Spontaneous Human Combustion, Poltergeists, and Anomalous Lights: An Interview with Louis Proud


Louis Proud is a author and researcher specialising in anomalous phenomena. His articles have appeared in Fortean InstancesNew Daybreak, FATE and Nexus magazines, and he has been interviewed on quite a few podcasts and radio exhibits. The creator of Darkish Intrusions (2009), The Secret Affect of the Moon (2013) and Unusual Electromagnetic Dimensions (2015). He presently resides in Tasmania, Australia.

In his new ebook, Borderland Phenomena: Quantity One, Proud approaches the paranormal not as one thing international or magical however as occupying a realm on the margins of this actuality, in what he refers to because the “borderland.” In an investigation spanning subjects corresponding to earth lights, unusual rains, mysterious fires, and jinn, Proud adopts a refreshing and progressive method to trying on the paranormal, and so too the pure world. Right here, Proud talks to me concerning the core subjects if his new ebook –spontaneous human combustion, poltergeists, and anomalous lights– and the way these phenomena interweave and overlap…

RG: In your new ebook, Borderland Phenomena, you recommend that there is no such thing as a such factor as “the supernatural,” solely pure phenomena that aren’t presently totally understood by science. May you elaborate on this?

LP: The time period supernatural means “past scientific understanding or the legal guidelines of nature,” and since, in my opinion, nothing is past scientific understanding, or certainly the legal guidelines of nature, it’s a time period I particularly keep away from in my work and pondering. The late Edgar D. Mitchell, the Apollo 14 astronaut and sixth man to stroll on the Moon, expressed it nicely when he stated, “There aren’t any unnatural or supernatural phenomena, solely very massive gaps in our data of what’s pure.” In Borderland Phenomena, I encourage the reader to conceive of nature as a circle, with sure, well-understood phenomena current in the direction of the center, and different, less-understood phenomena current in the direction of the periphery. This “periphery” is the borderland. Borderland phenomena, then, are issues which lie on the border, or edge, of this actuality, being neither right here nor there however someplace in between, occupying a realm that might finest be termed liminal (from the Latin phrase limen, that means “threshold”). It’s within the borderland – that unusual, shadowy, liminal zone inside which different doable worlds overlap and work together with our personal – that the paranormal, I consider, has its origin.

RG: What connection, if any, do you see between Spontaneous Human Combustion (SHC), poltergeist phenomena, and anomalous lights (or UFOs)?

LP: Many outstanding connections and patterns exist between SHC, poltergeistry and anomalous lights. With respect to SHC and poltergeistry, it might be argued that the 2 signify opposites sides of the identical coin. First it must be famous that, as per the main mannequin for poltergeistry, the RSPK concept – which stands for “recurrent spontaneous psychokinesis” – the phenomena originate from the unconscious thoughts of a psychologically disturbed particular person, usually an adolescent present process puberty, referred to as the main focus or agent, with the throwing of objects and so forth being a method for the agent to externalise, in dramatic trend, any pent up anger or frustration they’ve been harbouring. Poltergeist results undoubtedly require power, and it’s no secret that the human physique is a extremely refined electromagnetic (extra accurately, electrochemical) machine.

With SHC, it might seem that the human unconscious can be responsible, however that the power in query is internalised moderately than externalised, ensuing within the sufferer being virtually fully lowered to ash. That is the unconscious suicide concept, which states that SHC is triggered by unfavorable, suicidal ideas on the a part of the sufferer. However the connection is deeper nonetheless. It’s been noticed, for instance, that SHC fires are very related in nature to people who generally erupt, spontaneously and inexplicably, in poltergeist instances. As for the anomalous lights connection, enable me to easily level out for instance that small balls of sunshine, generally known as orbs, function at times in poltergeist instances, and sometimes in such instances outbreaks of fireplace are additionally reported. One would want to learn my ebook to totally recognize the outstanding extent to which these three areas overlap.

RG: How uncommon are instances of SHC worldwide, and is SHC formally recognised as an actual medical phenomenon?

LP: All of the out there proof means that SHC is extraordinarily uncommon. That being stated, precisely how uncommon it’s stays unknown, and it might be a nearly unimaginable activity to find out roughly what number of incidents of SHC happen per yr on a worldwide foundation. After we use the time period SHC to confer with the demise of a person, it means, merely put, that in some way their physique has undergone combustion, to a point or one other, minus an obvious supply of ignition. The physique has been burned, in different phrases, though no person fairly is aware of the way it occurred.

