Spiritually Transformative Experiences of Claimant Mediums
William G. Everist
Saybrook University, Oakland, CA, USA
This qualitative study was designed to establish a comprehensive understanding of the initial experience associated with the spiritual transformation process of inexperienced claimant mediums, commonly described as individuals who allegedly have regular communications with the deceased. Spiritually Transformative Experiences are commonly thought to be a type of transformation and expansion of consciousness. Often referred to as psychic openings, these experiences have occasionally been described as being startling or traumatic, sometimes creating a loss of contact with consensual reality that may possibly lead to psychiatric misdiagnosis in the individual’s search for an understanding of the experience. Consequently, the desired outcome of this study was to establish a better understanding of the initial psychic opening and propose a more reasoned approach to its acknowledgement and development by the scientific community. A five-part review of the background literature in the field of study focused on a history of the practice of mediumship, the proposed psycho-spiritual emergence process, the child’s perspective of his or her spiritual development process via an archival biographical analysis of the psychic opening, the subsequent development of the medium’s purported abilities, and a review of recent processs-oriented mediumship studies. Six participants for this study were selected from a group of certified research mediums pre-screened for their abilities by the Windbridge Institute for Applied Research in Human Potential in Tucson, Arizona. A semi-structured questionnaire in compliance with Saybrook Institutional Review Board oral history specifications was utilized as the primary research instrument to provide biographical accountability. However, additional written documentation of the experience was included when appropriate to further clarify the psychological impact of the psychic opening. A thematic analysis of the data revealed that the participants’ transformative experiences consist of a sequence of developmental experiences that include an encounter with a single or multiple spiritual entities that one may or may not consider as spirit guides. Depending upon the age of the participant and the existing social support system at the time of the initial experience, the spiritual encounter can be either fearfully traumatic or merely an anomalistic variation of the individual’s concept of reality.