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

Here is a new article about mediumship.

Contribution to the Study of the Possession Trance Mediumship of Jane Roberts, by Paul F. Cunningham. Journal of Parapsychology, 2019, 83, 248-267.


This article presents a new examination of the possession trance mediumship of Jane Roberts, the woman who channeled the purported discarnate entity called Seth between 1963 and Roberts’s mediumship has generally been overlooked by the parapsychological research community. The purpose of the present article is to fill this gap in the literature. This article presents a preliminary description of Jane Roberts’s mediumship for parapsychologists who may be unfamiliar with the case, including an account of Roberts’s personal life and mediumistic career. The relevance of Roberts’s mediumship for parapsychology is examined. A comparison with the Patience Worth case is presented and the paranormal character of the Roberts mediumship is evaluated.

Jane Roberts

Jane Roberts

According to the author:

“The challenge for psychology is to explain how Jane Roberts . . . could suddenly possess, in full-blown fashion with no apparent previous study or instruction and no gradual development, an ability to compose internally coherent philosophical, psychological, spiritual, and ethical material of a very high order of originality, conceptual sophistication, and intellectual rigor in long complex narratives, laying the material aside sometimes for weeks or months and then resuming without difficulty or review, with no period of fumbling and no declension in average quality, but with the same facility and power from start to finish, while in a possession trance (i.e., a “temporary alteration of consciousness, identity, and/or behavior” with “replacement by an alternate identity” attributed to a spiritual force or another person . . . A review of Jane Roberts’s background indicates that the causative factors of past experience and environment that psychologists are accustomed to look for to explain how she acquired such abilities and knowledge are not to be found.”

Furthermore: “Given the corroborating testimony of many witnesses, the high reliability of concurrent reporting methods, and the large number of Seth sessions conducted over the 21-year history of the phenomenon, the mediumship of Jane Roberts can be deemed to have authenticity (i.e., it actually happened as reported). The published record, however, does not directly indicate that anything concerning a paranormal interpretation of the Seth sessions is justified at this time. This conclusion is in agreement with what the Seth-Jane trance personality and Jane Roberts herself have repeatedly asserted.”

Cunningham concludes: “The challenge for parapsychology is to determine who Seth was, what his relationship to Jane Roberts was, and where the Seth Material came from. The source-of-psi problem in this context takes the form of how to establish proof of identity of an allegedly discarnate source when the medium is deceased and no longer available for study under controlled conditions in a laboratory or field setting . . .”