by Jeff Hume-Pratuch
Dear Style Experts,
I need to cite a book that was dictated by a spirit to a medium. Who’s the author here? I was thinking it would be the spirit, but now that I’ve put it into my reference list, it looks kind of weird.
—Spooked in Spokane
Noncorporeal beings have dictated a number of bestsellers, yet they never seem to cash their own royalty checks. For bibliographic purposes, the author is the person through whom the work entered the corporeal realm.
Take, for example, the work of Jane Roberts. In the 1960s, she began to publish communications she received in a trance state from an “energy personality essence no longer focused in physical matter” named Seth. Over the next few decades, dozens of volumes were published, some of which were edited by her husband after her death.
Roberts, J. (1972). Seth speaks: The eternal validity of the soul.
San Rafael, CA: Amber Allen.
Roberts, J., & Roberts, R. (Ed.). (1993). A Seth reader. San Anselmo,
CA: Vernal Equinox Press.
Though they have been embraced by the New Age movement, works from the Great Beyond are not limited to the disco era. The revival of the Spiritualist movement in the early 20th century produced its own star authors, such as Patience Worth. Claiming to be an English girl who came to America in the 17th century, she began speaking through a housewife named Pearl Curran in 1916. Initially she used a Ouija board, but eventually Curran was able to dictate her conversations while pacing about the room or even smoking a cigarette. A number of novels and poems were published under the name of Patience Worth, but virtually all are out of print.
Curran, P. (1917). The sorry tale: A story of the time of Christ. New
York, NY: Holt. Retrieved from http://books.google.com
But trance-dictated works are not limited to the literary world. A British woman named Rosemary Brown claimed that the spirits of Liszt, Beethoven, Chopin and other composers were presenting new music through her that they had composed in the spirit world.
Brown, R. (1974). The Rosemary Brown piano album: 7 pieces inspired by
Beethoven, Schubert, Chopin, Schumann, Brahms & Liszt. London,
The phenomenon of spirit dictation has naturally attracted the attention of psychological researchers over the years. If you’re interested in learning more, a few sources are presented below.
Cunningham, P. (2012). The content–source problem in modern mediumship research. Journal of Parapsychology, 76, 295–319.
Diliberto, G. (2010, September). Patience Worth: Author from the great beyond. Smithsonian Magazine. Retrieved from http://www.smithsonianmag.com/arts-culture/Patience-Worth-Author-From-the-Great-Beyond.html
LePort, A. K. R., Mattfeld, A. T., Dickinson-Anson, H., Fallon, J. H., Stark, C. E. L., Kruggel, F. . . . McGaugh, J. L. (2012). Behavioral and neuroanatomical investigation of Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory (HSAM). Neurobiology of Learning and Memory, 98, 78–92.
Peres, J. F., Moreira-Almeida, A., Caixeta, L., Leao, F., & Newberg, A. (2012). Neuroimaging during trance state: A contribution to the study of dissociation. PLoS ONE, 7(11), e49360. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0049360