The Truth about Medium: Extraordinary Experiments with the Real Allison DuBois of NBC's Medium and other Remarkable Psychicsby Gary E. Schwartz, William L. Simon
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Every Monday night millions of Americans tune into Medium, NBC's new hit drama featuring Allison DuBois, an ordinary woman who helps police solve baffling crimes through her ability to communicate with the dead. What most don't know is that this fictional character is based on a true-life medium named Allison DuBois, who is a consultant to the show. For the past four years, DuBois has been the subject of rigorous scientific experiments conducted at the University of Arizona by Harvard-trained psychologist Gary Schwartz. The Truth about Medium chronicles many of those experiments as well as the real-life cases Allison has worked on and reveals hard laboratory evidence that psychic ability and mediumship are real.
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The Truth about Medium
Extraordinary experiments with the real Allison DuBois of NBC's Medium and other remarkable psychics
By Gary E. Schwartz
Hampton Roads Publishing Company, Inc.Copyright © 2005 Gary E. Schwartz
All rights reserved.
Allison DuBois provides evidence that a just-departed friend is still here
One fateful afternoon in February 2001, I was visited by a pair of ladies who had called and asked to set up an appointment with me. My administrative assistant had put them on my calendar, and I did not know who these people were or why they wanted to see me until just before they arrived. (I never did ask what they had said that won them a place on my calendar.) So I went into the meeting unprepared, at the same time feeling a chilling coldness in my heart because I was secretly grieving the recent unexpected passing of someone I deeply respected and dearly loved.
The ladies turned out to be medium-in-training, Allison DuBois, and her then medium-mentor Catherine Yunt. Allison claimed that one of her "spirit guides"—souls "on the other side" who mediums say provide them with wisdom and guidance—told her that she was "to be a part of Dr. Schwartz's research on the survival of human energy after death." No offense intended, but this was a new line for me, and I frankly would have never expected it from someone who looked and acted like her. Allison was young, vibrant, slender, and attractive, with a great smile. She was well dressed and appeared mainstream and intelligent. And tough.
She said, "My guides never steer me wrong, but I know nothing about being a research medium." Allison explained that she liked the idea of "science being fused with the other side" but she did not know if she could do what famed medium John Edward had done when he came to take part in my experiments on mediumship. She wondered if she could "pass the test." That was my question, too.
Allison and Catherine had to wait almost a month to see me. They drove in from Phoenix, and according to Allison, they were a bit apprehensive. Allison said in 2004, "If you're a psychic looking for confirmation from Gary that you're significant, forget it. Gary looks at you to study you, not to praise you. I like that about him. He's a scientist, not a groupie. I now sarcastically refer to myself as Gary's lab rat." (Since the success of Medium in 2005, Allison has little time to be anyone's lab rat, and she does not currently participate in our ongoing research.)
I remember the precise date and time of my meeting with Allison and Catherine because two days earlier, an extraordinary lady named Susy Smith—the author of 30 books in the field of parapsychology, mediumship, and survival of consciousness after death—had unexpectedly collapsed and died of a massive heart attack. She was 89 years old.
Allison, Catherine, and I were meeting in a room in a small converted house belonging to the university, which at that time served as the home for the Human Energy Systems Laboratory. This particular room, used for recording high frequency X-rays and gamma rays in our energy medicine research, was crowded with computers and detectors. Sitting there, apprehensive but cool, Allison DuBois looked like a well-groomed undergraduate student; Catherine looked as if she could have been Allison's mother.
Catherine explained that she was a math teacher who also was intuitive, and had been developing her psychic gifts. She claimed to have multiple abilities, including mediumship (by which she meant talking to the dead), medical intuition (making medical diagnoses psychically), and pre-cognition (predicting the future). She said she had been working as a mentor to Allison for nearly a year.
What a strange combination—from mathematics and education to mediumship and astrology.
Allison explained that she had graduated from Arizona State University as a political science major and was planning on going to law school. She told me things about herself that are now well known to millions of viewers of the Medium television show: she was turning 30 (though she looked to me more like early 20s), she is the mother of three young girls, and her husband is an aerospace engineer. Allison felt that her psychic abilities were evolving rapidly, but she did not know if she was as talented as the gifted mediums who had been tested in my laboratory—especially John Edward, George Anderson, and Laurie Campbell.
She was, she said, beginning to wonder if she could better serve the process of prosecuting criminals and putting them behind bars— and even making sure that murderers received the death penalty—if she offered to use her psychic gifts to support the work of the police and prosecutors. I wondered what kind of a medium would want to use her skills to help execute criminals. I was beginning to sense that if Allison was anything, she was atypical. She went on to tell me that she had the same kinds of skills as Catherine but believed hers to be more precise. And then she offered a stunner: like the little boy in the movie The Sixth Sense, she claimed that she could actually see dead people. No ifs, ands, or buts here. Allison evidenced a kind of brashness that is not common in people at her stage in life. But I should know; I had a similar quality when I was her age.
