Dr Piero Calvi-Parisetti on his Intellectual and Spiritual Journey
Psi Saturday guest speaker, Dr Piero Calvi-Parisetti, has been kind enough to contribute a guest blog post to us! Here Dr Parisetti talks about how his intellectual and spiritual journeys came together, leading him to his current study of psychical research.
Click below to join Dr Parisetti at Psi Saturday (1st July) and to hear him speak on ‘Afterlife science for the bereaved and the dying’, as well as to view the full guest list and learn more. Please remember that places at this event are highly limited and book in advance to avoid disappoinment.
I am a Western-educated medical doctor and I have been a university lecturer for nearly 20 years. Therefore, I am the product of a system of thought that maintains that anything that exists is matter. As a corollary, this worldview maintains that what we call mind is simply the product of the activity of the brain, and when that activity stops at death, mind ceases to exist.
Up to the age of 48, I lived comfortably within the materialist/physicalist paradigm, until a simple anecdote narrated by my wife sent me on a tentative exploration of the evidence for the existence of psychic powers and the possible survival of personality to physical death. That initial tentative exploration quickly turned into a true scholarly passion for the study of psychical research. After digesting some 30,000 pages of literature, and counting, becoming a member of professional scientific organisations in the sector, taking part to conferences, study days, interviewing the researchers and even training personally with one of my intellectual heroes (Dr Raymond Moody, who first wrote about Near-Death Experiences in 1975), my worldview changed radically. I am now convinced – not as a matter of faith, but simply because I engaged with, critically disputed and finally surrendered to the masses of compelling evidence – that a) what we call mind is closely related to but independent from the electrochemical activity of the brain; and b) in a way which we do not understand, significant aspects of human personality do survive the death of the physical body and are sometimes capable of interacting with the material world.
These are the inescapable conclusions drawn, during the last century and a half, by anybody who studied the evidence with the care it deserves. These are fascinating ideas, extremely interesting as an intellectual subject and with a great potential for personal development. It is that particular potential that, soon into my voyage of discovery, attracted me to what we technically call applied psychical research. As a medical doctor and former humanitarian, I have always been driven by the desire to help others, to relieve suffering as much as I can. It became quickly apparent to me that the things I was learning on the survival hypothesis could be of tremendous help to two categories of people – those who are in pain because of the death of a loved one, and those who are in fear of death, their own or a loved one’s. Applied psychical research, in my case, therefore means using the findings of this area of science for the practical benefit of these two categories of people.
Confronted with the discouraging picture offered by the traditional grief recovery interventions – rated by experts as ineffective at best and harmful at worst – I studied a number of non-traditional approaches, all developed in a medical or clinical psychology environment and all outright based on the existence of an afterlife. I was delighted to find that these approaches are remarkably effective in reducing grief and/or the fear of death. As my own contribution to the field, I have developed a patient education approach based on cognitive psychology techniques aimed at helping people develop a rational, evidence-based belief in life after life.
About Dr Piero Calvi-Parisetti