EMBODYING THE OTHER: TOWARDS A PHENOMENOLOGY OF PSI AND A THEORY OF PSI AS CONSCIOUSNESS
By Debra Lynne Katz (THIS IS STILL BE EDITED!)
Towards a theory of Psi: The Embodied Psi Principle
In this paper I shall propose that any theory of human perception, including that which operates within the domain of phenomenology, is incomplete if it fails to address what I shall refer to as “the embodied psi principle”. This principle posits that psi operates within every body and between all bodies at all times. It flows through all perceptual, cognitive, emotional and physical systems and structures of the body, operating on both unconscious and conscious level. If it makes its way to the conscious mind at all, it does only through the vehicle of the body first, where it motivates, restricts, enhances, influences, and informs. Like all forms of perception and sensation that lead to information gathering and integration, it can be strengthened and made use of through attention, awareness, application and disciplined practice. It can also be distorted and misapplied.
What is the standard definition of Psi and Psychic Phenomenon?
Dr. Mario Varvoglis provides what could be considered the standard definition of “Psi” on the Parapsychology Association website. “Psi is actually the 23rd letter of the Greek alphabet and first letter of the word “psyche.” It is the term parapsychologists use to generically refer to all kinds of psychic phenomena, experiences, or events that seem to be related to the psyche, or mind, and which cannot be explained by established physical principles. To qualify as psychic, an experience must involve interactions that are qualitatively different from our normal ways of exchanging with the world (verbal and nonverbal communication, sensations, bodily movements). A genuine psi exchange cannot be based even upon subtle, subliminal forms of perception or action”.
What is my own definition and of Psi?
As I attempted to demonstrate in my first book, You are Psychic: The Art of Clairvoyant Reading and Healing (Katz, 2004) and continue to build on here with the help of phenomenology, Psi flows through the body of oneself and all others at all times. It quite often operates at a subconscious level although it can quite easily be brought into conscious awareness, not just through spontaneous dramatic or emotionally charged events as is traditionally thought, but through various practices involving intention and attention, rendering it useful.
Contrary to what others may or may not say about psi, as an identical twin, practitioner, educator, researcher and research subject who has spent 40 years intimately immersed in this subject matter, it is my thesis that psi is not an experience, nor a thing in itself, any more than our perception or awareness or personalities, emotional states and behaviors are things in and of themselves. Psi is an integral aspect of who we are and it is highly possible without it we wouldn’t function at all or for long on this earth, in the same way our “normal” modes of perception and their healthy functioning keeps us safe. This is true whether or not we are aware of the words themselves (“psi” or “perception”) or their definitions or how they operate.
Psi is not an experience, a skill, an ability or a phenomenon. It is everywhere. It can’t simply be contained any more than consciousness can be contained. That is because Psi is consciousness.
This is why it’s so difficult to isolate psi within carefully constructed scientific, mechanistic protocols. Let me be clear – It can be easily demonstrated, just not easily measured, or isolated. Psi shows up differently every time it is called up to do so, precisely because it’s showing up through the body and the body is always in a state of flux. It is unpredictable. Psi is like an embryo in its mother’s womb, it cannot exist or function on its own. It’s also like a newborn baby that has no sense of its own self apart from its caregivers while being shaped and formed by even the slightest smile or movement towards it or away from it. Perhaps a much better definition is Psi, in and of itself, is like the wind – yes the overall wind pattern can be forecast to some degree of reliability for very short time frames, but each individual gust of wind cannot be predicted as far as its direction or strength, as it interacts with countless other factors in the environment, and ultimately where does the gust of wind go when it stops blowing? It settles back into the rest of the atmosphere never to reform into the same gust. Meanwhile, the wind is present but not felt unless it has “a thing” to interact with that causes some degree of resistance. The wind is also never seen, except when interacting with physical things, such as a flag, a windmill or minute bits of dust. However, the wind has the power, through these interactions, to provide electricity to entire cities, or destroy them.
Psi in experimental settings
He who demonstrates psi is always doing so within the same space of he who perceives the demonstration. Likewise, the perceiver’s consciousness and perceptions in evaluating, judging, and rating the psi are as much a part of the psi as the one demonstrating it. These can never be separated out, not only because of the filters and biases held within the perceiver as experimenter, as he perceives the experimental subject perceiving through psi, but because the consciousness of the perceiver as experimenter actually can have an impact on the psi itself, which can freely move back and forth through time between both perceivers. He who has been invited into the lab to perceive through psi is not only perceiving the assigned task but the perceiver who is perceiving him, and this perceiving is happening always on multiple levels, conscious, semi-conscious and fully conscious. (So a research subject will know on some level whether the researcher is a friend or foe, and whether they are truly doing their job properly, even if the research thinks the subject is some dolt who is only there to perceive the hidden symbols on the back of a Zener card. Further, the research subject’s attention, the conduit of psi, can easily be hijacked by something the researcher is doing or not doing).
So the perceiver and the perceived are engaged in this dance with one another, with every aspect of each other, sending signals to the other (yes I know I’m supposed to be focused on the cards you are showing me but you clearly haven’t had sex in a while, at least good sex, but I’m not volunteering!)
If this wasn’t enough, there is the problem of the time factor. When it comes to psi, perception is not limited to the present, it flows back and forth, easily and abundantly – so if I’m about to encounter a furious stranger who is erroneously going to blame me for something I didn’t do, I may suddenly feel a surge of inexplicable anger, 5 minutes before, feeling intense pulsations within my lower back area (why that is I don’t know but that’s where I tend to feel angry people I’m about to meet). If a car is about to slam into the lane I’m in, hitting the car behind me and pushing it forward, I may feel a sudden compulsion to move out of that lane at all costs, just a minute or two before the accident, as the thoughts run through my mind. “I like my life, I’m so fortunate nothing too bad has ever happened to me, I want to be around for as long as I can”. This, in fact, has happened to me on two occasions, helping me to narrowly avoid what could have been life threatening accidents.