Catherine and Allison were both interested in participating in mediumship research. An idea spontaneously popped into my head: if either of these women could really do what they said, perhaps they could demonstrate it to me by bringing through information about my just-departed dear friend, Susy Smith.
I decided to do something I had never done before. I would ask two people I hardly knew, who claimed to be mediums, to see whether they could get information from a deceased person I loved. They had to make do with a minimum of explanation, along the lines of"A person who was close to me recently died." I gave them no information about who the deceased was. The person could have been male or female, young or old, local or distant, personal or professional, having died by accident or by disease. They were "blind" to any of this.
I asked them if they had any knowledge of a person close to me who had recently died; both said no. I asked if they had read the Tucson newspaper that morning. Again, no—they had just arrived from Phoenix and if they read a newspaper, it would have been one from Phoenix.
I explained that this was not a formal experiment, and that I would understand if they did not want to try. After all, they had no warning that I would informally test them that very day. They sensed that although this request was more personal than scientific, I was giving them an opportunity to provide me with preliminary evidence that they actually could do what they claimed.
They assured me they understood there would be no verbal or visual feedback until the impromptu reading was completed. During the session, I sat as completely immobile as I could; I had played enough poker in high school and college, and performed enough psychotherapy as a clinical psychologist, to know that I can keep a straight face when I need to.
Below is a summary of the primary information they each provided. As a standard for showing how their information applied to Susy, I scored it by comparing whether each statement was true for Susy, and whether it was true for my two beloved deceased grandmothers, Esther and Gussie. My grandmothers, in other words, became a kind of stand-in for "everybody else of a grandmother-age."
The truth is that if I hadn't been there and experienced this myself, I would have been highly skeptical. And even having been there, and knowing that it took place, I still find it hard to believe.
The reading began with Allison. She said:
1. There was a deceased grandmother.
Yes, there was (Susy had called herself my "adopted" grandmother), but this does not distinguish among Susy, Esther, and Gussie. Score (checkmark indicates the statement was true for that person):
2. The woman was short.
Again correct, but Esther was short as well.
3. The woman was surrounded by flowers, especially roses.
True for Susy (she painted flowers, including roses) and Gussie (who also painted flowers), false for Esther.
4. She died quickly of some cause associated with the chest area.
This is more specific and unique. Susy did die quickly from a heart attack. Esther was depressed and may have committed suicide; Gussie died in her 90s, peacefully, in a nursing home. Although eventually all three women's heart's stopped, the information fits Susy precisely. True for Susy, false for Esther and Gussie.
5. She cared about the sitter, but used to tease him.
The "sitter" being the person for whom the reading was being done—me. Yes, Susy would tease me, sometimes pointedly. Esther and Gussie were playful, but I do not remember them ever teasing me. True for Susy, false for Esther and Gussie.
6. The grandmother was in the presence of a young deceased child.
Neither Esther nor Gussie had a young deceased relative or other child they were close to at the time of death who might have become a companion "on the other side." However, Susy had told me that when she passed, her plan was to take care of an infant or young child who died. True for Susy, false for Esther and Gussie.
7. "She is showing me a newspaper. That's very strange."
Veiy strange indeed. In the hundreds of research readings I have witnessed, I cannot remember another one including such a comment. Not only had Susy been a newspaper reporter, but the obituary she had written herself in preparation for her ultimate passing had been published in the Tucson newspaper that very day (though I was not aware of this fact at the time of the reading). Esther and Gussie both read newspapers. However, this item clearly fits Susy. Given its obvious salience to Susy, true for Susy, false for Esther and Gussie.
Seven statements that accurately applied to Susy, only two that accurately applied to Esther, and the same for Gussie. The number of true items out of seven is 100 percent for Susy versus 29 percent for Esther and Gussie.
In Catherine's reading, she confirmed what Allison had said. But since Catherine was present when Allison reported the information, it would have been inappropriate to score the information a second time. Catherine did, though, offer some unique information.
1. In the newspaper was an obituary that was significant to you.
Though I didn't know it at the time, this turned out to be a "wow" statement. Not only had Susy written the obituary herself five years before, but I had personally forwarded it to the executor of her estate on Monday to have published in the newspaper. At the time the reading occurred, I had not yet purchased Tuesday's Arizona Daily Star to see if it had been published. (It was.) True for Susy, false for Esther and Gussie.
2. The deceased grandmother had an unpublished manuscript, completely written, that you are aware of.
Susy did have an unpublished book manuscript—a novel about the afterlife—which would have been her 31st book had she lived. She had written this novel for me as a present for my 54th birthday. Only a colleague, a few of Susy's friends, and I knew of this manuscript.
