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2006 IONS Teleseminars Audio Set

"Afterlife Encounters" with Dianne Arcangel

2006 IONS Teleseminars

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"Afterlife Encounters" with Dianne Arcangel

Visionary: Dianne Arcangel, MS

What happens when we die? Dianne Arcangel, a former hospice chaplain and author of Afterlife Encounters, has assembled the world’s largest database of over 10,000 case studies involving contact with “the other side." In this teleseminar with scientist Dean Radin, they explore the implications of this data, the relationship between seeing apparitions and personality types, and alternative explanations such as super-psi. Dianne sees the ability to experience discarnate individuals as a natural “eighth sense" that can be scientifically studied. Many people see individuals they have never met in a body, as well as individuals that died forty or fifty years in the past. When her studies are seen as a whole, it is clear that meaningful contact with the deceased has a comforting and often transformative effect, which has value regardless of whether the data yet amount to scientific proof.

View Transcript

Institute of Noetic Sciences: So I want to welcome everyone to this Shift in Action program. This week we are very excited to have Dean Radin hosting Dianne Arcangel and they’ll be talking about afterlife encounters and I’ll let Dean do a little longer introduction. The two of them will be in dialogue for about the next 40 minutes after which we’ll open for questions and answers or dialogue with the folks in the audience. If you do have any questions in the first 40 minutes you can always email them to me at “Q” at ShiftInAction.com so we can make sure that I get the draft at some point. So Dean, go ahead and take it away!

Dean Radin: Very good. I’m talking to Dianne Arcangel. She’s the former director of the Elisabeth Kubler-Ross Center of Houston and chaplain for the hospice at the Texas Medical Center. She is also a pioneer in the use of the Psychomanteum for bereavement counseling, essentially, and has run hundreds of people through the Psychomanteum, you might want to talk about that, but the main thing that we’ll talk about in this conversation is about her new book called Afterlife Encounters: Ordinary People, Extraordinary Experiences. And this is an amazing book with some amazing statistics in it that I wasn’t aware of until I read the book. I probably should have been aware of this, but you can only read so much! So, I think Dianne was very nice in giving me a list of questions to help focus this discussion because we could start reminiscing about our days of past and lose sight of what I think is the important thing here which is to get everyone to get a copy of your new book ‘cause it really is amazing.

Dianne Arcangel: Thank you.

DR: So, the book is entitled Afterlife Encounters. What does that mean?

DA: An afterlife encounter is any sense of being connected to or in the presence of a dysphonic personality. And I say any sense of it: it could be any combination of our senses, visual, for instance, lifelike, ethereal, surreal or just the eighth sense of knowing, a sensing something is there. Our friend Rupert Sheldrake said that the seventh sense is this connection between the living. So I said, “OK, Rupert, if the seventh sense is the connection between the living, could the eighth sense be a connection between the living and the deceased?” So few people understand exactly what they are because we don’t talk about them.

DR: And why not?

DA: Well, people who experience afterlife encounters don’t talk about them because listeners will discount them. Listeners discount them because they don’t understand exactly what they are. They don’t understand what they are because people who experience them don’t talk about them. It’s that vicious cycle. They become disenfranchised.

DR: Hmm. Are you making a distinction then between afterlife encounters and psychic phenomena? Or is it, or is it like a new class of psychic phenomena or does it fit within that ordinary sense?

DA: I’m actually making it I guess you would say a different class because to me psychic phenomena could be anything—ESP—some of the things that you talked about or wrote about in your book, Entangled Minds—which by the way I love…

DR: Thank you!

DA: But, um, but whereas an afterlife encounter is something with, what we at least believe is with, a discarnate personality.

DR: And so this differs from mediumship research in that it’s not, there is no intermediary, it’s the person, it’s you yourself who has some kind of encounter, is that a fair distinction?

DA: And actually mediumship is included with this, because the sitter, who goes to a medium, or the client, still believes he or she is connected to that discarnate. It may be through the medium, but they still feel that sense, they say “absolutely I know my mother was there, I know my brother was there, I felt that connection”. So I did include that, in fact, there is a chapter of mediumship in the book.

DR: So what gave you the passion to write this book on afterlife encounters?

DA: Well, let’s see, the passion… there were so many passions! Basically I wanted to teach what we know to be true, and that is that afterlife encounters are normal and they’re healthy. And if we can just understand that we could extinguish that cycle I was talking about a few minutes ago about they become disenfranchised. So basically I wrote it to help the bereaved, but to help the bereaved, but if we could take it out in general, just generalize to as many people as we can and have them understand what it is.

DR: Do you think that if, ah, I’m trying, I’m struggling with the word normal. Because oftentimes whether it’s an afterlife experience or even a fairly mundane psychic experience, when people have these things their hair stands up, which is a sign that it’s not normal, it’s something beyond normal. I mean, that’s where the word “paranormal” comes from. So I’m wondering whether you don’t mean normal in the sense of—in an ordinary sense, but more that it’s a natural event.

DA: Thank you, that is exactly right. I’m glad you defined it that way because it is a natural event, it’s a healthy event.

DR: Right. But it still will make your hair stand up.

