Vietnam vets find closure with induced after death communication
Posted on 27 July 2010, 15:54
As a helicopter gunship pilot, Mark (not his real name) killed many people during his 18 months service in the Vietnam War. He was also shot down seven times and wounded twice. The confrontation that bothered him the most involved four boats filled with Vietnamese soldiers.
Unmarked and without flags, the boats had trespassed into a military canal. Mark and the four other gunships under his command attacked the boats and ‘blew them out of the water.’ He recalls seeing bodies flying in the air. Two weeks later, he was informed that they were friendly troops.
‘It stays in your mind and really weighs on you,’ Mark told me when I interviewed him for an article I wrote for NEXUS magazine a few years ago.
The memory of that mistake had continued to haunt him for more than three decades and in 2002 he sought treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) at a veteran’s hospital. While there he was offered the opportunity to undergo a relatively new therapy called Induced After Death Communication (IADC).
IADC is an offshoot of EMDR (eye movement desensitization and reprocessing) therapy and was discovered accidentally in 1995 by Dr Allan L Botkin (pictured above), a clinical psychologist now practicing in Libertyville, Illinois, while experimenting with EMDR. In IADC therapy, people grieving the death of someone or otherwise disturbed by someone’s death, are asked to focus directly on their sadness during eye movements.
The typical IADC involves the patient reporting having seen a deceased person and that deceased person having told him or her that everything is OK and not to grieve. In a number of cases, the deceased person relates information previously unknown to the patient.
When the therapist explained the IADC procedure to Mark and asked him if he’d like to try it, he was more than willing. After the eye movements were administered, Mark focused on the boat mishap. ‘What happened then is that I saw a formation of Vietnamese coming at me,’ Mark related, the memory still very vivid in his mind several years later. ‘What was interesting is that they were in a Russian formation, not a US formation. Two of the commanders stepped forward and began talking to me in Vietnamese.’
Mark didn’t understand them until another eye movement was administered. They continued speaking in Vietnamese, but Mark somehow telepathically knew what they were saying. ‘They said that they understood that I did what I had to do and they had no grudge against me, that they are in a better place, and not to worry about it. Then they marched off. It was really cool and a big load off my shoulders.’
At another IADC session, Mark saw a woman holding his first son, who had died as an infant in 1978. As his focus was on the boy, he didn’t immediately recognize the woman as his deceased mother. In that session, the child did not speak, but in subsequent sessions, the boy appeared again, first as a teenagers and then as a young adult. ‘My son says to me, “Don’t worry, Dad, I’m okay. I’m going to see you soon.” I didn’t know what to make of that, if I’m going to die soon, or what, but it was very soothing.’
Mark also reviewed one of his helicopter crashes, including the intensity of the pain. He struggled to explain the images. ‘The quality and clarity of the images are much greater than in dreams,’ he said. ‘They are absolutely three dimensional and they stay with you. You have to experience it to know what it’s like. It’s not like hypnotism. It’ll spook you, but it is really something. The main thing is that it gives you closure and life has more meaning after you have experienced these things. There is a sense of continuity. It’s very comforting.’
Botkin states that the EMDR/IADC process does not involve hypnosis. ‘Hypnosis induces the patient into a relaxed and focused state of mind,’ he pointed out. ‘EMDR, on the other hand, increases information processing in the brain.’ He likened it to a movie projector, with the projector slowing down during hypnosis and speeding up during EMDR.
Botkin also put me in touch with Ivan Rupert, another veteran, who was bothered for many years by a memory of carnage in Vietnam. As a combat photographer, he was called upon early one morning to take photos of a Vietnamese bus that had been blown up. ‘There were bodies and body parts all over the place,’ he recalled, ‘but the one that really stuck in my mind was that of a young pregnant woman. You could see the baby and umbilical cord connecting them.’
The scene came back to Rupert over and over again in his dreams for many years until undergoing IADC with Botkin. What especially bothered him was that he was more intent on getting some good photos than feeling bad about what he was witnessing. During the IADC, the Vietnamese woman communicated with him. ‘She told me she was in a much better place and helped me understand that I was not the monster I thought I was. She said she didn’t blame me for any of it.’
Rupert can’t say for sure whether the woman spoke in Vietnamese or in English. ‘It was sort of mind to mind, heart to heart,’ he explained, adding that he no longer has the awful dreams relating to that scene.
There is no doubt in Rupert’s mind that he was actually communicating with the Vietnamese woman. ‘I was very skeptical when it was initially explained to me,’ he said. ‘It sounded like a lot of mumbo jumbo, hocus pocus, but it was the real thing. I’m certain that I was not hallucinating and I was not hypnotized.’
Botkin discovered IADC during a session with a patient to whom, for privacy purposes, he gives the pseudonym ‘Sam.’ While in Vietnam as a combat soldier, Sam befriended a young orphan girl named Le and had hoped to adopt her. One day, while Sam and other soldiers were helping Le and other orphaned children board a truck to take them to an orphanage, they came under enemy attack. When Sam discovered Le’s lifeless body in the mud behind the truck, he was devastated and the grief remained with him right up to that 1995 session with Botkin.
During the EMDR, Sam saw Le as a beautiful woman with long black hair in a white gown, surrounded in a radiant light. Le spoke to him and thanked him for taking care of her before her death. Sam was ecstatic and convinced that he had just communicated with Le, and that he felt her arms around him.
