IMG_2361
Blog powered by Typepad

« This morning hour | Main | I can't spare a square »

Comments

Very keen Michael, very keen. I fully agree. Thanks for pointing this out, it makes sense.

The problem with the Super-Psi hypothesis is that it is ridiculously infallible. If knowledge existed anywhere, it is available to super-psi. Thus no verifiable information can ever be proof of post-mortem survival because it is available somewhere. It becomes a sort of circular reasoning.

Your points, however, neatly turn it on its head. If it is capable of so much, why would it conspicuously fail to work when it comes to the controlling personality?

Michael,

Well stated. I fully agree. It is one thing to tap into some cosmic computer and to come up with information, quite another for that "computer" to dialogue with the sitter.

Incidentally, research turned up census records showing one, maybe two, people named Patience Worth in Massachusets, but there was no way to tell if it was the same Patience Worth. As you say, it was not "conclusive."

It is not entirely true that Phinuit did not know French. I realize that was a criticism, but here is a paragraph from my soon-to-be released book, "The Articulate Dead":

On September 6, 1888, J. Rogers Rich, an artist, had a sitting with Mrs. Piper. He observed a remarkable change in her voice as it became unmistakably male and “rather husky.” He was at once addressed in French and he responded in French. Dr. Phinuit diagnosed Rich’s physical ailments for him and prescribed various herbs, giving the manner of preparing them. Phinuit told him that his mother was beside him and accurately described her. In a second sitting, a month later, Phinuit told Rich that his deceased niece was at his side. To test him, Rich asked the niece, who had lived all her life in France, for his name in French, to which Phinuit accurately relayed “Thames Rowghearce Reach” entirely in the French alphabet.

What about what Dr.Jeffery Mishlove keep's bringing up “Archetypal Synchronistic Resonance.” according to him it might be able to explain reincarnation cases and maybe many other evidence's in favor of survival of bodily death.

http://www.mishlove.com/WilliamJames/matches.htm

Hello Michael. There's another possibility which you haven't mentioned - that it was a real spirit but that it was a dishonest spirit. I don't think there's any obvious reason to believe that if we can get in touch with spirits, that they're all going to have completely benevolent motives or always be telling the truth. I have become more aware of the possibility of deceptive and malicious spirits after reading material published online by Ben Swett, a self-described 'First Century Christian' (not meaning he lived in the First Century but that he rejects many of the beliefs and traditions that came after Jesus) - I think I found the link in one of the comments here. Ben appears to be a Christian whose spirituality is based on experience, and he has wide experience of contacting spirits. And he is quite clear that there are many malicious ones out there.

I don't know if Ben Swett is right, or partially right. But Buddhism, a spiritual discipline very grounded in experience, talks about hungry ghosts, for example, and other bad spirits. In fact evil spirits turn up in many, many spiritual traditions. Maybe we should take their existence seriously. Ben Swett, certainly, cautions against being too credulous when dealing with spirits.

It does, of course, make things all the harder when evaluating the claims of mediums and the entities communicating through them...

Just a thought.

Michael,

you said:

"Although he claimed to be a physician, he didn't know much about medicine."

This is not true:

"Admitting, however, that " Dr. Phinuit" is probably a mere name for Mrs. Piper's secondary consciousness, one cannot help being struck by the singular correctness of his medical diagnoses. In fact the medical statements, coinciding as they do with truth just as well as those of a regular physician, but given without any ordinary examination and sometimes without even seeing the patient, must be held as part of the evidence establishing a strong prima facie case for the existence of some abnormal means of acquiring information. Not that it is to be supposed that he is more infallible than another. I have one definite case of distinct error in a diagnosis (p. 547)."

A Record of Observations of Certain Phenomena of Trance (1889-1890) - Proceedings of the Society for Psychical Research, 1889-1890, 6, 436-659.
Frederic W. H. Myers, Oliver J. Lodge, Walter Leaf and William James.

Maybe super-psi could be the answer, after all.

Best wishes,

Vitor

The real question is, does the super-psi come from a living entity or a discarnate being?

Again, as a medium myself, I have to rely on my own experiences to engage in this conversation. Conversation is actually the word I want to discuss.

During a reading, information isn't just delivered and picked up, I am actually engaged in a back and forth conversation in trying to figure out what "spirit" is often telling me. They call me names, make fun of me and somethimes compliment me (rarely), and I also tell them that they are full of sh*t sometimes. I really don't think super-psi can explain this, though perhaps some folks might argue that I am just insane.

Ooops, better stay out of the lab.

Both Michael Tymm and Vitor Moura raise good points. Maybe Dr. Phinuit was not as deficient in his language skills and medical knowledge as I'd been led to believe.

A brief bio of Phinuit, which I believe was written by Mike Tymm, is found here.