How does this flow of psi through time manifest in a laboratory setting? Well, if she whom is perceiving with psi (the research subject) is asked to describe a photo she’ll see in the future, but, then she whom is perceiving with psi will also be asked, in the future, to self-judge by choosing the correct photo she’ll see in the future from a set of photos that most closely matches her visions during the act of perceiving (this is the typical experimental design in experimental parapsychology research for the entire bodies of the Ganzfeld, Dream and remote studies), then she whom is perceiving through psi may simply perceive aspects of every photo in the judging set during the course of the experiment, even though the set is shown to her later. In fact, she may be more likely to perceive all those in the set instead of just the “correct one” because it is these she is to be shown first, before the correct one, and perhaps some of those are more interesting or appealing to her than the correct one. She might also perceive the photos that she will be shown for the next trial the day before. She may also inadvertently perceive the photo that he who perceives the perceiver (the experimenter), is hiding in his shirt pocket – let’s say a photo of his mistress – that has absolutely nothing to do with the experiment, but has everything to do with what is first and foremost present in his mind on the morning the experiment is being conducted. Or, she may perceive the future photo of her son’s canoe trip that lands in her inbox just minutes before she is to go back into the lab and receive her feedback photo for the experiment.
While I have arrived at these realizations through serving as both a subject and an experimenter, informally and formally, for years, many other parapsychologists are arriving at these same conclusions – independently and collectively, through highly controlled and carefully designed experiments and meta studies. Despite the above challenges, these studies continue to show statistically significant effects, but not anywhere close to the level well designed studies should, if they were truly reflecting the nature of psi which is prevalent and operating within us and between us at all times.
Dean Radin sums this up nicely in a meta study published 16 years ago: “One implication of the cumulative evidence is that time – reversed effects permeate all aspects of human behavior. Another is that experiments in all scientific disciplines may be vulnerable to time -reversed influences, including studies based on gold-standard techniques like double blind, randomized protocols” (Radin, 2000).
To summarize these researchers’ conclusions which match that of many of my own personal experiences outside a formal research setting:
Psi is impacted by the researcher as much as she or he whom is being researched.
Psi moves forwards and backwards without restraint.
Since Psi involves so many perceptual faculties, while these can be identified as being present, it’s impossible to definitively state only one was involved one (i.e. clairvoyance vs. precognition, telepathy vs. precognition
To ask “why explore psi?” is to ask “why explore perception and consciousness?” If psi is operating within us and through us at every moment as I propose, if we are open systems impacted by others, if our thoughts are not just our thoughts but belonging or touched upon by the thoughts of others, if our emotions and bodily sensations can originate in others or be passed to them, and psychologists are not aware of these facts, then psychology is at best misguided and at worst misleading those it purports to serve. To not understand these things means to have not only an incomplete and ill-informed science, but an incomplete and ill-informed practice. It’s my contention that this is exactly what we have within psychology and allopathic medicine and that this is precisely why countless people are erroneously diagnosed. The refusal to acknowledge that pain and suffering can be symptoms of a “shared felt sense”, or an “embodiment of the other” means so many appropriate causes and cures for so many people are never given consideration. It’s as if medical and mental health professionals are not only examining the wrong body part, rather they are examining the wrong individual.
Although the early Phenomenologists seem to have centered much of their discussion on conscious experience, the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy nicely summarizes the relationship between conscious and unconscious experience and its placement in the Phenomenological tradition, offering a launching point for where a study of psi, as it manifests through conscious and unconscious experience, might begin:
“Conscious experience is the starting point of phenomenology, but experience shades off into less overtly conscious phenomena…. As Husserl and others stressed, we are only vaguely aware of things in the margin or periphery of attention, and we are only implicitly aware of the wider horizon of things in the world around us. Moreover, as Heidegger stressed, in practical activities like walking along, or hammering a nail, or speaking our native tongue, we are not explicitly conscious of our habitual patterns of action. Furthermore, as psychoanalysts have stressed, much of our intentional mental activity is not conscious at all, but may become conscious in the process of therapy or interrogation, as we come to realize how we feel or think about something. We should allow, then, that the domain of phenomenology — our own experience — spreads out from conscious experience into semi-conscious and even unconscious mental activity, along with relevant background conditions implicitly invoked in our experience.
It is my contention that psi operates through our perceptual faculties – but perhaps more often than not in the reverse direction from the process described above, so that rather than starting with conscious experience and moving towards lesser states of awareness, psi starts off in the unconscious domain first, occasionally moving onto semi-conscious awareness, and then on even rarer occasions, onward towards a perceived conscious experience. When the signal levels of psi increases, and the surrounding noise level of all other distractions in and around oneself decreases (as can be facilitated through various meditative practices), that’s when psi, whether as shared sensations or signals through one’s body sensations about what is to come, can be most easily perceived. That’s when we recognize we’ve had or are having a psychic experience and psi moves from the subliminal to the liminal. This movement towards greater awareness can be enhanced through further processes and techniques to be discussed later in this paper.
Felt Sense as a Shared Felt Sense
Phenomenology is the philosophy of phenomena, perception and consciousness as experienced in our “life” world. Phenomenology addresses the relational meaning between self and others and all things in our direct environment. In Phenomenology of Perception, Merleau-Ponty expanded the ideas of other philosophers such Heidegger, Husserl and Sartre by placing an emphasis on the role of attention, and the experience of the body, which he refers to as a “felt sense”. I would purport that Psi is at the heart and core of what Maurice Merleau-Ponty called “embodied consciousness” although I doubt if Merleau-Ponty himself ever expected someone decades into the future to insert this contention into his theory, or to the degree I am doing here.
