A Virtually-Facilitated Investigation Of Ostensible RSPK Disturbances During The Covid-19 Pandemic

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Loyd Auerbach1, Beth Hedva2, Gerald F. Solfvin3, & Bryan J. Williams4 
1Atlantic University, Virginia Beach, VA, USA 
2Canadian Institute for Transpersonal and Integrative Sciences, Calgary, Alberta, Canada 
3Center for Indic Studies, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, North Dartmouth, MA, USA 
4 Psychical Research Foundation, Albuquerque, NM, USA 

Introduction: Anecdotal reports were received from a middle-class family living in the Silicon Valley area of California regarding a series of ostensibly anomalous physical disturbances that were actively disrupting their lives while they remained quarantined in their small three-bedroom townhouse during the 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. In addition to spontaneous object movements and odd noises (e.g., knocks, bangs, & scrapings) with no readily identified source, instances of tactile sensation (e.g., pokes, brushes, & “scratches” on various parts of the body) and the discovery of ostensibly materialized liquids (water, soap, antibacterial gel, food coloring, & ink) were reported. Although various members of the family were present at times when the phenomena occurred, several of them seemed to occur in proximity to the family’s 14-year-old daughter. 

In an effort to actively assess the situation and provide helpful assistance to the family while still complying with the necessary COVID-19 quarantine restrictions, we devised a virtual approach toward investigating the disturbances that was facilitated through personal interviews and a series of 18 telehealth sessions conducted with the family from September 14, 2020 to March 9, 2021 via livestream chats held over the Internet using the Zoom online calling platform. Psychotherapeutic techniques focused around stress reduction, developing/refining communication skills, intuition training, basic education about poltergeist phenomena, and other strategic interventions were employed during the telehealth sessions with the aim of guiding the family through the multiple psychological stressors they faced.  

Examination of the number of reported disturbances as a function of time revealed a declining trend in the disturbances from their onset on June 17, 2020 up to their apparent cessation on February 4, 2021. Although it was not possible to make direct on-site observations of the claimed phenomena in this case, certain features and characteristics seemed to be present (such as object focusing and subtle symbolic themes possibly reflected in some of the disturbances) which were consistent with those found in other well-documented poltergeist cases appearing within the parapsychological literature. On this basis, there may be some reason for thinking that at least some of the claimed phenomena might have been genuine. 

Apart from adding to the poltergeist case literature, this case seems to merit reporting for the following reasons: 

  • The virtual investigation approach taken in this case may be of use to other field investigators as a means of assessing cases they receive in the future under similar quarantine and social distancing conditions, as well as in circumstances where on-site visits may not be practically feasible (such as limited travel funding). It can also provide a useful means for multiple investigators who live in separate areas of the world to virtually collaborate together as a team on a single investigation at a distance. 
  • The therapeutic approaches used in helping to counsel the family in this case, and the means of presenting them virtually, may be useful to other clinical parapsychologists engaged in field work. 
  • Reporting of the features and patterns of this case may be of value for poltergeist case surveys and reviews that may be conducted in the future. 

This presentation will include the following four (4) perspectives from the team of four (4) co-authors and participating team members: 

  • L.A.: Opening & closing remarks, and the prospects & possibilities of virtually conducting field investigations under quarantine & social distancing conditions 
  • G.F.S.: The prospects of applying a phenomena-based, assumption-free approach (for which he has coined the acronym “AECKO”) for identifying potentially genuine cases out in the field, with the present case offering an illustrative example 
  • B.H.: Addressing the clinical issues of the present case 
  • B.J.W.: Analysis of the observational data collected during the present case 

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A Virtually-Facilitated Investigation Of Ostensible RSPK Disturbances During The Covid-19 Pandemic

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