Recently I reread Induced After-Death Communication, a book I remembered enjoying very much. I liked it just as much the second time - maybe more.
Here's what I posted about it back in September of 2005.
Right now I'm reading one of the most interesting books I've encountered in quite some time -- Induced After Death Communication: A New Therapy for Healing Grief and Trauma, by Allan L. Botkin and R. Craig Hogan.
Botkin is a clinical psychologist who specializes in EMDR, or Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprogramming. The EMDR technique involves simulating the rapid eye movement characteristic of deep sleep in order to place the patient in a trancelike state. In this state of altered consciousness, the patient seems to be able to process the memory of traumatic events with extreme speed and efficiency. Frequently patients who have been haunted by the symptoms of post-traumatic stress for years have been cured, or at least significantly helped, by a single application of EMDR.
What Botkin found, quite by accident, was that when the EMDR procedure was modified in a rather minor way, patients would experience a strong sense of connection with a deceased friend or loved one, and that this experience was remarkably effective at healing grief. Although Botkin remains wary of asserting that these experiences are metaphysically real, clearly he believes there's more going on than a mere hallucination. He terms the procedure Induced After Death Communication, or IADC.
Perhaps the most striking feature of the IADC phenomenon is its similarity to near death experiences (NDEs). An example from Botkin's book makes this clear:
After [Pam] finished telling me about her mother, I used core-focused EMD are to go to her sadness and help her start to bring it down. Then I performed the IADC procedure.
After a minute, she opened her eyes and explained what had happened. She said she felt like she was going through a tunnel toward a bright light, but found herself becoming frustrated because she couldn't get to the end of the tunnel. I assured her that the IADC would unfold naturally; she just needed to relax and let it happen.
After some EMDR to relax her and help her move into a receptive stage, she was ready for the IADC experience. This time her mother was there. Pam kept her eyes closed for five minutes, a relatively long IADC. Tears rolled down her face as she sat quietly with her eyes closed. Finally, she opened her eyes and said, excitedly, "I saw my mother very clearly. She looked younger and thinner even though she had put on weight the last ten years of her life. She looked healthy, happy, peaceful, and she had a spark in her eyes that seemed to emanate a glow around her."
Pam laughed and said, "My mother was sitting on a large rock by the beach in one of those old-style bathing suits, but the surroundings were more beautiful than any beach I've ever seen. She communicated to me in a very clear way that she was very proud of what I had accomplished in my life. She said there was no reason for me to feel guilty about anything. I felt a warm connectedness like we used to have. When Mom was alive, there was always a touch of sadness in her smile, but that was gone and she looked genuinely happy."
When she was finished describing the IADC, she said, "I can't believe how peaceful I feel, like there's been a tremendous burden lifted off of me. And I have the sense that she is not gone and will always be with me."
As she was preparing to leave, she said she felt like all her issues related to the death of her mother had completely resolved. She emphasized more than once how unexpected her experience was.
Two months later she reported that she continued to feel much better, and that she could still experience the warm connectedness with her mother.
I should mention that the typical IADC does not involve the sense of moving through a tunnel toward a bright light. Then again, according to some researchers, the majority of NDEs do not feature a tunnel, either.
Botkin, who claims to have had extraordinary success with this technique and to have trained many colleagues in its use with equally good results, provides fascinating case histories that clearly indicate there's something more to the IADC than merely a trick of the mind. In some cases, the patient receives information during his IADC which was unknown to him but which is later verified. In other cases, an observer -- or even the therapist himself -- may simultaneously experience the same IADC that the patient is undergoing. Botkin dubs these instances "shared IADCs." (There may be a parallel here with shared deathbed visions; some people who have been present when a person dies have recounted experiencing the dying person's perceptions of leaving the body and moving into a bright light. This experience is relatively common among hospice and hospital workers who work with the terminally ill.)
The great majority of Botkin's patients, regardless of their views about life after death before the session, have come away from their IADCs with the conviction that they were in actual contact with the deceased. A few diehard skeptics view the experience as hallucinatory, but even they seem to derive considerable emotional relief from the procedure.
Botkin maintains a Web site which provides more information on the procedure as a clinical tool. A related Web site considers IADC from the standpoint of what it may tell us about persistence of consciousness after death.
Years ago, a wealthy inventor named George Meek (now deceased) tried to develop a machine he dubbed Spiricom, which would allow people to get in touch with the deceased at the press of a button. The story is told in detail in John G. Fuller's The Ghost of 29 Megacycles. Although there were some successes with Spiricom, the machine never proved to be reliable enough for general use. But maybe we don't need a machine. Maybe we have the capacity inside ourselves to touch heaven whenever we want.
Botkin's groundbreaking work suggests that in the future the line between life and afterlife maybe crossed almost at will. Somewhere, George Meek must be smiling.
If I were writing this post today, I would have added that the absence of "tunnel phenomena" in most IADCs is really not surprising, given that the patients themselves are not in any way near death (i.e., they are not in any medical distress). However, a bright, beautiful, and comforting light is often reported to surround the deceased communicators.
Botkin's Web site lists a number of therapists who are now trained in the IADC technique. I'm sometimes tempted to make an appointment, but I suspect I might not be a good patient, because the technique seems to work best with people who have no preconceived ideas about it. In my case, having read so much about NDEs, OBEs, deathbed visions, etc., I might very well try (unconsciously) to force the results - which is a sure way to get no results at all. Botkin says that about 70% of his patients have a successful IADC, though the figure rises above 90% in his work with traumatized veterans. The reason for the discrepancy is probably that the vets have no idea what to expect from the procedure, while people who come to Botkin's office expecting an IADC already know what they want to see.
I would put Induced After-Death Communication in the top rank of books on the afterlife, not only for its intrinsic interest but for the potential of this technique, when more widely employed, to change public attitudes about death. The ability to bring on an NDE-like state almost at will could be the most profound development in the history of afterlife studies; it opens new vistas for experimentation and, more important, it holds out the prospect of giving each of us a direct, personal experience of reunion with our deceased loved ones. Imagine the cultural changes that might ensue if everyone had such a reunion on a regular basis!