Archive for April, 2011

Kenneth Ring, Ph.D., is Professor Emeritus of Psychology at the University of Connecticut, and an internationally recognized authority on the subject of near-death experiences on which he has written five books and nearly a hundred articles. He is also the co-founder and past President of The International Association for Near-Death Studies and the founding editor of its quarterly scholarly journal, The Journal of Near-Death Studies, now in its thirtieth year. (Biography from Amazon.com)

Kenneth Ring’s The Omega Project (1992) is quite fascinating for what it implies about children and adults who experience “alternate realities,” including–but not limited to–extraterrestrial contacts and near death experiences. A battery of tests sent out to both “experiencers” and “non-experiencers” appears to support his hypothesis that children of sexual/emotional abuse are more prone to UFO contacts and NDEs.

The theory states that children who suffer such abuse learn to dissociate during such incidences, a state where they are not connected to reality and frequently lose track of time and suffer memory loss. Here is a further clarification from counselingsource.com:

Dissociation is an unconscious and generally unanticipated situation in which there is an interruption in the normal connection between a person’s thoughts, memories, feelings, actions, or sense of personal identity. Some — but certainly not all — instances of dissociation involve periods of of amnesia. Although individuals who experience dissociative states of various types often have histories of significant abuse and/or trauma, other situations and stressors can and have triggered dissociative episodes.  Dissociation is generally regarded as a relatively primitive defense against emotional pain. (Answer provided by Dr George Simon, PhD)

According to Ring, adults who learned to dissociate as children are able to connect to “alternate realities” where such phenomena as alien abduction and near-death journeys into the ‘light’ are possible. This would explain why not EVERYONE who is near death experiences–or remembers experiencing–the classic features of the NDE, such as travelling down a tunnel, reaching an intense and spiritual ‘light’, the life review, and the decision to stay or return, a process often guided by a superior, God-like being or presence. About 1/3 of patients returned from a near death state will report a NDE. Ring’s novel contribution to this topic is the connection he makes between UFO experiencers and “NDE-ers”. I would include those adults and children who see “ghosts”, spirits, fairies, elementals, “little people” and other entities from beyond our known universe.

Not everyone who suffered abuse as a child will have these anomalous experiences, and not all people who have such experiences were abused; however, if you were a victim of abuse, you are predisposed  to intuit ‘other worlds’. I have to confess that I still have a few pages to go in The Omega Project, so there will be another post on this topic, but from what I have read so far, Ring does not debunk the existence of aliens, ghosts, God, spiritual beings, or any other odd entity that visits us. Although the UFO experiencer has an experience almost diametrically opposed to the “NDE-er”, both share a common tendency to dissociate, or be able to enter another level of consciousness. Does Ring believe, then, that what so many of us have seen and experienced is actually real?

It appears so. The only difference between the person who sees the apparition and the person that does not is their ability to access an alternate reality where such entities DO EXIST (or, to be more scientific, MIGHT exist). This is fascinating information for me, for Ring does not categorically state that aliens, ghosts and spirits are figments of our imagination; instead, he allows for the reality of what is usually thought of as fantastic or fictional. He also states that such sensitivity is a sort of recompense for the horrors that the abused child had to endure. In other words, the reward for one’s miserable childhood is a kind of second sight, or a key to hidden realms.

In the case of UFO experiencers, such a “pass” might seem completely unwanted; however, most people who claim to have had contact with aliens state that their lives were altered forever for the better. They are more sensitive to their surroundings, have a deeper spiritual understanding, and are even able to access powers to heal themselves and others. In all cases, so-called “paranormal” abilities manifest themselves soon after the experience (telepathy, precognition, clairvoyance, etc.).

Criticism of Ring’s work centers on the essential differences UFO experiences and NDEs. To make the claim that all experiencers of anomalous realities–whether seeing or sensing spirits, enduring an alien abduction or moving through a detailed NDE–are heading towards higher levels of consciousness through common symbolic journeys is to ignore the fact that many such encounters are traumatic in themselves, and may have nothing to do with enlightenment or soul perfection. Even though Ring attempts to establish common connections with alien abductees and NDE-ers, his argument falls flat for me on many levels. Yes, there may be predisposing circumstances in one’s life that allow such encounters to happen–or be called into consciousness–but there is something distressing and almost disrespectful about affirming that alien rape is somehow akin to meeting Jesus in the afterlife. Any paranormal investigator will tell you that spirits, ghosts or disembodied fragments of consciousness vary tremendously in character and intention. An exorcist extracting a tormenting demon from a suffering victim is dealing with something inherently different than the voice of your deceased grandmother comforting you when you can’t sleep. To affirm that all such phenomena is connected through a “raising of consciousness” is naive, and perhaps reflects a lack of experience with the truly negative forces that exist in the universe. There are “bad spirits” that will attempt to destroy you, not elevate your spirituality.

What if Ring’s hypothesis were accurate? For some people, a deeper understanding of the hidden realms of consciousness might be a blessing, an emotional and spiritual adventure; for others, it might be overwhelming or frightening. It is, after all, difficult enough to understand and navigate the world of the senses, our everyday material reality, without adding dimensions where ghosts float and alients torment.