If Psi is an integral part of human perception and consciousness, then a phenomenology of psi would have to address the relational meaning between self and others and all things in between and surrounding. In fact, the psi principle may indicate or vindicate Merleau-Ponty’s theory of a “felt sense” more so than any of his expressed arguments towards this concept of embodied consciousness, particularly when we are addressing the psychic perception of clairsentience, which literally means “clear feeling” and refers to the specific ability to feel other’s emotions and bodily sensations within one’s own body.
The difference between felt sense and shared felt sense, or, from empathy to clairsentience.
If empathy is the process whereby one puts themselves, through imagination, in another person’s shoes to feel what they most likely feel, clairsentience allows the person to go a step further and literally be in their shoes, or better yet, to have the subject join them in their own shoes. This removes faulty conceptual projections and allows a truer visceral experience even when the shoes one finds themselves in turn out to be of an entirely different size or design than expected. Of course he who perceives even through clairsentience (psi related shared felt sense) can never fully remove themselves from the picture, and so distortions in interpreting and understanding the initial or ongoing shared felt sense are always a strong possibility.
I’d like you to meet my spouse, Danny, who is now quite used to being carelessly plucked from his real life world and splattered on the pages of my manuscripts to be used much like a crash test dummy by a luxury car company testing out a new product line. (I add in the luxury part just to lessen the blow a bit of being used in this way). Let’s place him in a purely hypothetical situation, but one that will highlight the way that psi often manifests for myself and so many of those that find their way into my intuitive development classes.
Let’s say at slightly past noon, on a cold, windy day, Danny has quietly entered the house, solemnly stated, “Do not interrupt me or ask me any questions” and without another word slips upstairs into the windowless attic, shutting the door behind him. “That’s very strange!” I exclaim as if to myself, but really to him, hoping he will respond. He does not. I follow him up the narrow staircase, putting my ear up against the door, it’s quiet. That’s even stranger. What’s going on? I try to put myself in his shoes to understand why he’s up there, alone in this dark, dank, attic? How does he feel being shut up in there by himself? What might be wrong? The problem with doing this is, I cannot easily or completely take myself out of the picture if I’m bringing my own body into his shoes, and given they were already a bit small on him to begin with, there is not truly room in there for both of us…meaning there is a strong possibility that I may not in fact ever even get close to his feelings, rather I may completely project my own into the scene.
I may therefore erroneously assume he’s lonely, or scared, which I would be there up in the sunless attic, so now I’m thinking there must be something really wrong. Still in empathy mode, I try to see life from his perspective – as a mechanic everyone is always coming over wanting him to help with their car or their equipment or deal with some emergency, but without wanting to pay him in return. How does that feel to him, as a man, as I know how important his manhood is to his own self-identity? As I’m trying so hard to understand these demands from a man’s perspective, something switches, I notice this wonderful feeling of relaxation spread through my whole body. I even start to giggle. The stress of my own day seems to magically melt away. That’s weird, what just happened? And then it dawns on me I might be ‘matching’ him. I run up the stairs, fling open the door, shine my flashlight app in his direction and see him sitting there in a yogi pose, meditating, with the most gleeful smile on his face I have only seen when he gets a question correct on Jeopardy.
OK, let’s switch this up as I’m obviously fantasizing here to even suggest I might find him meditating somewhere without a TV blaring within a 10-foot radius. Let’s rewind. Let’s go back to me a few minutes before obsessing about what he is doing upstairs alone. Perhaps instead of that peaceful easy feeling, I suddenly instead am overcome with the most-heavy feeling of exhaustion, so intense I fear I’m about to pass out…What the heck is wrong with me? I was fine a minute before (a tell-tale sign one is “matching” or embodying another is that there is a sudden switch in bodily perceived states like this). That’s it! I drag my now exhausted self up the stairs, falling against the heavy door, and there he is, passed out on the floor, snoring. As often happens, once I understand that my body sensations of feeling exhausted were simply a symptom of embodying another, they disappear. I am back to myself.
Ok, let’s rewind just one more time, and I’ll insert an experience that actually did happen to me – with another boyfriend many years ago so don’t tell Danny I’m sharing this one, he doesn’t like to hear about my past relationships…..you know – guys – the virgin thing….so let’s say as I’m wondering, what’s going on up there? Was he so stressed he needed to run away from everyone? How does it feel to be him? Suddenly sexual tingly feelings course through my lower body, wow, what’s that!? OK, well this is slightly embarrassing, don’t usually feel this in the middle of the day!!! Ok, maybe this would be a good time to go find him! He might even appreciate it. I run up the stairs, wildly flinging open the attic door with passionate abandon, expecting to find him perhaps fixing a light bulb or setting mouse traps – maybe that’s why he’s being so secretive, didn’t want to upset me that the rats are back. Instead, I see him sitting there with a pile of Playboy magazines, with a very rat like expression on his face.
What is important to note here in these fictional examples based on these real past incidents that are highly reflective of experiences with shared felt sense in my own life, is that the more my world view allows me to propose the question: “what is the reason I’m suddenly experiencing these feelings and sensations, is it just me or am I “matching”, “embodying”, “feeling” someone else? the more likely I am to: 1). Have more of these types of experiences 2). Have the feeling and sensation end quickly – as it usually does as soon as one asks this question; and 3). Find out the source more easily.
Therefore, when we think of someone, we are essentially, and I’d go as far as to say “literally”, reaching out with our minds and touching them. Furthermore, when we touch something with our own minds, not only do we feel a sensation in our own body, but there is an impact on that which we touch, including sometimes a very conscious shared felt sense, reaction and response by whom we touch. I’ll show evidence of this a bit later in this paper when I share real life examples of embodying the other.
Mentalists vs. Sensationalists
Although all humans operate on mental, physical and sensory levels, some tend to be more orientated towards one of these modes above others. This means that whatever aspect they dwell in so shall they activate and experience the qualities of that aspect. A person who is predominantly operating in a mental realm (such as a male philosopher with a PhD. or M.D.) will have to have a very active thought oriented mind, as is required to succeed in preparation and carrying out of his particular profession. The developed, thinking mind, to many philosophers and academics, is no doubt a prized possession where success is determined by the quality and number of ideas one can generate, sometimes while doing battle with other well-muscled and well armored minds.
