Friday, December 21, 2012

Spirit Release Therapy (a contribution by Dr. T. J. Palmer)

The possibility of Spirit influence is currently neglected by present day orthodox therapies that do not recognize the independent nature of human mind from its material counterpart. However, this does not preclude the existence of this phenomenon which is unfortunately widely spread in the population and can be considered as the origin of several mental disorders and leading to many hideous crimes.

Already in 1861, Allan Kardec redefined obsession as the 'domain of some Spirits over certain people. An influence that is never exercised by good Spirits but rather only by those of inferior nature' (1). If the human personality has its origin in a center of psychological forces known as 'Spirit' - which is by itself quite independent from matter - the phenomena of spirit obsession or attachment may be one of the leading causes of many tragedies in today's life, albeit rarely recognized as such. This happens because only part of the human nature dies in fact. The most important one containing knowledge, memory, - the self in essence - continues to exist sometimes ignoring such new life condition. 

Only Spirits can communicate with Spirits and the 'communication' itself is not limited to the well-known mediumship phenomena that Spiritualist literature describes so well. There are other forms, ranging from subtle mood changes or appearance of multiple personas in a single body to the most extreme misbehavior, indicating an infestation of a person's mind. The latter case, known as possession, was also well described by Kardec himself (2) as the ultimate level of Spirit obsession (3).
Dr. Palmer thesis cover.

The idea that some kind of external invisible power can control a human in very old. The New Testament speak about 'driving out demons' (4) from people. The subject has indeed received a fresh treatment in a doctoral thesis by Dr. Terence J. Palmer in 2012. Entitled "Revised Epistemology for an Understanding of Spirit Release Therapy Developed in accordance with the Conceptual Framework of F. W. H. Myers" (5), the thesis was submitted for the degree of PhD in the School of Theology and Religious Studies of the University of Wales in Bangor, UK. The work has 13 Chapters dealing with the subject from the research perspective of the psychic scientist Frederic William Henry Myers (1843-1901). Myers is surely one of the most lucid minds of the psychic research, someone who ever regarded the survival seriously. What is called 'obsession' by the Spiritist XIXth century literature  is named 'spirit attachment' by Dr. Palmers and a new field of psychotherapy known as 'Spirit Release Therapy' (SRT, see p. 13, "What is Spirit Release Therapy").

Some excerpts from the thesis

A short summary of the thesis can be found on p. 6, "Introduction":
This thesis explores the contribution made by Frederic Myers to our understanding of one of the most profound of spiritual experiences, the possession of an individual by a spirit entity that can be perceived as benevolent or malign, creative or destructive, healthy or unhealthy. Spirit Release Therapy (SRT), which I explain more fully below, can be used as a method of intervention to relieve individuals of the influence of unhealthy spirit influences that are often attributed to the earthbound spirits of the deceased. It is comprised of an eclectic mix of secular and spiritual concepts and procedures that are not dependent on traditional psychiatric models of mental health care, or religious exorcism, but are complimentary to them. The experience of SRT therapists, together with the theoretical concepts and experimental methods of Frederic W.H. Myers, provide spirit possession and exorcism with a dimension that previous anthropological, theological and medical methods and theories lack.
Therefore, Dr. Palmer study is fully in tune with Spiritist approach of 'disobsession' as often practiced in many Spiritist centers in Brazil. For example, modern SRT (as supported by Myers) has finally rejected the traditional view of confusing spirit release with anything close to 'exorcism':
SRT is fundamentally different from religious exorcism where spirits are assumed to be ‘evil’ and cast out. William Baldwin’s approach is sympathetic and therapeutic, and in complete contrast to the popular conception of exorcism. (p. 17, "Differences between SRT and Exorcism")
This is in complete agreement with Kardec's approach to obsession (6), since Spirits are only disembodied souls of men and, therefore, should not be confused with the traditional religious view of demons.  With all due respect to traditional beliefs, the idea of all powerful evil and demons was proved to be another misinterpretation of Biblical texts. This fact is of fundamental importance for the success of this therapy in the future, since it will open the possibility of many heuristic procedures to the subject, new practices that are strongly hindered by traditional beliefs:
Where misguided beliefs in possession and exorcism on the part of both caregivers and public services could continue to result in inappropriate methods of intervention, an alternative understanding of the concept of spirit possession according to the scientific framework of F.W.H. Myers will enable more appropriate methods of intervention to be applied. (p. 11, "What is Possession and Exorcism? )"
F. W. H. Myers.
Another important fact may be found on the opposite scale of beliefs, that of refuting  the possibility of Spirit attachment which is the current situation of  orthodox therapy. According to Palmer, many positive works have demonstrated the facts:  
Together with the documented scientific evidence provided by earlier mystics and scientists such as Emmanuel Swedenborg (1758), Allan Kardec (1857), Edgar Cayce (1970), William James (1902), Frederick Myers (1903) and James Hyslop (1919), Wickland provides validated scientific evidence to support the hypothesis of spirit attachment as a reality to modern medicine that is difficult to ignore or refute. (p. 22, "Dissociation and Paranoia")
The need for scientific explanations for extraordinary subjective experiences such as multiple personality and spirit possession have been side-tracked down a blind alley by rejection of the earlier concept that was identified by Carl Wickland and earlier researchers, including Frederic Myers; namely that a spirit world exists in parallel with the physical. (p. 27)
All authors cited above by Dr. Palmer have made extensive contributions to the problem. However, the idea of soul survival has only marginally been accepted by mainstream therapists today, although the situation seems to be changing now (see p. 31, "Spirit Release Today and the Future"). 