Now in fact, every time somebody dies in a fashion that can’t be instantly defined, corresponding to violently, immediately, or inexplicably, it’s the job of a coroner to find out reason behind demise. There are lots of spectacular instances of SHC on document that, although extremely uncommon, have been successfully whitewashed by the coroners who investigated them, with the sufferer’s demise certificates stating, for instance, “demise by hearth” to clarify – or clarify away – reason behind demise. Rare although SHC is, there are in all probability many instances that go unrecognised or unreported, receiving completely no point out in any respect within the media and so by no means attain the general public.

To reply the second a part of your query, no, science doesn’t recognise SHC as an actual medical phenomenon. From an official perspective, there is no such thing as a method that the human physique can catch hearth spontaneously – it can’t, and doesn’t, occur. There should be some supply of ignition current – for instance, a dropped cigarette or an ember from a fireplace. When confronted with obvious instances of SHC, scientists depend on the wick impact concept, which compares the human physique to a candle, solely inside out, with the sufferer’s clothes representing the wick and the fats of the physique the gas or wax. The speculation states that after the sufferer’s clothes has been set on hearth from some exterior supply, the fats melts and is drawn into the clothes, leading to a gradual burning of the physique. I received’t level out the various flaws on this concept. Suffice it to say that, from a scientific and medical perspective, SHC (within the correct sense of the time period) is a fable.

RG: What do you contemplate to be the one most compelling case of SHC on document, and why?

LP: There are lots of compelling instances of SHC on document, however by far probably the most compelling, for my part, is that of Mary Hardy Reeser. Her weird and strange demise was broadly lined within the press on the time and it stays a subject of dialogue and debate to at the present time.

Mrs Reeser, the 67-year-old widow of a physician, resided in Columbia, Pennsylvania, earlier than selecting, considerably reluctantly, to maneuver to St. Petersburg, Florida, with the intention to be nearer to her son and his household. It was whereas dwelling in St. Petersburg, in an condo she’d been renting for under 5 weeks, when, on the evening of July 1-2, 1951, she met her fiery demise. All 170 kilos of her physique, save for her (purportedly shrunken) cranium, a part of her left foot (nonetheless clad in its slipper) and a piece of spine was fully lowered to effective ash, together with the easychair on which she’d been seated. Simply as unusual, the condo itself suffered little or no harm. Paint on close by partitions was neither cracked nor singed, and a pile of newspapers positioned inside arm’s size of the place the easychair had stood weren’t even scorched, whereas sheets on a daybed simply three toes away have been utterly unmarked. Ceilings and partitions have been smoke-blackened and lined in moist soot, however solely from a top of 4 toes above the bottom.

What makes the Reeser case so persuasive and charming is the truth that, on the time it occurred, it was investigated in nice depth, with the assistance of consultants from varied fields, but the thriller was by no means solved and nonetheless isn’t, prompting many to query the official rationalization – that she caught hearth to herself after dozing off in her chair whereas smoking. Amongst those that weighed in on the matter was Dr. Wilton M. Krogman, a professor of bodily anthropology and world main professional on what occurs to the human physique when uncovered to fireside, who admitted full bafflement close to the widow’s demise, commenting that he’d “by no means heard of something prefer it.”

RG: “Poltergeist” basically means “noisy ghost,” however is that this a misnomer? We sometimes affiliate the phrase “ghost” with spirits of the lifeless, however many researchers have instructed that poltergeist actions are extra probably psychic manifestations of the pissed off unconscious thoughts than the discarnate spirits of the deceased. Do you see poltergeist phenomena as distinct from the notion of a extra sometimes “supernatural” haunting?

LP: There’s little proof to assist the idea that poltergeistry is attributable to the spirits of the deceased, though, as you so rightly level out, the time period interprets as “noisy ghost.” And, sure, you’re appropriate that almost all researchers, nowadays, view the exercise as originating from the unconscious thoughts of a disturbed particular person, as per the RSPK concept. Your query just isn’t a simple one to reply. Definitely a distinction could be made between hauntings, that are typically place oriented, and poltergeist outbreaks, that are typically individuals oriented, though the road between the 2 could be considerably blurry at instances. Though I received’t remark additional on hauntings as the subject is exterior my space of experience, I’ll admit that the spirit concept with respect to poltergeistry just isn’t with out some benefit. Poltergeists have been identified to behave in a extremely impartial method, as if possessed of a will and intelligence of their very own, fairly other than that of any dwelling particular person, and even Colin Wilson and Man Lyon Playfair, each nice intellects who understood the paranormal deeply, subscribed to the spirit concept.

RG: What do you contemplate to be probably the most intriguing poltergeist case on document, and why?

