One never ceases to be amazed at Timothy Green Beckley’s fascinating choices for exciting but overlooked books to republish. His latest gem, plucked from the murky hazes of yesteryear, is “Thirty Years Among The Dead,” written by a physician named Dr. Carl A. Wickland and first published in 1924. The book is still available in older, more expensive editions, but Beckley’s Global Communications version is the only one that can truly be called “complete and unabridged,” thus serving as an invaluable historical document.
“Thirty Years Among The Dead” is not, as the title may suggest to some, a dull account of hanging around a morgue somewhere. It offers instead a still vitally relevant approach to abnormal psychology that is based on the idea that extreme mental illness is caused – not by a harsh environment or muddled brain chemistry – but by the encroachment upon the innocent by the discarnate spirits of the evil dead.
You may already be thinking that therein lies the stuff of a great horror movie, but you will be intrigued to learn that “Thirty Years Among The Dead” is a factual, well-documented account of actually treating the mentally ill by contacting the oppressing spirits within the sufferer and convincing those spirits to leave.
To carry out this form of therapeutic spiritualism, Dr. Wickland worked alongside his wife Anna, an accredited medium who voluntarily allowed herself to be temporarily possessed by these wicked spirits in order to better understand their tormented motivations. The Wicklands would then use this information to treat the victims who so grievously suffered under these destructive otherworldly influences. Along with the mediumistic coercion of spirits conducted by his wife, Dr. Wickland would administer low voltage electric shocks to the patient’s neck and spine with a device called a “Wimhurst generator,” a wand-like instrument that worked to “dislodge” the dead spirit.
In his introduction to this new edition of “Thirty Years Among The Dead,” Beckley writes about listening to a long running radio program – SpeakingOfStrange.com, hosted by paranormal expert Joshua P. Warren – on the subject of psychotic mass murderers. Beckley found himself contemplating the mystery of how people can carry out the most egregious crimes and yet seem to have no conscience about their acts. How does someone commit a series of brutal murders and then take a quiet pride in having done so? This led him to remember Dr. Wickland’s book, which Beckley dimly recalled having seen advertised in one of the numerous paranormal-themed magazines published by Ray Palmer.
Beckley writes: “The Wicklands theorized – no! they claimed to have absolute evidence – that these demented spirits of the dead liked to hang around the living so that they could continue their vulturine activities. In essence, they would leech onto those who were prone to similar fits of debauchery or were well on their way to a life of unabated revelry and eventual damnation.”
As Beckley, half-jokingly, expresses Dr. Wickland’s concept in 21st century terms, “If you hang around that sports bar or strip club, you eventually are going to be possessed by more than the likes of Derek Jeter or Blaze Starr.”
In a way similar to the spirits of the departed in the hit movie “The Sixth Sense,” these “possessive” evil spirits seem to have no understanding at all that they are dead. How is this so?
“Deprived of their physical sense organs,” Dr. Wickland explains, “they are shut out from the physical light, and, lacking a mental perception of the high purpose of existence, these individuals are spiritually blind and find themselves in a twilight condition – the ‘outer darkness’ mentioned in the Bible – and linger in the realm known as the Earth Sphere. Death does not make a saint of a sinner nor a sage of a fool. The mentality is the same as before and individuals carry with them their old desires, habits, dogmas, faulty teachings, indifference or disbelief in a future life. These earthbound spirits are the supposed ‘devils’ of all ages; ‘devils’ of human origin, thrust blindly into a spirit existence and held there in a bondage of ignorance.
“The influence of these discarnate entities,” Dr. Wickland continues, “is the cause of many of the inexplicable and obscure events of earth life and of a large part of the world’s misery. A recognition of this fact accounts for a great portion of unbidden thoughts, emotions, strange forebodings, gloomy moods, irritabilities, unreasonable impulses, irrational outbursts of temper, uncontrollable infatuations and countless other mental vagaries.”
Dr. Wickland then points out that the “records of spirit obsession and possession extend from the remotest antiquity to modern times.” According to Dr. Tyler, a noted anthropologist of Dr. Wickland’s time who had studied indigenous peoples throughout the world, belief in demoniacal possession was still maintained by half the human race. Homer often referred to demons, saying, “A sick man pining away is one upon whom an evil spirit has gazed.” References to demons occur throughout both the Old and New Testaments, and “it must be admitted that a considerable portion of the work accredited to Jesus was the casting out of demons.”