The 13 chapters of Dr. Palmer thesis can be divided in 4 parts:
  1. Introduction
  2. Part I:  Possession and Exorcism - Methods and Theories (Chapters 1 to 4);
  3. Part II: Myer's conceptual framework (Chapters 5 to 9);
  4. Part III: Myer's conceptual framework and modern science (Chapters 10 to 13).
The thesis succeed in showing that a scientific methodology can be applied to the subject of mental disorders in the light of the principle of spirit attachment (and, in fact, could lead to a new branch of study in psychiatry). This is done by extensively revising Myers' contribution that I fully agree to be of primary importance: 
Probably the greatest challenge to Myers and his supporters was in the entrenched resistance to his findings by mainstream science. Myers insisted that it is not good enough for scientists to ignore or avoid difficult issues such as those presented by somnambulists and automatists just because they themselves did not believe in the reality of what they perceived to be ‘supernatural’ or ‘occult’. The same challenge is presented to investigators and researchers into the paranormal to this day. Although spirit possession may be regarded as a phenomenon of human experience since ancient times, it is generally considered to have no place in the world of modern technology. But modern technology does, ironically, often play a part in how the spirit world communicates with our material world. Examples from research into Instrumental Transcommunication (ITC) and Instrumental Voice Communication (IVC) reveal evidence that spirits use modern technology to communicate with researchers. (p. 40, "Myers’ Conceptual Framework and Modern Science")
Why does the new approach work? Because humans do have a dual nature and, by simply regarding the possibility of interaction between humans with disembodied personalities, a completely new unexplored Universe is unveiled. Therefore, SRT has heuristic fertility, it can really give rise to new and efficient treatments while the opposite is a sterile approach. Some modern therapist have finally realized  now that the health and well-being of their patients are more important than their own academic beliefs.

