they would often subse-quently undergo extreme physical perturbation once human observation had desisted. Furthermore, the distance over which the object-displacement would occur was found to be proportional to the length of time spent focused on the object (Persinger, 2014). The purpose of the current post hoc explo-ration was to investigate the curious feature of fo-

cused attention followed by non-focused attention producing statistical anomalies in a random physi-cal system in the presence of an apparent RSPK human agent. Two previous RSPK field investiga-tions in which REG measurements were acquired were re-assessed using Dr. Roll’s observations re-garding the apparent role of focused attention as a guide. Participants had personally requested an in-vestigation of their homes for potential environ-mental anomalies associated with perceived polter-geist type phenomena, of which this type of phe-nomena was previously described and considered characteristic of a poltergeist type agency (Roll & Pratt, 1971; Roll, 1972; Roll, 1975; Roll, 1977; Owen, 1978; Gauld & Cornell, 1979; Auerbach, 1986; Roll & Persinger, 1998). During routine in-vestigation of each site, the suspected RSPK agents participated in a short test of consciousness-correlated influence on an external random system. Given the suggestions for future investigations pre-viously outlined (Persinger, 2014), we felt re-appraisal of previously available data might con-tribute to initiating additional exploration of the specific subjective components of this phenome-non.


A Psyleron REG-1 device ( was used to produce the ran-dom data output. The REG generates random bits (0, 1) through electron tunneling effects within two field effect transistors (FET), and the resultant var-ying voltage levels are converted into digital data and collected via USB port. To assure there is lim-ited potential bias in the output of the REG, the logical operation XOR (Exclusive-OR) process is employed on the resultant data streams from each FET before applying a final XOR in an alternating 1/0 pattern on the resultant values. Data were pro-duced at a rate of 1 trial per second (200 bits per trial). Trial values consist of the number of 1’s out of 200 bits, represented by a value of 0 to 200. The provided FieldREG software was used to collect and export the data. It should be noted that the overall statistical design of the current investigation is entirely ex-ploratory and post hoc. The cumulative deviations (in bits) from each experiment were produced for data visualization. For overall statistical evaluation, each individual REG event was converted to a z-score using the formula zi = (xi - 100) / √50, where x = the raw value for each event (i). A Stouffer’s z-score (zc) for each experiment and each individual time segment were calculated with zc = Σz / √N, where N = number of REG events. One-tailed p-values were determined for each zc statistic by inte-

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grating the Gaussian distribution function with a lower limit of zc using the equation p = zc ∫

∞ f(t) dt, where f(t) = (2π)-1/2 exp(-t2 / 2). Additionally, effect sizes were calculated with the formula es = zc / √N and measurement uncertainties were computed us-ing σμ = σ / √2N, where σ = √50. Triaxial ELF magnetic field meter with PC interface was employed for measuring local elec-tromagnetic field (EMF) activity. The meter had a bandwidth of 30 Hz to 2 kHz and an accuracy of +/- 3% at 50 Hz/60 Hz and +/-5% at 40 to 200 Hz. Data was logged at a rate of one sample per second using the supplied software. The sum of the X, Y and Z axes was calculated using formula √(X2 + Y2

+ Z2). In each case, the suspected RSPK agents were asked to consciously attempt to influence the output of the REG for approximately 10 minutes by focusing their attention on the live feedback from the device displayed on the computer screen (Figure 1). Following this task, subjects continued to go about their normal daily activities. Random data output continued to be collected during this time while remaining hidden from the participant. However, given the post hoc exploratory nature of the current analysis, the time over which REG data collection continued following participant focus (and subsequent sample sizes) was inconsistent be-tween cases and between conditions. Regardless of potential limitations, all available data following participant focus was examined in each case and labelled as the non-focused period of testing. The purpose of the current study was to stimulate fur-ther interest in Dr. Roll’s observations and suggest potential experiment design which may best achieve this goal employing micro-scale devices in the future. Figure 1: Laptop computer with Psyleron REG-1 device con-

nected via USB port; Psyleron FieldREG software shown collecting live random data

Janesville Location

The suspected RSPK agent was a 38-year-old female who lived alone at the time of the inves-tigation. She initially contacted the experimenters and reported a considerable amount of stress in her life due to work, personal relationships and family. She also reported having the following experiences on and off over the previous two to three years: banging/pounding sounds on the walls, scratching sounds in the walls, voices, a gray to black form that moved down the hallway area, witnessed a phone cord move across the couch at the same time a growling sound was heard, and seeing the appari-tion of her still living younger son move from the kitchen to his bedroom. The participant also stated she experienced a “huge buildup of energy in her body” and it almost felt like her body “would vi-brate with energy” each time she experienced RSPK activity in her home. A prior investigation included monitoring the following environmental factors: electromag-netic fields, natural magnetic fields, radiation, tem-perature, humidity, dew point, light intensity, and positive and negative ions. No anomalies of any significance were found in the environmental data, nor were there any anomalous experiences over the course of the prior investigation. It was noted that the participant was particularly emotional and un-stable at the time the current study was conducted. Waukesha Location The family contacted the experimenters be-cause of a variety of unexplained missing items they had noticed disappeared in April 2003. These items included a large suitcase on wheels, a coffee pot still in its original box, a plastic bag containing two small blue bathroom rugs, a storage box con-taining knitting needles, crochet needles and other accessories, a curtain rod from the dining room, audio tapes, a stewing pot, and various random ob-jects and decorations. Some of these items have subsequently been found either in the same loca-tion they were reported missing or in another loca-tion where they should not be. Other unexplainable events have included a coffee pot that turns on and begins brewing one hour prior to the scheduled time on three separate occasions, the dryer door opening by itself after the dryer shut off, and foot-steps heard on the kitchen floor. These events have been experienced in each of the following rooms in the house: basement, master bedroom closet, toy room including closet, computer room closet, kitchen, dining room, and living room. No one from outside of the family has expe-rienced anything out of the ordinary and all of the items that have gone missing have been the proper-

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ty of the female homeowner. The objects have nev-er been witnessed moving or appearing/disappearing. They have only been noticed after the apparent anomalous occurrence. The female homeowner has stated that the more these events happen, the more frustrated and tense she becomes. She has experienced several occasions of stomach distress, nausea and/or heart-burn and she attributed the stress to the disturb-ances experienced at home. She had a CAT scan in November of 2007 which revealed no issues. A pre-investigation was conducted on Octo-ber 16th, 2008 and two further investigations were done on both November 15th, 2008 and January 24th, 2009.


Overall Data The overall data for each location and fo-cused/non-focused attention session are summa-rized in Table 1. Only the Janesville combined ex-periment reached statistical significance (zc = 2.442, p = .008, es = .079). None of the Waukesha sessions achieved combined statistical significance (ps > .05).

Location Attention N zc p

J Combined 951 2.422 0.008

W Combined 1071 -0.916 > 0.05

W Non-Focused 3996 -1.027 > 0.05

W Non-Focused 1395 0.352 > 0.05

W Non-Focused 1479 -0.827 > 0.05

Table 1: Overall REG event data for each Janesville (J) and Waukesha (W) sessions

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Table 2: Focused, non-focused and combined REG event data

for Janesville location

Figure 2: Combined cumulative deviation in REG data for Janesville focused then non-focused attention; arrow indi-

cates the transition between focused and non-focused atten-tion


During the focused attention segment, the suspected RSPK agent attempted to consciously influence the device by focusing their intentions on it and directing the output of the device. The output of the REG remained within chance expectation during this time (Figure 3; zc = 1.168, p > .05, es = .176).

Figure 3: Cumulative deviation in REG data for Janesville

focused attention

After approximately 13.5 minutes of the participant attempting to consciously influence the REG data output, she stated that “things didn’t usu-ally happen when [she] was consciously trying to make them happen. It seemed to occur more when [she] was occupied with other activities.” The par-ticipant then went about doing normal routine ac-

tivities while data collection continued and re-mained hidden. Approximately 2.5 minutes later, there was a loud thud/bang sound heard on the in-side wall between the living room and the kitchen, which was considered a potential RSPK event. The remaining time period (non-focused attention) demonstrated a statistically significant deviation in the associated data (Figure 4; zc = 3.490, p = .0002, es = .421). However, this particular segment should be interpreted with caution given the relatively small number of REG trials which comprise the observed deviation.

Figure 4: Cumulative deviation in REG data for Janesville

non-focused attention


The REG device was operated in the kitch-en at a table while the female participant viewed the monitor. She was asked to focus her conscious intentions on altering the data points on the screen. She engaged in this task for a short time before re-portedly becoming very tired. She began to lose focus and appeared very flushed. She was asked to discontinue the task and the screen was shut off. However, the REG device continued collecting da-ta as the participant spoke about general day to day things with the investigator present. Initially, the REG output trended in the pos-itive direction during the focused attention segment but then declined (Figure 5) and the overall seg-ment did not achieve statistical significance (p > .05). The REG data revealed a marginally signifi-cant result (zc = -1.958, p = .025, es = -.082) during the non-focused attention segment (Figure 6).

