Quantitative and Qualitative Analyses of Mediumistic and Psychic Experiences
Mediums are individuals who report experiencing regular communication with the deceased; the phenomenon of mediumship has been reported in cultures all over the world since time immemorial. The current study examined similarities and differences in the reported experiences of secular American mediums (those not associated with any formal religious organization) during mediumship readings involving communication with the deceased and during psychic readings for/about the living. Participant responses to two counter-balanced, open-ended online survey items were quantitatively analyzed using Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC) text analysis software and qualitatively analyzed using a content analysis methodology. Participants included 113 self-identified mediums and 14 Windbridge Certified Research Mediums; over 90% were white females; their average age was 54.2 ± 9.6 years; 97% reported being able to distinguish between mediumistic and psychic experiences; and 122 provided complete survey responses. Statistically significant differences between descriptions of mediumistic and psychic experiences were seen regarding the proportion of words included in the LIWC categories of: social processes (11.76% ± 5.8% vs. 9.93% ± 5.64%, p=0.004); perceptual processes (6.63% ± 4.31% vs. 4.81% ± 3.81%, p<0.001); ingestion (0.23% ± 0.57% vs. 0.05% ± 0.20%, p<0.001); past-focused time orientation (3.09% ± 3.23% vs. 2.06% ± 3.19%, p=0.001); religion (0.90% ± 0.11% vs. 0.34% ± 0.09%, p<0.001); and insight (5.06% ± 2.97% vs. 6.48% ± 4.30%, p=0.002). The proportion of words describing positive and negative emotions, present-focused and future-focused time orientation, health, and money were not different. Qualitative content analysis found three overarching, summative themes regarding mediumistic communication: preparation, communication triangulated, and experience of the communication. Four overarching, summative themes emerged from the text regarding psychic readings for the living: establishing the connection, experiencing the connection, content of the reading, and psychic information flowing from various sources. Perhaps most interesting is the finding that experiences of psychic connections during readings for the living included “non-specific discarnates” as a source of information; this strongly calls into question theoretical frameworks that posit separating mediums’ experiences into categories that do and do not involve communication with the deceased as well as the continued use of terminology reflecting such a separation.
This study was supported by a research bursary (#372/14) from the Bial Foundation.