I’ve spent over thirty years writing on and researching the paranormal. I thought it was time I tried to pull all the strands of my ideas together – and do it in a Flash format.
A paranormal event is being experienced now not far from where you are. Note, I said paranormal and not supernatural. I highlight the difference because I don’t think other-worldly forces are involved. Rather, it seems to me that we are dealing with a wider, and rational psychology not yet fully understood by science.
Many believers may not like my use of words such as hallucination. However, new knowledge must take existing intellectual baggage with it, taking small steps into the unknown rather than great leaps of faith. By the end of the study I hope to show that all reality is part illusion, which is little different from hallucination.
A major stumbling block to understanding is the preponderance of labels attached to the subject. We speak of ghosts, of reincarnation, telepathy, the poltergeist and a host more. To me, these are not causes, but effects of the forces at work in paranormal phenomena.
This will become clear as the series progresses. But some will say: why bother? Is it a subject that deserves importance? Yes, it is! Infact, I’m convinced that an understanding of the paranormal can add greatly to human experience – and not understanding it leads to many problems we seem to be unable to overcome.
One – Evolved Consciousness
If the paranormal exists, why don’t we experience it all the time? There’s a hint from the state of mind of many experiencers. Events are more likely to happen if the person is tired, distracted – even in the dream state – in other words, when they are released from information in the real world.
This ties in with meditation, where a greater knowing is achieved by cutting out the material world. They speak of ‘oneness’ with all, as if they’ve reached a wider form of communality. And a paranormal event usually involves such communality – with others or the environment.
In the past people seemed to be closer to this oneness, hence a greater belief in, and experience of, paranormal events – whereas today it seems to be on the wane. And I think this is all to do with concentration.
We are different to other species because of our technology, and essential to this is the ability to place information out of conscious thought in order to allow us to concentrate on a task in hand. In other words, we needed a repository for things we can temporarily forget.
I’d argue that this is the point where the conscious and unconscious mind evolved – and as our technology increased, producing more information, the unconscious grew further away from the conscious.
Alongside this evolving mind came the idea of individuality, the opposite of communality, so we can argue that communality is an aspect of the unconscious rather than conscious, thus removing paranormality from normal experience.
However, when outside information is reduced, the conscious and unconscious could move closer, allowing a hint of paranormality to intrude into consciousness.
Two – Minds Possessed
We think of reincarnation and mediumship as separate phenomena. One is said to produce an incarnation of a previous life, the other involving contact with the dead. But could it be that the only difference is culture?
An incarnation can come in two ways. Knowledge of a previous life can come into the mind, or the person can be hypnotized, the therapist asking if other lives are in there. Interestingly, when this phenomenon was first realized, incarnations were best produced by a therapist who believed reincarnation was possible. Hence, a form of transference could occur, similar to false memory syndrome. And as culture became accepting of the ability, such incarnations appear more and more.
This cultural aspect is equally valid with mediumship, where an entity comes into the mind of the medium. Yet this exact process has changed culturally over time. In the deep past the medium accessed nature spirits; later, culture decided they were demons; with spiritualism, the dead took centre stage; and today channellers access discarnate entities or alien lifeforms. Culture seems to be the primary factor, as if it is controlling the person.
Psychology can offer a possible culprit for such intrusions. In the case of multiple personality, the mind can seem to fragment into separate, seemingly outside, entities. The process is exact, and interestingly, literature of the phenomenon shows that sometimes the entities can appear as suggested by a therapist, as if he is defining a new culture for the person. Indeed, the process could be easier to achieve than we think. Your personality may not be yours.
Three – Communal Psyche
When discussing supposed Possessions of the mind by outside entities – previous incarnations; the medium in contact with the dead – we must first decide what elements of personality are INSIDE the mind. At first this seems simple – the ‘self’, the individual – but it’s not that clear cut.
Jung noted that we seem to share a ‘collective unconscious’. Symbols are shared through the species, including character types, or archetypes, such as the Sage, Mother, Child, Judge, Hero or Trickster. Campbell showed how such archetypes appear universally in myth, despite culture. Yet what we actually have in the archetypes are expressions of our various character types. Myths, it seems, are our minds writ large.
We can say similar for emotions. Whilst they may vary in intensity, and be expressed for personal reasons dependent upon the individual, emotions are also characteristics of the species. So what can this tell us about the individual? We can argue that, rather than being an entity in its own right, the individual is actually an amalgam of species traits.