A prized possession is something to be protected, is it not? And what is one more likely to turn to in times of turmoil, than the reasoning mind that thinks it can rescue itself and all others from the irrationality and chaos of emotions, whether one’s own, or everyone else’s? Therefore, this type of person, sometimes referred to as “an intellectual” tends to process even their own emotion through the mind in a habitual pattern of attempting to solve (understand) these emotions. In doing so, there is greater and greater disassociation from the body, feelings, from the felt sense of oneself and, I’d assert, from and of the shared felt sense of others.
Conversely, a person who is predisposed to focus on feelings and body sensations will be more likely to experience the felt sense as described by Merleau-Ponty, and the shared felt sense described herein by myself.
If those who naturally feel their bodies and feelings more will naturally feel other’s bodies and feelings more, (we can call these “empaths”), then it follows that those who are more focused on a mental level may very much be receiving or sharing their own thoughts as well. If some people operate more on a mental than a somatic level, it makes sense that psi then operates in some people more on a mental (i.e. telepathic) than somatic (clairsentient) level. Of course if a person’s life view, through upbringing and education, has never even given them cause to even consider this possibility for a moment, they would be entirely oblivious to this.
Even more problematic to the realization of the true nature of the state of the human mind than the disturbing, even terrifying idea that one’s mind can be penetrated by another, is the idea that this has been happening throughout one’s entire life, without awareness. Pair the value of the mind, with the predominant values in western society of individuality and independence, and it is no wonder that what I’m suggesting here, even if correct, is so completely unacceptable that it is simply and purely – unthinkable.
The shock of realizing that one has lived a lifetime without truly knowing the nature of what was happening behind one’s own eye lids is tempered only when accompanied with the realization of the creative and intellectual possibilities this may suggest.
With the risk of sounding gender biased, I’d suggest that the term “women’s intuition” arose from the fact that women are more aware of the psi factor than their male, heterosexual counterparts. There may be many reasons why women traditionally have been more connected in with feelings and grounded further into an embodied consciousness – this could be because their bodies were always in use by others, or on call to be used by others without notice or without much choice. It could also be because due to the menstruation process and carrying babies and having their offspring literally hanging on them, that they naturally are touched more frequently and in many different ways than their male counterparts who were often in less physical contact with others, or for whom touch was relegated to a narrow realm of behaviors related to sexuality.
Also, to be an effective caregiver, one must be tuned into the emotions and sensations of others. Of course there may be many other physiological, biological, and social factors that lead one group of people (i.e. women) to be more inclined to feel than their counterparts (i.e. men). Women for generations were told to focus on what was right before them in the physical world, while being denied access and cultivation of the mental, which can only happen when one reads, writes and has opportunities to think and interact with others who think critically.
However, it would be unfair and incorrect to suggest that only women are in tune with the physical – to the contrary – we know that many men have also been denied access to or shuffled away from educational opportunities, and at the same time, have as their main occupation physical work that puts their bodies in touch with the land and with machines. These men are therefore oriented to the physical which may anchor them into their bodies more, and a deeper sense of embodied consciousness. As to whether they would then experience more of a felt sense or shared felt sense is harder to say. We know that Native people, whether Native Americans or those in other parts of the world, have viewed psi as a natural and important part of their world. While some might suggest this is due to superstitious, less evolved thinking, I’d suggest it’s a natural response to being grounded in the physical. When one has to live off the land one doesn’t have time to be lost in abstract thought for too long. Abstract thought moves one away from experiencing a real “lived world” and all that it has to offer.
This brings us back to the one group of individuals that are predisposed, more so than any others, to disassociation from the physical world, from their own embodied consciousness, from their own felt sense, from the “lived world” and from the shared, felt sense of others -– the very same people who have molded the predominant theories and practice and education in the field of psychology today — philosophers, academics, and psychologists. It makes sense that they may therefore be more inclined to reject Merleau-Ponty’s theories and my own psi based shared felt sense theory, because in a way, these theories speak less to their real lived experiences, which are much more centered in abstract thought.
Mental Telepathy – from unconscious to conscious awareness
As discussed above, in Mentalists vs Sensationalists: “ If those who naturally feel their bodies and feelings more will naturally feel other’s bodies and feelings more, (we can call these “empaths”), then it follows that those who are more focused on a mental level may very much be receiving or sharing their own thoughts as well. …”.
According to Daryl Bem, who has conducted extensive research in the area of precognition, and is also a social activist and a highly esteemed developmental psychologist:
“Psi is a controversial subject, and most academic psychologists do not believe that psi phenomena are likely to exist. A survey of 1,100 college professors in the United States found that psychologists were much more skeptical about the existence of psi than their colleagues in the natural sciences, the other social sciences, or the humanities (Wagner & Monnet, 1979). In fact, 34% of the psychologists in the sample declared psi to be impossible, a view expressed by only 2% of all other respondents” (Bem, 2011).
Contrast this with a 2002 survey by the US National Science Foundation that found 60% of adult Americans agree that some individuals possess psychic powers.
Note the above wording “some individuals”. This idea that that only a few gifted individuals possess psychic powers, is one that reflects the enormous gulf that still exists within present day society in understanding the true nature of psi as operating in every individual.
5 common myths and fallacies about Psi and my suggestions for reframing how we conceptualize these so we can move towards a more accurate and productive approach to incorporating a phenomenology of psi into a psychological framework.
Fallacy #1: We are closed systems. Our thoughts are always isolated within our own minds and our emotions within our own bodies. Other people’s behavior can impact us, but we must be aware of that behavior, or perceive that behavior with our eyes in order to be impacted by it. Therefore, if we think we hear someone else’s thoughts or feel their body sensations, we must be mistaken, or insane.
