FATE Magazine: PSYCHIC FRONTIERS: APRIL 1993 1
A PARANORMAL SUPPORT GROUP
Last issue I discussed some of the problems in assessing whether the person you contact for information or help with
regards to Parapsychology and the paranormal is "legit." I do want to say that there are a number of others people can
contact who are knowledgeable, even though they are not "parapsychologists." Some of these people include
responsible authors who have written on topics related to parapsychology (without compromising the integrity of the
field or perpetuating some of the misconceptions). Others are people who are ethical and experienced at spontaneous
case investigation. Still others might be people who can share with you their own experiences and encounters with the
paranormal as sort of a support system.
William and Lori McCauley of Connecticut, who have started a support group called Victims Of Paranormal
Phenomena Support, or VOPPS.
The McCauleys, like most people who experience apparitions, poltergeists, hauntings, or a number of other
psychic experiences, had a problem. They experienced a situation in which there was a lot of unexplained sounds and
even light/lightning effects. They began to hear voices and even see apparitions (both Bill and Lori witnessed events, as
well as their children). In addition, there was much happening that seemed to relate to events that had occurred on the
land over the past few centuries, from the sounds and sights of Indians, to apparitions of cows grazing in their bedroom,
to sights and sounds of more recent periods of history. "It was like we were being brought back through time," said
They were addressed directly by the apparitions (one of whom was quite pleasant and even protective).
Unfortunately, they sensed for the most part a negative energy or intelligence behind the experience, though no
particular reason as to why it was directed at them. In addition, there were physical contacts which ended in bruising
and being pushed or pulled.
For myself, I can't come to any conclusion at this point about their case, since I am only now learning the
details. In addition, it is difficult for any parapsychologist to "diagnose" a situation that is no longer happening. We
could only hazard a guess as to several possibilities. To get any sort of understanding for a particular event, one needs
not only the witness testimony, but also the ability to see and explore the setting in which it occurred.
I do believe the McCauleys are quite sincere and that the experience was very real to them. What it was and
why it happened to them cannot be stated, if for no other reason than "insufficient data." But it's clear that the
experience itself was real.
In effect, besides the haunting itself, the McCauley had two other problems. First of all, since our culture
doesn't quite support such experiences even with the idea that they may be "real," fear is the typical reaction of most
people. Secondly, there was the question of who they could call for help (a question I discussed in the November 1992
issue of FATE).
As they live in Connecticut, they had naturally heard about the husband-and-wife team of so-called
demonologists you may have seen in the media many times. My personal and professional opinion of the "demon"
approach is something I have dealt with in past columns. Suffice it to say that any approach whereby one assumes that
"Evil" (either as a stand-alone force of nature or in relation to "entities" embodying it) is responsible without at the very
least first looking at the situation for other normal or paranormal explanations is in my mind reprehensible.
Why? Because such an approach typically engenders the fear that people already have been subjected to.
Such was the case with the McCauleys.
Bill and Lori felt there was no recognition, no acknowledgement of the fear that were feeling in a way that
would decrease this reaction.
And so, VOPPS was established, according to Bill McCauley, "because of the fact that when my wife and I were going
through the haunting we had no one to turn to, no one who we could really talk to about what was going on around us."
Like most people in this situation, they were cautious about telling anyone for fear of being ridiculed or thought crazy.
Though they did bring in exorcists and psychics, "we felt that a lot of people were using us."
These people who the McCauleys brought in, while they apparently did appear to try to help, were quite
interested in having the McCauleys go public with the story. The McCauleys, on the other hand, were not. I know
from working with people in investigations that until society changes its views and treatment of people who experience
such dramatic psychic events, most people want to keep quiet about the experience.
FATE Magazine: PSYCHIC FRONTIERS: APRIL 1993 2
"Lori and I wanted the situation taken care of...and then we could deal with the aftermath, perhaps something going
public." The demonologists asked them about going public and the McCauleys said no. While there may be no
connection to the issue of going public, once they said no to the media coverage, the McCauleys heard nothing more
from the self-proclaimed ghostbusters who apparently ignored their subsequent phone calls.
