Psychophony

27th December 2022. Reading Time: 8 minutes General, Paranormal Theories. 854 page views. 0 comments.

Let's take a look at the philosophy of spiritism and its connection to psychophony. Can a spirit use a person or device to speak on their behalf?

Let's take a look at the philosophy of spiritism and its connection to psychophony.  Can a spirit use a person or device to speak on their behalf?

What is psychophony?

The term psychophony comes from the greek term psyke or psyche.  Psyche was the Greek goddess of the soul with her name meaning 'breath of life'.  It is a term discussed by the creator of Spiritism Hippolyte Léon Denizard Rivail to describe the process where a spirit supposedly talks using the voice of a medium.  In the 1850's, Rivali who used the pen name of Allan Kardec became interested in seances which of course were extremely popular at the time.  Initially believing them to be a fraudulent act, he decided to conduct his own investigations into psychic mediumship.  He compiled a list of over 1000 questions that were asked of 10 participating mediums.  After compiling all of the results from the mediums that were unknown to each other, Kardec concluded that the answers were coming from personalities who had survived after death.  He adapted his findings into a philosophy he called Spiritism, writing 5 books known as the Spiritist Codification.  It was in one of these books that he discussed psychophony among other things. 

Allan Kardec Image Source: Gallica Digital Library


You can read English translations of some of these books for free in public domain here:

The Spirits Book - Allan Kardec (1857)

The Mediums Book - Allan Kardec (1861)

The Gospel According to Spiritism - Allan Kardec (1864)

Heaven and hell - Allan Kardec (1865)


The concept of psycophony was one that he put into two different classes.

  1. Conscious psychophony occurs when a medium mentally perceives or physically heard a spirit having and using their voice to communicate on its behalf.
  2. Unconscious psychophony occurs when a medium is not mentally aware of the communication and the communication from the spirit is happen on an unconscious level.  In short, it is almost like a spirit is possessing the medium to speak using their voice box.  

It is noted however that in the majority of circumstances, the experience seems to lie somewhere in the middle of the above two classifications.  So in a nutshell is that it is a process where it is believed a spirit is talking through a medium/person.

I have seen the unconscious version of this on television (Derek Acorah immediately springs to mind) and I have even seen it happen in person on many occasions.  Often when it has happened in person, it would have fallen in the unconscious section and almost caught everyone by surprise.  What was interesting when witnessing this in person was the tone and the way that the person was speaking.  For myself, I guess I don't know if it is a performance, something that a person is doing on an unconscious level or if indeed there is a spirit using them to speak.  In some of the examples you see on television, it is easy to jump to the conclusion that it is a performance and in a lot of the circumstances, I can see why (and I too have made the same conclusion).  In the examples I saw in person however, I don't think that the person was deliberately faking it or putting on an act at all.  In fact, they seemed to be completely oblivious to what had happened when they 'snapped out of it'.  I am not sure however it was a spirit speaking through them rather than them somehow tapping into something on an unconscious level.

The conscious version however is something that seems to be quite common in modern-day paranormal investigation thanks to investigators and their trusty digital recorders.  In fact, psychophony is more associated today with EVP than with medium communication.

Psychophony and EVP

As time and research evolved, the concept of Electronic Voice Phenomenon meant that spirits didn't necessarily need a medium to communicate, in theory, they could instead use a digital recorder.  EVP stands for Electronic Voice Phenomenon.  It has become a staple for most paranormal investigators. The concept is quite simple. A recording device is thought to pick up voices of what people perceive as 'spirits' that they did not hear with their own ears. The human ear can hear between 20-20000 Hz. A lot of recording devices record outside this range. Some going as low as 7hz and as high as 50000hz and maybe even a wider spectrum. It is thought that this is one of the reasons why the devices pick up voices that our ears cannot hear.

The term Electronic Voice Phenomenon itself was first mentioned in the book ‘‘Voices from the tapes: recordings from the other world’ by Peter Bander (1973). While many credit Friedrich Jürgenson with the ‘discovery’ of EVP, it was Konstantīns Raudive that brought it into the mainstream attention of the world with his groundbreaking book “‘Breakthrough an Amazing Experiment In Electronic Communication With The Dead” Konstantīns Raudive (1971).   