DA: Probably…for most people it does not so much stand up, but especially if they have, if they’re not familiar with afterlife encounters. Say for instance, if they’ve never read my book, they’ve never talked to someone who has had an afterlife encounter; they’re not familiar with it. Especially the people who have been watching some of the television shows and going to some of the movies where these encounters are depicted as evil or demonic or trapped between worlds, or earthbound. Dean, I have almost 11,000 documented accounts now. I have never run across one earthbound spirit, I’ve never run across one anything unhealthy, anything at all. And the same with our friend, Bill Rowe. Bill Rowe said he does not have one account of anything that’s ever done any kind of harm to anybody.

DR: So where do you suppose in TV shows like Medium, where practically every episode has some sort of demonic thing happening or scary thing, where does that come from?

DA: And actually, I have not seen that show, to be honest with you. I mean I did a couple times when it first came on but it falls at a time when I work. So I have not seen that so I can’t say specifically about Medium, but I just know for most television and most movies, drama sells. And I do know with the show they have said this is fiction, it’s based on fiction. I mean, maybe it began with an idea of something that happened to the original medium that the show’s based on, but the overall premise is fiction.

DR: But as you said drama sells, but in your book the stories of people’s encounters are extremely dramatic. And yet it’s not that kind of drama that seems to show up in the entertainment world. Maybe it’s not so much that drama sells, as much as negative drama sells.

DA: That’s right! Yep, I absolutely agree with you.

DR: That’s unfortunate because the real stories, the true stories are just as dramatic as, probably more so because they’re real.

DA: They are, and too, part of that, Dean, is that in the drama stories, the fictional stories, there’s that conflict. Whereas in my stories in the book, they’re actually not my stories but people who wrote in, people who took part in this five year afterlife encounter survey that I posted on the internet, there were some 3,000 people internationally who took this survey, and of the stories they submitted, there wasn’t that conflict. And so that sells.

DR: Right. So given that the large database that you collected are stories, people’s experiences—the experiences of that type fall between hard science and very soft science. So the question that you had given me, which I am leading to is, are what your passion and your conviction come from, is it based more on science or is it based more on an intuitive sense or faith?

DA: Um, well, you know, I think of it as, my work, the book is a bridge between faith and science. The framework of the book is science based. It’s built on, actually I’ve said it’s five years of my international study, but it’s basically five decades of my skeptical probing—I’m very skeptical. In fact, when I met George Anderson, the meetings I wrote about in the book, I was absolutely sure there was no such thing as a medium. But, so what I did with the book is I presented a piece of data, and then I supported that data with at least one case study from more than—at the time it was 10,000 cases in my files—so I consider it to be a bridge between faith and science.

DR: And so who would you expect would buy this book and benefit from it?

DA: I believe basically everyone could benefit from it, ultimately. You know, my basic focus is always on the bereaved, that’s where my heart lies, that’s where, I’ll probably someday will return and become a hospice chaplain again. Meanwhile, I said where can I help the most people, can I help them in a hospice, maybe 200 a year, or can I do something like this with my research. You know, I don’t know if you read it, but I wrote a journal article, and in it I questioned, I said what are we doing with all these studies if they remain hidden in our files? And when we die, there they are, they’re in a few journal articles, and then I said it’s time for me to step out, it’s time for me to put what I know out there. So this is how I could help the most people. So basically, if I could teach the public about the phenomenon, get them to accept afterlife encounters for what they are, then the bereaved can openly discuss them, so it’s a win-win. Everybody can have some type of growth.

DR: I wonder if, because I assume, because afterlife encounters suggests that there is something that survives death, that maybe while you’re living you can just publish journal articles, and then after you’re dead then you publish a book!

DA: Hmm [laughs], how could we get a book published after death?

DR: Well, you need to grab a hold of a medium who can translate what you say, and there are historical cases, of course, of channelers who are supposedly channeling people who are dead, and would write a book. The reason why I sometimes have trouble imagining what the afterlife might be like is because I don’t know what you do there. You know, if you don’t have the daily life sorts of things to do, eating and sleeping and working and all the rest, then what else is there to do? My imagination struggles with that a little bit.

DA: I’m glad you asked that because, and again, everything that I know, or that I believe about the afterlife, comes from my investigation. And then I turn to people like our friend Bill Rowe, my former mentor Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, had over 20,000 documented cases. So it’s strictly just case studies that I looked back and I say, ok, how does this work and how can we deal with it? And what they said and what I have seen is that there is something in the afterlife; there is something that we do, we continue to work and we continue to help, but just in a very different way. Who was it, uh, Plato said what difference does it make whether we survive death or not? If we do, then great, we just get to finish our work unencumbered by body, and if we don’t I don’t know about it anyway.

DR: Right. But do we have to pay taxes?

DA: No!

DR: Ok, well see, then, everything is fine!

DA: [laughs]

DR: The great distinction then, is between, when you’re living then death and taxes are certain, and if you’re dead, well, if the taxes are gone, then we’ve one thing in the right direction.

DA: That’s right! [laughs]

DR: So I take it then, the question that you had prompted me with was, do you believe that the encounters are real or hallucinations? And I’m guessing that your answer would be that you think they’re real, at least some of them.

DA: Well, first of all, I don’t know if we will ever prove scientifically whether they’re afterlife or a real external phenomenon or whether they’re internal. I’ll tell you Dean, for me, simply again going back to all the accounts that I read, that I don’t really understand how that could have happened unless it really is something beyond death. And from my own near death experience, I really believe that consciousness extends beyond the body and survives bodily death. Now—how far it goes and for how long and where it goes, I don’t know. But I really do believe something--consciousness, personality, some part of us continues in some way. And I want to ask you, now, this is great, I could fill up a show, I could fill up many shows asking questions! Do you believe something does or does not survive physical death and why?

