Parapsychology: Research on Exceptional Experiences

By Jane Henry | Go to book overview
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Chapter 14

Apparitions and encounters
Andrew Mackenzie and Jane HenryAn apparition entails a perceptual experience in which a person or animal (deceased or living) appears to be present though they are not (at least physically). The ghost of folklore is seen as an apparition of a dead person who may 'haunt' the same place repeatedly. Apparition and ghost experiences are common to most cultures.
Most spontaneously occurring apparitions are of people, who may be dead, dying or alive at the time their apparitions are sensed. People also report apparitions of, or encounters with, other beings such as spirits, angels and aliens. Some apparitions are associated with other more impersonal phenomena such as mists or lights. Here apparitional experiences are considered under four categories:
1 Hauntings and apparitions of the dead
2 Apparitions of the dying and those undergoing a crisis
3 Apparitions of the living
4 Encounters with spirits, aliens and other beings

The last category includes reports of striking visions, such as those of the Virgin Mary, historical reports of visitations by demons and more recent reports of visitations by apparent aliens.

Apparitions ofthe dead

About two-thirds of apparitional experiences are of the dead; although a lower proportion has been reported in a younger sample (Palmer 1979, p. 228). Perhaps they knew fewer dead people!


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