As for the use of modern technology, we also add that the appearance of Spiritualism in the XIX century seems to have been 'prepared' in parallel with the advent of telecommunications and many pioneers of wireless communications were truly believers in Spiritualism (see BBC documentary "Science and the Seance"). 
What did Sir O. Lodge (1851-1940), N. Tesla (1856-1943) and T. A. Edison (1847-1931) have in common? 'Wireless communications' would be a nice answer just as 'a deep interest in communication with the spirit world'. These mankind's well-doers were also interested in Spiritualism.  
Dr. Palmer summarizes Myers' framework in the final part of his thesis:
  • The human being is a spirit entity that occupies, possesses and uses a physical body for the purposes of experiencing an Earth life.
  • There is a non-corporeal spirit world.
  • Consciousness continues to survive after the death of the body.
  • The deceased can feel that they are still alive even though they have left the body.
  • The deceased can continue to try to carry out their objective despite having no body.
  • Vulnerability in the living can attract disembodied earthbound spirits of the deceased.
  • Spirit entities are unconsciously attracted to energetic vibrational frequencies of the living.
  • Psychotic symptoms could be attributable to spirit influences.
  • To arrive at a diagnosis of multiple personality on the basis of the existence of identifiably different occupying intelligences and to reject the possibility of externally or spiritually originating intelligences may be misleading. (p. 247, "A Revised Epistemology")
A pioneer of SRT in Brazil,
Dr. Inácio Ferreira (1904-1988).
Such are, in essence, the principles of a revolution in the treatment of many mental disorders. Finally, Dr. Palmer addresses the important issue of SRT validation:
Brazilian psychiatrist Inacio Ferreira began to incorporate Spiritism into institutionalised medicine in Brazil as far back as the 1930s, and wrote several books presenting evidence for spiritual aetiology in many cases of insanity, and for the efficacy of Spiritist treatments. Some of his books have been translated from Portuguese into Spanish, but his work has not been published in English. In contrast, in the English speaking world there is no scientific research into the efficacy of SRT, and it is primarily for this reason that this thesis on the conceptual framework of Myers is presented. It is my objective, pending acceptance of this thesis, to present a proposal to test the efficacy of SRT methods of discernment with patients diagnosed with schizophrenia, due to their experience of auditory hallucinations. (p. 249, Spiritual Aetiology) 
The research must go on. Confirming the heuristic value of SRT, Dr. Palmer finally asks:
If all areas of human behaviour can be researched with a new epistemological foundation then the possibilities for new discoveries are endless. For example; when people commit the heinous crimes of serial murder, rape and paedophilia we may pose the question: ‘Are these people simply evil, are they mad, or are they possessed?’ In all areas of emotional, mental and physical health we may pose the question: ‘What external influences are at work here?’ This question can be applied just as easily to the person who suffers from gender dysphoria, Tourette’s syndrome, depression, anxiety and fear or anger for no apparent reason. (p. 252, "On-going Research")
The recent reports of a school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, shows how urgent is the development of new therapies to treat spirit attachment or even to unveil potential mass murders living next door who may be under the influence of Earth bound spirits. It also casts new light upon the issue of death penalty simply  because killing the convicted murder will only release his Spirit and, therefore, set him free to get attached to other living and criminal minds.

I strongly recommend a careful reading of Dr. Palmer thesis which surely represent an updated work on a subject with a great future.

For more information, visit Dr. Palmer Blog:
Notes and references
  1. Kardec A. "The Medium's Book", 2nd part, 'On Spirit's manifestations', Cap. XXII, 'On Obsession';
  2. See question # 473-480 of A. Kardec's "The Spirit's Book" (1857);
  3. Kardec pedagogically describes three levels of Spirit obsession: simple obsession, subjugation and possession. See "The Medium's Book", Cap. XXIII. Se also: Just as maladies are the result of physical imperfections which render the body accessible to pernicious influences, obsession is always that of a moral imperfection, which gives place to a bad spirit. To a physical cause one opposes a physical force; to a moral cause it is necessary to oppose a moral force. In order to preserve one's self from maladies, one must fortify the body; in order to guarantee one's self against obsession, one must fortify the soul: hence for the obsessed the necessity for working for his own betterment, which is often sufficient to cure obsession without external aid. This aid becomes necessary when obsession degenerates into complete subjugation and possession; for then the patient sometimes loses his volition and free will. (A. Kardec, "The Genesis, the miracles according to Spiritism", Cap. XIV, "Explanation about supernatural facts", "Obsession and Possession")
  4. The word 'demon' simply means 'spirit' in Greek. See for example, Mark 5 or Mat 10:8 and many other passages. 
  5. In 2012, the thesis can be downloaded here:
  6. Question #477 of 'The Spirit's Book' (1857);

Sunday, October 28, 2012

A historical review of the most notable physical medium of the tropics: Anna Prado

Paranthropology, (Vol. 3, n. 4, p. 49-51) published (on last October 18/2012) our review about Samuel Magalhães book: "Anna Prado: a mulher que falava com os mortos".

To get a digital copy of this text, the following links are available:
There has been an international revival of the interest in phenomena of physical effects. The publication of Magalhães´ book is an important mark not only for the rescue of Anna Prado life and mediumship but also as a motivation for new studies.

Paranthropology is a quarterly publication bringing many interesting research articles on the 'psi' aspects (therefore the prefix 'para') of anthropological experiences. In general, anthropological sciences have important contributions to give to the study, characterization and documentation of psychic phenomena that are so universal in their nature and manifestation in many distinct cultures and people around the globe.

Further reference

Paranthropology Vol. 2 No. 3 - Now Available to Download

Saturday, September 1, 2012

First study on the statistics of Chico Xavier automatic writing messages

Fig. 1 Brazilian postage stamp released in 2010 in commemoration to Xavier´s birthday.  
Read more about Chico Xavier mediumship by clicking here (access to SKL repository).