Hence, rather than having an exact ‘self’, we all have a little piece of a communal psyche. Hence, we can not be sure what is ‘inside’ or ‘outside’ the personal mind. Rather, we are fragments of the collective. And bearing this in mind, it becomes much easier than we presently believe for a fantasized entity to temporarily reshape those fragments into another ‘personality’. But from where could the ‘information’ for such a possession come?
Four – Discarnate, or What?
When a mind intrusion occurs, such as a reincarnated person or contact with the dead by a medium, we can rationally say it does not involve existing dead entities. But to do so, we must try to understand where the invasions come from. Two factors are vital. Why does the entity appear so real? Where does the sometimes accurate information come from?
Brain physiology can offer an answer to the first. In the split-brain concept we know that the two cerebral hemispheres of the brain can have opposing function. The left brain tends to be the rationalist, whilst the right brain is the fantasist, adding emotion, artistry, etc.
We live in the left brain most of the time, but it has been argued that the right brain can often intrude. When it does, it can appear like a discarnate voice or entity. To the creative type, this is the muse – the centre of inspiration. To others, immersed in a different type of culture, it could well be seen as the voice of the dead.
But what about the information an entity can convey? We live in a world of information without realizing it. Indeed, we only ‘remember’ information upon which we focus our attention. Yet, the rest of this information does not disappear. Rather, it seems it goes straight into the unconscious.
In a phenomenon know as Cryptomnesia this information can rise into consciousness. And it can be quite startling. Cases of reincarnation have been traced to novels, films or articles, sometimes with errors intact. In one case a Swedish girl remembered a Medieval song in Old English from a book she simply flicked through in a library. When regressed hypnotically to remember a past life, the song attached to the life, colouring a fantasized entity with fact. And cryptomnesia can go on to answer so much more …
Five – Future Now
So far in this study certain factors are arising. First of all, culture seems to play an important part in what is paranormal. Second, far more information enters the mind than we consciously realize. And finally, the ‘tags’ we use for a particular phenomenon hide the fact that there could be ‘mechanisms’ that can answer many phenomena. Could these elements provide an answer for premonition?
We can ‘see’ the future in many ways. Typical is the precognitive dream, where a person dreams of a coming major disaster. However, looking at the literature of such abilities, they usually arise when there are fears in society of a particular kind of disaster. Hence, culture predisposes the dreamer to dream such things.
We can combine this with chance. On any night in the UK, for instance, there will be well over a quarter million nightmares. Combine this fact with cultural disposition and it is statistically inevitable that some people will have nightmares that can be accurately compared to a disaster that occurs a few days later.
Other premonitions are more personal. A typical case will be of someone dreaming of an explosion and, in a half-awake state, taking action to remove themselves and family from the scene. Moments later, the building blows up following a gas leak.
To answer this and similar cases perhaps we need to look at the wider information we unconsciously receive about our environment. So unconsciously the mind registers gas. A dream image surfaces into the mind, makes the person restless, and just conscious enough to act upon the information.
Of course, these ideas do not cover all of premonition – we will return to the subject later – but it begins to suggest that what we class as a premonition is nothing more than unconscious analysis of the present.
Six – Afterlife
We have never been alone. We may exist in a physical world, but always there has been a spiritual world parallel to it. It was first realized in the ritual of ancient tribes who gave everything that was physical a spirit twin.
This was the birth of nature spirits. And as culture progressed it changed in kind. Today it is reflected by many in a world of aliens, but is also known as Afterlife.
The Near Death Experience is said to be evidence of Afterlife. Going down a tunnel, you can meet your dead and discarnate entities in a heavenly landscape. How real is it? Studies in the deep faint have shown that identical symbolism can be experienced, suggesting that the parallel world is of the mind. In this way, what is experienced bends to whatever culture the person belongs.
Fainting can be produced by hysteria, and it is interesting that early tribal ritual involved practices designed to create hysteria. Proceedings were led by a natural hysteric – shaman like – and the end result was unconsciousness.
As ritual developed through history, the idea of death and rebirth came into being. The mystic ‘died’, entered the spirit world, and was reborn. Could the Afterlife therefore be born from this early tribal experience, with the deep faint being thought of as a kind of death – a descent to the symbolic landscape his culture decrees he will see?
From this practice, mediumship first arose, and physical man communed with his spirit shadow. We can, of course, accept this as a possibility, but assign it to the world of pointless superstition. This is, I think, an error. For what was experienced in this symbolic world imbued man with purpose through belief.
