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Scientists are discovering why people say they hear the dead

People who say they hear the dead are more likely to experience auditory hallucinations and turn to spiritism seeking answers.
People who say they hear the dead are more likely to experience auditory hallucinations and turn to spiritism seeking answers.

Can mediums, spiritists, or psychics really hear the dead? A question that curiously interests scientists a lot because they have identified traits that can make a person more likely to claim that they have heard voices of beings from beyond.

Their interest is primarily based on determining if it is possible to find these traits early, which may be key to treating mental illnesses associated with schizophrenia and other types of disorders.

One of the questions that those who investigate the phenomenon of the self-described “Clairaudients” is why some people react “positively” to certain hypersensitivity of the hearing or senses and others develop disturbing auditory hallucinations that can lead to schizophrenic disorders.

According to new research conducted by psychologists Peter Mosely of Northumbria University and Adam Powell of Durham University, both in the UK, the ‘mediums’ are much more predisposed than the general population to have suffered unusual auditory experiences in childhood and to be susceptible to auditory hallucinations.

Spiritist session
Spiritist session

The spiritistic experiences of clairvoyance and clairaudience –the experience of seeing or hearing something in the absence of an external stimulus, and attributed to the spirits of the dead- are of great scientific interest, both for anthropologists who study religious and spiritual experiences and for scientists who study hallucinatory pathological experiences.

What the researchers seek to understand is why some people with these types of experiences form a spiritualistic bond and others find them more distressing and receive a mental health diagnosis.

“Spiritualists tend to report unusual listening experiences that are positive, start early in life, and then can control.” Moseley explained.

“Understanding how they develop is important because it could also help us understand more about the distressing or uncontrollable experiences of hearing voices,” added.

To approximate some conclusions the psychologists conducted a study where surveyed 65 clairaudient mediums members of the UK National Union of Spiritists, and 143 members of the general population who convened through social media.

Religiosity and paranormal beliefs are much stronger in clairaudient people than in the general population.
Religiosity and paranormal beliefs are much stronger in clairaudient people than in the general population.

They sought to determine what differentiated spiritualists from the general public, who do not (generally) claim to have heard the voices of the dead.

Usually, 44.6% of the spiritualists reported hearing voices on a daily basis and 79% said the experiences were part of their daily life. And although the majority said they heard the voices inside their head, 31.7% reported that the voices were also external.

The results of the survey were surprising.

Compared to the general population, Spiritists have a much higher belief in the paranormal and were less likely to care what other people thought of them.

Spiritualists in general had their first hearing experience when they were young, at an average age of 21.7 years, and reported a high level of absorption. That is a term that describes total immersion in mental tasks and activities or altered states, and how effective the individual is in disconnecting from the world around him.

Furthermore, they were found to be more likely to have hallucinatory-like experiences. The researchers noted that they generally had not heard of spiritism prior to their experiences; rather, they had found it while searching for answers.

Helen Duncan, a Scottish medium famous for being the last person convicted and executed for witchcraft.
Helen Duncan, a Scottish medium famous for being the last person convicted and executed for witchcraft.

In the general population, high levels of absorption were also strongly correlated with belief in the paranormal, but little or no susceptibility to auditory hallucinations. And in both groups, there were no differences in levels of belief in the paranormal and susceptibility to visual hallucinations.

These results, the researchers say, suggest that experiencing the ‘voices of the dead’ is therefore unlikely to be the result of peer pressure, a positive social context, or suggestion due to belief in the paranormal. . Instead, these individuals embrace spiritism because it aligns with their experience and is personally meaningful to them.

“Our findings speak volumes about ‘learning and yearning.’ For our participants, the principles of spiritism seem to make sense of both the extraordinary experiences of childhood and the frequent auditory phenomena they experience as practicing mediums. “Powell said.

“But all of those experiences can result more from having certain early tendencies or abilities than from simply believing in the possibility of contacting the dead if one tries hard enough.”

Future research, they concluded, should explore a variety of cultural contexts to better understand the relationship between absorption, belief, and the strange spiritual experience of whispering ghosts.

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Kim Diaz

Kim recently joined the team, and she writes for the Headline column of the website. She has done major in English, and a having a diploma in Journalism.

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