Academic journal article Journal of Transpersonal Psychology

Effects on Bereavement Using a Restricted Sensory Environment (Psychomanteum)

Academic journal article Journal of Transpersonal Psychology

Effects on Bereavement Using a Restricted Sensory Environment (Psychomanteum)

Article excerpt

ABSTRACT: This article reports research using a semi-structured bereavement protocol with 100 participants experiencing bereavement for the death of a family member, friend, pet, or other deceased individual. Apparent contacts similar to spontaneous after-death encounters were reported by 63% of the participants. Repeated measures of bereavement on 20 items (e.g., grief, longing, anger) were taken before the process, immediately after, and one month later. Reductions in feelings of bereavement were statistically significant. Decreases in bereavement correlated positively with increased tendencies toward absorption (Tellegen Absorption Scale, r = .38, p < .001). The 3-4 hour semi-structured process included writing, interviews, art work, and mirror gazing (a restricted sensory environment called a psychomanteum booth). Qualitative experiences included mental conversations, messages, questions and responses, memories, imagery, touch, physical sensations, odors, and emotional shifts.ADC, after-death communication, Attachment Theory, bereavement, Continuing Bonds, death, grief, hypnagogia, mirror gazing, Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, psychomanteum, REST, Restricted Environmental Stimulation Technique, Tellegen Absorption Scale.

When a person dies, the feeling of loss is one of the most difficult of life experiences for family and friends who are left. The state of bereavement that results is often one of grief, sadness, and distress. Some bereavement states may be resolved in a few months or a year or two, while others may continue for decades. The purpose of this research was to determine if an experiential process could facilitate an experience similar to the spontaneous after death communication with a deceased person, which is often reported by surviving family members and friends, with an effect on levels of bereavement.

In such situations the feelings of loss may be punctuated by incidents in which a survivor may feel a sense of the presence of the person who has died. There may be a vivid dream in which the deceased appears. One may hear the voice of the lost loved one or have conversations with him or her. There may be spontaneous and unexpected visions or signs that seem to come from the deceased and which are experienced by family members, friends, and sometimes others. Far from being rare, these apparent communications after death occur to many people, and have been studied in medical and psychiatric research. Surveys and the study of apparent contacts have been conducted cross-culturally. An early study by Rees (1971) surveyed all the widows and widowers (n5293) in Wales. Contacts with the deceased were reported by 50% of the widowers and 46% of the widows. Kalish and Reynolds (1973) surveyed four ethnic communities (African-American, Latino, Japanese-American, and Caucasian) in Los Angeles, with 44% claiming to have felt a post death contact. The experiences of contacts have been reported in many countries and locales, including the U. K. (Bennett & Bennett, 2000), India (Osis & Haraldsson, 1977), Iceland (Haraldsson, 1988), the U.S. (Cleiren, 1993; Greeley, 1987; Klugman, 2006), and Japan (Yamamoto, Okonogi, Iwasaki, & Yoshimura, 1969).

Several studies have gathered data on the phenomenology of the experiences, and the effects on feelings of bereavement. In a random telephone survey (n5202) Klugman (2006) found the most common mode of contacts included dreams, sounds, feeling a presence, and having conversations. A sense of presence or contact may be reported in any of the sensory modes, in mental conversation, or somatic sensations (Klugman, 2006; Whitney, 1992). Whitney interviewed 24 individuals who experienced contacts. In the group there were 35 reports of positive feelings (happy, thankful, and blessed) and 17 reports of negative feelings (sad, scared, angry, and crazy); however, the majority of individuals who had negative feelings also had positive feelings. The significance of these contacts was studied by Kwilecki (2011) using an indepth qualitative texual analysis of 25 published accounts of such contacts. …

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