And in readapting his physical world through his beliefs, we must ask: whether superstition or real, wouldn’t the outcome be the same? In carrying out actions as if something is real, we make it, on some level, a reality. As this study of the paranormal continues, this is an idea we must keep uppermost in our minds.
Seven – Ghost Encounters
I am satisfied that ghosts are hallucinations. The only mystery is: what is a hallucination? We do not experience the world as it is. Impressions of the world are sensed, but then are rationalized by the subjective mind. We see the world as we want to.
This appreciation can be affected by tiredness, misdirection and other influences such as culture, changing our appreciation. If information of ‘outside’ is not adequate, the mind creates from its past experience. Hence, we can have ‘brief moments of decalibration’ where the world and our view of it can differ. This is a hallucination.
During this series I’ve shown how we retain phenomenal amounts of information not consciously realized. I’ve shown how this can ape what we think of as possession, with books, films & articles providing colour for the character. The same could be true for ghosts.
You go to a building steeped in history and you see something that others have seen, confirming a ‘real’ ghost. But can you really say in all your years you have never flicked through an information source for that location?
Unknowingly you have taken into memory millions of snippets of information – about the world, its history, even personal information about people you know. It has built within you a reflection of the outside world. And at times when the mind is liable to hallucination, this wealth of information could turn what you see into a reality.
But ghosts are much more than the hauntings they produce. To understand why we must go back in history. Analysis of the earliest writings suggests that our ancestors did not think things out for themselves. Most things were decided from ‘outside’ in a form of communal consciousness – even morality was decided from above.
Analysis of early myth shows that they symbolized identity, belonging and represented moral actions, suggesting that their gods guided, and were experienced, in their world. Going back to my words ( ch 2) on technology and concentration causing the evolution of the unconscious, we can argue that in a lesser technological world, our present dream state was experienced in their normal consciousness.
Hence, their gods, desires, nightmares and their dead were constantly with them. And in being with them, fear and awe attached to their waking dreams and devised the morality they lived by.
As technology advanced, this world receded to the unconscious. Yet, in the ghost experiences that continued to occur, this same form of moral tale attached to them, guaranteeing behaviour through superstition. Maybe our present amoral society is here mainly because the ghost is not here to frighten us into good behaviour.
Eight – It’s Magic
There are amazing claims made about paranormal phenomena – from cases of magic affecting matter, to séance manifestations; from vampires physically harming people, to the enigmatic Indian rope trick. So often we hear of the laws of physics being suspended, or entities reacting with the experiencer. Is there a reality to such physical effects?
In recent years there has been a new entertainment phenomenon in the stage hypnotist. Among the many stunts he makes people do, they also seem to experience the unusual, the hypnotist placing thoughts in their minds which are experienced.
Such stooges recall the experience in a similar way to some witnesses to séance phenomena – there was a feeling they knew this wasn’t right, but were unable to do anything about it. So could hypnosis be involved in such paranormal phenomena?
Now, I am not saying the mediums and magicians who caused such phenomena were necessarily cheating, but it is becoming clear that some people are natural charismatics and able to easily enchant a small group of people. Magic seems to go under another name today.
But can this explain actual bodily reactions to such phenomena? In the previous chapter I showed how easily and natural it is to hallucinate. Yet a hallucination is more than just something seen. A strong hallucination can affect all the senses, so it can also be heard, smelt and felt.
The last point is vital. If something that isn’t really there can be felt, will it have a physical bodily reaction? Some experiments in hypnosis are showing that suggestion can cause reactions on the skin, and few are unaware of the ability of dreams to cause the body to react.
Magic, it seems, may not be as unexplained as we think, and as we will see next, such information could be vital for understanding that most frightening of phenomena – the poltergeist.
Nine – Poltergeist Reality
So far I’ve looked at various elements of paranormality, showing how possessions, mediumship, ghostly encounters and premonitions can all find explanation in a wider unconscious information gathering process, the powerful effects of culture, a fragmentation of the mind into various personality traits, and a natural ability to hallucinate based upon this information.
Can this all come together in the poltergeist? We are told that the usual poltergeist infests a house. This is incorrect. It affects a household. Phenomena usually centres around a child. Some theorists argue that the initial prompter is some form of psychological trauma the child has experienced.
Effects can begin with disruptive behaviour. This disturbs the ‘culture’ of the household and a fear becomes prevalent. The child feeds on this and begins to display typical, but involuntary, mediumistic tendencies. This intensifies the fear and an alternative culture develops.
Unconscious information can attach to the fears and phenomena will begin to break out in a communal hallucinatory way, aping any locally known phenomena and classic poltergeist activity. In effect, a communal psychodrama is being enacted based upon the sum total of the minds involved.
