Professor and professional mentalist Loyd Auerbach’s encyclopedic knowledge of the paranormal certainly didn’t materialize overnight.With over three decades in the field and a Master’s in Parapsychology, Professor Auerbach is the Director of the Office of Paranormal Investigations and serves on the Board of Directors for the Rhine Research Center, an organization dedicated to the study of human consciousness and parapsychology.
But that just scrapes the surface of his experience. On faculty at Atlantic University and JFK University, Auerbach currently teaches parapsychology distance courses at HCH Institute and recently finished teaching an online course for the Rhine Education Center/Rhine Research Center.
Author of eight books pertaining to the paranormal–including his landmark first book, “ESP, Hauntings and Poltergeists: A Parapsychologist’s Handbook”(1986, Warner Books), dubbed the “Sacred Text”` on ghosts by Newsweek –Auerbach is also the President of the Forever Family Foundation, an organization that supports the research of Life After Death (and especially work with mediums). With interviews posted on thousands of media broadcasts, programs and publications, Auerbach has appeared on The View, Larry King Live,Coast to Coast AM with George Noory, The New York Times and The Los Angeles Times to name a few. (For a full list of Professor Auerbach’s work and experience, see here.)
With such a busy schedule, HalloweenCostumes.com jumped at the chance to interview Professor Auerbach on his life and career as a thought-leader in the world of the paranormal.
1. Between your work with the Office of Paranormal Investigations, the Rhine Research Center, speaking engagements, teaching at universities and your work as a writer, what is most fulfilling about your career? If you had to focus on just one thing, what would it be?
That’s a tough question to answer. In many respects, it’s teaching and speaking (hard to separate the two) that are most fulfilling, though I prefer teaching with a live audience rather than the online courses that are now cropping up…more immediate interaction (and livelier interaction). I also like to see the faces of my students or audience, watching for understanding and more thought about the subject. There’s also the humor element of my speaking/teaching – that doesn’t translate online well. I love getting people thinking and laughing at the same time.
I also love working in TV, as crazy as that business is – though I’m just as much interested in being behind the camera as in front (possibly even more).
2. In the whole of your career in parapsychology and studying the paranormal, what would you say was the biggest watershed moment and what surprised you most?
Another tough one, since I’ve had so many. Probably one watershed moment for me was an apparition case back in 1985 with a family curious about their ghost (and the 12 yr. old boy apparently having daily talks with her). There was so much rich information about the woman who was the ghost that was later verified (only living relative) and the opportunity to “talk” with her (albeit through the intermediary of the boy) about what it was like dying, coming back to her home from where she died in the hospital, how she believed she could be seen by some and not others, and what she thought about her existence. Oh, and where she got her clothes.
Based on everything from that case, on the family, the potential sources of information, the answers from the apparition about her existence, and even more, there simply was no other explanation that made sense. This was a case of consciousness surviving death, and the first one I’d personally encountered that clinched it for me.
Surprises have abounded, especially around what I’ve been able to witness in cases and in working with psychics, mediums, other experts in my field, and even a few celebrities. One of the best periods of my career involved my work with the late, great Martin Caidin on PK – though just being around him and talking with him numerous times helped me grow as a researcher and as a person.
3. What is the most convincing evidence for life after death and the existence of ghosts that you’ve seen in your career? Are ghosts real?
The evidence for apparitions – ghosts – is in the work of my colleagues going back even before the founding of the Society for Psychical Research in 1882. It’s in the incredible number of experiences of apparitions over the last 130 years people have had, especially with friends and loved ones who have just died (without the witness even knowing). It’s a preponderance of evidence.
For me, it’s also in the cases I’ve investigated, such as the one mentioned above, and others with patterns of information and communication that logically lead to support of consciousness surviving death (at least in some cases) – at least if one is open to consciousness and brain being potentially separable (as opposed to the materialist monism concept that consciousness is a property of the brain, not something more than/different than the brain).
Some of the best evidence for life after death that is so difficult to counter with any other psychic/ESP hypothesis is in the cases of the reincarnation type, especially cases involving little children who remember previous lives (with verifiable details!).
I do hold the opinion that ghosts (as in apparitions; consciousness surviving death) exist. The evidence is there.
Of course, it’s not proven, nor do I believe proof is forthcoming until Science decides what it thinks Consciousness is, and whether it’s something more than/different than just the brain.
4. You’ve drawn affinities between seeing an apparition and telepathy in the past. Can you expand on this? Does this sometimes lead to one person seeing an apparition when others cannot?
One of the older – and more logical – models of apparitions, and the one that makes the most sense to me and many others in the field, is kind of a telepathic model. The model of an apparition is that it is consciousness without form. As the apparition has no form, and no sensory organs or normal ability to communicate, he or she essentially connects to the minds of living people. If it’s mind to mind communication or awareness, that makes it telepathy.
For us to perceive the discarnate entity, the apparition essentially broadcasts sensory information (what he or she looks, sounds, feels and smells like) to the minds of us living folk. Our brains/minds process the telepathic signals and add them to what our normal senses are picking up. Some people do better with visual input, some with auditory or other kinds of information. Some can process combinations.
Because they have no physical form that reflects light or physically creates sound, they are not seen with the eye or heard with the ears, and such. It’s why in a crowded room with lots of living people and a ghost some see the ghost, some hear him, some feel his presence, some smell his cologne and some get different combinations of those perceptions. And of course, lots of people in the room may get nothing at all. If they could reflect light or move the air to create sound or give off an odor, everyone in the room paying attention to that spot would see, hear, smell, and so on. This is also why ghosts can’t be photographed – they don’t reflect light.
