Paranormal Events are phenomena often described in popular culture, folk, and other non-scientific bodies of knowledge, whose existence within these contexts is described to lie beyond normal experience or scientific explanation. The most notable paranormal experiences include sightings of or belief in ghosts, extraterrestrial life, unidentified flying objects, psychic abilities or extrasensory perception, and cryptids.
Research over the past 30 years have suggested that more than half the human population has had at least one paranormal experience. Many studies have found a link between personality and psychopathology variables correlating with paranormal belief. This leaves some health professionals to theorize that there is an association between these experiences/beliefs and mental disorders; particularly hypomania, schizophrenia, and manic depressiveness. A 2014 study discovered that schizophrenic patients have more belief in parapsychology than healthy adults. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Association also provides criterial evidence produced from several studies correlating paranormal experiences with these disorders, and magical ideation.
Other research has suggested that there is no link between paranormal experiences or beliefs with mental disorders, and that these experiences could potentially improve one’s well-being.
According to the data provided from research by the Archives of Clinical Psychiatry, paranormal beliefs appear to have a positive correlation with those who suffer from mental disabilities. Such beliefs may mediate conceptualization of illness, treatment satisfaction and medication adherence. Paranormal belief, by their definition, is the beliefs which violate currently accepted scientific theories.
Statistics state that interest in the paranormal is only expected to increase with the growth of immigrant populations, who are reportedly more open to paranormal beliefs. On the other hand, some would say with the aging of America’s population and projected gains in income, belief in some aspects of the paranormal will likely reduce. However, given this rise in immigration over the last decade, and the tailoring of conservatives, religious growth is expected to lead to increased interest as religious individuals, already open to transcendent ideas, would also be more likely to hold paranormal beliefs.
Researchers predict that by 2050 nearly three-quarters of Americans will report at least one paranormal belief.
In India, it is common with the general population and their mental illness patients; and related to evil spirits, witchcraft, astrological influences, bad deeds done in a past life, and punishment for a sin. Few attempts have been made to actually explore the paranormal belief in India. Their study found that more than 50% of patient with schizophrenia had paranormal beliefs; particularly among males, older age, married and with lower levels of education, unemployed or have roles that rank low among social values. The alienation of these people due to their status in society is said to encourage them to appeal to paranormal or magical beliefs.
There are theories that also suggest that paranormal events and beliefs are linked to childhood trauma and abuse. Findings have shown in specific cases that paranormal belief acts as a psychodynamic coping function and serves as a mechanism for coping with stress. Survivors from childhood sexual abuse, violent and unsettled home environments have reported to have higher levels of paranormal belief.
A study of a random sample of 502 adults revealed paranormal experiences were common in the population which were linked to a history of childhood trauma and dissociative symptoms, and have a proneness to fantasize and hallucinate. Research has also suggested that people who perceive themselves as having little control over their lives may develop paranormal beliefs to help provide an enhanced sense of control. It is our opinion that researchers need to take into account how a person responds to trauma and difficulties adapting to their social demographic and surroundings via the development of these coping strategies to accurately understand any observed relationship between trauma and paranormal beliefs.
By the 2000s, the status of paranormal research in the United States had greatly declined from its height in the 1970s, with the majority of work being privately funded and only a small amount of research being carried out in university laboratories. In 2007, Britain had a number of privately funded laboratories in university psychology departments. Publications remained limited to a small number of niche journals, and to date there have been no experimental results that have gained wide acceptance in the scientific community as valid evidence of the paranormal.
Based on overall findings it may be concluded that paranormal belief vary with demographic and clinical variable, while medication adherence may vary with level of spirituality and Parapsychology. Conventional lifestyles and stakes in conformity appear to be strong predictors of paranormal beliefs, with highly unconventional people the most likely to turn to otherworldly possibilities beyond the realm of traditional religion.
Now that you’ve got our take on the comparative studies of mental disorders and paranormal beliefs, we encourage you to make your own deductions. Let us know your theories!