DR: Um, I guess my sense is that uh, that we came in with something before being born, and whatever that thing is, that is still there after the body is dead. So, I guess my thinking on this has been influenced by the writings of Charlie Tart, who said that our ordinary way of looking at the world, and our memories and all that, are very strongly predicated on our ordinary senses, and as soon as the ordinary senses have gone away, when your body drops away, then I can imagine that there would be a moment of disorientation because you now need to perceive in a very different fashion, probably what a good remote viewer perceives like, or a good psychic. And that’s so different than our sense of stability. You know the ordinary senses in the brain are creating this ordinary, stable world out there. It would be so different from that, I’m not sure that what we think of as ourself and our personality would persist for very long. I think it would actually dissolve fairly quickly and be replaced by something else. So, to answer your question, yes, I think something persists, but like you, I have no idea how long it persists, and also I have no idea in what form it would persist, what form it would take. So this is one of the reasons why I put on my skeptical hat. If something does persist, then why would it have, why would it do anything in order to create an encounter after death, other than, perhaps, to let a loved one know that you’re still there in some way? And so would you say, based on your 10,000+ case studies, that if there is a purpose that you could assign to the reason for an afterlife experience that many of them are associated with the idea that the departed one wants to let you know that they’re still ok.

DA: Dean, it’s beyond that. It’s beyond them wanting our loved ones to know that they’re ok. Their purpose is for growth, our growth. They always appear for our growth and anyone who is willing to listen to and be part of that afterlife encounter, it’s always for growth.

DR: Do you have a sense from the database how long after the departed person dies that they’re still around?

DA: Well, this is interesting, because I’m actually—at the end of the book, Afterlife Encounters, the first survey is posted, it will be published in a journal. Then the second part of that survey posed the question, and it’s based back on the old Myers studies where they said after, what was it?--one year?--the cases of accounts were so limited that there’s no possibility that a consciousness, if it survived death, could last more than a year. Well, Erlander Harrelson’s studies and my studies revealed that some 30, 40, 50 years thereafter death, we are still able to experience certain people. And again, it’s when we need them, they can materialize. Whether it’s really them materializing, I don’t know. But they do appear.

DR: Hmm. You mention in the cases, the case of Beverly Storey, which is a very interesting instance of evidence for survival beyond bodily death, which also seems to go beyond the usual sort of psychic episode. So do you want to describe that case?

DA: Sure. Beverly’s case, what I did is that one chapter of the book I focused on the question of survival. That’s really not my focus; my focus is what difference did these encounters make? And so, and again with the bereaved, but most people do reach some point of wanting to know, are they real or not? So the third chapter is the evidence and Beverly is this first condition that we consider evidence for life after bodily death, is when the apparition gives information, that’s unknown by the witness and then later that’s proven correct.

DR: Mmm hmm.

DA: Beverly’s son, Tommy, was murdered. But then his body was transported way on the other side of town. There was no crime scene, no witnesses, no suspects. The night after Tommy’s funeral, he appeared to Beverly and said to her, “Mom, Mom, hurry, hurry, rush! If you’ll go to Washington and St. James Place, you’ll find my blood in the snow--like a dog pees and it’s yellow—you’ll see my blood, but you’ve got to go NOW because the snow is going to melt and my blood will be gone.” Beverly went rushing down the stairs, her family was still there, and said, “Hurry, hurry,” and told them what had happened, and they said, “You’re crazy from grief!,” and of course she said, “I’m going,” and they went with her. And sure enough, Dean, in that very spot they found Tommy’s blood. She called the police and she said, “Dianne, I couldn’t call the police and say, ‘Hey, my dead son came to me,’ so I told them I had an anonymous tip.” They came out and there found three eyewitnesses right there in that location, who had seen Tommy’s murder. It described exactly how it was; they would chase him around and around a van—stole his watch, stole his billfold, threw him in a van and sped off. Went across town and that’s where they left it at a precinct completely on the other side of town.

DR: Hmm.

DA: Now, I have a question for you!

DR: Mmm hmm.

DA: All right, the location of Tommy’s murder was in Washington Heights, and everyone I have ever talked to who’s familiar with Brooklyn has told me that Washington Heights is the most dangerous part of New York City.

DR: Uh, huh.

DA: Beverly was terrified to even bypass Washington Heights, so she certainly had never been there, until after Tommy told her she had to go. So I’m curious, as a scientist, can you explain how Tommy gave her the precise names of the streets and the exact location where he was murdered?

DR: Well, the same question could be asked of a remote viewer who is given a series of random numbers, which are pointers to some event, some time in history. And the remote viewer can give an accurate description of what that is, without ever having been there. So you see, clairvoyance is a way of getting information that transcends time and space, where it seems like the only thing that’s important is being able to focus on the thing of interest. So in Beverly’s grief, she probably had very high focus on figuring out where is he?, in which case she may have had a momentary opening to be an incredible clairvoyant, and would have gotten the information and maybe had perceived it as though it was coming from her son.

DA: Ah…!