Table 3: Focused, non-focused and combined REG event data for Waukesha Kitchen


tion N zc p es σµ


bined 951 2.422 0.008 0.079 0.162

Focused 810 1.168 > 0.05 0.041 0.176


focused 141 3.490 0.0002 0.294 0.421

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tion N zc p es σµ


bined 1071 -0.916 > 0.05 -0.028 0.153


cused 503 0.744 > 0.05 0.033 0.223




568 -1.958 0.025 -0.082 0.210

Figure 5: Combined cumulative deviation in REG data for Waukesha kitchen focused then non-focused attention. The

arrow indicates the transition between focused and non-focused attention

Figure 6: Cumulative deviation in REG data for Waukesha

kitchen focused attention

Figure 7: Cumulative deviation in REG data for Waukesha kitchen non-focused attention

Waukesha - EMF Spikes Four relatively large EMF spikes were rec-orded in the living room area during one part of the evening of the on-site investigation (Table 4 and Figure 8). This was the only time during the inves-tigation in which EMF spikes were obtained. Since the RSPK agent indicated that there had been ap-parently anomalous electromagnetic effects in the location and various electromagnetic effects have been reported during other RSPK cases and with other agents (Bauman, 1995), an analysis of the REG data during this time was conducted. The REG deviations before, during, and after the EMF spikes occurred (Table 5 and Figure 9) did not demonstrate anomalous data output, nor did the overall session (ps > .05).

Table 4: EMF spike data for Waukesha living room

Figure 8: EMF spike data for Waukesha living room

Ta-ble 5:

Non-focused and combined REG event data for Living Room during EMF spikes

Figure 9: Cumulative deviation in REG data for Waukesha living room non-focused attention during EMF spikes; arrows show points dividing the before, during, and after EMF spikes

Time (CST) Axis Affected Sum Reading 19:53:19 Y – 296.9 mG 296.9 mG

19:53:53 Y – 281.7 mG 282 mG

19:54:02 Y – 259.3 mG 259.3 mG

19:54:11 Y – 163.5 mG 165.1 mG

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Location N zc p es σµ

Total 3996 -1.027 > .05 -0.016 0.079 Pre EMF 504 -0.712 > .05 -0.032 0.223



53 * -0.097 > .05 -0.013 0.687



3439 -0.822 > .05 -0.014 0.085

Additional Non-Focus There were two additional REG sessions run during the investigation that were conducted when there was no focused participant attention, no RSPK activity noted in the immediate environ-ment, and no other anomalous EMF readings (Table 6, Figure 10 and 11). REG deviations were within chance expec-tation for both the Living Room and Dining Room sessions (ps > .05). Table 6: Non-focused REG event data for Waukesha Living

Room and Dining Room

Figure 10: Cumulative deviation in REG data for Waukesha living room non-focused attention

Fig. 11. Cumulative deviation in REG data for Waukesha dining room non-focused attention

It may be interesting to note that the Living Room and Dining Room non-focused attention ses-sions occurred earlier in the evening when the sus-pected RSPK agent did not know that the REG de-vice was running in her home. This is in contrast to both the Kitchen influence (focused followed by non-focused attention) and Living Room EMF spikes (non-focused attention) in which the RSPK agent knew about the REG being in their home even though they did not know whether or not it was running.


The results of the current study suggest that the cycle of focused followed by non-focused at-tention of an apparent RSPK human agent, as sug-gested by previous investigation (Persinger, 2014), appears related to statistical anomalies in a nearby external random physical system and could, there-fore, extend from macro- to micro-scale PK effects. Only the Janesville and Waukesha segments of fo-cused attention followed by non-focused attention resulted in significant REG deviations from chance expectation. While the current study is essentially a post hoc re-appraisal of previously obtained data, we hope to subsequently develop rigorous experi-mental testing conditions to further investigate the potential role of participant attention. This aspect of the phenomenon was per-plexing to RSPK researcher Dr. William Roll (Persinger, 2014). The data in this exploratory study seems to support the findings in other re-search that the RSPK agent may become attached to, bond with, or find a sense of “resonance” with the REG device, and only after the this “emotional resonance” with the device or object with which they are engaged occurs can they affect a change (Jahn et al., 1997; Roll, 2003). This is further sup-ported by a lack of statistical significance in the Waukesha Living Room and Dining Room data, where independent non-focused attention sessions occurred earlier in the evening during which the suspected RSPK agent was unaware that the REG device was actively collecting data.

Location N zc p es σµ



1395 0.352 > .05 0.009 0.134



1479 -0.827 > .05 -0.022 0.130

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However, further study is needed to truly explore the non-focused aspect of this study as tell-ing a participant “not to focus” on the REG device, as was the case in some the data collections, could have led the participant to implicitly focus on the REG device because they know it is there. It has also been previously described elsewhere that task oriented indirect feedback leads to both intended and unintended effects on a hidden REG device by individuals who showed conscious-purposive focus (Varvoglis & McCarthy, 1986). Therefore, future studies exploring true non-focus and eliminating conscious-purposive focus will be needed. The finding that significant deviations from chance expectation were only found in sessions of non-focused attention following focused attention could also help explain inconsistent results ob-tained in other studies where REG devices were run in apparent RSPK locations (Bierman, 1996; Gerding et al., 2002; Schumacher, 2009; Caswell et al., 2014b). Simply being at the location where the activity occurs may not be sufficient to cause sig-nificant deviations in randomness. Instead, the fo-cal agent of the apparent phenomenon should be actively engaged in a PK-like task prior to any sub-sequent detachment from the investigation. Though the “linger effect” (Wells & Wat-kins, 1975; Cohen, 1999; Radin et al., 2004; Nel-son & Bancel, 2006; Caswell et al., 2014b; Gaona et al., 2014), or proposed residual influence could explain the significant findings in some studies, there still seems to be a psychological component of focused followed by non-focused attention that is required. Additional studies in RSPK scenarios are required to explore the role and duration of the “linger effect” in focused then non-focused atten-tion to further elucidate the subjective factors which may mediate this process. The Living Room session during which EMF spikes were observed occurred approximately three hours after the focused followed by non-focused attention session and this was the only time during the investigation when potential EMF anomalies were recorded. The REG deviation dur-ing this time did not achieve statistical significance. The RSPK agent in the Waukesha study claimed there had been anomalous electromagnetic effects in the location and similar effects have been noted in many other RSPK cases (Rhine, 1963; Bauman, 1995). These EMF spikes may be due to a RSPK electromagnetic disturbance and/or residual influ-ence. However, this “linger effect” has only been reported to last 25 to 30 minutes (Watkins et al., 1973; Watkins & Watkins, 1974; Wells & Watkins, 1975) and the REG segment that included the EMF spikes was run almost three hours after the kitchen

segment. Also, no electrical disturbances were not-ed during the kitchen investigation. An additional consideration is the immer-sion of REGs in “noisy” electromagnetic fields, which has previously demonstrated directional ef-fects on the output of a REG device (Caswell et al., 2014d). It has also been shown that REG target systems could be affected by geomagnetic fluctua-tions through a possible stochastic resonance mech-anism when there is electromagnetic noise present, and the level of change in the REG output is simi-lar to that seen in micro-PK studies (Stevens, 1999; 2000; 2005). Even though the Psyleron REG-1 is designed to protect against external physical ef-fects, future studies should continue to consider geomagnetic and electromagnetic factors as they may play a role in REG output via direct or indirect effects and/or biophysical processes (Caswell et al., 2013; Caswell et al., 2014c; 2014d; 2014e). Dr. William Roll also noted that the dis-tance an object moved is proportional to the length of time a RSPK agent focused on the object (Persinger, 2014). It may be interesting to note that the Janesville focused attention time was 46% greater than the amount of time the Waukesha sus-pected RSPK agent focused on the REG. The non-focused attention segment Stouffer’s Z (zc) for Ja-nesville was 3.49 vs. -1.958 for Waukesha. While this preliminary, exploratory finding may provide preliminary support Dr. Roll’s observations, future studies would need to be done to accumulate a greater number of similar experiments and subse-quently explore this idea further. Additionally, the small samples available in the current analysis make the results suggestive at best. More rigorous and methodical approaches will be required to bet-ter understand the potential role of participant at-tention in the context of apparent RSPK. Finally, the potential of the experimenter effect cannot be ruled out. It has been shown that groups of humans can influence the output of REG devices during meditation, meetings, ceremonies, sporting events and tragedies (Bierman, 1996, Nel-son et al., 1996; Radin et al., 1996; Jahn et al., 2000; Kokubo et al., 2002; Nelson, 2002; Mason et al., 2007), and REG output can be influenced by individuals and pairs of people during mind-matter interaction studies (Radin & Nelson, 1989; Jahn et al., 1997). The influence on the output of the REGs has previously been shown to be independent of conscious intent (Nelson et al., 1996; Radin et al., 1996; Rowe, 1998). It is therefore possible the ex-perimenters could have played a role in influencing the results regardless of whether or not they were attempting to consciously influence the REG out-put.