REFRAME: We are open systems. So open that our lives can be enhanced or seriously harmed by this, particularly when we are unconscious to these facts. A huge part of our thoughts, our feelings, and our sensations are results of shared experiences with other beings we aren’t aware of.
CHALLENGE TO THE REFRAME:
Challenges to Developing a coherent Phenomenology of Psi – Unfortunately, within the Western world, there currently exists large factions of society who still rise up and take arms against any description or assertion that legitimizes psi. These factions consist of psychologists and scientists who have bought into a mechanistic, duelist view of reality not only because this is what they were taught, but because it helps them feel safer and greater in control. As indicated elsewhere, there is only one thing more disturbing than the idea that one’s own bodily sensations are not entirely one’s own and that is that one’s mind is not always one’s own, particularly to psychologists who have no problem questioning the stability of other’s minds but are terrified at the idea their own may be permeable and penetrable and impressionable than previously thought. Ironically, the other adversarial faction are leaders and their followers within Christianity who equate all psychic activities with the darker arts of the occult.
Ingo Swann who has been dubbed the father of remote viewing, is also the founder of coordinate remote viewing (which went onto be called Controlled remote viewing). This methodology focuses on the use of psi for extracting information about physical locations was born within the laboratories of Stanford Research Institute (SRI) and taught to military personnel as part of their clandestine remote viewing programs that spanned the course of 20 years until it was declassified in the 1990’s. It, along with its derivatives and central concepts continues to be taught today to thousands of people by a handful of instructors, including myself. Although it is beyond the scope to cover the complete methodology here, I will be sharing some vital components of it later in this paper as evidence of embodied consciousness being at the root of psychic perception.
Apart from Swann’s work with formal research think tanks and government agencies was a very different set of efforts and extensive writings that focused on subjects such as human bio-energy, biospheres, and humans as open systems engaged in continual energy exchanges.
In the now out of print book “Psychic Sexuality” Swann lamented: “Indeed, the modern West is highly deficient with respect to knowledge of sexual energies as really existing substantively. One obvious reason for this is that the topic of human energetics as a whole is either avoided or suppressed, and for reasons that are only partially explainable. Ancient Eastern texts, however, do not avoid the issue of human energetics, and many of them are in fact based on the real, virtual existence of such energies” (Swann, 1999).
Swann also wrote extensively about the nature of Power and Subjugation to Authority (Swann, 2000). He felt that our psychic abilities are a tremendous threat to all existing power structures as they allow us to get in touch with our true selves and to know the true thoughts of those in charge. Therefore, these abilities must be suppressed by all wishing to maintain this power. (Swann, 1998). I would agree that the easiest way to suppress other’s psychic abilities (whether those embodied at the unconscious level or those that operate at liminal levels) is to suppress knowledge of them. People do this to each other all the time from parents to teachers to researchers to those in the media to psychologists, without much awareness of what they are doing or the motivations for behaving in this manner.
Materialism and Dualism continue to operate as overarching pervasive ideologies taught within school systems from elementary school through college. There is the exception of a handful of psychology programs such as the one offered through the University of West Georgia. The problem is that most people don’t know that their beliefs are part of an ideology, they think their beliefs are part of a reality that honors science above all else, not realizing that science isn’t about a physical material world unless it’s restricted to the scientific method designed to test only a narrow parameter of physical phenomena, rather it’s about applying a careful system of observation to one’s life in a systematic fashion.
One of the greatest roadblocks to acknowledge how open we are to perceiving other’s sensations is that psychology for a century now has equated this type of assertion as a sign of madness. In a world and to a people who honor the mind above all else, and therefore fear losing it as worse than all else, many individuals will do everything possible to stay away from what can admittedly be a fine line, – is a person who hears voices psychic or are they crazy? Or perhaps a little of both?
Freud’s expression of this fear following an incident where Jung correctly predicted they were about to hear a loud rapping from the bookcase illustrates this roadblock nicely. His response was described by Carl Jung in his autobiography “Memories, Dreams, Reflections”:
“I can still recall vividly how Freud said to me, “My dear Jung, promise me never to abandon the sexual theory. That is the most essential thing of all. You see, we must make a dogma of it, an unshakable bulwark”. In some astonishment I asked him, “A bulwark-against what?” To which he replied, “Against the black tide of mud”—and here he hesitated for a moment, then added — of occultism.” (Jung, 1963).
Fallacy #2: Only PhDs with scientific credentials can be qualified to study or talk about psychic functioning. We can’t trust the average person, or even an educated, intelligent and stable person to provide an accurate personal account of their own experience, perceptions, sensations. This is because they are either lost in fantasy, undiscerning, or dishonest, not understanding the concept of many seemingly significant co-incidents can be attributed to chance.
Reframe: There are millions of highly educated, thoughtful, analytical people who understand the scientific method, and who do have the ability to make observations in the same way those possessing Ph.D.’s do. Many of these have Ph.D.’s in other fields, but that shouldn’t be a requirement to be able considered a reliable witness to one’s own experiences. Even people without a college education are capable of providing a truthful account of an experience. Also those possessing Ph.Ds. can have their own perceptual and philosophical biases, as has been aptly pointed out by Joseph Glazer (Glazer, 2013).
Challenge to Reframe: Those in power don’t easily want to give it up. Psychologists including parapsychologists often have condescending attitudes towards psychics or experiencers or research subjects without Ph.D.’s. In fact, I was at a conference and overheard a group of Ph.D. students who were discussing the idea that only those with Ph.D.’s be allowed to call themselves parapsychologists. I approached them and asked how many of them had ever had even a single direct psychic experience themselves? Only one of the group of 6 responded that he had several. Two more students said on one occasion only had they had a direct experience. Meanwhile these self-appointed representatives have less experience than much of the general population. Interestingly, those parapsychologists who have had more psi experiences during their lifetime, such as Stephen Braude, the editor for the Journal of Scientific Exploration, seems to be more open to exploring psi through a qualitative, phenomenological approach than those who have not (Glazier, 2013).