DR: That’s a way of reinterpreting her experience. And this, by the way, is sometimes dismissed among survival researchers, as a case of “super psi”. The term is used as a way of saying, well, maybe it’s possible through a psychic means, but it seems more parsimonious to assume that it’s actually coming from the dead person, because it seems like a simpler explanation. But on the other hand, we know that clairvoyance exists in the living; we don’t know very much about the limits of clairvoyance, or the conditions under which it can become extremely good. And by comparison, we know actually very little about clairvoyance in the dead. Or worse, clairvoyance combined with telepathy in the dead. So, it almost comes down to, which kind of explanation you prefer to believe—one that I sort of lean on, which is psi in the living, where we don’t know the limits, and the other one is, it’s some kind of living-to-dead psi or relationship, that you simply prefer to believe that. So, I mean, you can tell that I’m pretty skeptical about the source of the information—I’m not skeptical about the fact that the information is available, but the source of it is a real interesting puzzle.

DA: The source.

DR: Right. Where does it come from?

DA: And this is why in my book when I listed the evidence and then gave the case studies is that the first three were based on information that we have here. Such as, it’s like w/ Beverly’s case where it could have been something similar to remote viewing.

DR: Right.

DA: And then the second was where it’s collective, where two people experience or witness the same encounter. And then the third evidence was when the apparition is unknown at the time and then it’s later identified. And I went back to thinking as you just said there can be a scientific explanation for some other way of that happening, other than a real afterlife encounter.

DR: Right.

DA: And it was that old theory of, one thing is every word that remains in the Universe it’s just a matter of tapping into. And, in fact I remember when we working together on several accounts, when I ran into something that I couldn’t really put the science to I would rush into you and say, “All right, Dean, what do you think of this?” So I remember the time you saying that was one of your theories was this “super psi”.

DR: Right.

DA: So I said, What about when the apparition gives current information, that’s unknown by the perceiver and is proven true later? So would that also be remote viewing?

DR: Well, uh, it could be because what you currently know is sort of on the top of your memory, and everything we that know about psychic phenomena in general suggests that it bubbles up from the unconscious, which by definition means you don’t know it yet. So if you’re diving into your unconscious and are connected to the universe in there and have access to all information throughout space and time, then it could be possible that you consciously do not know what the right answer is and yet you can get in your unconscious. So when I’m looking at your 6 conditions for survival, what they’re basically doing is making a stronger and stronger and stronger case of the unlikelihood that the client or the percipient has access to the information. That’s what the different stages are. So as you said that the first stage is that the apparition states information that was unknown by the person who experienced the encounter. Next one is the encounter was collective, seen by more than one person and then the apparition was unknown by the witness, and then the apparition reported current events that was unknown and so on. In each case each of these are--the apparition appears to know information that no one else knew. And yet they still get stuck on this notion of the best remote viewing studies are always done under conditions of double blindedness, in which case by definition the person, the remove viewer, does not know what the right answer is, and yet they can still figure it out. So I don’t see how there’s a strong distinction that’s made.

DA: All right, well then if we go down to the fifth condition is when the apparition autonomously manipulates a physical object. So you’re going to say that’s PK?

DR: I’m going to say that it starts looking more like poltergeist activity, which as Bill Roll has pointed out tends to be associated with a living person. The intense energy, for want of a better word, of a living person who is the source of that event. And of course under the case of extreme grief and need, then maybe that person can act as a poltergeist. A poltergeist source.

DA: Right. All right, how about when the, the sixth condition is when the apparition’s purpose has absolutely nothing to do with the witness. In fact the example that I gave with that was Linda, whose boyfriend was a GI who had been murdered. And he came to Linda and told her, “You have to go find my proof of death and explain it to my family, you have to find it, it’s completely hidden and I want my record, my military record, to be corrected.” So that had nothing whatsoever to do with Linda—she’d even forgotten about him. This was an old boyfriend and this was many years later. So that had nothing to do with Linda. She wasn’t grief stricken, nothing! She didn’t even know he had died!

DR: That starts to go into a realm where it becomes more plausible, I think, to think of any outside agency. So yes, that one starts to be persuasive. And just along the same lines, any time that somebody has encountered an unexpected event like this, where they don’t have a strong motivation or even any interest, it just sort of pops out of the blue with a message that turns out to be correct, that to me is probably the most persuasive kind of event. So of your cases, how many fit into that category?

DA: Umm—you know what? I don’t have it written, I mean it’s in the book but I don’t know exactly how many and it goes back to also the third condition where the apparition is not known at the time. These people did not know the apparition so there was no need for that. It wasn’t generated by the person’s grief or anything like that. And there were, sorry I don’t have that in front of me but it is in the book.

DR: But it’s, I’m assuming it’s in the hundreds and not like a handful.

DA: Right, oh yes.

DR: Yeah, so another piece of evidence that I would add to your list, maybe number seven, is that the people who have these experiences have no previous experiences of psychic phenomena. I mean there are plenty of people who have the occasional telepathic thing and so on, but they don’t consider themselves psychic. If that kind of person, or better yet, someone who never had any kind of psychic experience, suddenly has a full blown apparitional experience or some major thing happening and then that also becomes more evidential for me because it becomes more difficult to imagine how somebody who never had this experience is suddenly becoming a “super psychic”.

DA: Oh, that’s great, Dean, thank you! I will, I mean I have like, say, thousands and thousands of cases, but I will begin looking for that. And if there’s anyone listening to this that wants to reach me, they can reach me through Aferlife-encounters.com and if they have a story such as this, I’d love to hear it.

DR: So this now fits in very well with one of your other questions, which is why do you suppose that some people have these sorts of encounters and others don’t?