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The current exploration suggests that fo-cused followed by non-focused attention by appar-ent RSPK human agents may be associated with statistically significant anomalies in a random physical system. Future studies are needed to eluci-date additional psychological factors involved in producing deviations in REGs in the RSPK setting, particularly regarding directed participant attention. This includes the residual features or “linger ef-fect”, the length of the “linger effect”, the length of focus and its effect on the level of non-focused de-viations.


Auerbach, L. (1986). ESP, Hauntings and Polter- geists: A Parapsychologist’s Handbook. New York: Warner Books. Bauman, S. B. (1995). An overview with examples including a case study of an RSPK subject. Proceedings of Presented Papers: The Parapsychological Association 38th Annual Convention, 11-19. Bierman, D. J. (1996). Exploring correlations between local and global emotional events and the behavior of a random number generator. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 10(3), 363-373. Blasband, R. A. (2000). The ordering of random events by emotional expression. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 14(2), 195-216. Carpenter, J. (1993). Projective testing on Tina Resch, October, 1984. Proceedings of Presented Papers: The Parapsychological Association 36th Annual Convention, 492- 499. Caswell, J. M., Collins, M. W. G., Vares, D. A. E., Juden-Kelly, L. M., & Persinger, M. A. (2013). Gravitational and experimental electromagnetic contributions to cerebral effects upon deviations from random number variations generated by electron tunneling. International Letters of Chemistry, Physics and Astronomy, 11, 72- 85. Caswell, J. M., Gaona, J. M., Vares, D. A., Lapointe, A., Burke, R. C., & Tessaro, L. W. (2014a). The potential effects of human group emotion and subjective novelty on the statistical behaviour of a random event generator: Exploratory study. Journal of Consciousness Exploration & Research, 5 (3), 195-214. Caswell, J. M., Gaona, J. M., Tessaro, L. W. E., Rouleau, N., & Lapointe, A. (2014b). Transnational FieldREG exploration II: Investigating the FieldREG phenomenon in

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Bosch, H., Vaitl, D., Houtkooper, J., & Walter, B. (2000). Mind/machine interact- tion consortium: PortREG replication ex- periments. Journal of Scientific Explora- tion, 14, 499-555. Kokubo, H., Yoichi, H., & Yamamoto, M. (2002). Data analysis of a field number generator. The Japanese Journal of Parapsychology, 7, 11-16. Lumsden-Cook, J. (2005). Mind-matter and emo- tion. Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, 69, 1-17. Mason, L. I., Patterson, R. P., & Radin, D. I. (2007). Exploratory study: The random number generator and group meditation. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 21, 295- 317. Nelson, R. D. (2002). Coherent consciousness and reduced randomness: Correlations on Sept. 11, 2001. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 16(4), 549-570. Nelson, R. D. & Bancel, P. A. (2006). Anomalous anticipatory responses in networked random data. AIP Conference Proceedings, 863. Nelson, R. D., Bradish, G. J., Dobyns, Y. H., Dunne, B. J., & Jahn, R. G. (1996). Fiel- dREG anomalies in group situations. Jour- nal of Scientific Exploration, 10(1), 111- 143. Nelson, R. D., Jahn, R. G., Dunne, B. J., Dobyns, Y. H., & Bradish, G. J. (1998). FieldREG II: Consciousness field effects: Replications and explorations. Journal of Scientific Ex- ploration, 12(3), 424-454. Nelson, R. D., Radin, D. I., Shoup, R., & Bancel, P. A. (2002). Correlations of continuous random data with major world events. Foundations of Physics Letters, 15(6), 537- 550. Owen, A. R. G. (1978). Poltergeist phenomena and psychokinesis. In M. Ebon (Ed.) The Signet Handbook of Parapsychology (pp. 365- 378). New York: Signet Books/New Ameri- can Library. Palmer, J. (1974). A case of RSPK involving a ten year-old boy: The Powhatan poltergeist. Journal of the American Society for Psychi- cal Re search, 68(1), 1-33. Persinger, M. A. (2014). A tribute to Dr. William G. Roll. NeuroQuantology, 12(1), 151-153. Radin, D. I. & Nelson, R. D. (1989). Evidence for conscious-related anomalies in random physical systems. Foundations in Physics, 19, 1499-1514. Radin, D. I. & Nelson, R. D. (2003). Meta-analysis of mind-matter interaction experiments:

1959-2000. In Healing, Intention, and En ergy Medicine (pp. 39-48). London: Har court Health Sciences. Radin, D. I., Rebman, J. M., & Cross, M. P. (1996). Anomalous organization of random events by group consciousness: Two exploratory experiments. Journal of Scientific Explora- tion, 10(1), 143-168. Radin, D., Taft, R., & Yount, G. (2004). Effects of healing intention on cultured cells and truly random events. The Journal of Alternative and Complimentary Medicine, 10(1), 103- 112. Rhine, L. E. (1963). Spontaneous physical effects and the psi process. The Journal of Para- psychology, 23, 82-122. Roll, W. G. (1968). Some psychical and psycho logical aspects of a series of poltergeist phenomena. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 62, 263- 308. Roll, W. G. (1972). The Poltergeist. New York: Nelson Doubleday. Roll, W. G. (1975). Earlier RSPK cases. In W. G. Roll, R. L. Morris & J. D. Morris (eds.) Research in Parapsychology, 1974 (pp. 134-139). Metuchen, N. J.; Scarecrow. Roll, W. G. (1977). Poltergeists. In B. B. Wolman (ed.) Handbook of Parapsychology. New York, NY: VonNostrand Reinhold. Roll, W. G. (2003). Poltergeists, electromagnetism, and consciousness. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 17, 75-86. Roll, W. G. & Persinger, M. A. (1998). Poltergeist and nonlocality: Energetic aspects of RSPK. Proceedings of Presented Papers: The Parapsychological Association 41st Annual Convention (pp. 184-198). Durham, NC: Parapsychological Association, Inc. Roll, W. G. & Pratt, J. G. (1971). The Miami disturbances. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 65, 409- 454. Rowe, R. D. (1998). Physical measurements of episodes of focused group energy. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 12, 569-583. Schmidt, H. (1972). PK tests with a high-speed random number generator. Journal of Parapsychology, 37, 105-118. Schumacher, D. (2009). Non-random output of a random number generator during an appar- ent poltergeist/RSPK experience: A case study. PSI Journal of Investigative Psychi- cal Research, 5(1), 19-25. Stanford, R. G., Zenhausern, T. A., & Dwyer, M. A. (1975). Psychokinesis as psi mediated

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instrumental response. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 69, 127-134. Stevens, P. (1999). Remote psychokinesis. Euro- pean Journal of Parapsychology, 14, 68-79. Stevens, P. (2000). Noise, physics and psi: new ideas for research. International Journal of Parapsychology, 11, 63-72. Stevens, P. (2005). The effect of weak magnetic fields on a random event generator: Recon- sidering the role of geomagnetic fluctua- tions in microPK studies. European Journal of Parapsychology, 20(2), 135-149. Varvoglis, M. P. & McCarthy, D. J. (1986). Conscious-purposive focus and PK: RNG activity in relation to awareness, task- orientation and feedback. Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research, 80, 1030. Watkins, G. K. & Watkins, A. M. (1974). Apparent psychokinesis on static objects by a “gifted” subject: A laboratory demonstration. In W. G. Roll, R. L. Morris & J. D. Morris (eds.) Research in Parapsychology, 1974 (pp. 132-134). Metuchen, N. J.; Scarecrow. Watkins, G. K., Watkins, A. M., & Wells, R. A. (1973). Further studies on the resuscitation of anesthetized mice. In W. G. Roll, R. L. Morris & J. D. Morris (eds.) Research in Parapsychology, 1972 (pp. 157-159). Metu chen, N. J.; Scarecrow. Wells, R. & Watkins, G. K. (1975). Linger effects in several PK experiments. In J. D. Morris, W. G. Roll & R. L. Morris (eds.) Research in Parapsychology, 1974 (pp. 143-147). Metuchen, N. J.: Scarecrow

Biography David S. Schumacher and Jennifer L. Lauer are members of the PRG Anomalous Research Unit in Red Lion, PA. David is also a member of Transna-tional Anomalies Research in Sudbury, Ontario, as is Joey M. Caswell. Joey is also a member of the Human Studies Program, Laurentian University, Sudbury, Ontario.

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“We must assume our existence as broadly as we in any way can; everything, even the un-heard-of, must be possible in it. That is at bottom the only courage that is demanded of us: to have courage for the most strange, the most singular and the most inexplicable that we may encounter. That mankind has in this sense been cowardly has done life endless harm; the experiences that are called ‘visions,’ the whole so-called ‘spirit-world,’ death, all those things that are so closely akin to us, have by daily parrying been so crowd-ed out of life that the senses with which we could have grasped them are atrophied. To say nothing of God.” ~ Rainer Maria Rilke

This paper was originally written in 2010 in the American Psychological Association’s ap-proved format style as a kind of personal exercise, while knowing that it would prove difficult to sub-mit to APA peer-reviewed journals. Perhaps the main reason for rejection would be due to its claims to have been initiated by “people in spirit.” The subject of mediumship and spirit contact itself continues to be threatening, marginalized, ignored and even ridiculed within current Western behav-

ioral health communities. The fact that this paper has finally been accepted in 2015 by a professional peer-reviewed journal would likely be celebrated by Rilke as a sign that less fear and more daring is finally emerging from within this new century’s academia. This paper’s departure from convention has enabled the writing of it to feel both risky and exhilarating; the resulting sense of freedom will likely be evident in some of the liberties taken with its style. It is hoped these choices will be seen as inevitabilities because of the extraordinarily wide range of material to be dealt with on a scale that extends from the author’s own personal history to that of global dimensions. There is no defense of-fered herein for an overall result that may give the impression of a hodgepodge of history, mystery, and eccentricity. Its simplest intent is meant to serve as a base platform for others from which to launch their ideas, rather than being authoritative and definitive. In terms of complexity it will surely be challenging and provocative, rearing up as a many-headed hydra of paradoxical proportions.

