IS THERE ANYBODY THERE?
|Communing with the dead - proof or spoof?|
The world of the paranormal remains an intriguing mystery, or indeed, a bit of nonsense, to most. But for some, communing with the spirit world is all in a day's work.
Inside Out delves into the world and work of the medium.
Communing with the dead and exorcising evil spirits may seem like the plot from many a cinematic horror, but it is in fact the day job of medium Patricia Putt.
But for each believer who insists a medium has conversed with a lost loved-one, or exorcised an evil presence from their home, there is an ardent sceptic clamouring "where's the proof?"
Can a medium really make contact with the dead or is it all just a bunch of hocus-pocus?
Inside Out puts the work of the medium to the test.
Things that go bump in the night
Patricia Putt is not an ordained priest, but carries out exorcisms in a similar manner using holy water, a crucifix and prayers designed to release the trapped spirit.
"A spirit guide is somebody who comes from the spirit world. They are your guardian angel."
She insists that her ability to commune with the dead is made possible by her spirit guide who has been with her since birth.
Patricia receives calls from worried home owners each week, who sense an uneasy presence in their home.
Judy is one such home owner and for several years has suspected that her and her family may not be the only ones occupying her house.
"I first started seeing things a little unusual in March 1996," explains Judy.
"Objects being moved, shadows - very strange."
In one disturbing incident, Judy heard her son and daughter crying in their bedroom, but on trying to enter the room, the door wouldn't budge.
"I was pressing down on the door handle," remembers Judy, "but it wouldn't open.
"What was stopping me from getting in, I don't know."
Unsettled by these strange events and an overall feeling of disquiet in their house, Judy and her husband have asked Patricia to investigate.
Upon entering the house, Patricia claims to be immediately struck by a feeling of overwhelming sadness.
"I've got this feeling of unsureness, as though I'm walking on jelly," she says.
After further investigation around the house, Patricia is certain there is a spirit residing in their home.
"There's definitely the presence of a little boy in here who's not very happy."
Patricia performs an exorcism by sprinkling holy water around the home and reciting prayers. She believes that this will help guide the trapped spirit on its way.
"It's like being in a darkened room and someone puts the light on and shows them (the trapped spirit) the exit."
Patricia insists she can immediately feel a change in the atmosphere of the home. Judy is not so sure.
"It does feel a bit better," she finally agrees.
But with no scientific evidence, there is no proof to support Patricia's claim that she has exorcised the spirit.
Proof or spoof?
To put Patricia's claims to the test, Inside Out invites her to a challenge.
We're asking Patricia to commune with the spirit of a person who died in a house.
Carol Coubrough's mother Ena died of cancer in her home last year, but Carol is convinced that Ena's spirit is still present.
"I do sense my mother in the house, as do my children," explains Carol.
"I can feel her on my shoulders or touching my hair."
Patricia is blindfolded and taken to Carol's house in Pagelsham, Essex.
She is given Ena's diary to hold, but must keep her blindfold on throughout. This "blind reading" is one of the most challenging for any medium.
Patricia gets off to a shaky start by wrongly identifying the diary's owner as being male.
|Patricia wrongly suggests the diary belongs to a man|
She then goes on to describe the owner as being "strong-willed, forthright and a good after dinner speaker."
These traits are completely at odds with Carol's description of her mother as "kind, humble and wise."
Patricia correctly identifies Ena's teaching work, but suggests it was children she taught rather than disabled adults.
When asked the name of the person she is in contact with, Patricia suggests Jessica, Jessie or Mary.
In this instance, Patricia's reading is far from accurate.
"A lot of things I couldn't understand at all," admits Carol.
"Nothing jumped out at me."
Patricia insists that any mistakes made in her reading are down to her misinterpreting the information given to her.
With no proof that the exorcism was successful and inaccurate results in the Patricia's challenge, there is little to persuade sceptics that mediums can commune with the spirit world.
So "is there anybody there?" Inside Out is still waiting to find out.