DA: Ummm, well, there are a lot of variables, first of all, there’s just a lot of variables. However, what I looked at it seemed that there’s three profiles that popped out the most. It depended on these major things. First of all was the social profile, which was done with the Roper study with almost six thousand people. They asked how many had “seen a ghost”. Eleven percent of Americans said they had seen a ghost. However, 16% were the influential Americans—these are the community leaders, trendsetters, committee members, socially active, college graduates, the wealthier than the norm, they’re married with children--these influential Americans had more afterlife encounters, or had seen ghosts, than any other person.

DR: Wait a minute, you mean 11% across the board and then 16% when only looking at the subset of the influential Americans?

DA: Exactly. When they broke those down into groups to try to study to see who was that of these who had seen a ghost. Was there anything outstanding among them? And that’s when they ran across this 16%, and these subsets were the influential Americans.

DR: Mmm hmm. That’s huge!

DA: Yeah, it was. And then the second profile that popped out was the personality type.

DR: Yeah, and this I find just astonishing. It’s astonishing because the statistic that you’re about to mention, is so dramatically different, that it means something more than simply being an interesting statistic. I wonder what your thoughts are on that.

DA: Yes and, you know I really wrote about this in the book to kind of, in our length of time to narrow it down, was that—Dean when I worked at the hospice, it seemed to me that most people who were telling me about afterlife encounters were my personality type. I’m a high-scale extrovert, intuitive, feeling, perceiving, and that’s what it seemed like, but when I did the study I was astonished that the extrovert/introvert had nothing to do with it. The feeling/perceiving had absolutely nothing to do with it. The 96% were the intuitive/feeling personality types. Not one sensing/thinking personality type had anything, I mean not only not an afterlife encounter, they had never had anything psychically at all. Explaining it—I can’t explain it.

DR: Well you know the interesting thing is that, I think, in terms of the cells in the Myers-Briggs, which is what you’re talking about, that the majority of the population are STs: Sensing/thinking types, I think. And only a minority of the population, a small minority of the population are intuitive/feeling types. Is that true?

DA: It has been so long that I conducted that study, I can’t remember.

DR: Hm. I do know that I fit into the category of an INFJ, which is the smallest cell, accepting like 4% of the population. I’m fairly sure that the majority of the population fits into sensing/thinking type. So it’s this dramatic difference between ways of dealing with the world, ways of perceiving the world, that has such a strong separation that it, among other things, it makes you feel more sympathetic to people of the ST persuasion, that this is simply not part of their reality at all. In which case they would hear these stories and think the other person is crazy, because there’s no other explanation to it; it’s not part of the way they perceive the world.

DA: And they do. You’re absolutely right.

DR: So I wonder whether the 11% of people seeing a ghost might be those 96% of the people who are NFs. The intuitive/feeling types are the ones who tend to see ghosts.

DA: It does seem that the intuitive/feeling types are the types who see the ghosts.

DR: Mmm hmm. So then you have a third category.

DA: Oh, the spiritually engaged. These are people who are very ill, dying, young children. And people who are traumatized are often open for spiritual experiences. So the more spiritually engaged a person is, the more likely they are to have an afterlife encounter. Of course, other considerations we can consider: are they in the throes of grief, are they clinging too much, are they on some type of drugs, alcohol. Alcohol often blocks an afterlife encounter. I mean there are many, many considerations but those first three, that social profile, the Myers-Briggs, and spiritually engaged, are really things like if we could break it down into those three it pretty much gave us our answer.

DR: I don’t recall in your book whether you created a predictive scale. Do you have some sort of way of predicting whether someone is likely to have one of these experiences?

DA: I didn’t actually in the book do a predicting scale, but based just on getting this information a reader could go back and go through the book, they could find their social profile, they could find their basic personality type, based on the Myers-Briggs, they know if they’re spiritually engaged and then that would tell them pretty much if they’re more inclined to have one or not. And I can remember when we were working together, by the way, you were telling me that you had actually changed your personality type according to the Myers-Briggs.

DR: A little bit, yeah.

DA: A little. So that’s part of the luxury of finding out, like with the personality type. We can change. It’s like we all use both hands. We prefer one hand, say the right hand, over the left. But we can alternate, and the more we use our left hand the more functional it becomes. So it’s kind of like our personalities. Say for instance, I’m a high-scale extrovert, so the more I depend and say, “OK, I’m going to spend more time alone,” the more that can influence me.

DR: Yeah, although I think most people who study personality research, yes, you can change, and your personality will change over time just with age and experience, but the amount that it changes is very, very small. From a young adolescent throughout the rest of your life it’s pretty well set. Now, you could force yourself to change. People who see me give talks for example assume that I must be an extrovert, but course I’m not. I’m a very strong introvert. I don’t particularly like to give talks, but you can force yourself to do it. You can even be good at it. But that’s different than what your preference is. So if you relax back into your preference that preference doesn’t change very much. I mean, I can hardly picture you as an introvert. You’re not an introvert, believe me.

DA: [laughs] Well, you know, Carl Jung studies have probably been updated since way back in the 60’s, but, at one time he said most people as they age, even if they are born on the extreme scales, that they ultimately reach that middle, that before death most people reach that. And I don’t know if that’s still true, I haven’t studied the Myers-Briggs in probably ten or 15 years. So it would be interesting to see if they have disproved his theory.