Since this articles first inception in 2010, activity and information on the subject of mediumship as utilized for mental health agendas in the Western World has begun to emerge and expand a bit more. Now, in 2015, while many of the original issues identified in the writing still hold true, others may be less current and even invalidated. Thus some of

The Disparity of a “Standards of Care” for Spirit Mediumship

as a Permissible Behavioral Health Care Profession:

A Literature Review

(Part 1 of 2)

August Goforth


Currently there are significant disparities of practice for behavioral health care professionals who might also be spirit mediums. The intention of Part 1 of this paper is to provide an initial brief foray into the vast and greatly

varied literature, resources, and modalities that may connect the two fields or areas in some way. In Part 1, such systemic interrelationships are considered with a focus on the following question: 1) If mediums become recognized and accepted as valid and licensed professionals, (or not) should their profession (and possibly

other interrelated modalities) be part of a multidisciplinary standard of care system? Part 2 will seek to provide an initial platform for the idea of a “Standards of Care” (SOC) regarding the prac-tice of those individuals who describe themselves and/or their method(s) of working (or modality) as “a medi-

um” or “mediumship,” contingent with providing some kind of mental health support and/or treatment, and other related behavioral health care services.

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the gaps will be addressed with a little more current material, while it will continue to be obvious there are still many unanswered questions about the pre-sent and future utilization of mediumship within professional mental health venues.

The author, a licensed and credentialed clinical social worker within the state of New York, (“LCSW‑R”) is also a spirit medium, and is submitting this article under a pseudonym and not an actual legal birth name. The reasons for this are ethical, professional, and personal. They principal-ly concern his therapy patients who overall are not seeking psychotherapeutic or psychospiritual treat-ment via mediumship, and secondly for the sake of his personal privacy; other salient reasons for this decision will emerge further on. This use of a pseu-donym should not be misinterpreted as any kind of avoidance or subterfuge but recognized as the ap-propriate ethical response for which it is intended. The author does not utilize his mediumistic abili-ties for therapy sessions, nor does he work as a pro-fessional medium to give readings for others. This is his professional bias as well as a personal choice, which may serve as an example for other thera-pists—licensed or not—who might be misguided to inappropriately use mediumistic abilities in their clinical work.

Although this biased perspective is one of the underlying threads of this two-part article, the author is nevertheless aligned with those who ad-vocate the spiritual evolution of humanity, whereby the various human therapies might successfully and appropriately be able to legitimately utilize medi-umistic abilities for healing purposes. The author does not, and indeed, cannot rationally exclude his own professional practice from the presentation of this paper. To clarify and strengthen this paper’s motivation, brief commentary about the author’s psychospiritual methods of clinical practice will offered in Part 2. Illustrative, objective examples are also provided throughout to identify parallels and stimulate thought for future discussion. The overall intention of the following exploration is meant to be one of curious and nonjudgmental yet stimulating observation. The author’s personal views regarding professional accountability are of-fered as neither endorsement nor disparagement regarding legitimate and non-legitimate profession-als in their respective areas of service.


Haraldsson (2009) reports that personal en-counters with the dead (or the “disembodied”) have been reported by 25% of Western Europeans and

30% of Americans. It can be anticipated with some fair degree of certainty that such encounters are underreported, due to fear of being labeled mental-ly ill or dangerous, which may then lead to denial of services, inappropriate medicating, and even in-stitutionalization. As well, shock and trauma result-ing from such extraordinary encounters may cause some individuals to retreat or isolate, unable or un-willing to seek supportive help and guidance, as well as remain silent from fear of ostracism. Worden (2001) suggests that a common theme across diverse cultures is the survivor’s wish to somehow regain the lost person, buoyed by the belief that the deceased still exists in some form, and will be met again in some kind of afterlife. Such beliefs, as well as the suffering and uncertain-ty that arise from related anxiety, stress, and de-pression may motivate those left behind to seek solace and healing from alternative healers, includ-ing spirit mediums, while avoiding traditional, western behavioral health services.

By “spirit mediums” is meant those who are able to communicate in various ways with people who have moved or transitioned from a physical, terrestrial existence to some other-dimensional, non-earthly reality. Such individuals have been report-ed in global human culture for inestimable ages. It has been in the mid to later 20th and early 21st cen-turies that the circumstance of mediumship has been increasingly experienced, researched, acknowledged, and accepted by a certain propor-tion of mainstream Western society. However, there have been no apparent organized attempts to bring mediumship services into line with standard-ized and legitimized modern mental and medical health services. In spite of this disparity, there is indication that mediums have long been interacting within certain allopathic, naturalistic, and other re-lated “alternative medicine” systems with various degrees of successful healing.

This paper strives to present the most pre-liminary of explorations into the idea of a Stand-ards of Care (sometimes referred to as “Standard of Care”) regarding the practice of those individuals who describe themselves and/or their method of working (or modality) as “a medium” or “mediumship,” contingent with providing some kind of mental health support and/or treatment and other related services. Certain abilities, methods, and skills might be utilized under particular no-menclature that may include: spirit medium, chan-neler, psychic, past life therapist or regressionist, metaphysician, medical intuitive, trance healer, remote or distance healer, spiritual advisor, spirit counselor, spiritual coach, and the like—as direct-

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ly associated in some outward way with the profes-sions of psychotherapist, psychoanalyst, psycholo-gist, psychiatrist, social worker, clinician, counse-lor, and other such mental health field profession-als. It should be kept in mind that this introductory investigation into the practicality of a Standards of Care rests on a foundation of two inherent and in-terdependent tenets of care: 1) client self-informed decision-making, and 2) client self-determination.

Because of the complexities involved with so many different health care systems across the world, this exploration will touch on only a very few current North American examples, while ac-knowledging other global care entities for compari-son and contrast. In no way should this beginning foray into the many unknowns involved be seen as comprehensive or even definitive. For discussion purposes the designations “psychospiritual behav-ioral care and/or treatment” are offered as umbrella terms under which to initially identify the systems of assistance such professionals may offer, primari-ly mediumship services with psychotherapeutic treatment and goals—or “psychotherapeutic medi-umship.” This includes therapists who utilize medi-umship skills with the same or a similar agenda.

The definition of a “standard of care” is not as con-crete in the medical world as one might expect. In 2010, Webster’s Online Dictionary defined a stand-ard of care as “a medical or psychological treat-ment guideline, and can be general or specific. It specifies appropriate treatment based on scientific evidence and collaboration between medical and/or psychological professionals involved in the treatment of a given condition.” As is the way of the Internet, this entry has since vanished without replacement, although it continues to be referenced by a variety of online resources. Relatedly, in an article about lung cancer treatment, The New Eng-land Journal of Medicine (Blum, 2004) describes “Standards of Care” as “a diagnostic and treatment process that a clinician should follow for a certain type of patient, illness, or clinical circumstance. Adjuvant chemotherapy for lung cancer is “a new standard of care, but not necessarily the only standard of care.” So in terms of behavioral health treatment, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, for exam-ple, may be viewed and utilized as a new “standard of care process” but not necessarily the only one for a particular population, for there are as many theories of process from which such standards of mental health care modalities may emerge as stars that appear in the night sky.

A Standards of Care (SOC) allows for inter-action between multidisciplinary practitioners as a

system of checks-and-balances to ensure appropri-ate, timely, and presumably ethical care for the pa-tient/client. Because some disciplines are invaria-bly medical and mental health systems, issues of diagnosis, treatment, and aftercare may be a neces-sary part of the process. Within these systems, the SOC facilitates and enables medical, mental health and other providers to be aware of and interactive with one another—or on the same page—for most of the duration of treatment, as well as aftercare. Without necessarily providing any definitive solu-tions, this paper explores in two parts such system-ic involvement with a focus on the following ques-tions:

Part 1: If mediums become recognized and accepted as valid and licensed professionals, (or not) should their profession (and possibly other interrelated modalities) be part of a multidiscipli-nary Standards of Care system?

Part 2: Would a SOC help promote the ac-ceptance of mediumship into mainstream healthcare as has been done with some “alternative care options”? A tentative “Standards of Care” proposal as a possible model will then be offered and briefly examined.

