Sunday, January 24, 2010
The Psychology of the Paranormal Explosion
The question then becomes, what has caused this incredible increase in fascination with the paranormal? I look to history to answer this question. There have been many periods in history before this that have had increases in spiritualism and religiousity. The last period that had this kind of explosion in interest in the supernatural was the period around World War I. During that time, spiritualism was embraced and became a normal part of popular culture to the point where the celebrities of the day, Houdini and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle became part of the movement.
The psychology that unites that period and our period now is the psychology of instability and radical change. During the last explosion in interest in the paranormal, people witnessed World War I, the great depression, The Swine Flu, and radical social and political upheval. Their world was no longer stable or safe so they turned their hopes to another world. They turned their hopes to the world of supernatural. Similarly, the last ten years in our culture have seen war, recession, natural disasters, and cultural instability. We have lost our faith in a safe world that makes sense. In this period of instability, we have also turned our hopes to life after death and put our faith in the paranormal and supernatural.
These two periods are not the only periods in history that have seen these trends. Following the periods of black death there were massive upsurges in religiousity and spiritualism. The consequences of this resulted in the massive witch hunts that plagued these times as women and men turned to non traditional faith to make sense of their insane world and the religious majority became markedly more religious. the terrible uniting of these two factors created a climate in which those that had embraced non tradition faith could be easily persecuted by the now even more hyper religious.
Another thing all these periods of instability and increased interest in the supernatural share is that they all come to an end. Stability will return and people will again let go of their need to embrace the supernatural. Inevitably, the tide will turn and interest in ghosts and the supernatural will fade, leaving behind them only the rare few that have always been interested.