Spiritism and Mental Health
Edited by Emma Bragdon
Singing Dragon (Jessica Kingsley Publishers), 73 Collier Street, London N1 9BE. 2013
ISBN: 978 1848191358. Paperback. 352 pp. £22.99
Theological books that deal seriously with the idea of spiritual oppression and possession are few and far between. Academic works even more so, apart from perhaps the works of Adam Crabtree (‘Multiple Man’) and Wilson Van Dusen (‘The Presence of Other Worlds’). CFPSS members would of course want to include the writings of the Revd Dr Martin Israel, the Revd Canon Dr Michael Perry, Matthew and Dennis Linn and Sheila Fabricant, and Dr Kenneth McCall, amongst others.
Emma Bragdon, PhD is the Director of the Foundation for Energy Therapies (www.spiritualalliances.com). Since 2001 she has been travelling through Brazil researching Spiritism and Spiritist Psychiatric Hospitals. Her findings come together in her present book, ‘Spiritism and Mental Health’. Spiritist therapies are gaining international recognition for their ability to complement conventional medicine, and are now being practised in community centres and psychiatric hospitals throughout Brazil. Bragdon’s is the first comprehensive account of the philosophy, theory, practical applications and wider relevance of Spiritist therapies to be published in the English language.
In this hefty text book (352 pages) leading Spiritist practitioners and researchers describe the history, principles and diagnostic processes of the Spiritist approach to mental health. They give a summary of the methodologies used; including spiritual mediumship, energy work, prayer, homeopathy, spirit release, past life regression and the practice of integrating spirituality into counselling and psychotherapy. Contributors include Melvin Morse, M.D. (Chapter 19) who has written extensively on the phenomena of Near Death Experiences.
One of the contributors, Dr Alexander Moreira-Almeida explains, “Spiritism does not deny the bio-psycho-social causes of mental disorders. It fully acknowledges them... it comes to complement it, adding something new - the spiritual element - to our understanding of nature" (p.38). Almeida goes on to explain that mental disturbance can result when "an obsessing spirit exacerbates negative feelings and thoughts in the patient through a kind of telepathy" (p.40). This obsessing spirit, he further states, is motivated most of the time by a vengeful feeling against the victim, but the person can choose to accept or reject the obsessing influence. Bragdon goes deeper, "From the Spiritist point of view, after ruling out physical brain damage or disabilities such as retardation, the cause of most mental illness is embedded in the perispirit, also known today as the `informational body' or `subtle body" (p16). Bragdon observes that Spiritist psychiatrists do not believe that the brain is the home of the mind and spirit, a view shared by a growing number of academics (and faithful folk throughout the ages).
For sacramentalists like me who are familiar with holy water and places like Walsingham and Lourdes, and homoeopathists used to diluting preparations, there is a fascinating chapter (Chapter 18) on ‘The Power of Magnetised Water’. Through illustrated and well-documented research, Beverly Rubik M.D. demonstrates that water is not a simple chemical substance, as was previously thought, but rather a complex liquid that interacts dynamically with signals from its environment and even with information from conscious intent.
For the open-minded person, Bragdon offers a wealth of food for thought. It would be difficult for anyone to read the observations of so many professionals and not to believe that there really is something to this whole area of discarnate influence on human behaviour. But then again isn’t that what the Church and other faiths have been telling us for centuries?