DR: Yeah. Yeah, I don’t know about that. In my own case, I have become less extreme, but the basic trends are still the same as they were when I was 20 or 25 years old, and probably younger. Because I say the story occasionally, that when I graduated from the first grade that my teacher’s evaluation of me said, among other things, that “Dean will be a future scientist”. So what in the world did she see with me at 5 or 6 years old that told her that? Well, whatever she saw, was some kind of basic personality profile, which turns out to be the kind of person who ends up being a scientist, I imagine. For your case, what was it that sparked your interest in all this? I mean of the people I know, who are various professions, I think only two either are now or have worked as a hospice chaplain or hospice nurse. And so it’s not all that common a job. So what was it that drew you to that?

DA: Well, what drew me to hospice was both of my parents died terrible deaths. In fact within, what was it, 13 months, I had lost all except for my daughter in blood relatives, and I really wanted to find a better death. And I said if I cannot find a better death, at least I can find someplace where the person’s family isn’t having to go it alone. Because I basically had no one. So I turned to hospice and indeed I found that there is a more comfortable death. And there is a place where people go to die and their loved ones are supported throughout. Not only the patient, but the families are supported throughout.

DR: Mmm hmm.

DA: So that’s why I turned to hospice.

DR: What did you do before that?

DA: Uh, hmmm [chuckles] I think you know where we’re going with this. I was a day trader with the New York Stock Exchange back in 1984, and had a near death experience. And God said, “You certainly got off your path. You’re there to spiritually support people”. Had the life review, the entire thing. Went home, I was hooked up to what they call a Quotetron, which was a machine which hooked me to the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. Called them and said, “Come pick it up;” never again touched it.

DR: Wow.

DA: Yup. And said that’s in my life review I saw that everything that I had ever done that ever mattered, it was that I was spiritually supporting someone. And I knew He was right.

DR: Huh. And so the uh, what do we say then to the people who are day traders?

DA: [laughs] Well, perhaps that’s their purpose, it just wasn’t mine.

DR: Right, [chuckles], right, that’s really the issue. Civilization would stop if suddenly everybody decided they didn’t want to be a day trader. You know I often think about this. What percentage of the population would be passionate about these kinds of topics? And I think the answer is in some degree everyone is but really passionate is probably a fairly small percentage. And perhaps that’s the way it ought to be.

DA: Yeah.

DR: Because, you know I think sometimes about how important being creative is to me. And then I start thinking as I’m flying on an airplane that I don’t want the airline pilot to suddenly feel like he needs to be creative.

DA: [laughs] Right!

DR: You know, I want to get from point A to point B without any barrel rolls or funny flips or something. I don’t want to go on an aircraft and have aerobatics all of a sudden, because the pilot feels he needs to be creative. So there is a certain need for civilization engines to have a lot of conservative values and approaches to sort of provide an anchor, almost, so that the rest of us can afford the luxury of worrying about these other issues.

DA: And I’ll tell you, Dean, my honest belief is that every single person is here and has a purpose and a meaning in life. Even the person who is laying homeless in the streets. That human being, that body, has so a purpose of being here. We may not see it in him or her, but they have a purpose. Everybody here has a purpose.

DR: That’s comforting. So you say here that your actual passion began on your first day of school.

DA: Yes it did, in fact, that‘s how the book starts. My passion, my first day at school, a little boy was jumping up and down wanting to tell about his grandpa. Teacher wouldn’t allow it. He was saying his grandpa came to him by his bucket of toys, and he had died. And the Teacher said, “Oh, shut up, sit down.” [laughs] She didn’t quite say it like that, but she wouldn’t let him talk and I really, really wanted to hear what happened so at lunch he told me his story. When I went home that night, there’s a long story in the book, but to cut it really quick, went home, told my family what happened, my dad came in later that night. Now, my day ended every night with a bedtime story, but my dad didn’t read it. It was always a true story from either his life or something that had happened or spontaneously made up.

He told me the story of my Uncle Harry and how they had gone to the Chicago World’s Fair in 1933. There along the boardwalk were these fortune tellers. A fortune teller told my Uncle Harry his wife was there with their baby and she was trying to talk to him. Now my Uncle Harry was not blood relative; he was married to my dad’s sister. No one knew my Uncle Harry had ever been married. They thought this was just foolish, they thought this was the most ridiculous...they were laughing, elbowing one another, but my Uncle Harry went in, he listened to this, what they called, fortune teller, who said “Harry, Harry, I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry for what I did to you. I’m so sorry for what I did to our baby. I wasn’t thinking.” She told the whole story of what happened. And, nobody could believe it, but my Uncle Harry turned white and just wanted to go home. The next morning he told my dad, “Come back over.” They went down the stairs to the very back of an old trunk, and there my Uncle Harry pulled out this locket, and there was a hair and a photograph of his baby and his wife, and the wife had killed their son and herself.

DR: Wow.

DA: And nobody knew that.

DR: Wow.

DA: So, and my dad said, “See honey, the importance is, not whether my Uncle Harry really had an encounter with his wife or that your little friend really saw his grandpa; what mattered was that it changed their lives.” So that was my passion and that’s my passion now: how encounters change our lives. That they matter.

DR: Wow. That’s a great story. Ok, so let’s go to the phones.

