Psychic and spiritual

 Louis de Figueiredo

In one of the two courses I did in Parapsychology we were taught that there is talent hidden in the unconscious and that that part of the mind could be tapped. The professor gave automatic writing as an example. The other course dwelt on Cryptomnesia, which lead to Fluornoy, who influenced Jung.

These points of view clash with what is called Psychography and there are people who believe that mediums/psychics can deliver messages from the dead and are, understandably, anxious to get in touch with departed loved ones.   Many spiritualists say that this is not easy because it is not just a matter of summoning a spirit, that a process --- vaguely defined --- is involved, something like “permission” needed by the spirit to communicate with those in this world. Other Spiritualists do not hold this view and in this case there have been complaints about some sort of pre-screening where the person wishing to communicate with a loved one talks informally to a volunteer before the medium/psychic is consulted.  The person then leaves the place amazed at how much the medium/psychic knew and certain that the volunteer had whispered what he had heard into the medium’s ear before the consultation and much of what happened was stage-managed. Additionally, Parapsychologists talk about thought transference or telepathy acting on an excited unconscious mind.     

 Obviously such reports have no relation to cases where spontaneous communication with the dead is reported. But here again other problems are faced. Since genuine phenomena in Parapsychology are spontaneous they cannot be laboratory-tested and there are Parapsychologists who say that these communications are nothing but projections from the unconscious or grief-related hallucinations.

 Sometimes the loss is felt when pets die, depending on what was the relationship between the owner and the pet. Pets are very often psychic (more than humans, at times), particularly where premonition is concerned, and the famous Oscar the Cat is just one example, in this case not requiring one to be like Dick Whittington or Abraham Lincoln to see the phenomenon. While no communication is reported where pets are concerned there are people who say they have felt their “presence” after they have died.

 As for mediums/psychics who paint, one sceptic has said the following:

 ----- There are blind people who can paint better

 ----- Those who fake do a better job

 ----- The artists do not appear in the countries where they were born, and that is strange

 ----- One medium generally closes his eyes when he paints, but opens them once in a while, so he should   be blindfolded

 ----- The medium should be asked to speak in the artist’s mother tongue when he is in a trance

We then come to the question of what is called “spiritual operations” or psychic surgery. There are Parapsychologists who say that a symptom is removed and the cause remains intact. For instance, get rid of a nervous tic and the person develops an ulcer, extract the ulcer and then comes a heart attack. No lasting “cures” are known and the practice is considered as medical fraud, if not quackery, in many countries.

 These procedures have nothing to do with means (prayers, lighting candles) that Christians use when seeking cures. Jesus is not recorded to have used a scalpel or herbs while healing and curing, an integral part of his ministry. On the contrary, he just “said the word” and the cure was instantaneous. All his cures were therefore, instantaneous, except in the case of one blind man. In this case, it had something to do with the intensity of the power that was going out of him; the first “discharge” was not enough, so there had to be a second one. The Haemorrhisa knew that she was cured of her malady the instant she touched his cloak and she had been unable to obtain such a cure during those twelve years among the charismatic healers who roamed the roads of Galilee.    

It is obvious that these miracle stories are true because even his enemies admitted them, even decades after his departure from his contemporaries. In fact, it has been pointed out that, hated and feared as he was, with his powerful presence, it was one big reason for some Sadducees to bring him to trial and sent to execution with the help of the Romans, the authority who could grant the death penalty. Apparently they feared the source of his powers, for which they could find no explanation, and some Sadducees are known to have resorted to witchcraft in order to become the High Priest.

 When it comes to Charismatic groups, be they Pentecostal, Anglican or Catholic, the question that arises is: what exactly is cured, given that 86 per cent of diseases are said to be psychosomatic. Many of the cures described could be the result of suggestion --- a placebo effect, perhaps --- and no lame or blind people are cured. The ideal procedure is to determine whether a miracle, something unexplained by science, has occurred. It is the one adopted, for instance, in Lourdes, with medical practitioners examining the documentation before and after the cure. Yet there can be no doubt that those Christians who have a lot of faith in God can obtain the cures they want, whether this happens within these Charismatic movements or not. It is the direct line to God.  

Researchers know that not everything in Parapsychology or Psychical Research is established and that, for instance, one significant clash was the one between the late Professors Ian Stevenson (USA) and C.T.K. Chari (India), much of which was published in the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research. While the former proferred some phenomena as spiritual the latter denied them on the grounds that the data was misinterpreted, and there were objections from other scholars.