As many as 20 to 40 percent of Americans believe they have communicated with the dead, multiple studies report. Are all of these participants in a state of delusion or have they really made contact with the other side?
“Despite the comfort that these communications may provide, mourners often worry that if they are having these kinds of experiences, they must be losing their minds,“ wrote Dr. Camille Wortman in her blog, having received her Ph.D. from Duke University and worked for decades as an expert on grief and bereavement. ”In many cases, they are reluctant to talk with others about these experiences, fearing that people will think they are going crazy. This could help explain the societal belief that such communications are rare, and that they may be indicative of psychological problems.”
After-death communication can help mourners, she adds. She and some other psychologists have been exploring this phenomenon as a method of treating grief.
Therapy Session Offers Intriguing ClueIn 1995, Dr. Allan Botkin developed a therapy method called “induced after-death communication” (IADC). One of his patients learned something from an induced vision where she saw her deceased friend which suggests the experience was real and not an illusion.
Botkin’s method involves getting the eyes to move in such a way that they imitate the rapid-eye-movement (REM) during sleep. Dreaming occurs during REM sleep. Meanwhile, he helps the patients get in touch with the core emotions related to their grief.
Mossbridge described her experience: “Simply, without pretense, I saw Josh walk out from behind a door. My friend jumped around with his youthful enthusiasm, beaming at me. I felt great joy at the connection but I couldn’t tell whether I was making the whole thing up. He told me I wasn’t to blame and I believed him. Then I saw Josh playing with his sister’s dog. I didn’t know she had one. We said good-bye and I opened my eyes, laughing.”
She continued: “Later I found out that Josh’s sister’s dog had died, and it was the same breed as the one I had seen in my vision. Yet I still don’t know what’s real. What I do know is that when I think of Josh, I no longer dwell on the images of me calling him or of his car getting hit. Instead, I see Josh walking toward me, laughing and playing with an angel dog. For now, this is the only kind of proof I need.”
Traveling the Continent Gathering ExperiencesBill and Judy Guggenheim coined the term “after-death communication.” They spent several years, starting in 1988, interviewing about 2,000 people from all 50 states and all 10 Canadian provinces who have had such experiences.
Bill Guggenheim was a Wall Street broker, an agnostic, and he didn’t believe in the possibility of genuine communication with the dead. Then he had his own experience. He believes his late father spoke to him.
Luckily, he arrived in time to resuscitate the boy. Guggenheim said there was no way he could have heard the splash from where he was in the house, and there was no reason to suspect the boy might even be outside. His son was in the bathroom downstairs and had somehow left the house despite rubber child-safety devices covering the doorknobs.
The same voice that helped save his son urged him later in life to conduct his own research on communicating with the dead. Guggenheim didn’t think anyone would listen to him, since he was a stockbroker; he didn’t have related credentials, such as a Ph.D.
“One Hundred Cases for Survival After Death”In 1944, Bernard Ackerman compiled accounts in his book “One Hundred Cases for Survival After Death.”
He noted that the cases he compiled had been investigated carefully by people who “spent much time, money, and patience in the process.”
“They were in deadly earnest in trying to solve this great human problem,” he wrote. But, Ackerman did not claim the cases were definitely genuine experiences; he left it up to the reader’s judgment.
One of the stories he recounted was about a young man named Robert MacKenzie. MacKenzie was saved from starvation on the streets by the owner of a mechanical business in Glasgow who gave him a job. The business owner’s name is not given, but he is the one narrating the account.
One night, this business owner had a dream in which he was sitting in his office and MacKenzie appeared. They had the following conversation:
The business owner awoke and his wife burst into the bedroom, much distraught, announcing that MacKenzie had committed suicide. At once, he replied to his wife, “No, he has not committed suicide.”
It turned out MacKenzie did not commit suicide as reported. He had mistaken a bottle containing a poisonous substance used for staining wood to be a bottle of whiskey.