This is why a skeptical researcher never sees phenomena, and why an exorcism can sometimes work. An additional mind has joined the production to ease the drama.
I’m convinced a poltergeist can be answered in this way. However, I want to take this ‘psychodrama’ idea out into the normal world. In effect, I am saying that a ‘culture’ can so easily develop in which behaviour can become conditioned by the culture itself.
A classic case is a cult, where a guru seems to totally dominate the very psyche of his disciples. The way they see the world changes from the way others see it. But having said this, I also believe that a cult merely shows the extremes of normal behaviour. A society is affected by similar alternative behaviours.
The religionist often seems to live in a different world to the scientist, for instance; and the same data can be seen in radically different ways. Could it be that the communal psyche that outs itself in the poltergeist is actually there all the time in society, defining how we think as groups and building alternative consensus?
Such an idea could answer so much in terms of human knowledge, disagreement and conflict. And if so, maybe none of us really know the world – just the hallucinated view decreed by the particular consensus to which we belong.
Ten – Telepathy or Inner Perception?
The Holy Grail of the paranormal is an understanding of telepathy. It has long evaded us, but maybe this is because we look at it the wrong way.
In the previous chapter I showed how culture – be it our over-culture, sub-cultures or simply family culture – can have such an influence upon us that it changes our perception of reality to form a specific consensus which has a large degree of control upon us. This consensus continues to work in the wider world.
An obvious spin-off from this is that it would also condition a certain kind of response to specific stimuli in the outside world. In other words, within a culture it predestines people to think and assess situations alike. This can often appear to be telepathic communication.
A classic case of such ‘oneness’ is mass hysteria. Here people can seem to spontaneously react to stimuli. If we add the known power of suggestion to this psycho-social brew, stimuli has an added power to cause oneness of thought. Indeed, this is a classic environment for allowing a curse to affect behaviour, to the point that the curse appears to work.
However, phenomena indicative of telepathy requires more. Throughout this series I’ve pointed out our ability to attain, and be affected by, a mass of unconsciously received information from the outside world. This now becomes even more essential.
Walking round an average city on an average day you will hear thousands of conversations and experience thousands of stimuli. None of this is consciously realized, but is unconsciously experienced. Those conversations will contain not only information of relevance to those involved, but of others they know.
In effect, tens of thousands of bits of information could be inputted every day. Then you experience some form of like stimuli, the unconscious appraises this – maybe a conversation inputted weeks ago about someone you have never met – and the two factors merge and rise into consciousness, and you have received apparently telepathic, even precognitive, information – the only difference between classic interpretation being that it is not extra sensory, but inner sensory. Yet an ‘inner’ that is much wider and communal than we presently accept.
Eleven – Emergence
I’ve already shown how important culture is to paranormal phenomena, but the environment itself is also vital. From thunderstorm to minute earthquake activity, electromagnetic changes occur. There is now plenty of experimental evidence that such changes can affect brain chemistry.
Hallucinations have been produced by this process. This seems to be why ghosts are often associated with thunderstorms; and EM changes prior to earthquakes seem to lie behind the foreknowledge of animals, causing them to flee.
It is therefore rational to assume that similar responses could form part of the unconscious information store we all have, thus prompting premonitions. Similarly, evidence is growing that various sound waves can affect the eye, producing what appear to be illusions. Invoking the unconscious info store, could this account for ghost sightings in creaky old historic houses?
Storytelling could also add to the paranormal. Stories become imprinted in culture, and thus could have an effect on what is seen during hallucinations.
Looking to the history of the paranormal, this process could be behind the plethora of entity types which have all been prevalent in particular periods of history, such as ancient gods, nature spirits, demons, fairies, werewolves, vampires, spirits and aliens. All this suggests that phenomena are not of specific types or stimuli, but we can be affected by what I would call ‘psychic syndrome.’
One way to view it is by looking to ecology. An ecosystem is a fully interrelated thing. Individuality is subsumed into a collective, with one part having an effect on all the other parts, raising the oft used principle that the part and the whole are one and the same.
This interrelationship can be seen in action, but not measured in terms of its influence. Rather, there is meaning above any individual part. We can redesign the mind using this principle.
Central to this study has been the accumulation, in the unconscious, of a mass of information of the outside world we didn’t know we had in consciousness. Could this form, in the deep mind, a ‘cryptomnesic map’ of the reality outside – an inner reflection of reality, coloured, as it may be, by our own fantasies?