Fallacy #3: That Psi, if it exists at all, is a gift relegated to only a select few of blessed individuals.
Reframe: There are millions of people observing psi in themselves and in other people. In fact, I’d like to assert that a huge part of our thoughts, our feelings, our sensations, our ideas, are a result of shared experiences with other beings we aren’t aware of.
One psychotherapist who agrees with my contention that all individuals possess the potential for psi is Dr. James Carpenter. His comprehensive book, First Sight: ESP and Parapsychology in Everyday Life (Carpenter, 2012) is drawing acclaim in the parapsychology community at least. This book came out almost a decade after my own You Are Psychic, carrying a similar message, but unlike my own, which has been popular with experiencers of psi but not so much with formal researchers of it, is the terminology he uses to describe psychic phenomenon. His discourse is that of an academic, while mine, at least in 2004, was of a spiritualist. Of course, being former president of the Parapsychology Association, a long time licensed psychotherapist, a man, and perhaps most importantly, in possession of a Ph.D. has helped legitimatize his writing. I mention these things because when it comes to this disenfranchised field in particular, it’s as much about who is discussing the information, as the information they are sharing. As Michael Foucault emphasizes in Psychiatric Power, sometimes the only discernable difference between he who is considered sane and she who is labeled mad is only that of two letters (M.D) or three (Ph.D.) – with the lettered individuals always faring better (Foucault, 2008),
Challenge to Reframe: The idea only a blessed few possess special spiritual gifts from God, bestowed upon only those who are most holy and pure, is a popular belief, going back centuries, and not easy to purge. The idea that anyone would hold this type of power, particularly when this power can be misused for unethical purposes or used against the ruling class or those in power is unthinkable and threatening (Swann, 1998).
Fallacy #4: Psi is some mysterious phenomena that cannot be taught or brought into conscious awareness.
Reframe: I personally spend about 15 hours a week directly teaching students how to develop their clairvoyant and remote viewing skills and have done so for approximately two decades. I am not the only one. Thousands of people are engaged in these endeavors.
Challenge to Reframe: Our educational institutions are failing us when it comes to properly informing the public about their natural perceptual and information processing abilities in relation to psi. Apart from an occasional parapsychology course that may not even include a single experiential exercise, there is no school in the United States where you can earn a degree of any kind in parapsychology. In today’s world where so many resources go into degrees and employment is dependent on whether a person has a degree from an accredited institution, there isn’t a lot left over, especially for young people, to invest in non-credentialed endeavors. Furthermore, if one has bought into Fallacy #3 then why would someone believe they could be trained if they are already an adult and have not demonstrated strengths in this area? Unfortunately, this is a position that even many parapsychologists still take, as there literally have been no formal studies done on the topic of formal psychic education with the exception of a couple reports issued in the 1970’s in relation to Ingo Swann’s CRV training with the U.S. military (Puthoff, 1984) and (Puthoff, Langford, & Swann, 1980).
Fallacy #5: Psi shows up only on conscious levels. If you don’t perceive it, it’s not there.
Reframe: Psi operates at a completely unconscious level that can still register on sensory equipment but not be perceived by the receiver (Radin, 2006) AND it can operate on a conscious level. It can be moved from conscious to unconscious and again. People can learn to do this.
Challenge to reframe: The obvious problem to all that operates at the unconscious level, is that people are unconscious. So unless they are already on high alert that information can be operating at this level, they often won’t notice it. If they are uncomfortable with the idea, they will suppress it even more.
From ordinary perception to psi dominated perception
To understand the many ways that we can bring what is unconscious to conscious awareness, it helps first to remind ourselves how we know things or learn through ordinary perception:
Let us use my significant other, Danny, again as our action figure, in yet another fictional scenario that speaks to phenomenon taking place in real life. Let’s place him where he can often be found, outside in the howling wind, on the far side of the yard, working on a large piece of mechanical equipment. Let’s assign him a job – tractor work (he likes tractors) and then let’s create a scenario that is all too familiar, one in which something on the tractor malfunctions, but we’ll amp up the drama by setting the engine on fire. Alright, we’ll be kind to him today, as he’s tired, and blame it on a faulty power tool rather than on something he did wrong.
So here’s the question: if I’m typing away in the house, nice and toasty by the wood burning stove, with my fuzzy socks and hot cocoa, how would I know that something had gone wrong outside and he was in trouble? How would I receive this information? And which traditionally accepted and sanctioned perceptual and cognitive senses might be involved?
Possible modes of “normal” communication:
I hear a noise outside when the engine explodes. My ears hear a noise. My mind then infers that there is an unusual noise. I will need to take further steps if I am to understand what is happening, but the loud and unusual noise is something I perceived directly, and it got my attention at least.
Or, I can see smoke with my physical eyes waffling past the window. I stand up and now can see flames emanating from the tractor’s engine. It is my visual perception that is giving me clues as to what is happening and my cognition that is allowing me to think back to other times I observed the tractor. No I don’t recall it ever smoking or being on fire. This tells me there may be a problem here. Now one might ask what is it that caused me to look up from my computer in time to see the smoke? Maybe the sound alerted me to look out the window, so two senses can be operating at once.
Or, perhaps I hear Danny shouting, “Hey the tractor broke, I need your help.” It’s direct perception from the source itself – but he is intentionally now directly communicating with me and I don’t need to make any inferences about the situation.
Or, perhaps, someone else comes to the door and steps inside. It’s Eva, my neighbor. “Hey Deb, sorry to bother you when you have a paper due, but I was driving by and saw Danny chasing after tractor rolling down the street. Looks like it’s on fire. Do you want to call the fire department?” So here we have a third party communicating information about the event. I’m hearing her and seeing her so I am directly perceiving with my eyes and ears and my brain is taking this all in trying to decide how to respond. I know she can exaggerate things sometimes so I wonder, is this information accurate? Information from third parties and second hand sources are often incorrect.
