2020: Volume 20

Abstracts from Australian Journal of Parapsychology


Volume 20(1), pp. 7-19

Spiritual Synchronicity and Place: II. Heidegger, Waiting and Žižek


Abstract: This is part 2 of an article split over two consecutive issues of this journal to show a new dimension of the work of Slavoj Žižek, Gibbs Williams and Jacques Lacan. Their work finds congruency to better understand Jung’s spiritual philosophy of synchronicity (meaningful coincidence). We achieve this enhanced understanding by adding to our earlier work on place and psychoanalysis. We show that synchronicity is a form of self-transcendence, and stress the importance of place and Heidegger’s analysis of temporality to comprehend why synchronicity occurs. This article is a significant contribution to the literature for theoretical and practical reasons. Our work will be vital for psychotherapists who encounter synchronicities in practice as well as philosophers who wish to explain this mystifying phenomenon. Our investigation finds that synchronicities occur outside our causally determined symbolic reality and this sheds light on why Jung described this phenomenon as acausal (cf. cause and causality from Lacan). The ‘event’ of synchronicity can occur when humans undergo significant psychological change or restructure, providing a deepened and extended understanding of their place in the world. This explains why Jung, a psychoanalyst, was very knowledgeable about synchronicity as he helped deliver psychological change to the analysands who visited him. We add to this by showing its relationship to our philosophy of place.


Volume 20(1), pp. 21-55

Haunt and Poltergeist Clearing in Australian Residences: A Retrospective Survey


Abstract: The authors conducted a survey on people (clients) who had their Australian residences ‘cleared’ of haunt and/or poltergeist phenomena. Clients were ‘typed’ in two ways: via Thalbourne’s (1996) Transliminality Scale (a perceptual measure), and the Personal Wellbeing Index (International Wellbeing Group, 2013), which measures quality of life. The typical client was a ‘low transliminal’ who tends to be emotionally stable, passive, and introverted, but not prone to dissociation or unusual experiences. Clients’ scores on subjective wellbeing were on par with corresponding norms, but the authors do not claim that subjective wellbeing was due to clearing. The most common psychic (‘sixth sense’) experiences were a sensed presence, and a sense of being stared at or being watched; the most common sightings were apparitions, and moving objects; the most common noises were footsteps, and banging of doors and/or windows. Many other anomalous experiences were reported. Transliminality correlated significantly with number of ‘sixth sense’ experiences. Findings indicate up to 88% clearing success (partial or complete), more conservatively ranging from 66% for complete haunt clearing to 68% for complete poltergeist clearing, with clients generally describing their lives after the clearing as improved.


Volume 20(1), pp. 57-84

Meaningful Coincidence in Fiction and Anecdote


Abstract: While coincidences in fiction are ubiquitous, especially in how storylines are constructed, they are less common when it comes to depicting the potentially life-changing experiences of synchronicity, the term coined by C. G. Jung for meaningful coincidences. One author, however, who made regular use of synchronistic events in his work was the popular novelist and short story writer Paul Gallico. A good example of his method can be found in Flowers for Mrs Harris, the first part of which is analysed in this essay. Juxtaposed against meaningful coincidences in fiction are those to be found in anecdotes arising out of actual events. These are generally short depictions which, unlike much of fiction, get straight to the point and can be very striking indeed. It is perhaps unfair to compare the two genres as they are distinct, though not entirely so—especially when it comes to the short stories of Isaac Bashevis Singer, many of which seem to dwell at the intersection of the two. Also in this essay mention is made the ‘trickster’ figure that is found the world over in myths and legends. Synchronistic events commonly have a trickster quality about them: a shock of the unexpected and a revelation of direct insight in the face of paradox. Only one myth-based trickster appears in the essay and that is Eshu, a trickster deity from the Yoruba of West Africa, who is described by Robert Pelton, author of The Trickster in West Africa, as ‘pure synchronicity’ (1980, p. 136).


