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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.

joan frew at the sir arthur conan doyle centre

About Dr Piero Calvi-Parisetti

Italian-born, Scottish author and speaker Piero Calvi-Parisetti is a medical doctor originally specialising in Public Health and Disaster Management. At the beginning of his career, employed by the International Red Cross and the United Nations,  he worked in the management of large-scale humanitarian aid operations in Africa, Asia and the former Soviet Union. At the end of year 2000 he moved from field operations to the classroom, taking up a late academic career. Until 2015, he has been Professor of Emergencies and Humanitarian Action at the Institute for International Political Studies of Milan University (Italy) and a visiting professor at several other universities.

In 2004, a simple anecdote narrated by his wife triggered an intellectual interest, at first, and then a true scholarly passion for psychical research, especially for the study of scientific evidence pointing to the survival of human personality of bodily death.


By digesting some 30,000 pages of literature, attending international conferences and study days, interviewing the researchers and even training personally with one of his intellectual heroes, Dr Raymond Moody (the first physician to write about Near-Death Experiences in 1975), Dr Parisetti became convinced that mind and consciousness cannot be reduced to the activity of the brain, and, in a way which we do not understand, they survive the death of the body.

In 2008, he published his first book 21 Days into the Afterlife, hailed by NY Times bestselling author Michael Prescott as “The best introduction I have seen to the survival hypothesis”. The book received very complimentary reviews by specialists and lay public alike, was translated into six languages and went on to become a little Internet publishing success. His other books are Adventures in Psychical Research (2011) and Apparitions – Proof of Survival (2014).

As a medical doctor and a former humanist, however, Dr Parisetti’s main drive and motivation in life is to be of help to others. After 2010,  therefore, his interests gradually shifted towards applied psychical research, that is the practical application of the research findings, in particular for the benefit of the bereaved and the dying. He formally trained as a cognitive-behaviour psychotherapist and developed an original counselling approach directed to those who suffer because of the loss of a loved one and those who are in fear of impending death (their own or a loved one’s). This approach aims to help the bereaved and the dying developing a rational belief in life after life – a belief based on reason, built upon the critical evaluation of evidence, rather than on faith.

In 2012 he produced a self-help workbook with an accompanying 8-hour video course based on this approach and donated it to the Forever Family Foundation, a nonreligious, not for profit organisation strong of over 12,000 members worldwide which is dedicated to furthering the knowledge of afterlife science among the bereaved.

Dr Parisetti is a member of the Society for Psychical Research and of the International Association for Near-Death Studies, two professional scientific research organisations. He collaborates with the Institut Suisse de Sciences Noetiques in Geneva, Switzerland.

 

 

 

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