Literature/Resource Review

As might be expected, there is a considera-ble deficiency in the domain of academic literature about standardization of care for mediums in the field of health care; indeed, this paper may be among the very first of attempts. There are scant periodicals and books that could be loosely viewed as subject-relevant but still ambiguous enough in their approach to avoid substantial referencing. On the other hand there are seemingly unlimited re-sources for spiritually-based, alternative approach-es to healing, as well as a robust industry for such services. The referencing to a certain few in this paper should not be taken as signifying their exper-tise or endorsement.

Spiritually-Integrated Psychotherapies

In an issue of Professional Psychology: Re-search & Practice, the article “Spiritually Con-scious Psychological Care” suggests an increasing recognition that identifying and even incorporating the spiritual and religious beliefs and practices (SRBP) into psychological services of patients may be an important factor (Bright et al., 2010). At the core of the issue is the overall reluctance of psy-chologists to enable such integrations because they

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are unsure how to do so without violating ethical standards. Such concerns can be observed to be on a continuum, at which one end is “spiritually avoidant care,” which involves the provider’s at-tempt to avoid conversations with patients about their SRBP. At the other end is “spiritually di-rective psychotherapy,” which is an explicit at-tempt to maintain or change the SRBP of patients. Bright et al. (2010) suggest that psychologists should at minimum engage in “spiritually con-scious care,” characterized as “the explicit assess-ment of the general importance of SRBP to the pa-tient, its influence on the presenting problem, and the potential of SRBP as a resource to help recov-ery.” Predictably, the article concludes with calling for the need for better training in both basic and specific competencies needed to address patients’ SRBP.

In his paper, “Furthering the Spiritual Di-mension of Psychiatry in the United Kingdom,” U.K. psychiatrist Andrew Powell focuses on exam-ining where spirituality seems to be moving regard-ing psychiatry (Powell, 2007). He discusses the treatment of “spiritual emergencies” such as in-tense grief and the interface of spirituality and psy-chiatry concerning trance and spirit communica-tions in terms of their current classifications in the ICD-10 (Powell, 2007). These classifications will be examined in a bit more detail in part 2.

Over the past forty years, unresolved grief has been primarily and systemically treated as pa-thology by psychotherapists as “something to be worked through” via a series of steps or stages, to somehow end the sense of loss—i.e., to eliminate the experience of grief. Mosher, Beischel, & Boccuzzi (2010) note that a meta-analysis of con-ventional psychotherapeutic grief treatment out-comes revealed that such interventions fell disap-pointingly short in their expected beneficial contri-butions to resolution and quality of life after the loss over time. Conversely, interventions using al-ternative, non-pathologizing modalities that view the bereavement experience as part of a positive aspect of holistic health, such as spontaneous or, in some cases, induced after death communications (ADCs) have been significantly successful in less-ening grief (Mosher et al., 2010).

For example, the book After Death Commu-nication: A New Therapy for Healing Grief and Trauma, by psychologist Allan Botkin (with R. Craig Hogan, PhD., who is not a mental health pro-fessional) presents a purported “revolutionary ther-apy” based on “significant changes to standard EMDR techniques” typically used for Post-

Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) (Botkin & Ho-gan, 2005). In this modality, after-life communica-tions are induced between a patient and the disem-bodied, and this approach is branded as “Induced After-Death Communication” or IADC®. Dr. Bot-kin does not indicate that he is a medium, nor does he present an apparent Code of Ethics or Standards of Care regarding his treatment, but indicates what he calls the “IADC Procedure,” which “must be followed to successfully perform IADCs with a high degree of reliability” (p. 188). His website al-so advises, “Dr. Botkin uses the therapy method because it heals grief, but does not suggest or en-dorse spiritual implications” (Botkin, 2015). His website cites “consistent, robust clinical observa-tions by a growing number of IADC® trained thera-pists across a broad variety of clients indicate that IADC® heals the deep sadness that is associated with death of a friend or loved one, and the results appear to hold up very well over time” (Botkin, 2015). This evidenced-based practice claim does not appear to include peer-reviewed contributions from non-IADC trained clinicians as part of Dr. Botkin’s “Research List” (provided at the website,) or at least indicate such contributions among the list (Botkin, 2015). There is a list of trained IADC

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practitioners includes a variety of trained profes-sionals in Canada and Europe, including, in the U.S., Licensed Clinical Social Workers, Licensed Professional Counselors, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapists, Psychologists, and Ph.D.’s. There is no indication that any have or use medi-umistic abilities. Most of these particular profes-sions actually have some form of ethical code with-in their respective fields, but not necessarily united by any standards of care. The web site also advises, “Inclusion on the list is not intended by Dr. Allan Botkin and The Center for Grief and Traumatic Loss, LLC, as an endorsement of professional or ethical competence” (Botkin, 2015). The focus here is not on the legitimacy or efficacy of IADC, but rather on if and how various types of alternative health care modalities, which might be accommo-dating mediumistic approaches, may or may not be SOC-ready.

In an issue of The Searchlight, the newslet-ter journal of The Academy of Spirituality and Par-normal Studies, Dr. Stafford Betty, Professor of Religion at California State University, Bakers-field, writes about “a new breed of therapist.” His article “‘Spirit Release’: A Different Kind of Exor-cism” presents some initial remarks about alterna-tive healing without talk or drug therapy that utiliz-es “spirit release techniques” (Betty, 2010). Dr. Betty cites the dissertation of psychologist Dr. Wil-liam Baldwin (1939-2004) as “the first ever to take seriously spirit release as a legitimate therapy,” as well as Dr. Baldwin’s book Spirit Releasement Therapy: A Technique Manual (1995). Dr. Betty also cites the work of West Virginia psychiatrist Dr. Shakuntala Modi and her utilization of prayer with patients to help release malevolent spirits that might be at the causative level of a number of men-tal health pathologies. According to Kerry Poban-z’s article, “Depossession Healing: A Comparison of William Baldwin’s ‘Spirit Releasement Thera-py’ and Dae Mo Nim’s Ancestor Liberation” in the Journal of Unification Studies, Dr. Modi’s theory views spirit possession as pathology. Her “depossession technique” utilizes hypnotherapy, as did Baldwin’s. Pobanz also cites Modi’s work as having “striking similarities” to Dae Mo Nim’s shamanistic healing (Pobanz, 2008). These ap-proaches clearly assume that there is psychopathol-ogy caused by some kind of spirit possession, and the clinical approach utilizing hypnotherapy and mediumship (i.e., altered states of consciousness in both provider and patient) is seen as “therapeutic treatment.” Indeed, Baldwin (1995) refers to his modality as “Spirit Releasement Therapy” or “SRT”. According to Pobanz (2009), Dae Mo

Nim’s work also treats the released spirit by being “sent to their own unique workshop in the spiritual world, where they can repent for their wrongdoings and generally become cleansed, educated, and res-urrected.”

Carl A. Wickland (1861–1945) was a psy-chiatrist at the National Psychopathic Institutes of Chicago in the early 1900s, and also a proponent of the psychopathology of certain “spiritual emergen-cies.” He held that the doctrine of reincarnation was incorrect and that such beliefs—and others—held by the mentally ill indicated psychopathology caused by spirit possession, a diagnosis he treated with “spirit release” using the help of his wife, a medium. His book Thirty Years Among The Dead discusses his work in helping patients through his clinical work, and provides session examples (Wickland, 1924). There are no clear indications in his book regarding his wife’s mediumistic ap-proaches in terms of her standards of care or ethics. This is not unexpected, as historically mediums have been seen more as objective ways and means and less as persons within their own right, and so their own personal and psychological processes have often been neglected and even maltreated.

A recent internet search collectively using the terms psychotherapist, spirit, and medium turned up a fair number of North American web-sites of individuals self-labeling and self-promoting as some kind of provider of therapeutic counseling services. One, for example, presents as a “Psychic, Medium and Psychotherapist,” while another self-promotes as a “Shamanic Therapist”; neither indi-cates any professional licensing in behavioral health. Another similar U.K. site provides a list un-der the heading of “Spiritual Counselling and Psy-chotherapy,” where one can find, among a large variety of services, “Past Life Therapy & Psycho-therapy.” There is a “Spiritcounsellor” (sic) who is listed as a therapist and “is also a trained spirit me-dium,” but with no licensed credentials displayed (“Hampshire spirit guide,” 2015). Yet another indi-vidual self- labels as a “Psychic Psychotherapist Prophet,” but with no suggestion of any profession-al licensing in behavioral health. One U.S. person

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shares about the goal to become a “Spiritual Psy-chotherapist” and “Spiritual Director” with the Transformational Arts College in Toronto (TAC), Ontario Canada. Amongst the large faculty of the TAC there is a veritable cornucopia of occupation-al designations, such as a “Psychospiritual Facilita-tor” and a “Spiritual Psychotherapist” with a pri-vate practice and the designation “R.I.H.R” (a membership designation granted by the Canadian Examining Board of Health Care Practitioners.) There is also a Relationship Counselor, a Reiki Master, a Mukti Yoga Instructor, and a Ho-lodynamics Consultant, as well as social workers and Certified Natural Health Professionals, the lat-ter which includes aromatherapists and certified reflexologists (Counselling, 2010). Although there does not appear to be any mediumistic services listed, it would not be surprising to find those with such abilities within this large and varied assem-blage.