LP: Choosing a single case is not any simple activity, as there are a lot of that I contemplate extremely intriguing. Nonetheless, one case that definitely ranks excessive on my record is the Nice Amherst Thriller, which occurred in Amherst, Nova Scotia, Canada, starting in 1878, and targeted round a 19-year-old lady named Esther Cox. It lends its title from a ebook by Walter Hubbel, an actor with an curiosity within the paranormal, which he wrote after staying with Esther and her prolonged household of their moderately cramped cottage whereas the exercise was underway. Hubbel’s unique intention was to defraud the thriller, however, having witnessed among the outstanding incidents first-hand, he ended up a believer within the case.

Esther was very a lot the black sheep amongst her siblings, and it’s probably she harboured emotions of jealousy in the direction of her older, extra enticing and standard sister, Jennie. The exercise first broke out when, one evening, because the sisters lay aspect by aspect, Esther complained of a “mouse” below the covers. The “mouse” returned the next evening, once more inflicting motion below the covers – although no precise mouse was ever seen – and from that time on the strangeness escalated. The household was tormented by loud noises as of somebody repeatedly hanging the cottage with a sledgehammer, objects have been violently thrown about, and at one level the next ominous message was discovered scrawled on the wall: “Esther Cox, you’re mine to kill.” Extra worrying nonetheless, the poltergeist, which started to speak by the use of rapping noises, threatened to burn down the home. It quickly made good on its promise by lighting blazes right here and there at surprising moments, together with one in a barrel of shavings within the cellar that grew to become so intense that a number of males have been required to extinguish it.

Though the poltergeist exhibited behaviour attribute of that of an impartial entity, it grew to become obvious to all involved, together with Hubbel, that the exercise was deeply linked to Esther, even various in depth in accordance with a 28 day cycle, probably according to her interval and thus indicating a sexual element at work. It was additionally revealed that, simply days earlier than the poltergeist outbreak occurred, Esther suffered an amazing shock when a younger man she’d been relationship on the time tried to sexually assault her at gunpoint.

There are a number of the reason why the Nice Amherst Thriller is such an interesting case: (1) it featured all kinds of intriguing phenomena, together with the eruption of spontaneous fires – which has some bearing on SHC; (2) it hints on the very probably risk of a sexual element at work in poltergeistry; and (3) it isn’t fully explainable by the use of RSPK, given, for instance, that the poltergeist attacked and harassed not simply her household however Esther additionally. If her unconscious thoughts was behind the exercise why would she goal herself? And the way will we clarify the extremely autonomous nature of the poltergeist’s behaviour?

RG: There are lots of instances all through historical past wherein we see an obvious overlap between paranormal phenomena and anomalous lights, or UFOs. Do you suppose UFOlogists are proper to hyperlink UFO phenomena so intently to the thought of alien visitation, or may it’s they’re barking up the fallacious tree? What different theories do you discover enticing?

LP: It’s an unlucky undeniable fact that the time period alien craft (UFO), which was coined by america Air Drive (USAF) in 1952 for functions of nationwide safety, has, within the thoughts of the general public, come to suggest some type of stable aerial craft, sometimes saucer-shaped and piloted by extraterrestrials. Unidentified aerial phenomena (UAP) is a slight enchancment however nonetheless fairly limiting. I’ve subsequently chosen to make use of the time period “anomalous lights,” to refer not solely to inexplicable objects or craft seen within the sky however to all kinds of bizarre luminous phenomena, starting from the very massive to the very small, together with ball lightning, earth lights, earthquake lights, in addition to unusual balls of sunshine, or “orbs,” that often manifest throughout poltergeist incidents. These are all “lights” within the sense that there’s some type of luminosity current, even when solely to a slight diploma.

I don’t utterly dismiss the extraterrestrial speculation (ETH), the idea that UFOs are explainable by way of nuts-and-bolts alien craft. Reasonably, I see no agency proof to assist it, and to me it appears way more logical to suppose that the phenomena originate right here on Earth, not from some distant planet. We’ve barely begun to understand the marvel and complexity of our personal planet and its myriad of lifeforms, and who’s to say what stays to be found with respect to the latter – maybe, in some situations, as a result of we lack the perspicacity and knowledge to recognise life even when it’s proper in entrance of our noses.

It’s not troublesome to think about that situations of ball lightning, particularly when the article noticed is massive in measurement and seen to exhibit apparently clever behaviour, account for at the least a small proportion of UFO sightings. Earth lights, one other class of bizarre luminous phenomenon produced by the earth, occupy an equally necessary place within the discipline of Ufology. Also called ghost lights or spook lights, they have an inclination to hang-out particular locales, locations which are geologically “particular” in a number of respect, corresponding to owing to the presence of a fault line. Areas wherein earth lights seem with regularity exist everywhere in the world. Such locations embrace Marfa, Texas, United States; within the valley of Hessdalen, Norway; the Boulia area of western Queensland, Australia; and the Pennines of England. Witnesses have described, repeatedly, seeing the lights behave in a clearly clever, sentient method, indicating that we’re coping with an unique, almost definitely plasma-based type of life that’s indigenous to the earth and which manifests fleetingly below sure particular circumstances.

