We recently reported on Microsoft patenting a Black Mirror-style technology that could resurrect the deceased in the form of a chatbot. But what of paranormal instances of the dead "speaking" to relatives from beyond the grave?
According to a new study from Durham University in the United Kingdom, spiritualist mediums are likely feeling the effects of unusual auditory experiences and hallucinations, and have done so from an early age, The Northern Echo reports.
'Hearing' dead people
The research suggests that so-called spiritual mediums might be more prone to these auditory hallucinations — including hallucinations involving 'hearing the dead' — from an early age. This might account for the fact that some people develop strong spiritual beliefs while others don't.
When a medium "hears" a spirit, this is called clairaudient communication, rather than clairvoyant communication, in which a medium "sees" a spirit.
For their study, the Durham University team conducted a survey of 65 clairaudient spiritualist mediums from the Spiritualists’ National Union as well as 143 members of the general public — constituting the largest scientific study into clairaudient mediums to date.
These mediums were more likely to report experiences of unusual auditory phenomena, like hearing voices, from an early age.
What's more, the study found that the spiritualists have a proclivity for a trait called absorption, which is linked to immersion in experiences of altered states of consciousness.
Clairaudients and auditory hallucinations
As the study points out, when people search for the meaning behind their early unusual auditory experiences, they are quite likely to come across information related to spiritual beliefs and paranormal phenomena.
Dr. Peter Moseley, the co-author of the study at Northumbria University, said: "Spiritualists tend to report unusual auditory experiences which are positive, start early in life and which they are often then able to control. Understanding how these develop is important because it could help us understand more about distressing or non-controllable experiences of hearing voices too."
The Durham University researchers are investigating further into the phenomena of clairaudience in the hope that it will help them gain a better understanding of any links with the distressing voice-hearing hallucinations of schizophrenia, as well as any other mental health implications surrounding such phenomena.