3. The deceased wanted this manuscript published, in her honor.
I knew that Susy's desire was to have this book published. Curiously, I had that very morning thought about possible ways to have her novel published posthumously (though in the end I never followed through with this plan). True for Susy, false for Esther and Gussie.
4. "My guides are telling me that Allison has one more piece of information to share."
Catherine's guides were telling her that Allison had one more piece of information to share? Strange, but in fact, this turned out to be true. (See below.) The words she spoke were profoundly meaningful for me, and fit Susy precisely. True for Susy, false for Esther and Gussie.
So four of Catherine's statements were true for Susy, and none were true for either Esther or Gussie. 100% for Susy versus 0% for Esther and Gussie.
Allison's Additional Message, as Predicted by Catherine
In her book Don't Kiss Them Goodbye, Allison wrote of this moment, "I was really nervous. Dr. Schwartz is Harvard educated and taught at both Harvard and Yale. He is a well-respected scholar and I wanted to exceed his expectations of me." What happened next certainly exceeded my expectations.
Allison chimed in immediately and said, "The deceased is telling me, over and over, that I must share the following: 'I don't walk alone.'"
As I wrote in my Foreword to Allison's book, when I heard those words, it took great effort to suppress my tears. Susy had been in a wheelchair for over 20 years, and she had been convinced that after she passed, she would be able to walk again—freed at last from her wheelchair and her heavy electric three-wheel scooter. It sounded just like something Susy would say. From the unexpected reading, I was experiencing joy, sadness, wonder, gratitude, hope, confusion. And fear.
Was I afraid that Susy would haunt me? No, quite the contrary—I was thrilled by the possibility that Susy's dream might come true—that she would now have the opportunity to "prove that I am still here." If this meant that I would have the privilege to continue to work with her from the other side, this would be a gift of gifts. I felt this way especially because I had not been brave or wise enough, while she was alive (in the physical), to ask her all the questions I could and should have asked. She was in many respects a professional mentor as well as a special adopted grandmother. If I actually had the opportunity to continue our relationship, I would be brave enough to do so—even if this meant enduring hissing from some of my cat-like colleagues.
One reason for my fear was that it might turn out I had been duped by Allison and Catherine. I wondered, could Allison and Catherine have found out about Susy's death? Could they have known I was going to ask them to do a reading? Even though I had no conscious plan to do so prior to our meeting—since I did not know ahead of time that I would be meeting with two new purported mediums—could they have guessed that I might test them and had planned accordingly? I couldn't be sure.
I also feared that I might have been duping myself. Even though the information seemed clearly to fit Susy more than Esther or Gussie, I wondered if I might somehow have been biased in scoring the information. Since I had carefully taken notes during the Allison-Catherine reading, I knew that most of what I recorded was accurate. However, I also knew about self-fulfilling prophecies and self-confirming biases. I needed to be sure that I was not deluding myself about whether Allison and Catherine were real, and whether they were really getting information from Susy.
A key requirement in science is replication. I soon arranged to informally test two additional mediums who had recently been recommended; meanwhile a third, Mary Ann Morgan, was tested by my administrative assistant, Sabrina Geoffrion. Mary Ann's session was conducted long distance over the telephone; she did not know who the deceased person was, yet obtained detailed information so striking that I included it in an article in a scientific publication.
One of my favorite pieces of information from Mary Ann was her statement that she saw the deceased woman dancing with a man, and she heard the name "William James." I was shocked. Susy had told me, in confidence, that her first wish upon passing was to be able to spend the next year of her life dancing with William James! No one, including Sabrina, knew this.
When Allison had said "I don't walk alone," I had secretly wondered, "Was Susy dancing—which is 'walking' to music—with William James?"
Did My Uncle Sid "Drop in" as Well?
During that first unplanned Allison reading of Susy, someone uninvited had made an appearance; in the research literature on survival, he would be called a "drop-in." This is how Allison remembers it, in her own words:
While Gary was talking, I saw a spirit standing next to him. "Great!" I thought. "What if he doesn't want to hear from a relative right now?" Sometimes those on the other side can be impatient.
(As a sidelight, the statement makes it clear Allison did not think the primary person she was reading—Susy—was a blood relative of mine.)
The male spirit pulled out a wrench and started tapping Gary on the head with it. It was so funny I could hardly keep a straight face. I was also trying hard to listen to Gary's words of wisdom. Finally, I couldn't concentrate any longer.
(I had no awareness of this at the time, and certainly no feeling of being hit on the head.)
Excerpted from The Truth about Medium by Gary E. Schwartz. Copyright © 2005 Gary E. Schwartz. Excerpted by permission of Hampton Roads Publishing Company, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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