On the other hand, here's an excerpt from a letter to the Journal of Parapsychology by Robert Almeder:

"Recall, for example, William James's examination of Mrs. Piper's mediumship on the occasion when she was supposedly in contact with the deceased French physician, Monsieur Phinuit, who was speaking pidgin French through Mrs. Piper.(2) James thought that the knowledge conveyed by Mrs. Piper was paranormal (and a matter of psi) but suspected that Monsieur Phinuit was basically a dramatization on the part of the medium. He tested his hypothesis by speaking fluent French to Phinuit, only to find silence by way of a response."

Also, here's an excerpt from an article by Richard Hyslop:

"After this personality [Phinuit] became more definitely developed it was induced to give its personal history, claiming to be the spirit of a French physician. I quote Dr. Hodgson's statements with quotations from the record:

" 'In reply to my inquiries on different occasions, Phinuit stated that his full name was Jean Phinuit Scliville. "Phinuit is one of my names; Scliville is my other name; Dr. Jean Phinuit Scliville; they always called me Dr. Phinuit." He was unable to tell the year of his birth or the year of his death, but by putting together several of his statements, it would appear that he was born about 1790 and died about 1860. He was born in Marseilles, went to school and studied medicine at a college called "Merciana" (?) College, where he took his degree when he was between twenty-five and twenty-eight years old. He also studied medicine at "Metz, in Germany." At the age of thirty-five he married Marie Latimer, who had a sister named Josephine. Marie was thirty years of age when he married her, and died when she was about fifty. He had no children.'

"He mentioned the 'Hospital of God,' or 'Hospital de Dieu' (Hotel Dieu), and referred to Dupuytren and Bovier, the former of whom is known to have been a distinguished French physician and surgeon who was born in 1777 and died in 1835. But there were contradictions in Phinuit's story of himself and in addition to this inquiries as to the existence of any such person in France did not confirm the story in a single detail. The consequence was that he has always been treated and must be treated in the discussion of these phenomena as a secondary personality of Mrs. Piper....

"The demand was made of Phinuit that he prove his identity as a condition of accepting his claim to be a spirit. But, as we have seen, he never succeeded in effecting this desired result."

This is unrelated. Does anybody know where you can find reliable information on the medium Carlos Mirabelli? I'm not sure if the information on the internet is credible and well documented.

http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/dp5/mirabel2.jpg

I can tell you that that famous photo of him levitating is doctored, however this is believed to have been done at the insistence of the photographer who apparently didnt feel like waiting for Mirabelli to enter into the required state of mind-over-matter.

However, his other reported levitations happened in front of some pretty reputable witnesses so I'm not that quick to write him off.

I meant to add to my earlier comment that Richard Hodgson's observation that control George Pelham's (Pellew's)ability to identify the 30 people he knew when he was alive and not identify the 120 or so he didn't know seemed to go against the Super-Psi theory. Super Psi would suggest that he should have been able to identify all of them, not just the people he knew. Maybe that was mentioned in Hyslop's article. I didn't get a chance to read all of it.

Also, once the trance was over, didn't Hodgson ask Piper to select a picture of Pellew out of a group of photographs? I think Piper said that she saw Pellew leaving her body when she was about to come out of the trance.

Alex,

Yes, I recall that. Also, I believe Mirabelli is discussed in a book by Alex Imich. I have the book, but I can't find it to confirm that. I can't remember the title of the book. I just put Alex's name into both Amazon and Bookfinder searchers, but nothing came up. Incidentally, Alex just turned 103 or 104. He was investigating mediums back during the 1930s.

Alex,

Guy Playfair's book "The Flying Cow" has a chapter on Mirabelli. Playfair is a Portuguese speaker and the book provides an interesting, if somewhat uncritical, insight into mediumship and healing in Brazil. The country probably has the highest concentration of spiritualists on the planet but English language research on Brazilian spiritualists is almost non existent.

My view:

Just as humans have for millennia projected their own attributes onto the cosmos, exaggerating them into gods and goddesses, so too do we tend to project what we perceive as our individual physical discreteness into the so called "spirit world."

Yet those who explore regions of non-material being or consciousness find that identity within those regions is not nearly so discrete. This thorough connectedness is likely behind the idea of "super psi."

The degree to which this connectedness is experienced varies, too, from one region of consciousness or identity to another, from one being to another, from one moment to another.

Non-material identity, then, is not quite the simple reality we experience physically, where our skin is usually taken to be the boundary of our self.

This applies to 19th Century mediums, their "controls," any discarnate personalities they may interact with, those observers present on the occasion, and 21st Century physically embodied personalities pondering the situation.

I suggest that pondering the situation alone is insufficient for even beginning to comprehend it. What's required is a temporary cessation of such pondering while entering and directly engaging with greater and greater regions of self and or consciousness; extend your direct experience first, analyze it later -- otherwise you are working with insufficient data.

