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Standardizing Investigations, Does It Always Work?
#1
When we investigate the paranormal, we are searching for the truth. What if sometimes the truth comes out by unconventional methods though? The case I am referring to is a real case, and the results were real...but they were almost missed because of failing prequalifying questions upon initial personal interview with the client. Because of confidentiality neither the investigators nor the client will be identified in this post. Instead, I ask that you trust that this scenario did in fact occur.

Late 2008 a respected paranormal team was asked to investigate the home of a single woman in the Eastern United States. The teams schedule was at capacity, so they were unable to add her to thier iternerary for several weeks. Once the team did arrive, they found the client had continued to be harrassed by voices in the home and out of need to keep her sanity, had recently sought psychiatric help. One week prior to the teams arrival, she had seen a mental health professional who had diagnosed schizophrenia and placed her on medications. Since the medications were new, they hadn't begun to help the voices she was hearing yet.

The team sat down at the woman's kitchen table and talked with her. One of the investigators turned on a digital recorder and captured the interview on the recorder. The client answered all of the interview questions including the health and psychological questions honestly, and questions about current medications. The researcher nearly wrapped up when they learned of the recent schizophrenia diagnosis and refused to take the time to complete the investigation. One team member however had an idea...

She kept rolling the recording and asked an offbeat series of questions to the client and asked the client to write down the responses she heard 'in her head'. This Q&A session lasted for nearly an hour. The investigator took the paper with the written responses back to the teams office facility and reviewed the voice recorded interview which had as well been filmed on video camera.

What she discovered was a series of EVP's (electronic voice phenomena) which perfectly lined up with the responses the client had written down as hearing very plainly. The video documentation confirmed that no one in the group had read what the client had written out loud as she wrote down the answers to the questions.

The result was that the paranormal investigations group had captured the womans voices in her head on a digital recorder. The client hadn't gone insane. The client hearing voices wasn't schizoprenic in the first place. She had developed psychic sensitivities and the voices she was hearing were captured in a series of many EVP's. The client, along with the recorded documentation the team discovered approached her psychiatrist with the results of the interview. Her doctor dismissed her from his care and approved removing her from her prescribed medications.

The paranormal investigations team had every justification in refusing to look into the matter further once the client revealed her psychiatric diagnosis. Instead they chose to at least talk to the woman and gain more information, as they had travelled a long way to see her and she had waited for weeks to see them. What they found via the captured EVP's was that she was in fact hearing things that others couldn't hear with thier own ears.

Sometimes, that which we cannot explain will reveal itself in mysterious ways. In this case, one team member with an instinct that defied the rules brought closure and comfort to a client. Something which might not have occured had they just packed up and left when they got to the all telling mental health history. Not every case is neatly packaged, and not every case can find the answers by always following a strict standard.

What do you think?
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#2
While I do think that all aspects, including mental distress or illness must be looked at and ruled out...this case is certainly interesting. I am not psychic, nor do I know what it would feel like to be one, but I can certainly believe that someone with those gifts would experience a lot of the same symptoms as someone with a diagnosable mental illness.

I think for every rule there is an exception..and it sounds like this particular case may have been one of those exceptions. I'm glad someone on the team was willing to think outside the box long enough to look past what had been diagnosed.

It's my opinion that this case was an exception, and it doesn't rule out the importance of going to a doctor and seeing what else may be at play...but it is a good example of those exceptions that do occur.
“Reality is that which, when you stop believing in it, doesn't go away.” ~Philip K. Dick

http://paranormalinreview2.zohosites.com/home.html

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#3
First let me say that no one is an expert so is there a right and wrong? Now seeing this was a busy team I am surprised they didn't write it off, but once again it comes down to your interview process. The field should always be evolving as we search for answers. Now the interview process would of sent up a red flag with the seeing a psychologist. That said the hours of phone interview also give you answers as to if you want to proceed. People are different and interview methods are different as well. An established team with to many investigations could easily write this off. A team that has trouble finding investigations would probably jump at any chance to investigate. That said they often take cases they shouldn't. Another problem I see is people do an investigation and don't find anything not even things to debunk. They write it off as nothing found. Now I have seen where a second or third investigation is required to be sure or find something.

That said I still think investigations need to evolve to electronics, with data loggers placed in a clients home. More data to look at but more data to see a trend with. The equipment I WANT to use doesn't exist and i'm not smart enough or rich enough to design it. In the mean time every client needs to document every experience by time and date so we can look for patterns.

Now as far as standardizing investigations, I think you can set a basic method but every team should have variations and should always be thinking outside the box. Every team member and every client is different so every investigation should be as well.
Belief bias occurs when we make illogical conclusions in order to confirm our preexisting beliefs. Belief perseverance refers to our tendency to maintain a belief even after the evidence we used to form the belief is contradicted.
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#4
What a comfort that truly must have been to that woman!

I'm glad to see that one of the team did indeed think outside the box. I think when you're dealing with something like the paranormal that doesn't fit within the scientific rule set, you simply must think outside the box. Is it really an option not to do so? No. It's not like investigating the aftermath of a disaster such as flood, fire or volcano. In those cases... evidence is present via all our senses.

I agree with UNR that investigations need to be over extended time and I think there does need to be some form of structure or rules in place but there has to be an open mindedness present to realize that each and every case is different.