“The Body Mind Spirit Directory,” also on the web, presents as a well-organized, searchable but overwhelming “mega-list”—a veritable global clearing-house for thousands of providers from within hundreds of categories (Body Mind Spirit, 2015). A quick query on its internal search engine for “psychotherapist” resulted in many dozens of individuals across the United States, mixed with a plethora of workshops, seminars, festivals and the like. Only a scattered few self-identified with a li-censed designation, such as PsyD., LICSW, or RN. Many others presented with a vast range of “new age” and “holistic” diplomas and other certification labels, including Reiki Masters, CHT for hypno-therapy, and even RMT (registered medical tran-scriptionist.) One self-labeled as a “psychologist” but with no credentials to validate it, while another presented as a “psychotherapist turned spiritual healer,” also with no listed professional license cre-dentials, while mentioning mediumship as “(offering a) spirit medium session.” Another with a PsyD included “5th Dimensional Energy Heal-ing” as part of their “holistic depth psychotherapy.”

The name of this writer, August Goforth, also came up on the original search, referenced at the website of Coast To Coast AM radio, and noted there as a “psychotherapist in private practice in New York City and . . . an intuitive-mental and psychophysical spirit medium” (Noory, 2015). The author’s book website further clarifies that he is a licensed psychotherapist but does not provide a li-cense number for the particular professional and private reasons as stated at the beginning of this paper (Goforth & Gray, 2015).

To date, while individuals in the U.S. can be certified as mediums, the certification does not provide psychotherapy licensing. Julie Beischel, PhD, has conducted survival and mediumship re-search as well as medium certification at The Windbridge Institute for Applied Research in Hu-man Potential, which she co-founded with Mark Boccuzzi. Formerly the VERITAS Research Pro-gram, in 2008 it was expanded into a broader, more comprehensive spiritual communication project. It was named the SOPHIA Research Program under the direction of Gary E.Schwartz, Ph.D. at the La-boratory for Advances in Consciousness and Health (Beischel & Schwartz, 2007). Although the certification program has terminated due to the ending of funding, a list of 18 instituted-certified mediums can still be found at the website, as well as a hyperlink to compete details of the screening and training procedure published as a peer-reviewed paper in the Journal of Parapsychology (Beischel, 2007). Mediums that were laboratory screened and tested using telephone readings are referred to as “Windbridge Certified Research Me-diums (WCRMs)”; their names as well as the inten-sive 8-step screening and training procedure are available at the Windbridge website. Each medium is asked “to uphold a code of spiritual ethics, to embrace a strong commitment to the values of sci-entific mediumship research, and to abide by spe-cific Windbridge standards of conduct” (Beischel, Boccuzzi, Rock, Mosher, & Biuso, 2015). Julie Beischel has since published Meaningful Messag-es: Making the Most of Your Mediumship Reading (2013), a short electronic book that offers ten tips of “do’s and don’ts” when consulting a psychic medium, including a brief discussion of grief and spontaneous and assisted after-death communica-tion (ADC) experiences.

Mediums can also be certified in the U.S. by the Forever Family Foundation (FFF), which has devised a program of methods which includes a study of basic ethics and practices. They provide a list of their certified mediums at their website, not-ing — The mediums listed on this page have had their abilities evaluated under controlled conditions. These mediums are listed purely as a resource for the bereaved, and certifica- tion is based only on a medium's profi- ciency. Mediums listed have not paid to appear on this site, and the certification evaluation is conducted free of charge. (Ginsberg, 2015a)

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FFF also provides a copy of their guidelines in print for anyone seeking mediumship certifica-tion, with the caution: “The purpose of the program is to provide a resource to the bereaved, not to pro-vide individual validation to a medium who is questioning whether or not their ability is ‘real’” (Ginsberg, 2015b). This caution seems to serve to reflect the organization’s intention to set and maintain clear standards in the form of expec-tations of how mediumship should and should not be utilized, which carefully avoiding any reference to mental health issues and possible treatment op-tions. The Arthur Findlay College in the U.K. is one of the most respected of training institutes for mediumship, and is under the auspices of the Spir-itualists’ National Union. Acting as the parent body, the SNU issues certificates to successful graduates, who are strictly held to a well-organized “Code of Conduct for Holders of SNU Appoint-ments and Awards.” Referring to Sections 3.1–3.3 “Advertising and Promotion,” this code states—

Award-holders must not use any title or de-scription which is calculated to give the im-pression that he is a medical practitioner, an ordained Minister or a university graduate or holds any other professional qualifica-tion unless he holds such qualification from a bona-fide and generally recognised insti-tution; Award-holders should endeavour to ensure that the award which they have is promoted/announced precisely. Certificate-holders and Diploma-holders must also en-deavour to make it clear in what category their award was granted, i.e. speaking, demonstrating, healing or administration (“Bye-laws g appointments,” 2015).

Referring to the “legality of trance medi-umship,” this Code also advises—

Award-holders should be aware that trance mediumship is not recognised in law. The law does not recognise the third party working: the responsibility and liability rest with the medium. However, it is recognised that some mediums work in the altered state of consciousness (trance) and where this is practised it is mandatory that all trance me-diums obtain the permission of a Church or organising body before conducting an ad-dress or demonstration in trance. It is strongly recommended that a third party be present at all times during private trance sittings. (“Bye-laws g appointments,” 2015)

Many spiritual helpers and healers in West ern, Eurocentric societies who utilize med-i umship abilities also appear to have found recognition, validation, and support prima-r ily from spiritual organizations such as churches and “psychic-spiritual” groups, which often provide trainings and award successful graduates with various certifica- tions and accreditations, similar to the Windbridge Institute and the Findlay Col- lege.

The recent publication of the book, New Developments in Afterlife Communication, from the Proceedings of the 38th Annual Conference of the Academy for Spiritual and Consciousness Stud-ies presents articles written by 21 global research-ers and practitioners who are developing, utilizing, and teaching “newer methods” to grieving people for communication with the disembodied (Hogan, 2014). In the book’s Preface, these methods are collectively claimed to not require the necessity of one having mediumship abilities (Hogan, 2014, vii). As might be anticipated, the topics as well as the credentials of the contributors range over a rich spectrum of ways and means, including self-identified mediums, a licensed psychotherapist who is not a medium, a professor of psychology and medicine, a spiritual minister, as well as others at the Masters and PhD. levels in diverse philosophi-cal and religious sciences. Some have educations and careers seemingly unrelated to the subject but have utilized their own life experiences for writing and teaching purposes, including automatic writ-ing, pendulum communication, meditation, and “spirit retrieval” (sometimes called “spirit rescue”). A good number of the writers are well-known for their contributions to the field of spiritual con-sciousness studies. The editor has a PhD. in train-ing and works with psychotherapists to help them publicize their advancements in afterlife communi-cation. Several models for the treatment of grief are offered in the book, utilizing traditional counseling methods as well as those that might be considered more esoteric, such as “afterlife voices” recorded via a computer, images on a TV screen, and appari-tions in infrared images—all often collectively known as “Interdimensional Communication” or ITC.

Brief Personal Surveys

Outreach by this writer in the form of confi-dential email inquiries about similar licensing and/or accreditation to individuals who identified them-selves as some kind of psychic or psychospiritual

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therapist or counselor—but with no evident refer-ences to their official education—resulted in a few but forthright responses. They revealed an impres-sive array of primarily “alternative” trainings (i.e., outside the realms of licensed behavioral health,) including a notable cross-section of healing meth-ods, spiritual and religious trainings, certifying but non-licensing post-graduate programs ranging from psychotherapeutic and psychoanalytic to various hypnotherapy models, as well as channeling and past-life work—to name just a few. All acknowl-edged in some way that the subject was an im-portant issue that has never been realistically ap-proached. The few who shared that they are licensed clinicians stressed that their personal ethics have guided them to avoid using their mediumship/channeling skills directly in conjunction with any kind of mental health treatment, as is this writer’s choice. There was a general shared experience that clients often tend to seek out a psychic or medium first for help with bereavement because of the stig-ma often attached to psychotherapy. Most would likely agree with the comment of Geri De Stefano-Webre, Ph.D.—a Canadian transpersonal therapist who also gives intuitive psychic readings—that try-ing to create some kind of all-encompassing pro-fessional guideline like a Standards of Care for such a vast range of providers would be “like herd-ing cats” (personal communication, G. De Stefano-Webre, November 23, 2010). Others shared a similarly disheartened out-look. Tom Butler is an ordained Minister of the Na-tional Spiritualist Association of Churches, and co-author of There is No Death and There are No Dead (2003). He and his wife, Lisa, act as the Di-rectors of the Association TransCommunication. In an email to this writer Tom shared, “As a person certified in a number of healing modalities, I know that the biggest obstacle to anything approaching a standard of care or ethics is the reluctance of the academic community to consider (the field of) bio-field therapies as anything other than wistful think-ing” (T. Butler, personal communication, Decem-ber 6, 2010). Omitting the term medium from the original search, while retaining psychotherapist and spirit, revealed a few individuals with actual professional designations—primarily Ph.D.—and a few other official accreditations. Some had only the prefix “Dr.” or “Reverend” attached to their names. None of those with a Ph.D. revealed the specific nature of their doctoral degrees, which could be in any field, mental health or otherwise. All presented from a wide range of how they promote them-selves—from books that allege treatment utilizing

what may be called “psychic modalities” to philo-sophical and spiritual schools intended to attract adherents who will have to invest time and money to become students and potentially acquire some kind of diploma or certification. Grief Counseling & Mediumship