Volume 20(2), pp. 113-138

Morbid Curiosity, Popular Media, and Thanotourism


Abstract: This paper examines popular media narratives based on actual tragic history or folklore and people’s morbid fascination for the real places and tourist attractions that are the settings for these stories. The psychological drives behind morbid, normal, and aversive curiosity for these macabre popular culture narratives are discussed along with reviews of research regarding dark tourism and attractions promoted through such popular media as narrative films, television programs, documentaries, books, games, news, social media, and internet sites. The publicity of popular media accounts may not consistently bring thanatourists flocking to these places. Publicity can discourage the sensitive, encourage the inquisitive, or satisfy curiosity such that a visit to an actual site is unnecessary. The widely known Winchester Mansion and the lesser known Biltmore Hotel provide examples of sites promoted as places for ghostly encounters. The Winchester Mansion is a tourist destination that relies on visitor fascination for its bizarre, ghostly narrative. The Biltmore Hotel is a boutique hotel located in a historic downtown building with a complicated, published history of tragedy and murder, though its mission is hospitality rather than as a site of morbid entertainment. Media publicity can conceivably prime some visitors to anticipate certain experiences. The paper also explores similarities and differences between perceptual and epistemic curiosity in search of the dark “Other.”


Volume 20(2), pp. 139-160

Reincarnation Research: I. An Old Idea Re-Examined with New Methods in the 21st Century


Abstract: This two-part article provides an update on recent work (including investigators and their work profiles) in the field of reincarnation research. While reincarnation is a very old concept predating history, 21st century methods for studying it are now present, though little appreciated. Researchers of reincarnation mainly come from the field of parapsychology, but numerous journalists, authors and educated lay-people regularly contribute to the field as well. This article explores the various approaches investigators take in collecting evidence for reincarnation phenomena. These includes Child-Memory Cases, Medium and Intuition Derived Cases, and Hypnotic Regression Cases. Here, in Part One, I describe the work of current academic and research scientist/investigators. Almost to a person they work in the manner of the late Dr. Ian Stevenson, incorporating forensic cross checking into the already established Case Study. Stevenson evolved the Case Study method resulting in a database of almost 2900 cases. During his lifetime, Stevenson sought to establish evidence via special focus on current subjects’ (mostly children’s) memories which hinted at past lives. He also found that current subjects’ birthmarks and deformities resembled earlier lifetime injuries. Stevenson established a protocol whereby a current subject’s responses could be externally verified by various researcher observations or by witnesses who knew the earlier lifetime persona. In Part Two, I will contrast Stevenson’s and Dr. Walter Semkiw’s approaches. At present only a handful of investigators in the world do reincarnation research. Despite this limitation, the field will advance more quickly and definitively in the upcoming years as the now-disparate groups start to set aside their prejudices and collaborate.


Volume 20(2), pp. 161-179

Strolling with Swedenborg: A Rapid Review Critically Investigating the Contemporary Scholarly Evidence Base for Simultaneous Spiritual-Physical Experiences


Abstract: During his walking meditation, distinguished scientist and philosopher, Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772) reportedly experienced physical and spiritual sensations simultaneously. Recognising this historical claim, it is an important academic exercise to investigate the contemporary scholarly evidence base for a Simultaneous Spiritual-Physical Experience (SSPE). In particular, this study aims to explore and to discuss critically the possible literary support for various forms of SSPE including that of Swedenborg’s walking meditation. This rapid review is informed by nine scholarly articles as retrieved from a Google Scholar search enquiry. Findings reveal four physical activity types: (i.e., outdoor activities such as hiking, basketball, and cycling; walking meditations; yoga, and singing/music making) whereby SSPEs are purported to occur. The study concludes that while Swedenborg’s reported SSPE was in the form of a walking meditation, contemporary scholarly literature raises prospects for people to transcend the earthly realm through their participation in a wide range of physical activities.