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Parapsychology – Mediumship

3. Theories Behind Mediumship

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In this lecture, we think about some theories behind how mediumship occurs, focusing in particular on: (i) a theory that mediums are communicating with individuals who have survived death and exist in a different dimension, or on another plane; (ii) the assumption that many theories of mediumship make, that there is a spiritual reality which exists alongside our own; (iii) the modern term of channelling, whereby the medium is taken over by the spirit in order to communicate the spirit’s message; (iv) the clairvoyant nature of certain medium communication, whereby the spirit communicates directly with the medium in a process which is not visible to others; (v) the altered states of cognition and/or consciousness which some mediums enter into, in order to communicate with the spirit world; (vi) the function of a relaxed or trance state, to reduce sensory distraction and allow the medium to channel their communication elsewhere.


In this course, Professor Ciarán O’Keeffe (Buckinghamshire New University) explores mediumship. In the first lecture, we think about how to define a medium and the act of mediumship. In the second lecture, we think about the history of mediumship and its origins in Ancient Greece. In the third lecture, we think about some theories behind how mediumship can occur, with a focus on the paranormal. Next, we think about the role of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle in the research and popularity around mediumship. In the fifth and final lecture, we think about taking a sceptical perspective towards research into mediumship.


Professor Ciarán O’Keeffe is associate professor of education and research and head of the School of Human and Social Sciences at Buckinghamshire New University. Professor O’Keeffe’s research interests include investigative psychology and parapsychology, and has made numerous television and radio appearances alongside an array of celebrities. Some of Professor O’Keeffe’s recent publications include 'Things That Go Bump In The Literature: An Environmental Appraisal of 'Haunted Houses'' (2020) and 'Restorative Justice and Recidivism: Investigating the impact of victim-preference for level of engagement' (2014).

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APA style

O'Keeffe, C. (2022, July 20). Parapsychology – Mediumship - Theories Behind Mediumship [Video]. MASSOLIT.

MLA style

O'Keeffe, C. "Parapsychology – Mediumship – Theories Behind Mediumship." MASSOLIT, uploaded by MASSOLIT, 20 Jul 2022,

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