When we think of astral travelers, do they journey in the world ‘outside’, or does the mind roam through its own reflection of the outside? However, invoking the ‘part as the same as the whole’ idea, we must also ask: if the inner is as one with the outer, could what happens in the inner affect the outer in a physical way, producing what we know as psychokinesis, or mind over matter? In the final chapter, we will consider such a possibility.
Twelve – The Universe
In the previous chapter I introduced the concept of ‘psychic syndrome’, arguing that a whole plethora of influences affect a mind that is psycho-social and a reflection of the outside world. Could the universe itself work in a similar way – and a way we are fundamentally connected to?
We actually have three levels of known reality. We have the body we see. Below this is our cellular construction. And finally we have the subatomic, increasingly becoming known as an ‘information universe’.
At present we don’t know how the three realities interact, but it is rational to assume they do. It has been suggested that one gateway for interaction could be the cytoskeleton of the cell, which is thought to vibrate. Could this act like an on/off switching mechanism similar to a computer, allowing information flow from the subatomic?
Such an idea suggests that consciousness actually resides in the universe itself; an idea given extra weight by experiments on single celled organisms which seem to have memory without a brain. As I see it, evidence of brain activity as thought is similar to observing a car in motion without looking for the driver. The driver could be the universe itself.
Could the universe be ruled by processes of emergent consciousness? There is a known ‘law of large numbers’ which indicates that the greater the number of things involved in a system, the greater the order created.
Some levels of universal clusterings of ‘things’ are immediately obvious – the individual, the consensus, the species, planet, solar system, galaxy and universe itself. If consciousness is in the universe, then each increasing clustering would have greater order.
Similarly, as with interrelated ecosystems, they would also input to lower clusterings at some level. This process could have an effect on the emergent nature of paranormal phenomena.
For instance, at the individual level, no phenomena is identified. At the species level we could connect, producing phenomena similar to telepathy. Go to the planetary level and perhaps we could connect at a more physical level suggestive of psychokinesis.
One obvious point in this would be that we can no longer say that universal laws apply in all conditions in the universe. The process allows for higher levels of order. So why do we seem to see proof of our scientific theories?
Maybe because our process of knowledge is really a process of creation – at least, in terms of our consensus reality. But what about even higher levels? Could a higher clustering move away from time as an onward process. Could the personal mind connect so deeply that we exist in an ‘eternal now’, thus gaining information of the future from an eternal present?
In an earlier part of this study I showed the importance of ‘archetypes’ to phenomena. Could a higher universal clustering produce an eternal archetype? If so, could we, as thinking entities, be little more than a reflection of a universal? If so, we are one with the cosmos for all time. Could this confirm what we think of as spirits – even an afterlife?
In this last part I have taken a speculative look at what could yet be disclosed by thinking of knowledge in terms of emergent paranormal activity. Maybe the paranormal deserves serious study, for it could well provide the next level of our understanding of, not only man as a species, but the universe itself.
In this series I have attempted to put together the strands of seemingly separate phenomena into a holistic theory. From the theory we can intuit two basic principles: that when something is done or thought it exists as info in a universal consciousness, accessible to those in tune; and reality can order itself around the person, group, species or planet through consensus and higher order. I’d argue that all Paranormal phenomena could be explained by these two principles.
The second principle needs further theorising. Ideas such as seriality and synchronicity have already noted that coincidences can sometimes seem to cluster and be meaningful. We now have a speculative mechanism through higher levels of order and the poltergeist psychodrama theory. Basically, when an experiencer or researcher joins a particular consensus, the higher order involved could manipulate reality to confirm the story – even input adjustments from the person, providing a new repeatable phenomenon, or confirming existing phenomena.
Of course, this is at the level of consensus. But if we then extend this to higher levels such as planetary or universal, then as some theorists have suggested, evolution and even the universe itself could be the creation of a higher consciousness through what we presently class as coincidence. Yet coincidence now becomes something to be manipulated as a story dictates, by the next higher level of consciousness.
However, we can go even further than this, adding to my conclusions in Chap 9 and arguing that any consensual view could act as a poltergeist psychodrama, providing reality-bending illusions based on the prevalent story, fear, hope, religion, theory or ideology, aided by the next higher level of consciousness. If we take the scientist and the religionist – the capitalist and socialist – they seem unable to ever agree on anything. Could this itself be due to paranormality – to the reality-bending ability to confirm a particular consensus and deny any evidence of reality in others? If so, the paranormal could be the route to understanding life and conflict itself.