There are many ways to stumble into the realm where these spirits are free to obsess and possess besides just extremes of uncaring debauchery. Writing in the days when Psychical Research was still in its infancy, the 1920s, Dr. Wickland recounts the stories of some unfortunates driven to asylums in the aftermath of having been used in psychic experiments with automatic writing and Ouija boards.
For example, a woman he calls “Mrs. Bl,” attempted some automatic writing, which led her to “mental derangement and altered personality. Normally she was amiable, pious, quiet and refined but became boisterous and noisy, romped about and danced, used vile language, and, claiming she was an actress, insisted upon dressing for the stage, saying that she had to be at the theater at a certain time or lose her position. Finally, she became so irresponsible that she was placed in an asylum.”
Another similar case history is related, this time involving a woman Dr. Wickland calls “Mrs. Wr.,” who “became obsessed with hallucinations that God was constantly talking to her and condemning her for wrong acts of which he accused her; after attempting suicide at the request of this so-called God, she was taken to the asylum.”
Mrs. Wr’s case is reminiscent of something the late abductee and author Karla Turner once wrote for Beckley’s now defunct newsstand magazine, “UFO Universe.” Turner was quite outspoken in her belief that the aliens and the abduction experience in general were not only evil but left in their wake a slew of debilitating aftereffects unjustly thrust upon perfectly innocent victims.
As in the case of Mrs. Wr. and her delusional belief in a persecuting – but nonetheless righteous – God who attempted to drive her to suicide, Turner wrote that, “The aliens have sometimes disguised themselves in order to gain the cooperation of the abductee, appearing in such forms as Jesus, the Pope, certain celebrities, and even the dead spouse of the abductee.”
There is an understandable need, Turner said, for humans to believe in the power of good. The aliens understand that we hope for them to be benevolent creatures and they use our desire for goodness to manipulate us. Which is similar to what the suicidal Mrs. Wr. experienced – an evil spirit voice that convinced her it was God while also appearing to be a “good” accuser, counseling her that she should take her own life to expiate her “sins.”
Turner also pointed to another aftereffect of abduction that has an even more clear resemblance to the spirits encountered by Dr. Wickland and his wife.
“Some abductees,” Turner wrote, “experience a degeneration of their mental, social and spiritual well-being. Excessive behavior frequently erupts, such as drug abuse, alcoholism, overeating and promiscuity. Strange obsessions develop and cause the disruption of normal life and the destruction of personal relationships.”
What Turner says here echoes Dr. Wickland and his wife nearly word for word. Note the use of the term “obsessions,” which one encounters with great frequency when reading “Thirty Years Among The Dead,” as well as the references to drug abuse, alcoholism, etc. These are the same maladies the Wicklands grappled with the spirits over and sought to heal in their patients. The evil spirits of the dead, who had led less than exemplary lives while inhabiting a human body – lowlifes, criminals, wife-beaters and the all around depraved – appear to exert an influence over their victims identical to the alien abductors described by Turner.
As members of the UFO community, what are we to believe here? Surely the gray aliens are not the spirits of the deceased wicked come to prey on the weak-willed. Neither could the evil dead be said to travel in flying saucers or to conduct medical and psychological experiments on their “chosen ones.” Nevertheless, the alien abduction phenomenon has always been said to have occult overtones, and the lines between a nuts-and-bolts approach and a more paranormal, spiritual interpretation of abduction have always been blurred. The fact that both phenomena, alien abduction and spirit oppression, leave in their wake symptoms that often require psychiatric treatment ties the two together but does not really answer our questions about their ultimate nature.
In any case, reading the new, unabridged Global Communications edition of “Thirty Years Among The Dead” will inevitably enrich one’s storehouse of knowledge of the strange and the supernatural and how we as human beings respond to those as yet still unknowable presences. As abnormal psychiatry and abduction research both progress, Dr. Wickland and his wife may eventually seem to have been prescient in their method of healing the mind by banishing the evil that stalks it.
Thirty Years Among The Dead – Obsessions And “Curses” Removed Through The Work Of The Medium Mrs. Wickland.
UFOs – Wicked This Way Comes: The Dark Side Of The Ultra-Terrestrials
Round Trip To Hell In A Flying Saucer – UFO Parasites, Alien “Soul Suckers,” Invaders From Demonic Realms