“Thanatologist” is an example of a type of grief counseling that came up in searches related to death and spirituality. It lends itself well as a com-ponent of an interdisciplinary approach for provid-ing palliative care to patients and their families. Although thanatology tends to avoid questions of life and death, it does explore how those questions effect the quality of life of patients and significant others. One can receive a “Pastoral Thanatology Certification” from The American Academy of Grief Counseling in the United States. Under the auspices of The American Institute of Health Care Professionals (AIHCP) the Academy has its own Code of Ethics, and its clarification about what cer-tification means and does not mean is useful to consider here:

Certification as a grief counselor does not in any way qualify one to practice higher levels of grief therapies. The practice of therapy, as related to grief, is reserved for those who are educated and licensed in the practice of behavioral therapies. Certifica-tion as a grief counselor in no way infers that the person is qualified or legally li-censed to conduct any type of therapies. Certification as a grief counselor does help ensure that the counselor can identify major symptoms of more complicated grief and refer clients to a qualified and legally li-censed therapist. (AIHCP, 2015a). (Bolding The Academy’s)

The Academy further states—

Registrants must meet at least one of the following; 1) a registered nurse currently licensed to practice nursing, 2) a licensed social worker, 3) a health care licensed pro-fessional, 4) a professional counselor, 5) a licensed psychologist, 6) an ordained minis-ter, 7) a licensed funeral director, 8) a pas-toral counselor in active ministry, 9) a grad-uate degree in educational counseling, 10) a licensed physician, 11) a college degree in human services, psychology, or human be-havior, 12) a school counselor, (and) 13) other college degrees may be applicable if they are in a related area. (AIHCP, 2015b)

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This is an example of an ostensibly well-regulated professional association for already-licensed pro-fessionals to enhance their skills as well as their marketability. The Association’s Board is able to suspend or revoke certification of an individual for various reasons, including a felony conviction or a suspension of their professional licensure. The en-trance and coursework requirements are rigorous and disciplined; continuing education is encour-aged. There is undoubtedly little or no awareness of those Academy members who may also be me-diums and who might be adding the letters “GC-C” after their names to signify they are a Certified Grief Counselor, and using the certification to lend credibility to the practice of their mediumship.

Hypnotherapy is a Board-regulated certifi-cation in the U.S. It is not licensure, but rather a diploma from a licensed training institution. The California Institute of the Healing Arts & Sciences notes:

In virtually every State and Federal Gov-ernment agency, they do not legally recog-nize these certifying organizations or clubs (sic). You may want to call them and ask if there is any legal recognition regarding their certifying body organization written in the law. In most states, hypnotherapy is an open practice not requiring any governmen-tal license or regulation. (CIHAS, 2015)

It further advises—

In virtually all states in the United States, hypnotherapy is a free and open practice, not governed by state or federal regulations. The highest legal document for practicing hypnotherapy is a Diploma issued by an approved State Licensed School or Insti-tute. These are legally granted state by state, according to each state’s require-ments. The ABC and XYZ’s, the alphabet soup of certification has little or no meaning to con-sumers whom are more interested in the effectiveness of the training the Hypnother-apist received in school. Consumers can be misled into thinking that the Hypnothera-pist’s certification is a state license, when in reality this is not the case. (CIHAS, 2015)

From the original web search results using psychotherapist, spirit, and medium, emerged other thought-provoking items. For example, there is

FECRIS, (Fédération Européenne des Centres de Recherche et d’Information sur le Sectarisme) a non-profit organization association that serves as an umbrella organization for groups which investi-gate the activities of cults or cult-like organizations in Europe. They have been reproached for having endorsed an “alleged psychic medium psychothera-pist” who is “one of many who use their training and skills to manipulate, mislead and brainwash others.” (Shepherd, 2009). The accusation appears to come from the advocate/promoters of certain spiritual leaders who have taken offense in some way, and who cite FECRIS’s own article, “Psychotherapeutic Deviation: The Use Psycho-therapy (sic) in the Case of Cult Influence as Proof of Their Hypocrisy” (Armogath & Pachoud, 2004). Such disputes, which often add up to little more than pseudo-academic ankle-biting, are mentioned here to give some idea of the complexity and even unbridled chaos that can exist in the realm of self-styled professional psychospiritual healers.

Conclusion Part I

As acknowledged at the beginning, this arti-cle is not meant to endorse, diminish or invalidate any profession’s good worth and works but to pro-vide a few examples of public information that help illustrate the challenges in finding appropriate, ade-quate and safe psychospiritual behavioral care, and more specifically those providers who wish to do so utilizing their mediumistic abilities and services. It is of worth noting any apparent gaps and omis-sions as possible weaknesses in systems where, in the absence of a rigorously regulated licensing sys-tem, at the very least some kind of SOC could be useful.

Although the original search results offered here are by no mean comprehensive, what primari-ly stands out among the majority of individuals de-scribing their mediumship service as provided by a “therapist” or ”psychotherapist” or describing their work as “therapy” or ”psychotherapy”—at least in the U.S.—is a suggestive significant lack of profes-sionally-recognized licensing and credentialing. In conjunction with the troubling kinds of legal issues and defamation claims noted in such cases as that of FECRIS, it raises certain questions about such individuals. What is their professional training in the field of behavioral health? Are they licensed to practice therapy? Are they supervised by licensed professionals? How are they held accountable for safe and ethical practice?


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AIHCP. (2015a). What is the major practice focus

of a grief counselor?. (2015). Retrieved from

AIHCP. (2015b). Certification. (2015). American Institute of Health Care Professionals. Re-trieved from

Armogath, J. F., & Pachoud, D. (2004). Psycho-therapeutic deviation: the use psychotherapy in the case of cult influence. (2015). FECRIS, Re-trieved from

Beischel, J., Boccuzzi, M., Rock, A., Mosher, C., & Biuso, M. (2015). The windbridge institute for applied research in human potential. Re-trieved from

Beischel, J. (2007). Contemporary methods used in laboratory-based mediumship research. Journal of Parapsychology, 71, 37-68. (retrieved as available at

Beischel, J. (2013). Meaningful messages: making the most of your mediumship reading [Kindle DX version]. Retrieved from

Beischel, J., & Schwartz, G. (2007). The veritas research program. Retrieved from

Betty, S. (2010). “Spirit release”: a different kind of exorcism. The Searchlight, 19(4), 4, 10.

Blum, R.H. (2004). Adjuvant chemotherapy for lung cancer — a new standard of care. The New England Journal of Medicine, 350, 404-405.

Botkin, A. (2015, February 25). “IADC therapy”. after-death communication. Retrieved from .

Botkin, A. L., & Hogan, R. C. (2005). Induced Af-ter-Death Communication: A New Therapy for Healing Grief and Trauma. Charlottesville, VA: Hampton Roads Pub. Co.

Bright, M, Millera, M., & Saunders, S. (2010). Spiritually conscious psychological care. Pro-fessional Psychology: Research and Practice, 41(5), 355-362.

Bye-laws g appointments and awards of recogni-tion. (2010, February). Retrieved from

CIHAS (California Institute of the Healing Arts & Sciences). (2015). Common questions about hypnotherapy training & certification. (2015). Retrieved from http://

Counselling. (2010). Retrieved from

Ginsberg, R. (2015a). Forever family foundation. Retrieved from

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Goforth, A., & Gray, T. (2015, February). The ris-en authorship. Retrieved from

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Haraldsson, E. (2009). Alleged encounters with the dead: the importance of violent death in 337 new cases. Journal of Parapsychology, 73, 91-118.

Hogan, C. (Ed.). (2014). New developments in af-terlife communication: proceedings of the 38th annual conference of the Academy for Spiritual and Consciousness Studies. Loxahatchee, FL: ASCS Publications.

Mosher, C., Beischel, J., & Boccuzzi, M. (April, 2010). The potential therapeutic benefit of me-diumship readings in the treatment of grief. Poster presented at Toward a Science of Con-sciousness 2010, Tucson, Arizona.

Noory, G. (Producer). (2015, February). Experienc-ing the afterlife [Audio Podcast]. Coast To Coast AM. Retrieved from

Pobanz, K. (2008). Depossession healing: a com-parison of William Baldwin’s “spirit release-ment therapy” and Dae Mo Nim’s ancestor lib-eration. Journal of Unification Studies, 9. Re-trieved from

Powell, A. (2007). Furthering the spiritual dimen-sion of psychiatry in the United Kingdom. As-sociação Médico-Espírita do Brasil. Retrieved from 4 December 2010.

Shepherd, K. R. D. (2009, September 9). Kevin shepherd & psychic medium conny larsson [Web log message]. (2015). Retrieved from http://kevin-shepherd-

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Wickland, C. (1924). Thirty years among the dead. Los Angeles: National Psychological Institute.

