Carlos S. Alvarado, PhD, Research Fellow, Parapsychology Foundation

Like any other phenomenon, mediumship can be studied from different conceptual and disciplinary perspectives. The works presented here are recent publications illustrating this.

Beischel, J., Boccuzzi, M., Biuso, M,, & Rock, A.J. (2015). Anomalous Information Reception by Research Mediums Under Blinded Conditions II: Replication and Extension. Explore: Journal of Science and Healing, 11, 136-142.

Context. The examination of the accuracy and specificity of information reported by mediums addresses the existence of non-local information transfer. Objective. This study was designed to replicate and extend a previous methodology achieving positive findings regarding the anomalous reception of information about deceased individuals by research mediums under experimental conditions that eliminate conventional explanations, including cold reading, rater bias, experimenter cueing, and fraud. Design. Mediumship readings were performed over the phone under blinded conditions in which mediums, raters, and experimenters were all blinded. Participants. A total of 20 Windbridge Certified Research Mediums WCRMs participated in 86 readings. Main Outcome Measures. Accuracy and specificity were assessed through item scores, global reading scores, and forced-choice selections provided by blinded sitters. Results. (1) Comparisons between blinded target and decoy readings regarding the estimated percentage accuracy of reading items (n = 27, P = .05, d = 0.49), (2) comparisons regarding the calculated percentage accuracy of reading items (n = 31, P = .002, d = 0.75), (3) comparisons regarding hits vs. misses (n = 31, P < .0001 and P = .002 for different reading sections), (4) comparisons regarding global scores (n = 58, P = .001, d = 0.57), and (5) forced-choice reading selections between blinded target and decoy readings (n = 58, P = .01) successfully replicate and extend previous findings demonstrating the phenomenon of anomalous information reception (AIR), the reporting of accurate and specific information without prior knowledge, in the absence of sensory feedback, and without using deceptive means. Because the experimental conditions of this study eliminated normal, sensory sources for the information mediums report, a non-local source (however controversial) remains the most likely explanation for the accuracy and specificity of their statements.

Cunningham, P.F. (2012). The Content–Source Problem in Modern Mediumship Research. Journal of Parapsychology, 76, 295-319.

This article examines the methodological issue of whether the content of mediumistic/channeled communications can be used to determine the source of those communications (“content-source problem”) within the context of the trance possession mediumship of Jane Roberts. The Seth material receives a thorough new examination in light of three approaches to the content-source problem in modern mediumship research that promises to advance the present state of discussion of this issue. A process-oriented investigation of phenomenological processes underlying Roberts’s channeling experience, a hermeneutic examination of Roberts’s channeling behavior, and a rhetorical analysis of the dictated Seth material offer novel analyses of the Seth phenomenon that might shed some light on the case.

Darghawth, R. (2013). Contemporary Mediumship: Anthropological Perspectives on the Long Island Medium. Totem: The University of Western Ontario Journal of Anthropology, 21, Issue 1, Article 9.

Bereavement following the loss of a loved one has and always will remain a panhuman constant. An increasingly popularized form of healing is asserting itself in the form of mediumship. This paper seeks to investigate contemporary forms of mediumship in North America through critical analysis of the TLC show, Long Island Medium. Rather than questioning the validity of such practices, it instead strives to deconstruct the symbolic healing system surrounding the medium. This healing system serves to assure cultural constructions of an afterlife while acknowledging the presence and ability of spirits gaining agency through after-death communication. Furthermore, this paper seeks to assert that mediumship can in fact draw the bereaved from the liminal state of mourning into active life once again.

Massicotte, C. (2013). Talking Nonsense: Spiritual Mediums and Female Subjectivity in Victorian and Edwardian Canada. (2013). University of Western Ontario – Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository. Paper 1656.

This study traces the development of mediumship in Canada in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Especially popular among women, this practice offered them an important space of expression. Concealing their own identities under spiritual possession, mediums ubiquitously invoked well-known historical figures in séances to transmit their opinions on current issues. As such, they were able to promote new ideas to interested audiences without claiming responsibility for their potentially controversial words. While many studies have been conducted in the United States, Britain, and France regarding the significant role of mediumship in the emergence of women on the political scene, very few have approached this history in Canada. My research defends the importance of studying mediums’ discourses as they provide rare access to Canadian women’s perspectives at a time when public speaking was restricted for them. More particularly, I argue that séances provided women a disguised means to explore, discuss, and reconfigure the notion of female agency within a variety of public and private platforms. I read séances through the works of major figures in feminism and psychoanalysis in order to demonstrate how the complexity of subjectivity performed by mediums questioned traditional understandings of discourse and agency. Examining the trance communications of mediums from pioneering author Susanna Moodie to suffragist Flora MacDonald Denison, among others, my objective is to shed new light on the relations between women and politics, while defending a more inclusive understanding of the historical past that addresses yet unexplored forms of women’s participation in sexual, cultural, and political debates.

Osborne, G., & Bacon, A.M. (2015) The Working Life of a Medium: A Qualitative Examination of Mediumship as a Support Service for the Bereaved. Mental Health, Religion & Culture, 1-13,

Despite widespread scepticism, it has been estimated that around 10% of the UK adult population regularly visit a medium and television programmes showing mediumship demonstrations draw in millions of viewers. While many assume mediumship to be purely for entertainment, an alternative discourse presents it as being a service offered to comfort and support the bereaved. In this qualitative study, data were collected through semi-structured interviews with nine working mediums and examined with an interpretative phenomenological analysis which aims to understand the lived experiences of participants. Three key superordinate themes emerged, Responsibility and Ethics, Passion to Help and Therapeutic Value. These themes are discussed in terms of mediums’ perception of their work as a helping profession and an ethical framework which illustrates awareness of the vulnerability of sitters. We also consider whether mediums may be equipped to deal with sitters experiencing complicated grief.

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