Monday, February 16, 2009

Telepathy vs. Delusion

My interest in telepathy is mostly with the special type of telepathy I call “spoken telepathy.” When a person reports telepathic ability we are faced with this conundrum: is this person talking to someone else someplace in the world or just talking to themselves? When a person chooses to turn to this extra-ordinary form of communication they must also turn away from the normal communication. One end of the conversation or the other must feel no one is listening, no one gets it, and no one cares. In the beginning they probably imagine that someone is listening and understands. Then something happens to those imaginary conversations. They became “real,” at least to that person. But as we observe this person; how do we determine if the subject is listening to the paranormal world or a delusion?

The scientific community usually assumes that they are “talking to themselves.” The scientific method requires a doctor to seek out the simplest answer first. These people are presumed to be delusional not telepathic. From the beginning of serious psychological study — more than a hundred years — a person who believed that they heard voices that were coming from other peoples minds had been considered psychotic. The reports by parapsychologists of genuine telepathic communication had been ignored in favor of the “simpler” answer. Indeed most tests of mental patients who claimed telepathic ability did not supported their claims.

But many researchers are reconsidering their earlier explanations after studying experiences like the one I reported in my book Operation Blue Light: My Secret Life among Psychic Spies. Here is one thread of the story:

I was twenty-two years old in the summer of 1966 and my growing psychic ability was causing many troubles. By that first week in July I was driving around the country and trying to make since out of the voices in my head. One of them said, “I want to talk to you, Philip.” This voice was different, he knew my name and he spoke slowly, not with the urgency that most armatures used.

“Well, talk,” I said. There was a long pause. “What do you want to say?”

He said, “I want you to go home.”

“I’m not done yet,” I said.

He was different. I couldn’t get a sense of his body movements like I usually could. His lips were not moving. His head was not moving. “Are you asleep?” I asked. “Wake up and remember this! Find a place and time when I can talk to you. Remember that my name is Philip Chabot.”

That afternoon, I got into a mental conversation with a man who had a high-pitched voice. I thought it was the same man I had talked to in his dream earlier. I hadn’t noticed his voice before, but he was asleep. (I could never associate a name with the voices.) By now, I was always assigning some show business name to all those I talked to a second time. I thought of him as the Jerry Lewis type. But, my intuition kept telling me this man was somehow affiliated or connected in some way to Dr. Joyce Brothers. He had the tenor voice of Jerry Lewis and the deep concentration that he could focus on you, and he and had the professional interest in some kind of psychology and he was talking with people about me.

For some reason, he wanted me to write a letter. I told him I would. He was the only person who really seemed to know me and wanted to help me. His was the only voice I heard twice that I believed wasn’t some kind of spy…

I got a postcard from the desk in the room and wrote, “I like your work.”

Then I addressed it to Jerry Lewis, Hollywood, California. I got a stamp from the clerk at the desk of the motel. Then I dropped it in the mail.

Two days latter as I was leaving the jail in Lebanon Missouri. My dad said, “Philip, your psychiatrist said that he had a vivid dream about you. He actually thought that you were going to send him a letter when he woke up. In that way, we would know where you were.” He smiled. “Don’t kid him about it, son. He is very serious.”

“Damn!” I thought. Then I realized that the voice I named as Jerry Lewis was “Dr. Austin.” He was the one who was asleep. Then he remembered and talked to me about it. He was the one I thought was talking to Dr. Joyce Brothers. I was going to have to explain that I sent the postcard to Jerry Lewis because he had such a high voice.

I hoped he would understand. I decided not to tell anyone except “Dr. Austin.”

So I was lucky to have a doctor who not only understood me pretty well but also one who communicated with me telepathically and shared his firm belief that he had communicated with me telepathically. He had even talked with a number of people about it, including my parents. Not only that but this Doctor, I called “Dr. Austin” in the book, was also questioned by the FBI because of the rest of the story. But you will have to read the book to get those details. He and I were able to tell that my belief in telepathy was real.

So we come back to the question: How could a psychiatrist or anyone who heard someone tell a story of telepathic communication know if it is real or delusional? I am afraid that I can not offer any simple answer to this question. Neither the telepath nor the observer will be able to know quickly and easily if the communication is real or imaginary. Rather we must turn to the richness of the experience. During a truly telepathic communication the psychic gets much more than just the words. I would get a since of the personality, the ambiance of the place and I would know how comfortable the subject of the communication was in their world.

So it was the richness of the communication that convinced me I was talking to real people not just the words they were thinking to me. In a larger since we have to ask “Is there any real difference in how the subject should be treated.” “Shouldn’t we develop a more conventional way of communicating.” I decided to turn away from using my psychic ability and to develop other skills and live mostly without the psychic ability that had provided a refuge for me as I struggled to start a life for myself. I waited for retirement to write my book and look back on the experiences from a distance.

Chabot, Philip; Operation Blue Light: My Secret Life among Psychic Spies; © 2008 Published by Cherubim Publishing, Sacramento, California.

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