Parapsychology Journalism: The People, The Theory, The Science, The Skeptics
I have, for some time, been trying to get a media presence on the subject of the personality traits and social conditions for people who are psychic. I would think, that given the human interest angle, that this would be interesting to the media, but I have tried to blog for the Huffington Post and others and unfortunately, no one cares.
This got me to thinking. How extensive is this problem for us? Is this just a media thing or is it part of a larger issue. And I realized that it is the latter. It’s quite a pervasive problem and it goes back a long, long way. The problem seems to be that getting information directly is extremely threatening to the status quo because it bypasses the usual channels of power. This goes back to Gnosticism, an ancient religious belief that God can be experienced directly without the intervention of church intermediaries. As this is a fairly typical psychic approach to spirituality, it’s a good example: Gnostics were virtually wiped out in the West by the Catholic church and when the U.S.A. invaded Iraq, the last of the true Gnostics over there were virtually wiped out when the delicate balance that allowed them to exist was disrupted.
Modern day governments have been known to be afraid of psychics. On January 19th, 1944, Psychic medium Helen Duncan was arrested . . . and eventually tried under the Witchcraft Act of 1735. Nowadays, as I have demonstrated in previous articles, we have skeptical organization such as the James Randi Educational Foundation and the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, both of which essentially use dirty tricks to suppress parapsychological science and psychics. The end result of such tactics is that mainstream scientific organizations have been given the cover they need to ignore advances in parapsychology.
But while there are plenty of books and people advocating for the existence of psychic ability, those advocating for understanding and accepting psychic people are almost non existent. Parapsychological researchers and their organizations keep their distance from psychic people generally, -except as a possible source of funding- because of the fear of being duped by clever magicians. There is a taint. Psi researchers, in general, do not associate with psychic people and rarely engage them except to find out something about psychic ability. Psi is, of course, completely ignored or trivialized in psychology textbooks and psychic people aren’t studied in any credible way and are generally ignored. We are a very small minority, numbering maybe about five million people in the U.S. and it’s safe to say that our unique issues aren’t of interest to anyone else. There is a grand total of exactly one book that I have ever seen that examines us and our issues with honesty, scientific thoroughness and in any depth. (The HISS of the ASP by David Ritchey.) (ASP, by the way, means Anomalously Sensitive Person, which is yet another way to bypass the word “psychic.”)
Consequently, one thing that I’ve seen as a result of this is that we become invisible. To most people, you aren’t a psychic person unless you do it professionally. That’s all most people know. Certainly many people have had psychic experiences, but most people in this position won’t declare themselves to be psychic, they’ll just sidestep that label. A woman I know wrote this on a private forum:
Everyone that I’ve corresponded with has initially had a very negative reaction to being called a psychic. Mind you, most of them have been from backgrounds that are not very open to such things. I haven’t come into contact with many people who have actively sought out such experiences.
I actually couldn’t even use the word at all for quite a while, because I just wanted to cry at the mention of it. I’ve been told that isn’t uncommon.
The first time I heard someone refer to me as a medium, I threw up. I was listening to someone I knew talking about such experiences on a radio show, and he mentioned me. He didn’t even use my name, he just said that a medium had had this particular experience. But I was the person he was talking about, and I freaked out a bit.
It isn’t logical, but those words can be scary and upsetting.
I avoided this label as well for many years, but it is psychologically harmful to do so. It is a form of self repression and it adds to the problem because it adds to the overall invisibility and lack of collective knowledge about psychic people.
There are so many personal and social issues that go along with being very different from most people that this lack of knowledge can be very harmful. (I’ve had several people read my blog and correspond with me who remarked that just having more knowledge about psychic ability and the personality traits that go with it made quite a difference in their lives.)
It isn’t just about the psychic ability, it’s about all the baggage that comes with it: the strong, sometimes uncontrollable emotions, the differences in thinking, the isolation, the subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) denigration and the strong spirituality all combine to make a cocktail of a personality that does not mix well in general society. We are hard for other people to understand and this is compounded by a lack of knowledge.
This lack of knowledge leads to a lack of respect for our differences. People can’t relate to us if they don’t understand us. People can and do accept people with a wide variety of truly different personalities, from Asperger’s Syndrome to ADHD to autism to being bi-polar; these traits no longer carry the stigma that they once did. So it’s not an unrealistic goal to be understood and accepted.
Nowhere is this invisibility more evident than in the field of psychology. A search for ADHD yields over 60 million hits. Schizotypal yields a scant 251,000. The descriptions of the schizotypal from such august sources as the Mayo clinic are vague and unhelpful. On other websites it’s pretty apparent that everyone is using the same sources as the wording is nearly identical. A truly schizotypal person would not recognize themselves from these descriptions. For example, none of the common descriptions mention one the most noticeable traits of schizotypals: creativity and imagination.
Invisibility creates unhealthy social conditions for us. Unhealthy social conditions eventually leads to unhealthy people. I’ve tried to expand the collective knowledge of who we are, but no one is interested. It’s a topic that just isn’t important enough for the rest of society to care about.