Or, perhaps I am watching the 5:00 news. Look at that silly character chasing a burning tractor down the street. He looks a lot like, what the heck….that’s Danny! The news anchor is bundled up in a parka, hair blowing every which way. My neighbor Eva is wildly gesturing in the background. The news anchor says that it’s been reported that the tractor owner’s wife may have gotten mad at him for forgetting her birthday and intentionally set the tractor on fire before putting it into neutral and sending it down the hill. I can’t believe what I’m hearing! How could they?! My eyes and ears are perceiving the information that is being fed to me from a very narrow perspective. The camera angles tell a particular story, the sequence of shots is out of sequence, and they are getting information from an unreliable source…Eva. This information is faulty because it is from their own embodied perspectives, not my own.
On top of that, I’m sitting a little too far from the TV, watching it from an angle, without my glasses on, so my own embodied perspective is having an impact on how much of the scene and events playing out I can see. It’s as if I’m several steps removed from what’s really happening right outside my house and those on TV are several steps removed from what really did happen.
So what can we discern from the above? Well, first, we can receive information from a thing itself asserting itself into our awareness, but it’s always colored by the perceiver’s perception of that thing. The two are always entangled. Also, we can retrieve information from observing the thing itself directly, whether or not it asked us to observe it. Also, we can receive information about a thing from another thing (or person). Furthermore, we can receive information from secondary sources about the original thing. These sources can be human (as in the neighbor) or from technology (TV news report) created by humans. All of the above is very intimately connected to each person’s embodied perspective.
Also, normal perception is ripe with errors but we have no choice to continue to rely on it for information. Whether we obtain information through direct observation, from a thing itself, or from a secondary source, the information is being filtered through the receiver’s embodied perspective, as well as the sender’s embodied perspective, which may be lacking or biased in many ways due to its positioning (on a physical, social, or symbolic level) and other perceptual or cognitive biases. Even the environment in which this is all playing out can have an impact on perception and communication. For example, it is dark, it is cold, it is windy – these elements could be obstructing clear-sight, drowning out sounds and words or distorting others. So we know that even when limiting our discussion to regular physical perception, there are different ways communication is shared, different ways it is perceived, and many ways that distortions and errors can take place in the communicating and the perceiving and the outside environment in which all of the above is taking place. Still, even with all the errors involved in perception and communication, no one would suggest that Danny or myself or the neighbors cannot see or hear or smell. They might suggest perhaps we need to get our eyes or ears checked, but they wouldn’t say that the perceptual errors or lack of communication therefore now prove that people in fact can’t see or hear or smell or perceive.
Now let’s repeat the above scenario with psi as the primary informant…
Danny’s been working outside for hours now and I’ve been typing away at my computer. I thought my paper was almost done but realize I haven’t adequately explained the concept of embodied consciousness and I decide in that moment to write Danny into one of the examples. I decide to stick him onto a tractor, as he’s always wanted a tractor of his own, and then not only do I break his tractor at the top of the first paragraph, but I then set it on fire. To make matters even more dire, I make him mad. He’s pissed, because now all the work he did today, yesterday and the day before have been wasted.
What I don’t know as I’m creating this lovely story is that in actuality, 30 minutes ago, Danny borrowed the neighbor’s tractor and 20 minutes ago, one of the gears jammed and he had to run and get the fire extinguisher when it started smoking. He’s pissed because now he’s going to have to do the yard work by hand and the neighbor is probably going to expect him to fix the tractor for him without pay. So while the story isn’t exactly 100 percent correct, it just so happens that I wrote about the main elements at the same time they were happening. I would never even have known there was a connection had he not told me later that evening what happened and at what time. This is an example of unconscious psi operating through embodied consciousness.
Or, I’m typing away when I suddenly think of Danny. I know he’s out there in the cold and hasn’t eaten in awhile. In fact, come to think about it, I don’t think he hasn’t eaten all day. I have the thought, “hmmmm, I’m not being a very good partner, I’m always inside typing. I should go outside and see if he needs anything”. I grab some cookies, walk outside, just in time to see him running around to put out the fire that is bursting from the burning tractor that I didn’t know he had borrowed. In this scenario psi is also operating at an unconscious level. I have a compulsion to go outside find Danny. A part of me is aware of Danny’s real needs; he does need attention and help, but this is very much filtered through my own pictures and preconceptions of what he usually needs from me (food, water, a hug) as well as my own ideas about what a good partner does (they make sure their partner is well fed).
Or, maybe I’m sitting there typing when my peaceful writing mode is interrupted by a sudden surge of anxiety and my heart starts palpitating, alerting me to the urgent situation unfolding in my backyard.
Or, perhaps I’m sitting there typing and suddenly I have a memory of the time Danny forgot to put oil in a car and the engine blew up. In this case, the present scenario is impressing itself into my imagination, conjuring up memories that are related to what is happening outside my conscious awareness. Given I’ve had memories come up like this numerous times both in everyday life but even more so in readings and remote viewing sessions that contained helpful information about another person or a remote target, I have learned to pay attention to memories that emerge suddenly, often accompanied with emotions, that seem to have no connection to my physical task at hand. Once again I’ve managed to bring what was unconscious to conscious awareness.
Another possibility however would be that I could be typing along on my computer when a thought intrudes into my awareness and I hear, “There is a fire!”. In this case my clear-cognizance, clairaudience and my telepathy and possibly mediumship could all be at play. I’d consider this type of psi response to be conscious, as it inserted itself into my mind and I was then able to recognize and articulate the words, “There is a fire”.
Or, perhaps I’m sitting there, dozing off when, suddenly, I’m awakened by a voice that sounds like Danny saying, “God damn it, I broke the tractor!”. This is pure telepathy, as in mind to mind communication. I know this because it sounds like it’s in his voice and he’s speaking in the first person with the word “I”. I have been relying on this type of direct communication during my readings with clients more and more lately as it tends to be quite accurate.