5. Can one be trained to access psychic perceptions?
People can definitely become more psychic, as most of us are essentially educated out of psychic perceptions/abilities by our parents (who usually don’t believe), our schooling, and our society.
The late psychic Alex Tanous, who worked extensively with the American Society for Psychical Research in the 70s and 80s, once told me that if people would simply “open their eyes” and take conscious note of the world around them, they’d see a lot more to it. We tend to filter out so much of what goes in our normal senses, not noticing much of what comes into our perceptions, that it’s no surprise that we simply don’t notice the psychic input.
We’re all psychic to some extent, but we hardly notice this. Most of our psi experiences tend to be around rather mundane things rather than dramatic bursts of information. One of the simplest techniques is to be consciously aware of your surroundings and how you are reacting to them as much as you can. Alex suggested to me something I’ve heard again and again from psychics I have come to respect: start noticing what you experience through your normal senses, and you’ll start noticing a few “extra” perceptions.
In reported ghost cases, being open to all perceptions makes you a better observer, and better able to spot non-psychic explanations for what people report. It also makes you able to notice that you’re perceiving something “extra” in the environment.
6. Are out of body experiences (OBEs) more common than actual hauntings? For our readers, can you briefly explain the difference between an OBE, apparition, haunting and poltergeist?
OBEs are first, the sensation of being outside the body – specifically with a change in perspective. People often report looking back at their own physical bodies. Some can then go elsewhere and perceive what’s actually going on at another location, though unlike Remote Viewing, they feel like they are actually at that location. In some rare cases, people in those other locations see the OBE-traveler, kind of as a ghost. We can call those cases of bilocation or cases of Living Apparitions (apparitions of the living), many of which are on record going back to the beginnings of the Society for Psychical Research and before.
An apparition is our personality (or spirit, soul, consciousness, mind or whatever you want to call it) surviving the death of the body, and capable of interaction with the living (and presumably other apparitions). This is the true definition of a ghost or spirit of the dead.
A haunting is based in/around a location (or object), and holds/records information about its history. Our own psychic abilities allow us to pick up certain play-backs of this history, including sightings of people. However, these are recordings, not conscious beings. Referred to as “place memory,” “psychic imprints,” and “residual hauntings.”
Poltergeist cases, though they have been confused with ghosts, have only rare instances of ghostly figures being seen or heard. Instead, the “symptoms” are physical effects, such as moving objects, unexplained behavior of electronics, raps in the walls, and other effects observable without the need for psychic perception (because they are physical events). Over the last century, a hypothesis was developed and tested again and again successfully indicating that poltergeist phenomena are caused by the subconscious mind of a living person, generally someone in the household undergoing emotional and/or psychological stress.
Effects are caused by psychokinesis (PK) – mind over matter. Unconsciously, the ability can run unfettered by our beliefs. The late researcher William G. Roll coined the phrase Recurrent Spontaneous Psycho-Kinesis (RSPK) to cover this situation. Poltergeist PK is chaotic, almost like a temper tantrum or someone blowing off steam.
Apparitional PK tends to be more deliberate and measured, and rarely chaotic.
There are more hauntings than any of the others, as the environment is all around us and the potential for emotions and for human activity in general to be “recorded” into it is something we can’t even measure.
Professor Paranormal himself, Loyd Auerbach
7. Does the “astral” body really exist and what evidence supports its existence?
Parapsychologists don’t use the term “astral travel” or “astral body” at all in research/work with OBEs. That’s a metaphysical/occult idea. Research indicates that something, some part of our consciousness, might leave the body, but that’s a far cry from concepts of an astral double. In the cases of bilocation/living apparitions, the connection with the witnesses seems to be like that of apparitions being perceived (which is why OBEers being seen also have clothing on – part of the traveler’s self-image, like a ghosts).
The metaphysical description of astral travel holds that we’re tethered to our physical bodies by a silver cord. However, surveys of people having had OBEs (and work with some of the best subjects) indicates that only a very small portion of experiencers have that silver cord safety line (and not the best of the OBEers).
8. In your career, have you come across non-human spiritual entities (demons, etc.)? In your experience, do such forces or entities exist?
Other than apparitions of pets, I have not come across entities other than human. While there might be conscious, intelligent or semi-intelligent non-human entities, I’ve not seen evidence to convince me of that, and certainly have found contradictory evidence that what people call “evil” (mainly in response to human apparition or haunting cases) is not consciously devious, malevolent, evil, etc., though sometimes harmful (as in “watch your step, there’s a pothole there” or the presence of a ghost being psychologically detrimental to the people in the home simply because they’re not getting along).
These days, “evil” and “malevolent” and “demonic” are tossed around a lot, especially by the TV ghost hunters and folks who mimic them (because it’s cool). Often the “evidence” I’m told about or shown comes from “investigators” who have barged into a house and started yelling at the ghost without any attempt at pleasant communication. What conscious person (living or dead) would not respond in kind to such rudeness? That so many seem to come up with “Get out!” as an EVP indicates the ghosts are reacting to the bad behavior of the ghost hunters – who I would contend are the “evil” ones in many situations. So often, the ghosts need communication and help with their situation.
In addition, so often what’s reported as “demonic” has a very non-paranormal explanation (from misinterpretation of a bad, unsafe physical environment to living-person domestic violence).
As for demons themselves, I wish people would stop using that religion-bound term. Maybe there are things out there that are harmful, like sharks, but I don’t think so. Even if there were, I don’t buy the “fallen angel” or “spawn of Satan” explanation. Is a shark demonic? In haunting cases, bad, violent events can leave an imprint (evil acts of living people), which can be perceived by the living. Those can be harmful (psychologically), and even cause psychosomatic responses of a negative type (unconsciously caused, due to picking up on what went on before).