“The fact that the voices are audible to our ear and we can understand that speech, confirms that they exist physically and independently from us, and the experiments prove that the voices can be heard by anybody with a fair sense of hearing, regardless of his or her personal views, sympathy or antipathy.  The voices are objective entities that can be verified and examined under psycho-acoustic, physical conditions.  This concurrence of psycho-acoustic and paranormal data can hardly be brushed aside as mere coincidence; the voices must therefore be deemed to stem from a different plane of existence than our own.”  
Breakthrough an Amazing Experiment In Electronic Communication With The Dead” Konstantīns Raudive (1971).

Psychophony has now sort of become the very simple concept of verbally communicating with spirits.  As time has evolved, so has the very process used to do this.  While in the 1800's it was done through mediumship, it is now done using recorders, spirit boxes, apps and other electrical devices.  What hasn't evolved necessarily is our thoughts on the concept of spirits themselves.  We are still no closer to the answers than we were over 100 years ago. For this reason, beyond the topic of psychophony, I must say that I was quite interested in reading Kardec's writings, in particular The Mediums Book.  While I don't necessarily agree with everything, it is a very detailed and interesting insight into the concept of a spirit being the soul of a person who was once living.  It brings to light questions regarding morals, ethics, natural law and even the concept of what we consider to be supernatural - topics that don't get the air time that they perhaps should today.

(1) All spiritist phenomena imply, as their principle, the existence of the soul, its survival of the body, and the manifestations which result therefrom.

(2) These phenomena, occurring in virtue of natural law, are neither “marvelous” nor “supernatural,” in the ordinary sense of those words.

(3) Many facts are only reputed to be “supernatural” because their cause is unknown; spiritism, by assigning to them a cause, brings them within the domain of natural phenomena.

(4) Among the facts commonly called “supernatural,” there are many which spiritism shows to be impossible, and which it therefore relegates into the category of superstitions.

(5) Although spiritism recognizes a foundation of truth in many popular beliefs, it by no means accepts all the fantastic stories created by the imagination.

(6) To judge of spiritism by pretended facts, the reality of which it does not admit, is to give proof of ignorance, and to deprive such judgment of all weight.

(7) The explanation of the causes of facts acknowledged by spiritism, and the ascertainment of their moral consequences, constitute a new science and a new philosophy, requiring serious, persevering, and careful study.

(8) Spiritism can only be conclusively disproved by one who should have thoroughly studied it and sounded its deepest mysteries with the patient perseverance of a conscientious observer; one as well versed in every branch of the subject as the most ardent of its adherents; one acquainted with all the facts of the case, and with every argument that could be opposed to him, and which he must refute, not by denials, but by arguments still more conclusive; one, in short, who can give, of admitted facts, a more rational explanation than is given by spiritism. But such a critic has yet to be discovered.

The Mediums Book - Allan Kardec (1861)

So when we return to the very initial topic of this blog - psychophony what are your thoughts?  Do spirits communicate through people/mediums/recorders/devices using their voice?  While it is easy to focus on the very obvious fakery that does occur in this realm, Kardec offers a valuable observation:

"We do not say that no Spirit manifestations have ever been imitated by charlatans, for abuses exist everywhere; but the abuse of a thing is no argument against the thing itself."  Kardec (1861)

Yes people fake things, and people also misinterpret things, but that doesn't mean the exact thing they are faking or misinterpreting doesn't exist.  Beyond that, with the evolution of spirit communication into things like EVP which most of you reading would have at least tried, we have to ask ourselves, just who or even what are we asking the questions to?


References:

https://dbpedia.org/page/Psychophony

Voices from Beyond: The deceased speak through electronic devices?
By CARLOS GABRIEL FERNÁNDEZ 

https://www.thecollector.com/who-was-psyche-in-greek-mythology/

The Mediums Book - Allan Kardec (1861)

Voices from the tapes: recordings from the other world’ by Peter Bander (1973).  

Breakthrough an Amazing Experiment In Electronic Communication With The Dead” Konstantīns Raudive (1971).

 

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