Q: This is Christine in Pennsylvania. I just wanted to comment as we weren’t able while they were having the discussion, in terms of the Myers-Briggs. They are correct, 38% of the people are in the two groups that are the Sensing-Thinking either Introverted and Extroverted or Judgmental so that comes up to a total of 76% of the population. And 12% each are the Thinking-Perceiving or Feeling-Perceiving. And so it is just 24% of the population that falls under that group as a total. And the other thing of it that might be relevant to mention is the Introvert-Extrovert scale on that test is the least accurate scale because the questions in the test about it relate to behavior rather than actually how you feel and think about it. So that particular scale is what most folks will find either a lot of change or it doesn’t seem to fit them. Particularly introverts often find it doesn’t seem to describe them because they’ll behave in a certain way when they might actually feel differently. And we do change too late but we don’t ever get to an absolute medium, we do what Dean said which is to grow [background noise interfering] we do change slightly but we still stay in the same categories.

DR: Mmm hmm. Thank you, thank you for that.

Q: This is Joan from Colorado Springs. It was an interesting discussion in that I was glad you got to the point where you were talking about what happens if you have an experience and you don’t even know the person has died yet. When my younger sister passed away, she was in eastern time zone, I was in California, western time zone--I had no idea she was in danger or anywhere near death. And at the precise moment that she died she appeared at the bottom of my bed at midnight my time and 3 am her time. And I was just totally puzzled. And it wasn’t until the next day, late in the next day, that I found out that she had passed away.

DR: Yeah, what’s really surprising about that kind of experience is how common that experience is.

DA: Yes, it’s very common.

DR: Yeah, I mean it’s specifically 3 o clock in the morning at the foot of the bed. Now this is partially I think probably because most people are in bed at that time, in which case where else are they going to show up? Does this confirm with your database, Dianne?

DA: It is. It’s very common, Joan, as Dean was saying, that 3 o clock in the morning is the very time that it happens so often and at the foot of the bed and at death.

DR: Yeah. Even back in the case studies that were collected in the late 1800’s, those cases also were finding apparitions appearing at the foot of the bed.

Q: This is Dale in Portland.

DA: Hi, Dale.

Q: Dianne, why do you think after death experiences change people’s lives?

DA: From my studies it seems that it changed their lives for a number of reasons. Of course, they’re extremely individual; what changes for one person will be different from what changes for the other. However, in my studies 98% of people said that they were comforting to a high degree. On a scale from zero, meaning no comfort whatsoever to ten, meaning tremendously comforting, they rated them between eight and ten, 98% of the time. And I really believe that afterlife encounters offer internal peace. And external peace begins with internal peace. People say they feel a peace they have never felt before and that goes out to other people.

Q: Uh huh.

DA: So I would love to see worldview change about afterlife encounters. Not on whether they are internal or external, but simply on, so why, what difference do they make. They make so much difference because of the peace they bring and the comfort, and also, it helps with grief. People said it didn’t extinguish their grief but it brought them a high comfort of just helping them carry the load of grief. I must say my 5 year international study was the first of its kind, and I had heard about that, oh yes, it helped with the grief, it helped with comfort, but there had never been a study specifically asking to what degree did it help, first of all, if it helped, if it brought comfort, to what degree, and for what extended period of time.

Q: What percent thought that it changed their lives?

DA: 98% scored on comfort, eight to ten, the highest level for comfort.

Q: Ok, but comfort is not necessarily changing their lives. What percent thought that it changed their lives, the way they lived their life?

DA: I did not, that was not part of the question. I am going to be posting a new survey on my website, afterlife-encounters.com, and it will be focused more toward that question.

Q: Ok, thank you.

DA: Thank you, Dale.

DR: Another question?

Q: I’m Patricia in California.

DA: Hi, Patricia.

Q: I’ll try to be really brief. I just want to acknowledge your work and I’m certainly going to get your book. I’m an IONS member. Four years ago my adult daughter died—it was a very ongoing, grueling experience. And two months after her death, since I wasn’t happy with the funeral and the metal box, I did what I called a white ceremony and the day after that ceremony that I did alone, using some of her paraphernalia, I saw this vision. I was sitting in a restaurant reading about Prozac, the evils thereof—

DA: Uh, huh…

Q: And there was this woman, and I didn’t know if it was Mother Mary (who I’m really into), an angel, or my daughter. And just, I won’t go into the whole thing to take your time, however, to show you some validity, and I will email you this experience...

DA: OK, I would love it!

Q: It was four years ago, and I have no family, because my parents were failing immediately thereafter, dad died, dog died [laughs], all this death, and my awarenesses such as you were talking about are what kept me going, with purpose. And uh, the, that day that I saw that appearance was Sunday. Well, the next Wednesday of the week I called my daughter’s one and only best friend, a Morman girl in Utah, and before I even said anything, this young woman said, “Guess what? I saw—“, she said, “Monica came to me in a dream Monday night”. That was the day after my vision when I was wide awake. There’s like 3-dimensional vision. And this girl described exactly what I saw. So something is going on.

[laughter]

Q: And when you said, uh, I liked that question about comforting, [background noise] had not necessarily to do with changing your life, I would hope that even when someone doesn’t experience something like this--it’s like, you may not see Machu Picchu or the Eiffel Tower, but can you believe that it’s there and make it make your life make a difference?

DA: Absolutely.

Q: So, thanks for your work.

