SPR LECTURE - TERENCE PALMER - THE SCIENCE OF SPIRIT POSSESSION
Terence Palmer has a degree in psychology from Canterbury Christ Church University and a master’s degree in the study of mysticism and religious experience from Kent University. He has been a hypnotherapist for 20 years and a spirit release practitioner for 12 years. His doctorate was awarded by the University of Wales at Bangor for his thesis, A Revised Epistemology for an Understanding of Spirit Release Therapy in Accordance with the conceptual Framework of F.W.H. Myers. He is the first SRT practitioner to be awarded a PhD on the topic of SRT in the UK. His thesis has been published under the title, The Science of Spirit Possession. Terence is a member of The Society for Psychical Research, The Scientific and Medical Network and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Medicine. Although retired from clinical practice, he is active in encouraging UK institutions to take up the challenge to test the efficacy of SRT under controlled conditions.
THE SCIENCE OF SPIRIT POSSESSION
Anthropologists, religious exorcists and psychiatrists all approach the enigmas of spirit possession from differing perspectives and unsurprisingly fail to arrive at a consensual explanation for the phenomena. This creates problems for therapeutic interventions for perceived spirit possession cases. However, the 19th century researcher F.W.H. Myers developed a conceptual framework using rigorous scientific methods that provides a unified theory to explain all forms of spirit possession across all cultures, religions and societies. Myers declared that all so-called paranormal and supernatural phenomena are natural and normal, and all such experiences exist on a continuum of human experience. Discarded, forgotten and denied by mainstream science until now, Myers is being re-discovered by 21st century psychology. Using Myers scientific framework, this book fills the gaps in knowledge left by the inadequate theories of anthropology and psychiatry, and gives religious exorcism and clinical practice an alternative approach to research and intervention that is grounded in pragmatic and proven clinical experience.
Spirit Release Therapy, as a clinical alternative to religious exorcism and traditional shamanistic practice is largely unknown by mainstream medical practice and psychiatry. This is due to several interrelated factors. Primarily, materialistic science does not recognise any concept of a spirit world and doctors are therefore not yet trained in SRT principles and techniques. SRT sits uncomfortably between the disbelief of a materialist secular society and the subjective experience of spirit possession: whether that experience is a symptom of psychosis, symbolic representation, socio-cultural expectation or a veridical manifestation. In contrast to the monism of mechanistic science, every culture and religious belief system throughout human history has its traditional beliefs of spirit possession in some form or another with corresponding rituals for the release or exorcism of spirit entities. It is common knowledge that Christianity has its angels, devils and demons (although the majority of modern so-called Christians probably don’t believe they really exist). Islam has its Jinns and the Hindus have a variety of evil spirits.
The conflict between the epistemologies of modern science and religion lies in the conceptual differences in perception that are arrived at through empirical data and radical empirical experience. In short, it is a difference between what we believe to be true and what we know to be true.
Modern science is physics based, mechanical and grounded in the four-dimensional space-time continuum. But Frederic Myers and others have argued for a broader natural science that embraces not only the physical but also the mental, emotional and the spiritual. To try to accommodate all human experiences within a mechanistic scientific framework is untenable and unworkable.
To permit the accommodation of all human experience into a broader scientific framework is a scary prospect for several reasons. But fear is the cause of all human suffering, and only when medical science puts aside its own fears of being proven wrong can it treat sickness effectively by showing how fear is to be remedied. The spirit that possesses the human being is the teacher, but a teacher that has to be experienced, acknowledged and embraced as a reality.
© 2014 Terence J. Palmer
Campden Hill Road