Spirits or entities are not going to show up just because a team is present for 3 or 6 or 12 or even 24 hours. It might take a month of audio and visual tapes to record the big find or even several small ones. If investigators don't have psychic abilities to see spirits they aren't going to see anything anyway, although they might hear something or see something move out of it's place. This is why I said in another post that I do believe an investigative team does need a trusted psychic present. I just don't think spirits perform with queue cards.

Perhaps psychiatrists should take their work one step further with home visits and recordings before they leap to the chart with a diagnosis of a life affecting mental disorder and scribble out yet another script or scripts before they collect their minimum of $200 and send someone home thinking they are crazy in one form or another.
The teacher who is indeed wise does not bid you to enter the house of his wisdom but rather leads you to the threshold of your mind.

- Kahlil Gibran
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#5
I don't know that the diagnosis would turn me off to the investigation. If the woman was coherant and able to hold a conversation with me during the interview process, the diagnosis to me would just be a word.

Maybe it's because I'm used to dealing with mentally ill people, having grown up with them my whole life. But to me, someone telling me that they saw a psychiatrist in regards to paranormal activity is no different than a person saying she saw clergy man or a wiccan priestess to have their house cleansed.

Unfortunately in the case of the psychiatrist, their only solution is to throw money and pills at the problem. But fortunately the team decided not to further victimize the client by obeying the social stigma of a person given the diagnosis.

They used the same scientific approach that you use when investigating any client's claims and they got results. They continued with the mindset of helping this person and putting her at ease.
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#6
I thought that was a really interesting case, Lady K.

I have always pondered this issue myself - that sometimes the "symptoms" of a haunting/possession/spiritual gifts can sometimes be similar to that of mental illness. I have worked in mental health for two years, and I have seen the occasional patient that has made me wonder about this very issue.

I'm so glad for the womans sake that she was listened to and given the chance. Had the team wrapped up because of her mental health, she would likely still be suffering now.

It's something thats always haunted me: what if there are spiritually opressed people locked in psychiatric wards? Rare probably - but I bet it happens.
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#7
(09-18-2010, 11:12 AM)Fiona Wrote: I thought that was a really interesting case, Lady K.

I have always pondered this issue myself - that sometimes the "symptoms" of a haunting/possession/spiritual gifts can sometimes be similar to that of mental illness. I have worked in mental health for two years, and I have seen the occasional patient that has made me wonder about this very issue.

I'm so glad for the womans sake that she was listened to and given the chance. Had the team wrapped up because of her mental health, she would likely still be suffering now.

It's something thats always haunted me: what if there are spiritually opressed people locked in psychiatric wards? Rare probably - but I bet it happens.

I think it happens more often than most would be willing to admit. There's also the point that mentally ill individuals are still just as likely to have psychic gifts as the next person. Being psychic doesn't mean you can't be mentall ill and being mentally ill doesn't mean you can't be psychic.

Thier illness however would leave them little ability to cope with thier gifting.
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#8
That's very true - one element can certainly come along with the other. Genuinely seeing/hearing the dead AND suffering with mental illness has got to be one tough road to go down.

There are patients that claim they can see and hear beings around them... they get treated for schizophrenia and/or similar illnesses, they undergo counselling, medication and in-patient treatment, but not one thing changes. They still hear and see those beings. That to me says... maybe they really are sensing something real. Sometimes things are really what they appear to be.

I just feel painfully sorry for those receiving psychiatric help when, in fact, they need help of a spirtual nature that they may never get.
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#9
Thank you for this thread Lady K! I personally have been labeled "Bipolar mood disorder with psychotic features" however of late I've wondered if I wasn't what I've been labeled as and just gifted. The medicine I've had has never made anything go away. Guess what the psychotic features were from? Seeing/hearing things that "weren't there". Infact the only thing that has made it "go away" is thinking I'm crazy...and well that didn't actually make it go away it just came stronger later in life! I know I do personally have issues due to my rough childhood and the thinking patters I picked up during my youth I am not crazy though. Only when my husband said "I believe you. I know your not crazy." did I ever find enough confidence to face what I've been seeing/hearing and try to search out possible answers/reasons.

I found this forum by googling "psychic ability and mental illness" because I felt so lost at what the difference was. I mean the people in the bible sound pretty mentally ill to me from what I know of mental illnesses however they were said to be spiritual people. I've asked professionals I see (Theropists/Psychiatrists) the difference between mentally ill people and spiritually gifted/people with psychic abilities and the funny thing is they often told me they believed in people with spiritual gifts that go beyond what normal humans do however they really couldn't answer that for me. My opinion is yes there are people with mental illnesses however that doesn't mean their not gifted. Nor does it mean that people who have been told are mentally ill are not just spiritually gifted and haven't realised it.

I'm so happy for this lady and the investigator whos courage had them try anyways. I bet she feels so relived to know shes not schizophrenic as well as being grateful to the investigator. I also think this happens much more then people realise. Thank you again for this post!

@Nate: I'm glad to hear you feel this way towards people who've been diagnosed this or that. While its good to take it into consideration while doing an investigation for safetys sake I don't think people should take what a person is labeled as to heart the way they do (or I've seen people do to me). I like the way you look at it though:
"someone telling me that they saw a psychiatrist in regards to paranormal activity is no different than a person saying she saw clergy man or a wiccan priestess to have their house cleansed."
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