True Hauntings by Hazel M. Denning, Ph.D. © 2005

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    True Hauntings  by  Hazel M. Denning, Ph.D.  © 2005  Llewellyn         Worldwide  ISBN  1-56718-218-6  Paperback  240 pages  Re-release  $12.95 (U.S.)   $19.95 (Canada)

    Dr. Denning approached the field of parapsychology from the related field of psychotherapy.  She is not one of the many individuals who have set themselves up in this field to prove their own personal belief systems.  She does display sympathy for, and an understanding of, the Spiritualism movement.  How much that influences her perceptions is impossible to determine strictly from her writings.

    There are far too many books of ghost stories out there nowadays.  There are not so many books which go into the reasons for hauntings and apparitions.  The first type says “There was a ghost in such a location.  It did such and such.  It was sent on its way (or nothing could be done about it, or there was no evidence of such an event, etc.).”  The second type, of which this is one, says “Such a thing happened.  We checked into the background of the person/place/event.  We explained it to the discarnate being/person asking for our help.  A follow-up later revealed…”

    When checking out a reported haunting Dr. Denning not only asks about the event connected with the location and the entity involved in the event(s), but also about the connection, if any, between the discarnate entity and the person reporting it; she also asks about current and past strong emotions felt by the reporter.  She uses whatever tools are appropriate to the case, from simple explanation to hypnosis.

    The second half of the book moves away from the haunting of places and deals with what Dr. Denning refers to as “…possession, invasion, overlapping, or psychic attack.

    Dr. Denning brings a refreshing skepticism, albeit one with an ability to accept what can’t always be proven, to the subject.  On page 144 she says:  “It is difficult for me to accept that intelligent energies, which I cannot see or feel, are actually interacting in my presence.  I only know that something important is happening to my clients.  It is very real to them, real enough that changes take place in their lives and problems, often of long standing, are resolved.”  That statement is such a pleasant change from the dogmatism often displayed on both sides of the discussion of spirits and hauntings.

    Unlike many of the books in this field, there is very little emphasis on spectacular cases.  The majority of the cases related in this book are almost mundane in their circumstances.  Mention is made of some of the better known mediums in the next-to-last chapter, and a brief recap is made of some of the hauntings and “coincidences” around the White House in an earlier chapter, but these are not stressed, merely mentioned in passing.

    Looking for a book full of eerie ghost stories?  Want to read about horrible curses and specters chasing people from their homes?  Sorry, you’ll need to keep looking.  If, on the other hand, you are looking for reassurance that encountering haunted houses, unexpected feelings of being uncomfortable in some surroundings, and occasionally “knowing” something with no logical way to know it, doesn’t mean you are “losing your mind,” this book will be a comfort to you.  It should make the whole subject less intimidating and more understandable.

    The author includes a SHORT glossary at the back of the book as well as a short bibliography for further reading.  Both of these could have benefited, in my opinion, from being expanded a bit.


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