Body Mind Spirit Directory. 2010. Web. 16 November 2010.

Worden, J.W. (2001). Grief counseling and grief therapy: a guide for the mental health practi-tioner. New York: Springer Publishing.


August Goforth, a licensed psychotherapist in a private practice in New York City, is also a spirit medium. Because he does not normally unilize his mediumistic abilities for therapy sessions or pro-vide public mediumship readings, he has adopted this pseudonym for professional confidentiality and personal privacy interests. He does offer private guidance and counseling for mediums and those in development. August is globally but quietly known in various physical mediumistic communities for his scholarly interest and investigative participation as a clairvoyant, clairsentient, and physical medi-um. He is a co-author of The Risen: Dialogues of Love, Grief, & Survival Beyond Death—21st Cen-tury Reports from the Afterlife through Contempla-tive, Intuitive, & Physical Mediumship (2009).

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July 16 – 19th, 2015, the 58th Annual Con-vention of the Parapsychological Association and the 39th Society for Psychical Research Internation-al Annual Conference was held at the University of Greenwich in London, England. This joint conven-tion/conference was a refreshing amalgamation of not only organizations, but communities, cultures and research. Many universities with parapsycho-logical programs were represented, particularly from the UK programs such as University of Edin-burgh, University of Northampton, and University of Greenwich. Quite a few institutes dedicated to exceptional experiences and mental health were also represented, such as the Center for Infor-mation, Research, and Counselling on Exceptional Experiences (CIRCEE), Institut für Grenzgebiete der Psychologie und Psychohygiene (IGPP), and Wissenschaftliche Gesellschaft zur Förderung der Parapsychologie (WGFP). Many of the Journal of Exceptional Experiences and Psychology's review board were there including Annalisa Ventola (Executive Director of the PA), Renaud Evrard (PA Program Chair), Jean-Michel Abrassart, Alexander De Foe, Cal Cooper, Eberhard Bauer, Jack Hunter, and JEEP's newest review board member, David Luke (Arrangements Chair). The research presentations were categorized into research areas such as beliefs, spontaneous cases, approaches (e.g., methodological, experi-mental, phenomenological, historical, and theoreti-cal), survival and mediumship, and paranthropolo-gy. Due to this being a joint gathering of two or-ganizations, there were more presentations than usual, so much so that some presentations had to be coinciding with others in separate rooms. While this made one choose which presentation to attend sometimes, this also made for a fast paced day of efficient and diverse presentations. Timing was very much of the essence in this case and fortunate-ly, timing was usually on point. Most presentations were new but some were repeats from other gatherings. One or two presentations were rather questionable in their methodology, or rather, lack thereof. For the major-

ity though, presentations were altogether on point with their methods, information and delivery. University of Greenwich was a fantastic home for this year’s convention and conference. The main conference room was just enough space to hold everyone comfortably. Greenwich itself offered much as a location for dining and scenery. The atmosphere of the convention/conference was exceptionally motivating, especial-ly for a student in the field such as myself. Talking with so many researchers, clinicians, and enthusi-asts of this area from many different countries was enlightening and humbling. Being interested in clinical approaches to exceptional experiences, I have much admiration for the fact that there are institutes in Europe dedicated to exceptional expe-riences, the people who have them, and their men-tal health. It is something I would love to see in America. Although the research presentations are enough to warrant one's attendance at a parapsy-chology convention/conference, there is more than just this reason to go; networking being high on the list. However, probably the most impressive feature of attending a gathering such as the PA Convention and SPR Conference is simply bearing witness to who is doing what in the field. It's easy to fall vic-tim to the dubious hearsay that parapsychology and related fields are dying or that they've never truly existed at all, but professional gatherings are where one comes upon the faces of the field and truly hears their voices. It’s very easy to see how para-psychology was born out of a small circle of indi-viduals when one attends such a gathering. Please flip through the next few pages for some photos taken during the event:

A Review of the 58th Annual Convention of the Parapsychological Association and the 39th Society for the Psychical Research International Annual


Erika A. Pratte

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Title: The Science of Spirit

Possession (2nd Edition)

Author: Terence Palmer, Ph.D.

ISBN: 978-1443868105

Publisher: Cambridge Scholars Publishing

Price: $71.18/£52.99

Parapsychology and related areas may be

considered “fringe,” but possession is perhaps the “fringe on the fringe.” Rarely is this subject a mat-ter of scientific inquiry or even serious discussion even within the parapsychological community, al-most all cultures have some sort of experience that is called “spirit possession.” In Terence Palmer’s book, The Science of Spirit Possession, 2nd Edition, he proposes that Spirit Release Therapy (SRT) is an effective and efficient method of helping those who are pos-sessed by “earthbound spirits of the deceased.” His thesis relies much on the theories of Frederic W. H. Myers, one of the most notable historical figures in parapsychology and an esteemed poet and scholar of multiple subjects (more can be said of Myers, of course). Many of Myers’ key ideas regarding spirit possession and his fundamental principles of psy-chology/research in general are discussed, such as telergy, the tertium quid approach, the subliminal self, and secondary consciousness. The most beautiful aspect of this book is the marriage of Myers’ theories with an extensive liter-ature review of almost everything that could possi-bly involve itself with the subject of spirit posses-sion, e.g., mental health, religion, quantum physics, neurology, etc. It offers a discussion between all of these dynamics regarding possession. The very fact that Myers and possession are being discussed at all is a lovely thing. The extensive literature review may also be this book’s biggest shortcoming, however. While all the philosophy, theory, cross references and his-tory were invigorating, I often forgot that this was a

book on spirit possession and in particular, the sci-ence of it. The very premise of the book relies on one being at least open to the idea of spirits and spirit possession within the conceptual framework of Myers and then SRT. However, the reader is never introduced to in depth case studies where Myers’ theories and SRT have been applied and so one never gets a thorough and applicable reference of either. Those who are open to possession will keep reading out of intrigue for the subject matter but will feel as if the central points of this book are lost in the middle of it. Those who are more dubious of possession are never offered any information at the beginning that would leave them questioning and willing to read on. They are never presented with a discernible case that makes them wonder, “What if?” What we have is somewhat of a “buckshot” approach, a literature review suited for a disserta-tion, which has its merit as stated. However, it’s only at the very end do we see a more focused and concrete example of Myers’ theories and SRT with the research proposal in Chapter 15. And although I absolutely love the subject matters of possession and Myers, having read almost all of the references made in this book, I did not learn much as I was not given any new takes on them. It was a great refresher in many ways and it introduced me to SRT, by which I am now most intrigued, but I wanted to immerse my hands in the science of spir-it possession and I feel as if I were only able to wet my fingers. dddddddddddddddddddddddddddd A theoretical foundation is important, and the fact that this book is almost all theoretical is not the issue; if anything it is most laudable. Theory is the beginning of science. The main issue is that the theory is not applied in a concise and concentrated manner; not enough to saturate an understanding of Myers’ theories, possession, and SRT. For instance, the reader is taken through many of the different cultural differences of possession cas-es but is not given an explanation of why these dif-ferences exist and which possession types can be used in the framework of Myers, SRT, and how.

Book Review

The Science of Spirit Possession (2nd Edition)

Erika A. Pratte

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The reader is not truly introduced to SRT in a way that she can say how it would be applied to any possession case beyond a vague, general scope. The Science of Spirit Possession is a com-mendable book and I recommend it. Myers’ theo-ries are detrimentally missing in the repertoire of many contemporary psychical researchers and they deserve thorough examination. SRT is also a wor-thy of examination, as is the subject of possession itself. Although I believe this book could be more focused and tailored to possession, it is refreshing to see such an erudite discourse, particularly when it comes to theory. Dr. Palmer knows the subject very well and it is evident. I have high hopes that Dr. Palmer writes another book with detailed case studies where Myers’ theories and SRT are applied.

The Science of Spirit Possession, 2nd Edition is available at

Do you have an active interest in parapsychology? If so,

consider joining the Parapsychological Association (PA).

Membership in the PA supports the scientific study of

psi (or “psychic”) experiences and provides access to

unique resources for the study of parapsychology.

Founded in 1957, the PA is an international professional

body of scientists and scholars whose primary objective

is to achieve a scientific understanding of psi and relat-

ed phenomena. This unique organization provides an

international forum for scholarly exchange through its

website, annual conventions, its publication Mindfield:

The Bulletin of the Parapsychological Association, and

its partnership with the Rhine Research Center, which

brings the Journal of the Parapsychology to all PA


Active researchers who have graduated from a recog-

nized academic institution should consider applying as

an Associate or Professional Member. The PA also wel-

comes high school and college students at a reduced

membership rate. Anyone who has an active interest in

the scientific and scholarly advancement of parapsy-

chology is invited to join as a Supporting Member. As

parapsychological research continues to reach a wider

scientific audience, it is hoped that those with a broad

interest in the scientific study of psi will join the PA,

both to support the field and to follow its developments.

Paracoustics: Sound and the Paranormal by Steven

T. Parsons and Callum E.Cooper available at Am-

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