We’ve all heard about people who claim they can communicate with spirits of deceased people. While the idea of paranormal communication is both intriguing and slightly frightening, a new study shows there may be more science behind these religious and spiritual experiences than we think.
United Kingdom researchers investigated the spiritual communication that mediums say they hear in comparison to auditory hallucinations associated with certain mental health conditions.
Published in the journal Mental Health, Religion & Culture, the study surveyed a number of spiritualists and other participants from the general population to act as a control group.
They evaluated a number of traits and then compared answers on the basis of hallucination tendencies, beliefs, identity traits and proneness to absorption, which means how likely someone is to get fully immersed in mental imagery, movies, music or thoughts.
Results showed those in the spiritualist group were much more prone to absorption. They also found people were more likely to become interested in the paranormal as a result of some unusual sensory experience. The tenets of spiritualism seem to make sense of both extraordinary childhood experiences as well as the frequent auditory phenomena they experience as practicing mediums.
The researchers noted they didn’t set out to answer the age-old question of whether mediums really can communicate with the dead, just to compare the auditory hallucinations and beliefs of mediums to those of the general population.
More research is needed before anyone can say that the person relaying life advice from your great-great-great grandmother is telling the truth … or just repeating a hallucination.