Paranormal: My Life in Pursuit of the Afterlife.
Book Review by Athanasios Komianos
Dr Raymond Moody has come to share his life story as it unfolded through the years in a very personal tone that you do not find in his other books. Through his narrative we scroll through from his very early years to the time he wrote this specific book. It is a fascinating journey to learn from one of the most best-selling books in the history of publishing to share his remarkable insights with the readers.
After the book came into my hands, I left all my errands on the side and devoured it within two days. I was trying to discern the reason this book went down bottoms up. First of all, I was acquainted with several of his former books. But what stood out this time was the eclectic synopsis of things that made this book his best. It is sort of a confession of all the experiences and deeds that led to his remarkable discoveries. His love of ancient Greek philosophy and his ability to use it in an applied form in the modern world is unparalleled. He is indeed one of the few who managed to revive mystical ancient Greek practices in the modern therapeutic context, in a meaningful way. I can think of two other therapists who were just as practical, Edward Tick who revived, adjusted and implemented the ancient practice of Enkoimisis to twentieth century psychotherapy, and Peter Kingsley who unfolds the insights of the ancient Greek Mysteries.
We all know Dr Moody because he was the first to coin the term Near-Death Experience (NDE) and that he wrote one of the all-time best sellers in publishing history Life after Life (13 million copies worldwide). While studying in the University of Virginia he indulged in the issue of death as dealt in philosophy by Plato and Socrates. One of his professors urged him to contact a visiting psychiatrist who was lecturing there George Ritchie. Dr. Ritchie’s near-death experience in Texas back in the 40’s initiated the interest of Moody to study intensively on the subject. This opened many doors to his life after that. But who knows (even amongst us regression therapists) that he then went through his own past-life regressions and researched into the subject and then implemented the method in his practice or that he even wrote a whole book about the topic? Furthermore, he managed to transform a gristmill in Alabama, to a psychomanteum so successfully, that he probably surpassed the success rate of “facilitated apparitions” that was the process of how the dead could be visited by the living in Ancient Greece. Later on, he visited the necromanteium of Acheron in Western Greece to have a firsthand view of the premises. So, he brought a revolution in grief therapy and the devastated relatives who were dealing with loss. All this was clearly shared in his book Reunions.
But for the first time Moody shares his personal issues as well. He suffered from myxedema, an acute form of hypothyroidism which troubled him seriously all his life and it was not diagnosed until he was in his fifties. He describes the tensions with his authoritative father, who was a surgeon in the army, and his constant rejection of all the research the son had done. The peak was when the father closed the son in a psychiatric ward once he admitted his research on “facilitated apparitions”. It is evident through Moody’s narrative how modern psychiatry is stuck in models of therapy that are reductionist and ineffective. No openness whatsoever to spiritual issues or discussions on the paranormal.
Furthermore, He shares with us his financial failure as well as the collapse of his first marriage. He even shares with the readers his suicide attempt and the way he glimpsed the boundaries of the other world before doctors resuscitated him.
Despite the drawbacks Moody kept on researching the topic of survival of the soul and the experiences that surround death and transition. While his father’s death was a relief, his mother’s death was an apocalypse. There all the family witnessed together the shared death experience, in other words an elative, ineffable, shared experience of the transition of their mother to death. “It was as though the fabric of the universe had torn and for just a moment, we felt the energy of that place called heaven.”