DA: Patricia, I totally agree with you. And going back to Dale’s question; I did not have all my questionnaire on my survey--did it change your life or was there anything about change of life, it was strictly about comfort and grief. However, like on the new survey, there was a place where they could write in their stories or any questions. And most people wrote about how it did change their lives, that it was life-transforming. And there is a study that I referred to in my book that talks about, it was transforming, similar to a near death experience. So I really look forward to hearing from you. Please do go to my website, afterlife-encounters.com, and email me, I would love to hear from you, Patricia.

Q: I would love to do more relating with you and your work. Thank you to all the wonderful folks out there.

DA: Thank you, Patricia, very much.

Q: Hello? I’m Diane, calling from Columbus, Georgia. I work in hospice as a bereavement coordinator and counselor. And first off I just want to thank you for doing this. I think this is really important work. I wanted to ask about any studies that are being, I’ve been reading about this stuff since like ’92, and I wanted to know what kind of work is being done as far as looking at the possibility that this is just an expanded perception for mankind where issues kinda like an evolutionary thing, that we’re actually seeing more of what really truly is rather than, you know, the afterlife being a separate, separate world as it were, not a separate place, or whatever, but just that we’re actually perceiving what has been there the whole time, we just haven’t…

DA: You want to answer that, Dean?

DR: Well, I would just say that historically these kinds of experiences go back as long as we have human history, so I’m not sure that we’re seeing an evolutionary development, if anything, we’re seeing more of an openness in talking about these things.

Q: Oh, good, yeah.

DR: Would you agree with that, Dianne?

DA: I do. I totally agree with that, Dean. And I must say, that when we were working together and the programs that we were doing I really thought you were the person who was going to prove one way or the other, at least you were going to get to the bottom of afterlife phenomena, and when the programs lost funding, I had to wonder, are we not supposed to know? So, Dean, do you think that maybe we’re not supposed to know scientifically whether consciousness does or does not persist after death?

DR: No, I think there’s resistance to looking deeply inside. But that doesn’t mean that there’s any plan out there that’s preventing us from doing it. I think ultimately most people are interested in whatever the truth is, and the nice thing about the truth is that it’s inescapable. That eventually, truth will come out. It just may take awhile. So I don’t think there’s any, there’s no particular reason that this research is going slow, it’s just, among other things, it’s very difficult. We’re trying to crack a hard nut, that’s all.

DA: And it is very difficult, it’s difficult for funding for one thing. We’re finding difficulty in finding funding for brain phenomena and brain activity. Imagine, we’re talking something more mental here in a large portion. So funding, as you know, is very difficult.

DR: Yeah. It’s perplexing in a sense, because the majority of the population are interested in these questions, and yet the vast majority of funding available within science basically gives no money to this. There’s a giant disconnect between what people are interested in and what science studies.

Q: That’s as the Myers-Briggs explains it, because the Sensing you would find in the sciences, the Sensing-Thinking types.

DR: No, most scientists are NTs.

Q: Oh, really?

DR: Yeah, not NFs, but NTs.

Q: Oh, ok. That’s interesting.

DR: Yeah, in fact, most scientists are INTJs.

IONS: So I think we have time for one more question. Actually there was one emailed in I could give. Louise [last name omitted] just wanted to know, Dianne, if you’re still doing experiments with Psychomanteum and which types produce the best results?

DA: Actually, I’m not doing anything right now, and I changed the term “Psychomanteum” many, many years ago, because it seemed to have such a dark veil, and I completely changed the way it was originally used. I took it back to how they actually began using it in ancient Greece. They use the term “Oracle”. Oracle means “place for acquiring wisdom”. So, now I totally took it away from trying to have any type of an afterlife encounter. It is for coming in and asking for a piece of wisdom; it’s leaving with a piece of knowledge we didn’t have when we arrived. And that seems to work the best. Has nothing to do with the facilitator; it’s strictly the person’s own experience. Now maybe they will have an afterlife encounter; maybe that’s the wisdom that they need, maybe that’s the knowledge, but it may not be.

IONS: I guess we would still have time for a quick question.

Q: Oh, thank, thank you. This is Mary from Oregon. My question is: have you ever in all your research, Dianne, encountered somebody who had a story where they saw somebody who died before they died? I happened to see my ex-husband on the porch two weeks before he died. I didn’t even know it was him until after he died. And it was 3 o’ clock in the morning!

DA: I have had that, Mary. I certainly have.

Q: Ok, that’s what I wanted to know.

DA: I certainly have. Thank you.

Q: Thank you.

DR: Dianne did you consider that something like a harbinger or a premonition?

DA: I believe, so, Dean, it does seem to be more of a premonition type. A foreboding of something that’s going to happen.

DR: Right. Yeah, and once again the 3 a.m. element. It’s very common

DA: Yes. High percentage at 3 a.m.

DR: Right.

IONS: All right, well I think we’re—if you want to, uh, parting words here, Dean and Dianne?

DR: Well, I think we’ve demonstrated that we could probably talk for three hours and scratch the surface on this amazing topic. And I’d like to thank Dianne Arcangel, and once again give a plug for her book, Afterlife Encounters, available at all fine stores. And perhaps we can do this again.

DA: Dean, I would love it, and thank you, thank you so much. I’ve just really been looking forward to this interview and talking with you again, it’s been quite some time.

DR: Yes it has.

DA: Won’t make it quite so long next time!

DR: OK!

DA: Thanks, Dean!

DR: You’re welcome.

IONS: Thank you to you both.

DA: Good night.

IONS: Good night.

Related Sets
2006 IONS Teleseminars

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Publication Date:
2006-09-13
Length:
01:03:56
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