In fact, shortly after, the McCauleys began hearing about another case the demonologists were involved in, one
apparently even more dramatic than the McCauleys' in that it involved sexual attacks (and we all know how sex sells).
You may have seen them on recent talk shows hawking their new book.
Today, the McCauleys have moved from the house (the current inhabitants have had no problems) and
themselves have no further recurrences. However, they are interested in staying with their experience since they have
learned so much from it. Their intentions for VOPPS is to expand their visibility so others, families or individuals, will
have more than either the genuine parapsychologists and the opportunists to talk with. As a parapsychologist, I can
acknowledge that other people beside the family I am working with has had such experiences, and I can talk about
those other situations. However, VOPPS takes the next step in that it puts people in touch with others who have had
similar experiences, thereby reinforcing a couple of facts: 1) that the incident you've experienced is part of a range of
not-so-rare experiences that comprise human behavior and experience as a whole and 2) that you're not alone in your
"We want anyone who is going through a paranormal experience to locate us," said Bill. The two act as more-or-less
counselors for other experients. "We have quite a few people in our support group that we can direct them to." These
other people include both other experients and counselors and parapsychologists who can help. My organization, the
Office of Paranormal Investigations is helping to support VOPPS growth through spreading the word about them. The
McCauleys are looking for and offering referrals to "people who have knowledge of this type of situation, people who
are not going to capitalize on people who are going through these types of situations and use them to their advantage."
Bill and Lori have big plans for VOPPS. "We want to set up different support groups all across the United
States, working and dealing with parapsychologists, and OPI and [the American Society for ] Psychical Research, and
with other people who are well-known within this field and get the public away from opportunists and people who have
capitalized on people's misfortunes and get them to the proper help." Lori added that they want "to support them so
they don't feel alone; that we're okay and you're okay and you're going to get through it." They are quite concerned that
people like themselves can find people to help who can really help, rather than "promote fear" and sensationalism
through focusing on a particular
interpretation of the subjective experience.
Bill had an excellent analogy. "You can have a bucket of cold water and a bucket of gasoline" to deal with
your situation. "You can either throw cold water onto it and try to extinguish what's going on and get on with your
lives, or you can throw gasoline onto the fire" and make it worse. There are too many people out there who do the
latter, who fan the fires of fear and ignorance. Of course, from the parapsychological perspective you need to first
analyze what kind of fire it is in order to extinguish or contain it properly first. Coming in with set ideas about demons
and evil spirits doesn't help anyone (except those who intend to sensationalize and write books from that perspective).
"The only person who can take control of the situation is yourself," said Bill. Empowering people to work towards a
resolution, rather than suggesting that a ritual ceremony can take care of it all at once, addresses the phenomena, the
way it is experienced, and even the possible root causes. Promoting the fear reaction generally makes the experience
itself worse, and may even cause the phenomena to escalate. "That's a major part of our support group, that we try to
teach and educate people and make them aware of this fact," said Lori.
The McCauleys have already been contacted by many families in New England. If that's any indication of the
need of the support group (on top of the dozens of calls from all over the US we get at the Office of Paranormal
Investigations), there is obviously a niche t be filled by VOPPS.
Victims Of Paranormal Phenomena Support can be reached at the address below. The McCauleys are looking
for others that can join the support network, whether they be people who have themselves had experiences in the past,
parapsychologists, or counselors and psychologists who can also offer support. If you, yourself, are in need of this kind
of support be sure to contact them.
Finally, if you have ideas for them as to how to help expand and support the network itself, please do contact
Bill and Lori McCauley.
Bill says to remember that "No one believes in ghosts until they have no choice."
P.O. Box 178
Summersville, CT 06072
FATE Magazine: PSYCHIC FRONTIERS: APRIL 1993 3
You may also contact Bill and Lori McCauley and VOPPS by first calling the Office of Paranormal
Investigations at (415) 249-9275.