Scientific research on mediums and the mediums’ role in the bereavement process
Mediumship is commonly seen as a phenomenon one has to ‘believe’ in and not as something that can be scientifically tested.
Today however, research on mediums is expanding and their natural abilities scientifically checked and I thought it would be useful to look at what we know about mediums and the role they have to play in helping people to bereave. After all, this is mediumship’s main objective: to help alleviate the burden of grief by showing that life never cease to exist and that death of the physical body only represents the person’s transition into the spirit world.
What does the scientific community know about mediums?
As early as 1880, researchers used objective and scientific methods to examine the claims on the existence of mediumship. However, in the 1930s the mounting frustration in not being able to explain mediums’ source of information led to a disinterest of the scientific community.
Nowadays, we are assisting to a renewed interest in the topic, and research centres on mediumship are expanding. Modern research on mediums examines the accuracy of the messages given, mediums’ psychological characteristics, and the potential clinical applications of mediumship readings in the treatment of bereavement.
As a medium myself, I am currently taking part in an interesting research study examining how mediums control their perceptual experiences of hearing and seeing spirit.
Precision of the ‘messages’ given
Readings performed by 20 mediums over the telephone under controlled, more than double-blind, laboratory conditions that address alternative explanations for the source of the mediums’ statements such as cueing, overly general information, and even precognition, demonstrate the phenomenon of Anomalous Information Reception (AIR), that is, the reporting of accurate and specific information about deceased people to the living people who survive them, named sitters without prior knowledge about the deceased or sitters, in the absence of sensory feedback, and without using deceptive means (Beischel et al., 2015).
EEG findings from 6 pre-screened mediums suggest that the specific mental state occurring during communication with the deceased might differ from normal thinking or imagination (Delorme et al., 2013).
Research which examines the psychological characteristics of mediums has demonstrated that they do not show symptoms of mental illness and they have higher psychological well- being and experience less stress than non-mediums (reviewed in Beischel, 2018).
Research exists showing that spontaneous after-death communication experiences (ADCs), this is to say when a person has a spontaneous and direct contact with a passed loved one, have a positive impact on grief. Pilot data suggests similar effects from assisted ADCs during readings with mediums (reviewed in Beischel, Mosher, & Boccuzzi, 2014-2015)
Grief is resolved when the bereaved is able to understand and recognise the continuing bonds with their passed loved ones (Klass and Steffen, 2017). Sittings with mediums may demonstrate the continuing bonds between the sitter and the passed loved ones. Therefore, mediumship can contribute to the positive impact on the person’s grief.
Possible therapeutic benefits of mediumship
A study conducted in 2014(reviewed in Beischel, Mosher, & Boccuzzi, 2014-2015) asked the 89 participants to the study to retrospectively rate their levels of grief before and after their sitting with a medium. The findings show that the levels of grief were reduced after the sitting with the medium.
It is also to be noted that 29 participants were also working with mental health specialists as part of their approach to overcome grief.
✓ This last study makes me hope that we will see psychotherapists, psychologists and other mental health specialists work hand in hand with mediums one day to help people overcome grief, and finally bridge the gap between the traditional ways of treating grief and the less traditional ways that mediumship represents.
Because it is only by joining forces that we can serve others best.
Much of the information gathered here is visible on the Windbride center website at https://www.windbridge.org/
Klass, D., & Steffen, E. M. (Eds.). (2018). Continuing Bonds in Bereavement: New Directions for Research and Practice. OMEGA – Journal of Death and Dying. 2019;79(3):340-342. doi:10.1177/0030222819839801
Delorme, A., Beischel. J., Michel, L., Boccuzzi, M., Radin, D., & Mills, P. J. (2013). Electrocortical activity associated with subjective communication with the deceased. Frontiers in Psychology, 4: 834. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2013.00834
Beischel, J., Boccuzzi, M., Biuso, M., & Rock, A. J. (2015). Anomalous information reception by research mediums under blinded conditions II: Replication and extension. EXPLORE: The Journal of Science & Healing, 11(2), 136-142. doi: 10.1016/j.explore.2015.01.001
Beischel, J., Mosher, C. & Boccuzzi, M. (2014-2015). The possible effects on bereavement of assisted after-death communication during readings with psychic mediums: A continuing bonds perspective. Omega: Journal of Death and Dying, 70(2), 169-194. doi: 10.2190/OM.70.2.