Brazil has a spiritualist tradition that dates back to the beginning of Spiritualism. The Spiritualist movement in Brazil is known as Spiritism and started after several works on psychic phenomena that flourish around Hippolyte Léon Denizard Rivail (1804-1869) in the third quarter of the XIX century in France. Allan Kardec, as Rivail was to be known later, introduced a set of Spiritualist principles (Kardec, 1985) encompassing not only the basic precepts of Spiritualism such as life after death, the possibility of communication between the material and the ‘invisible’ worlds, but alto the belief in reincarnation. Granted the stable existence of many Spiritist groups in Brazil, many mediums found a highly favorable environment for the development of their faculties starting with physical manifestations (Ana Prado (Faria, 1921), Peixotinho (Palhano, 1997), Mirabelli (Palhano, 1994)) to mental mediumship. Automatic writing or psychography (Braude, 2003; Oxon, 1878; Piper, 1929) can be described as the most prominent feature of many Brazilian Spiritist mental mediums, resulting in the publication of many ‘channeled’ books and works.  
Roughly speaking, this material can be divided in two groups: texts covering the principles of Spiritualism from its inception in Brazil to the present date and a vast collection of psychic or ‘channeled’ works that describe the relationship between the Spiritist movement and the afterlife. If we focus on material of paranormal origin, one figure must be distinguished: that of Francisco Cândido Xavier (1910-2002, Fig. 1). His works still remain to be carefully scrutinized and better understood not only as an anthropological phenomenon but also as notorious evidence in favor of the survival of consciousness.  The aim of this short summary is to present one of the first attempts to analyzed a very small set of his works that were published in several grief counseling books (Arantes, 2007; Barbosa, 1982, 1998, 1998b, 2008; Xavier, 1981, 1983) and that contain a peculiar period of his life. During this phase he produced many correspondences addressed to relatives on Earth from recently departed personalities. Texts attributed to such authors contain a large amount of information that cannot be easily explained by alternative hypothesis (i.e., that deny consciousness survival) and that shows the high degree of development that mental mediumship can achieve in a well-trained metal medium.
Xavier´s short biography

The first name ‘Francisco’ has a short form, ‘Chico’. Chico Xavier, as he was later known (Playfair, 2010; Leite, 2002; Grumbach, 2010; Filho, 2010), wrote more than 400 books and virtually thousands letters or communications attributed to recently deceased persons through automatic writing. Xavier mediumship started very early when he was about 5 and described to his relatives frequent visits of his deceased mother Maria João de Deus. Public notoriety came in 1932 with the book ‘Parnassus from beyond the grave’ in which Xavier (then at the age 22) presented a vast repertoire of poems attributed to Brazilian and Portuguese authors obtained through automatic writing (Rocha, 2001). By the late 60´s Xavier dedicated a considerable amount of his time to private correspondences as we explain below.

Statistics and psychography in other languages

TAble 1.
In a recent paper (Xavier, 2011), we analyzed the pragmatic and intentional content of these ‘private correspondences’ attributed to a large number of authors (Grumbach, 2010). Grief counseling was the aim of these paranormal compositions from the perspective of parents and relatives who sought the medium after a recent loss.  Using some basic elements of linguistic analysis, we showed how pragmatics and intention are present in those writings and how they contribute to build a convincing image of the possibility of communication with discarnate personalities. In fact, several hierarchical aspects (Rigotti, 2006) are present in a written communications in general (morphology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics and intention), but in automatic writings, such aspects become especially relevant in face of our complete ignorance on regard to the mechanism involved (Beischel, 2009). Thus, if in a message, many names of living relatives are found, such names must be taken into account as instances of morphological importance. If the medium uses words and sentences similar to those attributed to the diseased author, these are examples of private semantic content. Moreover, if the medium communicates intentional messages in the form of sentences of pragmatic value, a high level of interaction is probably taking place that is most easily explained in the context of survivalist hypothesis. Therefore, these correspondences build a dramatic case in favor of survival, given the large number of Xavier´s documented reports, which are however a tiny fraction of what was produced during a period of almost 40 years.