Contemplating all the above, I’m satisfied the sphere of Ufology would profit significantly if researchers directed their gaze to not the celebrities however regarded extra intently and inquisitively at our very personal planet.

RG: It’s been ten years for the reason that publication of your first ebook, Darkish Intrusions, an exploration of the sleep paralysis phenomenon. What compelled you to jot down this ebook, and what do you are feeling is the perfect concept to clarify sleep paralysis?

LP: I wrote Darkish Intrusions as an try and make sense of my sleep paralysis (SP) episodes, which I first started having in my late-teens and which occurred regularly till my early to mid-twenties. Throughout SP, one’s physique is asleep and paralysed (to forestall one from “appearing out” one’s goals), but one feels utterly awake and alert, and whereas on this liminal, hypnagogic/hypnopompic state of consciousness one can expertise all types of wierd phenomena, from sensing a presence within the room (typically malevolent in nature), to being touched, strangled or grabbed, to listening to uncommon noises and voices, to seeing apparitions of assorted varieties. Sleep consultants label these peculiar and sometimes terrifying experiences “hallucinations,” and argue that SP is nothing however a neurological glitch, a mere dysfunction of rapid-eye-movement (REM) sleep, wherein one has by accident emerged from slumber whereas nonetheless partially remaining within the REM state.

Though I settle for the physiological features of SP and advise those that’ve undergone horrifying episodes to take care of a sober view of what’s occurred and never get carried away with concepts of spirits, demons and sorcery, it might be inaccurate to say that science can fully clarify the phenomenon. We have to enable for the likelihood that at the least some SP episodes are genuinely paranormal – that means that what was seen, heard, and so forth, has some foundation in goal actuality. Maybe SP merely widens one’s notion, as altered states of consciousness are identified to do, permitting a fleeting consciousness of issues to which one is, below regular circumstances, blind – very like peering into one other dimension or actuality.

RG: Why is it necessary for us examine so-called paranormal phenomena, and what does the sphere of anomalistics have to show humanity?

LP: To ignore the paranormal, a lot much less examine it, is to disregard half of nature – or, moderately, these features of nature that don’t fairly appear to “add up.” Ignorance of something can have perilous penalties. If one loved browsing, for instance, however had no consciousness of the existence of sharks or just didn’t consider in them – both as a result of one had by no means seen a shark, or maybe as a result of one discovered the considered massive, man-eating fish with sharp enamel just too disturbing and farfetched to ponder – one would log on wherever they fancied, even in waters believed to be shark-infested, thus unintentionally placing one’s life in danger. To a surfer, realizing about sharks and keep away from them is essential. From the angle of a marine biologist, sharks are an necessary a part of the marine ecosystem, and to not learn about them can be to own an incomplete data of that which inhabits the ocean. The paranormal is not any totally different. We are able to ignore it if we select, nevertheless it’s there regardless, and doing so will solely restrict our understanding of actuality and what we’re able to as human beings.

RG: What can we anticipate from you in Quantity Two of Borderland Phenomena?

LP: I’m already within the means of doing analysis for Quantity Two, and there could also be a Quantity Three as nicely – all relying, in fact, on whether or not there’s a requirement for the ebook and if I’ve the time and power to finish it whereas caring for different, extra urgent commitments. Writing books on paranormal phenomena has few rewards, least of all monetary, and I do it for no different cause than the truth that I discover it satisfying and the subject material intriguing. I’m not on a mission to “expose the reality” or any such nonsense, and I don’t faux to have any of the solutions (anybody who does is both dishonest or deluded). My curiosity within the paranormal is, at its core, philosophical, in that I’d like to raised perceive who and what we’re, each individually and as a species, and thus additionally make clear our function and performance on this planet.

This lack of information and perception into ourselves is the reason for a lot of the struggling and insanity we see on this planet. The issue, then, is considered one of ignorance. Amongst different issues, we fail to recognise that we occupy a type of cosmic hierarchy, and, extra to the purpose, that our place inside it’s not the highest rung. If there are different beings on the market extra clever and crafty than ourselves, inhabiting, for instance, a universe or actuality current alongside our personal, it figures that they might be exploitative in the direction of us and oppose all efforts on our half to repair the issues of this world – in the identical method a farmer wouldn’t need his sheep to change into so conscious as to grasp that they’ll escape at any time. I intend to discover this intriguing speculation in Borderland Phenomena Quantity Two, and one part of the ebook will give attention to mysterious disappearances.

Borderland Phenomena Quantity One is offered now from all good on-line bookstores. To be taught extra about Louis Proud and his work, go to his web site.

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