Or I can hear a voice but instead of it being Danny’s voice. It might sound like someone else I knew who passed on. The voice might say, “Danny’s in trouble, the tractor is on Fire”. In this case, mediumship, may or may not be involved, but definitely clairaudience (hearing information on an auditory level) is at play. I know it’s not Danny because he’s not talking in the first person, Danny’s being talked about. This is all happening on a conscious level, even though I only heard a few words and don’t understand a lot of it, I know I heard these words.
Another scenario is: I’m sitting at my computer, and I have a sudden visual flash of the car falling off the jack. This startles me, but I push it aside and keep typing. A minute later I get an image of an explosion. I ignore that. A minute later I see an image of Danny’s face, it’s a close up of his eyes. His face which is normally a shade above pale is almost black from soot. I’m aware I’m seeing images, although I don’t know what they mean at first, but the progression is alerting me to the fact something is up with Danny and most likely involving fire. So this is psi operating on a visual (clairvoyant) and conscious level, and it can become more and more conscious with the increasing images – kind of like when watching a movie unfold.
Again, through the above examples, you can see there are bits and pieces of information. They are operating at various levels of consciousness awareness.
We can also see that as in regular perception, there is plenty of room for incorrect perception and miscommunication. Unlike in regular perception however, there are those who would point to incomplete or partially incorrect perceptions or misinterpretations of correct perceptions as evidence that no psi is occurring. It’s a case of throwing out the baby with the bathwater, or maybe trying to drown the baby in the bath water simply because the water was not entirely clean.
Embodied Consciousness as Shared Psi Experiences: An Ethnographic Approach.
Over the past 25 years, my body and its relation to others has served as a lived world laboratory, allowing me to become ever more sensitive to what I would call “embodying the other”. The only way I was able to do this was to observe my own feelings, sensations and thoughts and compare these to the feelings, sensations and thoughts of those around me or to those at a distance, but nevertheless in close relation to me on a mental or emotional level.
Additionally, as part of my work as an instructor and practitioner in what I refer to as the intuitive and healing arts, I have observed these open source connections between and within others on literally hundreds of occasions. In fact, one of the biggest reason people come to me to learn how to develop their psychic abilities these days is because first and foremost they have become aware that they are “empaths” – they possess the ability to feel others emotions and experience their body sensations and often times they don’t know how to control this or stop it. At the same time, this sharing offers hope that they may possess other psychic faculties like thought transference, clairvoyance, etc.
The observations that myself and so many others have noticed (many whom are highly educated, stable, and credentialed individuals) has been confirmed by experimenters such as Bem (2011) and Spottiswoode and May (2003) though demonstrating that when a sender receives a physical stimulus (such as in a form of a surprise enacted on their physical body or when viewing photos on a monitor) and focuses on a receiver hooked up to skin conductance pre-stimulus response equipment miles away, the receiver’s body often produces a reaction a moment or two prior to the thought being sent (Radin, 2000). Research shows that when the sender has a close and established relationship with that person, as in the case of identical twins, results are strengthened (Brusewitz, 2012).
What these researchers haven’t done enough of, in my opinion, is to interview the senders and receivers to find out what was their direct experience during the experiment? It is possible that not only their physical bodies register a response from their diagnostic equipment but that they experience a sensation on a conscious level they can be aware of.
Earlier this year, myself and my twin sister, Amy were invited to serve as both sender and receiver in a telepathy experiment that was testing the skin response of the receiver when a stimulus in the form of a surprise would be applied to the sender in another room. As a receiver, I experienced heart palpitations which is very unusual for me. However, this was not part of what was being tested, and so when I shared this with the experimenters, they acted as if this was extra information they had no use for.
At the same time, what was most interesting to me, is not what was happening between the assigned sender and receiver (my sister and myself), but what seemed to be happening between the experimenter and myself as sender.
My sister first served as a sender with myself as a receiver. Then, when that trial was completed, we switched roles for a second trials. As senders we were told only that at different intervals, they would do something to surprise us. We were to just sit and relax and perhaps focus on the other twin who was sitting in a different room at another part of the hotel hooked up to the skin conductive response test equipment. The researchers assured us as senders that they were not trying to test us in any way, rather they were merely surprising us so that this would create a bodily response in us that would then hopefully send a signal or create a response in our twin that we were emotionally linked to.
However, when both myself and my sister were in the sender roles, we both experienced receiving clairvoyant images that seemed to float into our conscious awareness, alerting us to the fact that we were about to receive the intended stimulus. We estimated afterwards that this tended to happen between a minute to 10 seconds prior to having one of the researchers perform an action to create the surprise (i.e. the stimulus). Given we both spend hours most weeks of our lives, as we are both professional clairvoyant practitioners, it was not an extreme shock to receive these images, we just were not trying to have this happen as we were instructed to do nothing more than sit there and relax. The interesting things for myself, and as described to me later by my sister, is that these images seemed to float in or form slowly in our mind’s eye, assembling themselves into a discernable form, in a way that typically doesn’t happen with clairvoyant images, that seem to be much more static in nature.
Because what was being tested was the timing of the receiver’s skin conductance to the timing of the sender’s reaction of being surprised, when we alerted the researchers to the fact that our own clairvoyance was possibly rendering the sense or timing of the surprise-less effect, they stated they didn’t know what to do with this information as it wasn’t that which was being tested and there was no way to confirm we had in fact received these images. In other words, we could be lying!
This made no sense since my sister advised the researchers about her clairvoyant imagery upon completion her sender duties before interacting with me, and I, without discussing this with my sister, reported it to the researcher upon completion of my duties as sender, but their attitude was, we can test a skin response, we can’t know what you were experiencing in your own mind.
An example of these images are as follows:
My image: Running water
Actual stimulus – Bucket of Ice Water by female researcher.
Image – Oval shaped Eggs breaking