Want to hear something scary? There is a growing consensus in the psychiatric community that some cases of mental illness are caused by malignant spirits taking over a mind. Richard Gallagher trained in psychiatry at Yale University and is a practicing psychoanalyst and . . . exorcist. Although the vast majority of those practicing mental health care refuse to believe in the reality of demons affecting one’s mind, Dr. Gallagher is ” . . . pleasantly surprised by the number of psychiatrists and other mental health practitioners nowadays who are open to entertaining such hypotheses. Many believe exactly what I do, though they may be reluctant to speak out.” (https://www.washingtonpost.com/posteverything/wp/2016/07/01/as-a-psychiatrist-i-diagnose-mental-illness-and-sometimes-demonic-possession/?utm_term=.b5895e67d890)
I’ve written before about possession and exorcism, and the insights I gleaned from my meeting with a Catholic priest who is also an exorcist. In that meeting, I received his blessing to assist in such work. I have yet to truly throw myself into this vital, spiritual work, a fact which may explain my current state of mind (I’m wasting my talents, truth be told, as are so many of us who study the ‘paranormal’). However, the topic of this post is slightly different. Many of us–scholars or not, mental health experts or not–agree based on the evidence that demonic possession is a reality for an unfortunate few. What I don’t see discussed as much in academic circles is the reality of possession by non-demonic entities.
Once you admit the possibility that an evil entity, a dark spirit, can and does take over a body, mind and soul, then you must admit that the same phenomena can occur with beings that are not demonic in nature. If it is possible for a demon to possess a living person, then it is possible for any person in spirit to do the exact, same thing via a similar mechanism. Exactly how this happens is unknown to me, but I hypothesize that you must be in a vulnerable state: altered by drugs or alcohol, severely depressed and/or anxious, inviting such contact via ouija boards, channeling, automatic writing or (it must be said) so-called ‘ghost hunting’. If you are a spiritually grounded person with a strong religious practice and belief, you are more protected from the invading spirit; however, those of us who dabble in spirit contact are most definitely at risk. The reality of this possibility is what is at the heart of our gradual decline in time spent investigating the paranormal, which seems to happen to all of us. It isn’t that we don’t believe it after years of spirit contact, it’s that we discover how powerful these connections are, and we realize how much that contact affects us emotionally and spiritually.
Spirits, souls, conscious beings, are in contact with us on a daily basis. Most mediums talk about the ‘veil’ that separates the living and the ‘dead’; this language is reflected in theories of the multiverse and other ‘theories of everything’ that postulate multiple dimensions. Dr. Robert Lanza’s ideas concerning death and multiple dimensions go a step further: not only does consciousness continue in other dimensions, ‘death’ as a concept is meaningless. It essentially doesn’t exist except as a description of a mundane, physical process which has no bearing on the conscious, individual human being. (http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/is-there-an-afterlife-the-science-of-biocentrism-can-prove-there-is-claims-professor-robert-lanza-8942558.html) Whatever it is that separates multiple dimensions, whether it be vibrating strings or dark matter, the systems of separation are not perfect and break down. Or, more tantalizingly, WE can break them down through mental effort and meditative practice. Once the boundaries of a multiverse are breached, we can’t keep whoever is living there ‘out’ of our reality. Their energy flows through, finds us, penetrates our consciousness and plays out its need for communication or emotion.
In simple terms, our interaction with what we call ‘ghosts’ often results in spirits finding a receptive home to express themselves through us. This explains many mysteries and questions of mine that up to now, seem to have no answer. Boundaries are broken down between dimensions, and our easy classification of ourselves as one being, one spirit, in isolation from all others, disintegrates. We are all interconnected and affect one another in ways both subtle and obvious. Therefore, to provide an example, a haunted house story is not a story of a person who discovers ghosts, but of ghosts who discover a person and the beginning of a relationship where all entities rely on each other’s energy and emotion. When you enter into an emotional relationship with the spirits around you, the ‘haunting’ isn’t about the ‘other,’ it’s about all parties involved. You may not realize that your persistent, depressed mood or your strange reactions to familiar situations have to do with someone else living in you, with someone else sharing your psychic space.
Is that possession? It’s probably more ‘influence’ or even relationship. If you have ever felt an inexplicably strong connection to a house or other place, it is likely that you are experiencing the effects of your intimate interaction with the spirits you’ve come to know quite well there, even if not consciously. Much of this phenomena is experienced in the subconscious mind, where our ego and super ego (to borrow from Freud for a moment) expend much energy repressing, denying and fleeing from the truth of our spiritual attachments and engagements. How much of what we feel, what we do, how we react to other people, how we live our lives, has to do with spiritual relationships of which we are hardly aware? That is a sobering question.
There are things I need to know, but the process of understanding frightens me. I would like to know the identity of the spirits who live with me or interact with me. I would like to separate myself just a little more from their influence. That requires an investigation into other dimensions of reality and that, in turn, requires a professional medium of great talent and respectability. That is more than likely the next step for me. It is not easy for me to trust other people, especially people who interpret in my stead what my reality might be. I have always despised that trait in others: the individual who pretends to know more than you about your own life. However, I do believe that trustworthy mediums exist and can shed light on the spiritual mystery that surrounds us all. Of course, those of us who regularly attend church in the Christian tradition understand that this spirit world is all around us at all times, effecting changes and transitions of which we are barely aware. The church, however, tries hard to manage, limit and interpret our spiritual experiences so that they do not fall outside the accepted boundaries of Scripture. I need more than that.
Think about the ways that your spirit interacts with others, both in the flesh and transcendent. If there are no boundaries to spirit, and we are all spirit, then to speak of ‘containers’ of flesh, vibrating strings, dark matter, conscious and subconscious, is all a waste of time. The categories ‘dead’ and ‘living’ are nonsensical when you’re are speaking of souls and not of matter. Just as the spirit of your nasty boss can harm you, so can the spirit of the guy who drowned himself in your bathtub years before you moved into your house. The charge, then, is to be more aware, more conscious, of who is affecting your heart, mind and soul, and where you need to draw the line on a psychic invasion. It would be wise to start with meditation and prayer. But I don’t plan to end there.
Kirsten A. Thorne, PhD/PHW