Do the spirits of the dead influence the living? Could some cases of mental illness be caused by spirit obsession or so-called possession?
For years, psychiatrists and parapsychologists have grappled with the bizarre hallucinations and delusions of the mentally disturbed and some have wondered if there might lurk some level of paranormal perception—A reality that goes far beyond the five senses.
The possibility first came to light early in the twentieth century, when Frederic Thompson a Massachusetts jeweller, claimed he was possessed by the recently deceased spirit of R. Swain Gifford, a celebrated landscape painter. One day
Thompson suddenly began painting oils and drawing sketches in the style of Gifford, even though he claimed he had no formal training.
Thompson’s paintings and sketches matched unfinished and never before exhibited work left by Gifford when he died, while others represented Gifford’s remote island home.
Professor James Hyslop, a psychologist at Columbia who had recently resigned his faculty position to run the American Society for Psychical Research (ASPR) took on the case and spent years establishing that possession might be the root cause in some cases of both madness and multiple personality.
Others followed in Hyslop’s footsteps: Dr Titus Bull, a neurologist claimed he cured patients by exorcizing them with the help of a Spiritualist medium; Dr Elwood Worcester, a social pioneer whose attempts to unite religion with psychology led him to confront cases of spirit possession; and Dr Walter Prince, a clergyman-turned-psychologist who cured paranoia by treating patients with exorcism.
This is their story.
About the author
D. Scott Rogo (1950-1990) was an authority on the history of psychical research and authored many books and articles on many aspects of paranormal phenomena. His work has been cited in parapsychology journals including the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research, Journal of Religion and Psychical Research and the Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research.
He was researcher for the Psychical Research Foundation in Durham, North Carolina, and the Division of Parapsychology at the Maimonides Medical Center in Brooklyn, New York.
On August 18, 1990 he was found dead at his home in Northridge, Los Angeles, having been fatally stabbed. His murder remains unsolved.
Publisher: White Crow Books
Published October 11, 2022
Size: 5.45 x 8.00 inches