So where, exactly, are the borders between the conscious and unconscious regions of a medium's mind and any non-material personalities they may be in contact with?

They are not as clearly delineated as we would like them to be; further, what of our own non-material regions of self? If it's possible to interact with the deceased, then surely there is a part of us, now, as "dead" as any spirit or spook -- our own personal region of non-material consciousness.

Regards

Bill I.
Magnolia, MA
RealityTest

Michael and MickeyD,

Thanks for the info.

Michael and MickeyD,

Thanks for the info.

Harry Price mentions in his excellent "Fifty years of psychical research" that Mirabelli was claimed to produce roomfulls of materialized spirits in full light! He offered him a sizeable sum (£500 IIRC [in the '30s]) to come over to England for testing, but he wanted some exorbitant sum and so the visit didn't happen. I believe Hans Driesch, past SPR president, went over to Brazil to check this guy out but came back with an unfavourable report. There's a rather odd photo available at the below URL of Mirabelli and one of his materialized "spirits":

http://www.unexplainedstuff.com/Mediums-and-Mystics/Mediums-and-Channelers.html

Sorry - decidedly unconvinced.

As for Phinuit, I don't think he counts as evidence of a discarnate personality at all. The contradictions are just too absurd for my liking. Also something that hasn't been mentioned is that Phinuit or Finny was the "control" for the blind medium/healer whom we have to thank for really getting Leonora Piper going. Seems more likely to me that she affected unconsciously the behaviour of this Phinuit person because up to that time it was the only ostensibly coherent personality she had encountered.

George Pellew is another question altogether -- if he was sufficient to convince Hodgson he must have been good! But even with this there are unfortunate problems -- why was he so unable to talk serious philosophy, for example?

Darryn,

Good points. Personally, I'm not convinced that there is a personality/soul and that it survives the death of the body. I think the universe is some type of impersonal psycho-physical process and that "personality" is just an emergent phenomenon. My views are similar to Schopenhauer's:

"Schopenhauer’s Kantian and Platonic metaphysics is tempered by its uniquely Buddhistic and Hinduistic, rather than Jewish, Christian or Islamic, concept of the soul’s salvation. The immortality of the soul is understood by Schopenhauer as the indestructibility of Will as thing-in-itself, the pure willing that transcends or underlies the empirical individual willing that Schopenhauer refers to as the will to life. As thinking subjects we are immortal only in the attenuated sense that Will willing purely within us can never be destroyed. When the world as representation in its entirety, including the representing subject’s body, ceases to exist with the passing of the representing subject’s last moment of conciousness, Will as thing-in-itself at the core of each thinking subject alone remains (WWR 2: 215). There is therefore something in each of us that is immortal. The part of us that survives death is not, according to Schopenhauer, as some sects of Judaism, Christianity and Islam have taught, the personality or self or soul of the thinking subject. It is rather the impersonal Will within, the indestructible thing-in-itself, transcending space, .time and causality, that is in no way part of the world as representation or subject to any sort of change."

alex two books I think supports the survival of a "soul" is "no living person could have known" and "the open door by theon wright." also on survival e books the tape of fredrick olson is a good listen. it appears to be more than his will doing the talking.
http://freewebs.com/afterlife/flint/flintrecordings.htm

A couple of books that respond to points/questions raised in the comments above:

Re the issue of "deceptive spirits", the book "Hungry Ghosts", by Joe Fisher, describes his lengthy investigation of the spirits of supposed dead individuals, and their rather harmful manipulation of those involved in researching them. Anyone interested in this topic should have a look at this book.

As for Carmen Mirabelli, the book "Incredible Tales of the Paranormal", edited by Alexander Imich, has a section on Mirabelli written by Guy Playfair, on pages 1-26. Playfair concludes that the photograph of Mirabelli supposedly levitating was doctored, and that Marabelli knowingly passed it off as authentic. According to Playfair, there has been a lot written about Mirabelli in Brazil, but the only really useful source of information on Mirabelli is a 471-page book in Portuguese, "Prodigios de biopsychica obtidos com o medium Mirabelli", by Eurico de Goes, published in Sao Paulo in 1937.

>The very deficiencies of Phinuit that led researchers to believe he was only a co-personality, split off from the main branch of Mrs. Piper's mind, should also have led them to conclude that Mrs. Piper had no capacity for super-psi. After all, if she did have such a capacity, why fail to use it in the creation of her control spirit, the most important of all the spiritual entities she brought through?

The answer is that Phinuit's purpose was different from that of the other supposed spirits. His job wasn't to authenticate himself, but to help other "spirits" do this. Since Phinuit's purpose didn't require him to appear real, he didn't. Super-psi was only used when it was needed.

The comments to this entry are closed.