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.


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