by Julie Lineback
“Dreams are today’s answers to tomorrow’s questions.”—Edgar Cayce
For more than 40 years, Edgar Cayce, also known as “The Sleeping Prophet,” would enter sleep-like states and experience a variety of psychic phenomena. While in these unconscious states, he was reportedly able to diagnose illnesses, recall past lives, and even foretell of events to come. This ability helped him to become the most documented psychic of the 20th century.
Fascinated by all aspects of human spiritism, University of West Georgia Assistant Professor of Psychology Dr. Christine Simmonds-Moore used Cayce as an example of exceptional experiences (ExE) during her lecture, “Things that Go Bump in the Night (And Day).” If real, Dr. Simmonds-Moore stated, ExEs could challenge the way society views the mind and the capacity of consciousness. There may well be something about human consciousness that appears to be separable from the physical body, even for just a few moments.
“When people have exceptional experiences, they may well be in a state of consciousness that is related to sleep,” she described. “Equally, people who have these experiences more commonly have a personality type that is more likely to have these experiences, those people are dipping into these sleepy states more often.”
Although ExEs could occur at any time throughout the day, many case studies observe them taking place when people are either falling asleep or waking up, also known as “the Borderlands,” she said.
“Frequently, in case collections, we see these examples of borderland experiences, for example, seeing an apparition at the foot of your bed,” Dr. Simmonds-Moore described. “This is actually fairly common. People may not like to talk about these experiences, but when I talk about them, more and more people admit to having had such an experience.”
Dr. Simmonds-Moore said she believes ExEs are more common among people with certain personality styles. Anomaly prone people, those who are more likely to experience things that are uncommon or unusual, are more likely to have “boundary thinness,” meaning they are more connected to psychological processes and varying levels of consciousness.
During various liminal states, anomaly prone people can shift rapidly between states of consciousness, which are more conducive to paranormal experiences, such as premonitions, out of body experiences, and ghosts.
“Whenever you hear the word ‘ghost,’ it really attracts the attention of the public,” Dr. Simmonds-Moore said. “Henceforth, the significant amounts of ghost related television shows that are everywhere. These experiences are the subject of intrigue, fascination, but also fear. They are also common to all cultures and are found across time as well. Part of my work is to try and understand these experiences, which I believe are part of the human experience and offer an explanation for them.”