Kirsten A. Thorne

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This is me. Kirsten. Listening to noises in my house.

I just finished up a blog post on a Paranormal Housewives’ residential investigation. I was particularly excited about this foray into the paranormal, since I knew the person in question and had heard the stories. When I listened to the audio that we captured that night, I was in tears. Those voices and sounds were not from this world. I just knew it. I still know it, even though I have listened to those clips 50 times. There has been no let down, no degrading of the audio into something mundane and explicable; in other words, I think we have something astounding here.

After I finished posting the paranormal housewives’ blog along with those amazing audio clips, I feel compelled to call the client and rave on and on about how amazing those voices are, and I ask for the thousanth time, “what do you think about all of this?” and she pauses and states, rather laconically, “I always knew my house was haunted.” I pause. In an instant, I have an epiphany.

The epiphany is simply this: this is only amazing insofar as you still doubt the existence of spirits, or the soul, or ghosts, or the continuation of consciousness. Whatever you call it, amazement is no longer warranted for the PHW client who clearly knew all along that people–in some form–were hanging out in her house and creating disturbances in their quest to be heard . . . and seen.

I then wondered about this whole business of no evidence (or “data” or phenomena indicative of survival of consciousness, etc.) sufficing for the person who doubts, the skeptic or simply the perpetual fence sitter who finds it easier to make no decision regarding matters of the soul. I don’t like this characteristic in myself, this lack of spine when it comes to accepting what I intuit to be true. I have always admired the faith that some people have in the absolute existence of God, based on a complete acceptance of the Bible as the Word of God. I know that it’s time for me to make a decision about what I believe and live my life accordingly.

So how did I get from a haunted house to God? Well, it’s quite simple, really. You don’t have to believe in God to believe in an afterlife, although I find it difficult not to when you read accounts of near-death and out of body experiences. If you trust what people experience and don’t write it off as crazy brain wiring, then you really must believe that there is a unifying, moral consciousness somewhere “out there” that connects with us via the mind. Not everyone who “dies” and returns has made the journey, so no one can say that there is an afterlife for everyone. I don’t, however, base my beliefs on one kind of human experience.

I base it on many. Afterlife studies started in earnest in the mid-1800s and continue to this day. Anyone who is willing to read the research and conduct some of their own will find that the evidence for survival of the human personality after death is overwhelming. As far as I am concerned, this is a fact that has been proven over and over and over again. It almost seems redundant and pointless to keep on amassing evidence for a fact that no one who has worked in this area disputes. Of course, what we don’t have are the details and a scientific theory that would explain all paranormal phenomena. That’s where the skeptics jump in and say “AHA!! I told you so!” In the absence of an overarching theory–universally accpeted by that vast and daunting collection of souls we call ‘scientists’–(and who, exactly, is the scientist? It sounds like a naive question, but I wonder who makes that decision) there can be no proof of anything whatsoever. Therefore, ipso facto, you have to take the paranormal on “faith”, and that is an admission of defeat for most of us.

I have no beef with science or scientists. I respect the academic process of authentication, since I have been deeply enmeshed in academia for most of my life. There is, however, a blind spot of enormous proportions when it comes to the paranormal or post-mortem survival. This is not a laboratory experiment–this is more of a social science, encompassing all things human, and we humans are notoriously unreliable when it comes to precise measurements of our energy and spirit. Some things you cannot replicate reliably, but that does not negate something or someone out of existence altogether. It simply requires a combination of art and science, interpretation and intuition, measurement and observation; to throw out everything we spend our lives researching, pondering and experiencing is simply cruel and unnecessary, an impediment to science and an advancement of our infantile stage of comprehension of consiousness.

So. Back to my friend and our residential investigation. She had her skeptical stage, her questioning stage, and then, finally, it seemed idiotic to continue questioning the existence of something that has done everything but bash her over the head with a frying pan. It reminds me of someone who spends his life trying to convince you that he loves you and doing everything in his power to show you how he feels, and after decades of passion, he dies and you–the doubter–when asked why you never returned his devotion, state simply: he couldn’t prove it. How much proof do you really need?

That is why so many paranormal investigators burn out. They dutifully collect EVPs and strange goings-on in photos and videos, and if something is truly spectacular, well–no one believes it because it’s too good; if it’s not truly spectacular, nobody believes it because it’s not good enough. You are truly damned if you do, damned if you don’t. We start dreading the inevitable rejection when we ask people to listen to EVPs or review evidence, because truth be told–most people don’t care about something that should be the most astounding adventure we will ever undertake.

Most people don’t care. That’s true. I, however, DO care, and I refuse to allow boredom, skepticism, apathy or rampant material interests to overtake this incredible journey. Maybe I will never astound anyone with what I find on audio, maybe I can’t convince everyone, but frankly–I look forward to the day when some new and fresh investigator hounds me about her unbelievable EVPs she found in MY house, and I can say:

“Yes, well, I always KNEW my house was haunted.”

And that will be that.

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