Fig. 2 (a) Distribution of number of words; (b) Distribution of author's age.
We present here a study of statistical content where we have analyzed the content of 113 letters attributed to 87 different authors (Barbosa, 1982, 1998, 1998b, 2008; Xavier, 1981, 1983). Almost all messages were written in the native language of the medium (Portuguese), with exception of 2 cases written in Italian. Table 1 contains general statistical figures extracted from the sample. The total number of words in each letter is approximated by a numerical estimation based on the word density (length and width of each text). The table has two parts. The general statistics lists the total number of analyzed letters, the total number of authors and average and standard deviations for the average number of words per letter as well as the expected distribution of author´s age at the time of their death. A large variation in the letter´s length and author age was found. Maximum letter length in the sample was 1467 words and the minimum was 26. Maximum author age was 85 while the minimum was 3. In the case of very young children, two aspects must be regarded: a) the annotated age is the author’s age at the time of death, while the automatic writing communication was obtained several months or years later; b) in many communication of young children the signed name is only an alias of the true author who is often quoted in the letters as a close relative; c) In the vast majority of letters, grandmothers and grandfathers (and also grand-grand mothers and fathers) from both family sides are the diseased ‘contacts’ or ‘hosts’ in the spirit world. Authorship inference comes from the context (also from the presence of known relative names) and pragmatic content of each letter that was later validated by the families. Another interesting statistics is presented in the second part of Table 1, which brings the average number of citations of ‘living’ and ‘deceased’ people in the letters together with their corresponding standard deviations. The total number of citations of ‘living’ relatives in the analyzed sample is 526 and names of diseased ones are 414. An interesting aspect of our analysis is the large number of nicknames (both belonging to the ‘living’ and ‘deceased’ counterparts), 151. So, at least one nickname per letter is found in the sample. Many old family first names (and most certainly nicknames) were not on the minds of those to whom the letters were addressed. Moreover, given the environment where these correspondences were obtained, almost none previous knowledge on the part of the medium can be assumed which would involve an impossible network of information acquisition as many skeptics have suggested.  Rather, they demonstrate the degree of information and detail a well-trained medium in automatic writing can provide.
Fig.3 Distribution of causes of death encountered in the sample.
Fig 2(a) is the distribution histogram of letter´s length where each bin in the abscissa is the maximum number of words found (thus 20% of the letters have more than 314.2 and less than 458.3 words). Fig.2(b) is the age distribution of attributed authors. Therefore, 5% of the letters are attributed to authors under 11 years old. Fig. 3 is the distribution of author´s causes of death. The large frequency of car crash causes is directly related to high frequency of authors between 20 and 30 years old.
Fig. 4 Automatic writing in Italian attributed to Alberto Corradi.
To give an example of automatic writing in a different language (therefore in completely distinct linguistic framework), we regard in the following a letter attributed to Alberto Corradi (1958-1978) (Barbosa, 2008). The original text is in Italian (see Fig. 4), includes the attributed author signature and was obtained in a sitting at Uberaba/MG, Brazil, on March 16 1979, almost 10 month after Corradi death in a motorcycle accident in Italy, on May 1978. A version of this message in English (parts 1-4) is as follows:
 My mother, dear beloved mommy Ebe. I ask you not to cry any more. Your tears are like flames of pain in my heart. I stay here with my beloved grand-grandma Tina and my grand-grandpa Amadei . Keep calm. God is with us. A kiss of your son to you and my dad. Alberto Corradi.” 
Alberto’s parents lived in Torino, Italy and came to Brazil to try a message from Alberto. The relatives quoted in the message are Alberto’s father grandparents, Mr. Vittorio Amadei  and Mrs. Tina Amadei (bisnono and bisnona as stated in the message, respectively).
Final Remarks
Many researchers in the past relied upon evidences coming from physical phenomena in favor of survival and the possibility of communication with the afterlife. However, given the preeminent communication aspect of many mental mediumship manifestations exhibiting a rich pragmatic and intentional content, it is probably more correct to say that mental mediumship provides today the best evidences for the survivalist idea. Xavier´s prolific automatic writing works contain a large amount of information gathered through paranormal ways that is best explained under the assumption of an unseen world that can be put in contact with the physical world. Such material is still little known outside a very narrow domain of the Spiritist community in Brazil and includes a private correspondences or letters that contain a large amount of family specific information. The aim of this paper is to call attention to the existence of this material, which may represent one of the best registered cases of confirmed paranormal acquisition of information in favor of the survival idea.

I would like to thank Alexandre Caroli Rocha for useful discussions and references.


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