Initially, Botkin assumed that Sam had hallucinated and was concerned that Sam had compromised his ability to distinguish between reality and fantasy. But after similar experiences reported by several other patients, Botkin decided to experiment.
His first intentionally induced ADC was with a patient named Gary, whose daughter, Julie, had died at age 13. Because she had been severely oxygen deprived at birth, Julie had never developed mental abilities beyond those of a six-month old child. After suffering a heart attack and rushed to the hospital, she was placed on life supports. As she later showed some signs of being able to breathe on her own, she was taken off the respirator. She struggled to breathe and died in Gary’s arms.
‘Tears rolled down Gary’s cheeks as he told me his story,’ Botkin recalled. ‘I explained my new procedure to him and asked him if he wanted to give it a try. He said he was willing if I thought it might help, but he was convinced it wouldn’t work for him because he was an atheist and didn’t believe in such things.
After Botkin took him through the entire procedure, Gary closed his eyes. “When he opened his eyes, he had a look of amazement,” Botkin continues the story. “He then said, ‘I saw my daughter. She was playing happily in a garden alive with rich and radiant bright colors. She looked healthy and seemed to move around without the physical problems she had when alive. She looked at me and I could feel her love for me.’ We then talked about his experience. Gary was convinced that his daughter was still alive, although in a very different place.”
But Gary’s look of amazement then shifted to one of sadness. When Botkin asked him what was wrong, Gary replied that he still felt sad because he missed his daughter. Botkin then administered another set of eye movements and asked him to keep that thought in mind. Gary closed his eyes and sat quietly for a few moments. “When Gary opened his eyes, he was smiling,” Botkin goes on. “He said, ‘I was in the garden again and I could see Julie looking at me. She said to me, ‘I’m still with you, Daddy.’”
Gary told Botkin that Julie couldn’t talk when alive. He left the session feeling happy and reconnected to his daughter. Botkin contacted Gary a year later and was informed that he still felt reconnected with his daughter. Gary’s new belief was that “people don’t really die; they just take on a different form and live in a different place, which is very beautiful.”
Since discovering the procedure, Botkin has trained a number of therapists in IADC, including Hania Stromberg of Albuquerque, NM (pictured above). In one experience, as she was administering the eye movements to a client, she felt a ‘presence’ entering the room and then saw a woman in a colorful dress and high heels. The woman, the client’s deceased mother, addressed the client by a special name of endearment and began discussing problems the client was having. After the session, Stromberg compared her notes with what the client related and all were confirmed – the special term of endearment being especially evidential since Stromberg had not been aware of it.
‘Occasionally I get visual impressions or pictures, but it is not always visual,’ Stromberg, who apparently has some clairvoyant and clairaudient abilities, told me. ‘I always have a strong sense of the presence of the deceased, often hear something they try to convey. It is either an auditory experience or sort of an auditory thought impression that I know is not mine.’
With co-author R Craig Hogan, PhD, Botkin wrote about IADC in his 2005 book, Induced After Death Communication (Hampton Roads). I recently re-contacted him to see if there have been any new developments.
‘Perhaps the most important development in IADC is that there are now trained IADC therapists in eight different countries,’ Botkin said. ‘In fact, after October 2010, when I train another large group in Heidelberg, there will likely be more IADC therapists in Europe than in the U.S.
‘On a more theoretical level, there have also been some advances,’ he continued. ‘In my book, I made the observation that IADC experiences were essentially identical to NDE experiences. The only exceptions, besides the obvious difference in perspective, were the ‘being of light’ and the ‘life review,’ which are two primary components of NDEs. While no one has yet described a being of light in an IADC, there have been some further developments regarding the life review in IADCs.
In 2005 I noted that the deceased consistently appeared in IADCs as though they had been through a life review, i.e., they were always very aware of the pain and suffering that they caused in other people. In more recent cases, there have been more direct experiences with life reviews. For example, in one case a woman experienced her WWII ‘German soldier’ uncle experiencing his own life review. Her uncle’s response to his life review had a profound meaning for my client. In another case, a man actually experienced his own life review during a session. These developments, of course, further support the idea that NDEs and IADCs are essentially the same phenomenon.
‘Also, I recently read Dr Jeffery Long’s new best-selling book, Evidence of the Afterlife. His descriptions of meeting deceased friends and relatives during an NDE are identical to my patients’ IADC reports. Dr Long does not provide any observation for which the meeting of the deceased in NDEs is different from IADC content. I can’t believe that this is just a coincidence.
The similarities include: a) A high percentage of experiences with the deceased involve family members; b) The deceased encountered in both experiences who were thought to be alive were later discovered to have previously died; c) Sometimes the experiencer encounters deceased family members he/she never met in life; d) Those who died old and sick are routinely experienced as younger and healthy; e) Those who die young are sometimes experienced as older.’
While IADC is receiving growing support from professional therapists around the world, Botkin is not especially disappointed that it has not been more readily accepted by the Veteran’s Administration and various mental health organizations. He feels that progress is necessarily slow as it takes time for independent research studies to validate it. ‘I am confident,’ he said, ‘that independent scientifically controlled studies will confirm what IADC therapists and patients have been saying now for some time.’
Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife, and Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I.