Whether you're a newbie or an experienced investigator, the "For Investigators" area of PPI's main website is a learning resource center designed with you in mind, containing dozens of useful forms, guidelines, how-to's, and articles with topics such as investigative techniques, the peer review process, data and media cataloguing, team management, and much more!   

Main Menu

Apparition Types: "Bystander"

Started by PPI Tracy, April 22, 2010, 04:42:15 PM

Previous topic - Next topic

PPI Tracy

(reposted from "Public Parapsychology")

The term apparition, from the Latin word apparere (meaning ?to show oneself?), may be formally defined as:

An experience, usually visual but sometimes in other sense-modalities, in which there appears to be present a person or animal (deceased or living) ... who/which is in fact out of the sensory range of the [witness]? (Thalbourne, 2003).

In other words, it is the experience of the presence of a person or animal ? living or dead ? that is not actually there, which seems to occur primarily through sight, but at times can seem to occur through the other senses (sound, smell, taste, and touch). This term is a bit broader than the more popular term ghost (from the German word geist for ?mind? or ?spirit?), which refers to the apparition of a deceased person, usually in connection with a haunting. 

There are actually several known types of apparitions that have been documented by psychical researchers and parapsychologists since the late 19th century.
They include: crisis apparitions, post-mortem apparitions, deathbed visions, haunting apparitions, and apparitions of the bystander-type. 


It turns out that apparitions may not only be associated with a haunted location; in rare cases, they may be associated with a person. Rather than being seen in the place where they once lived or worked, some apparitions have been witnessed in close proximity to people who once knew them in life. Dr. Louisa Rhine (1957) had coined the term bystander-type case to label these kinds of cases, noting that, ?...these cases are suggestive of the haunting cases, the main difference, however, being that in these the link is a person rather than a geographical location? (p. 39).

An example of an apparition of the bystander-type comes from a study by the late Dr. Ian Stevenson (1995), in which he had interviewed a medical doctor who had once witnessed such apparition while keeping vigil at the bedside of his mother-in-law, who was very ill, in a coma, and near death. According to the doctor:

I was standing by her bed and no one else was in the room. She had an agonal inspiration, and at that moment I had a very clear picture of G. C. [her late husband] standing across from me with his arms outstretched, and he said, ?Flora, I?ve been waiting for you.? I did not really have to look to see that my mother-in-law had died, but the physician in me pushed me to verify that (p. 362).

The doctor stated that the figure he saw of his late father-in-law was ?...quite opaque, as he would have seen him in life? (p. 362). He was only able to see the figure from the waist up, but believed that the surrounding furniture had blocked his vision of the rest. Prior to his encounter, the doctor believed that he had only been able to see his father-in-law only once or twice while his father-in-law was still alive, but he was familiar with his father-in-law?s appearance from family photos. However, he had not expected to see his father-in-law at the time of his mother-in-law?s passing, stating that, ?I was surprised but comforted by what I saw? (p. 363).

In this case, the doctor was able to see the apparition of a man in close proximity to the man?s dying wife, and thus the doctor was acting as a third person ?bystander? witness (hence the term). One might notice that this case seems similar to a deathbed vision, but we should point out that it cannot be classified as one in the strictest sense because the mother-in-law was comatose and did not herself perceive the apparition of her deceased husband.

The case has three other interesting aspects to it. First, as in the crisis case, the apparition that the doctor saw appeared solid. Second, as in the deathbed case, the apparition he saw was of a relative in his family. Third, the doctor reportedly heard the apparition speak, suggesting it had some degree of intelligence.


Let's discuss.  Your thoughts?  {8I

PPI Tracy

This article makes me wonder.....if you interviewed doctors, surgeons, nurses, medical examiners, crime scene investigators, and even morticians, and asked them what kind of experiences they may have had with the paranormal in relation to what they do for a living, what they would share.  That would be an interesting study I would think.  Fascinating, actually.   P^/

Any thoughts?

PPI Debra

A very close friend of mine is a trauma surgeon. She did  not used to believe in paranormal phenomena. She has a had some bizarre experiences.
Here's one: One night around 11 PM, there was a loud, urgent knock at her front door. Somehow she knew to run to her neighbor's home.
When she got there, she found that the mother-in-law visiting there from Columbia was in heart failure. Dr. Bola immediately stabilized her until the EMT's arrived. She saved her life. 
Then she asked who had knocked on her door. No one had! The next weekend she took me with her to meet and talk with the family. They were very grateful and feel it was divine intervention.
"If you're after gettin' the honey, don't go killin' all the bees." -Joe Strummer

PPI Tracy

Omg.  Dr. Bola would be a very interesting person to talk to.  That is an incredible story.  Who knocked on her door, indeed. A deceased relative?  The person who was in heart failure projecting themself? Some people believe in "Spirit Guides".  A guide perhaps of Dr. Bola's?  You can go pretty deep when trying to figure it out.  The possibilities are endless.

I'm seriously thinking of getting some sort of study going.  I don't know how, but I want to do it.

PPI Debra

I know Dr Bola would be willing to be interviewed. However, she's battling a rare cancer and the chemo has made her very sick. The next time I talk to her, I'll see how she feels. She is an amazing woman.
"If you're after gettin' the honey, don't go killin' all the bees." -Joe Strummer

PPI Tracy

Oh Debra.  I am so sorry.  I will send some healing energy out to her.  (the only way I know how....via prayer).

PPI Debra

Quote from: PPI Tracy on April 23, 2010, 01:52:40 PM
Oh Debra.  I am so sorry.  I will send some healing energy out to her.  (the only way I know how....via prayer).

Thanks, Tracy.  :)
"If you're after gettin' the honey, don't go killin' all the bees." -Joe Strummer