Expériences exceptionnelles nécrophaniques et deuil paradoxal: études de la phénoménologie et des répercussions des vécus effrayants de contact avec les défunts

Translated title of the contribution: Exceptional necrophanic experiences and paradoxical mourning: Studies of the phenomenology and the repercussions of frightening experiences of contact with the deceased.

Renaud Evrard*, Marianne Dollander, Evelyn Elsaesser, Callum E. Cooper, David Lorimer, Chris Roe

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to JournalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Introduction
Exceptional experiences of contact with the deceased are the subject of renewed interest for clinicians specialized in bereavement. Several works have highlighted the positive aspects of such experiences, while asking certain questions about their complex links with psychopathology. The rupture model, reinforced by the Freudian theory, promotes the acceptance of loss; while the model of continued bonds promotes the maintenance of identifications and relationships with the deceased. The latter model is based on recent investigations of these “necrophanic” experiences, the prevalence of which is 47 to 82% among the bereaved.

Method
We analyze 108 testimonies (English and French) from a set of 1004 questionnaires completed online. They correspond to a subset of the sample of respondents who described their experience of contact with the deceased as frightening or negative. Our mixed analysis of closed and open questions sheds light on the content of the messages, the anxieties associated with these experiences, the ways in which the subjects shared these experiences, and their aftereffects.

Results
We used a phenomenological framework to recharacterize 20 cases of lived encounters with unidentified entities, generally associated with sleep paralysis; and six incomplete cases which cannot be categorized. The contents of the messages are mostly positive. The anxieties are rather ambivalent and transitory. Subjects found it easy to share their experiences with relatives, but not with clinicians. There is a retrospective perception of an almost unchanged religiosity and a significantly increased spirituality, with specific effects generally favorable to the grieving process.

Discussion
These data on so-called frightening spontaneous experiences suggest that these experiences may be catalysts for non-pathological grief. In contradiction with the rupture model, these results reinforce the model of continued bonds by suggesting paradoxical mourning: grief is accomplished by keeping the relationship with the deceased open and alive. Clinical guidelines of such experiences are presented and discussed.

Conclusion
Necrophanic experiences are frequent and powerful. Longitudinal investigations seem necessary to evaluate their long-term effects.
Translated title of the contributionExceptional necrophanic experiences and paradoxical mourning: Studies of the phenomenology and the repercussions of frightening experiences of contact with the deceased.
Original languageFrench
JournalEvolution Psychiatrique
Volume86
Issue number3
Early online date3 Aug 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 3 Aug 2021

Keywords

  • After-death communication
  • parapsychology
  • sense

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