Monday, October 7, 2013

Haunted People: Story of the poltergeist down the centuries

Haunted People: Story of the poltergeist down the centuries © 1951 by
Hereward Carrington (17 October 1880 – 26 December 1958)
and Nandor Fodor (13 May 1895 –  17 May 1964)
Signet Mystic Book

I like to use my IPad to view old episodes of “One Step Beyond” from YouTube as I do my daily half hour on my stationary bicycle. One episode from last week’s workout was Number 70 from Season 3. It was called “The Voice” and it was about a talking raccoon that turned out to be a manifestation of a poltergeist. It was Nandor Fodor who is credited with pointing out that poltergeists are often centered about young/sexually inexperienced people usually girls. This voice often happened around a young girl in the household. I recognized the story it was based on.  It was the television version of the old “Talking Mongoose” that had been so thoroughly researched by Nandor Fodor for his book along with Hereward Carrington:  Haunted People. So I dusted off an old copy in my library and decided to tell you about it.  

After introducing the subject of the Poltergeist Hereward Carrington lists over 300 historical cases chronologically and provides a short description. Then he tells of some classic cases of poltergeist activity. First, the Phelps Case in Stratford, Connecticut, that lasted about a year and a half starting in 1850 the phenomena were mostly raping’s. Then, A Jinn in Transylvania, that obligingly dropped coins when the medium was short on money and cigars when he needed a smoke, then all manner of odds and ends. The research had to end in 1914 with the beginning of WWI. And finally A Poltergeist in Mauritius. He reports stones falling inside and outside of homes, during 1937.

The second part of the book is by Nandor Fodor, as well as researching and documenting cases he brings the psychoanalyst perspective to the subject. First he discusses The Saragossa Ghost, from 1934 in Spain. Here he identifies the young servant girl and the center of the “unconscious ventriloquism”. He then presents a chapter on, The Psychoanalytic Approach to the Problems of Occultism. Dr. Fodor was the first to apply psychoanalytical techniques to the study of the occult and found the poltergeist a fertile field for those studies. He declared, “The poltergeist is not a ghost. It is a bundle of projected repressions. No psychoanalyst could dream of a more glorious opportunity for the study of psychic mechanism than that offered by the bedlam of a poltergeist-haunted home.”  Next he turns his attention to, The Case of the Bell Witch, from the John Bell farm in Robertson County, Tennessee from 1817 to 1821. The term “poltergeist” was not yet used at the time but Dr. Fodor uses it here to describe the events that have been written about generally as “The Bell Witch” and were the basis for the 2008 movie by that name. He notes that “modern poltergeist, no matter how much mischief or destruction they wreak, stop short of murder. The Bell Witch did not, and it only ceased its activities after the death by poisoning of John Bell, the head of the household, whom it tortured and persecuted with a fury of unrelenting savagery.” He focuses his analysis on the daughter Betsy Bell. And he speculates that, “Betsy Bell, as a small child, was victimized by her own father. John Bell, as so many neurotic fathers do, had taken with her sexual liberties, the memory of which inspired increasing horror in both as the years progressed.”  He then spends more than 30 pages on, The Truth about the Talking Mongoose. The mongoose not only talked but would catch rabbits and bring back gossip from around their Isle of Man. The mongoose was very shy and did not take to strangers or want it picture taken. Mnay things about the behavior of Gef, that is what he liked to be called, did not match what we expect of a poltergeist or any other psychic entity. The source of Gef’s extraordinary abilities may never be known. Various other reports of Gef have added skills not observed by Dr. Fodor, like multilingualism, and survival of the death of the animal himself. Reluctantly Nandor Fodor felt obliged to conclude that perhaps the best explanation for the events was that there once really was a talking mongoose on the Isle of Man.

  The last section of the book is called, The Poltergeist---psychoanalyzed.  Here Dr. Fodor shows how great an insight can be gained to the poltergeist by using the tools of psychoanalyses.


Sunday, August 4, 2013

How to Read Your Mother’s Mind

“How to Read Your Mother’s Mind” by James M. Deem Illustrated by True Kelly, Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston © 1994

This is a young reader’s book that caught my eye as I read over the suggested reading list of the American Society for Psychical Research. I also defiantly recommend it to young readers. It is well illustrated and provides a good introduction to the wide field and its need for controls during research. It may serve to enlighten a student interested in psychology or parapsychology.

The first part of the book describes the essentials of ESP. Here James M Deem attempts to answer the questions like “Is ESP always a dramatic event?”, “Does ESP always happen in dreams?” Here he also introduces some of the testing techniques used by parapsychologist and gives warnings about alternate explanations for some test results.

The second half suggests some ideas about how to develop your ESP potential. Suggestion number one: be young. The illustrations are lively and fun. I personally like the one age about the personality of psychics. It seems to be a good summary of the topic. He covers a variety of testing situations and targets and evaluates them for the likelihood of success.

He goes on to suggest ways to evaluate ESP stories and suggests keeping a diary of your experiences.

It is still available used form Amazon for pennies (plus shipping and handling of course)

Sunday, July 28, 2013

One Step Beyond and the media

I have been reading and waiting to restart this blog’s contribution to the internet for some time.   I just cannot wait any longer to share this find. I recently finished what quickly has become one of my favorite all time books: An Analytical Guide to Television’s One Step Beyond 1959-1961 by John Kenneth Muir. I remember this show adding to the wonder of my teenage years and to the family discussion of psychic experiences. 

This classic TV show just continues to give. Now the episodes are available on /  Most are one episode to a 25 minute file but some are in 2 or 3 parts; still I believe they are all there. With the help of this book I am able to read the full list of episodes; and find them on my IPad each morning. I spend a half hour on my stationary bike watching One Step Beyond on / and getting in shape. I am now up number 35 of 96.

John Kenneth Muir has made a great contribution to the study of psychic phenomena in media by dissecting the first of many significant TV shows from the ABC network on that subject. He starts by pointing out that some earlier studies have mistakenly given credit to Twilight Zone as the “first” in the genera but One Step Beyond was a full season ahead and Twilight Zone and fundamentally different in that it tried to be true to what parapsychologists have found in their studies. Some stories are about real events that happened and others are dramatizations of the type of events found and studied by parapsychologist. Mr. Muir makes an effort find the cases that each One Step Beyond dramatizes or to explain the fundamental truth shown in the story.

He gives credit to John Newland as the show’s host and director; and points out the craftsmanship and storytelling skills in each show. Mr. Muir had the opportunity to interview John Newland before his death in 2000.  These insights help us to see more of the dedication and skill that went into each of these half hour shows.

The shows were filmed in the late 50’s so it could and did cast many younger versions of today’s big stars: William Shatner, Warren Beatty, Leonard Nimoy and on the book’s cover Cloris Lechman. During that time most dramas were half hours long and I personally much prefer that length.  I believe it was the bankers that wanted all these hour long shows and with few exceptions we all suffer as a result. It seems most are just two half hour shows pasted together. And the whole is not bigger than it parts. One Step Beyond comes from a time when TV earned the time we spent watching it. An Analytical Guide ot Television’s One Step Beyond 1959-1961 helps up enjoy and appreciate that legacy.

Muir, John Kenneth   An Analytical Guide to Television’s One Step Beyond 1959-1969, Jefferson, North Carolina: McFarland & Company,Inc., 2001.

www/ “One Step Beyond”  “(episode title)”