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					                                                     The Skeptics SA guide to

                                                     Ouija Boards

The name ouija is formed by combining the           letters; sometimes however, actual words or         ment, being produced by one or more of the
French and German words for Yes: oui and            messages are spelled out.                           participants. The ouija board merely helps to
ja. In its simplest form a small circular table                                                         facilitate the expression of material hidden
                                                    However, it should never be assumed that
with a glass top, or polished surface is used.                                                          within the subconscious.
                                                    these messages have any form of supernatural
Numbers, the letters of the alphabet, and the       origin: the fact is it comes as no surprise to      This can often present a problem since the
words ‘yes’ and ‘no’ are written on pieces of       psychologists that such messages occur. It is       subconscious, which controls our memories,
paper and placed around the table’s circum-         well known that the subconscious mind can           always has very good reasons for hiding such
ference. An ordinary drinking glass is used as      use physical responses to reveal information        material; by suppressing such material it pro-
the planchette. Ouija boards come in various        that can even be hidden from the conscious          tects us from the mental stress associated with
forms, but probably the best-known is the           level of our mind. This is known as an Ideomo-      such traumatic memories. If these experiences
‘board-game’ manufactured by Parker Bros in         tor response. A common example is Chevreul’s        are exposed too soon they can produce guilt,
America, a flat polished wooden board some          Pendulum where a subject holding a pendu-           depression, fear, paranoia, self-hatred, even a
30.5 by 46 centimeters with the alphabet and        lum, concentrates on holding it perfectly still.    nervous breakdown. The problem with recall-
numbers across the top part, and with the           When the therapist suggests that the pen-           ing such material when using a ouija board is
words ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ below.                                                                             that:
                                                    dulum will start to move, from side-to-side,
A small board — a planchette — usually triangu-     backwards and forwards, or even in a circle,        a) The individual is not actively seeking to
lar or heart shaped is also used. Either mount-     invariably, despite the efforts of the subject to     recover such memories, and
ed on tiny wheels, or with a smooth surface,        hold it still, the pendulum starts to move in the   b) Ouija board sessions are rarely performed
this enables the small board to slide freely        directions suggested.                                 in the presence of a professional therapist so
over the surface of the main board, pointing to     This baffles most people. They cannot un-             that there is no limit to the rate of recall. The
individual letters, numbers, or to ‘yes’ or ‘no’.   derstand how, despite their concentrating on          subject can experience a full blown memory,
Participants lightly place the tips of the right    holding the pendulum still, it can move. The          and the amount of memory recall can be psy-
or left index fingers on the planchette or glass    reason that the pendulum moves is that the            chologically overwhelming.
and take turns to ask questions of the board.       suggestions by the therapist trigger tiny mus-      There have been numerous claims of psy-
Sometimes nothing happens, but other times          cular movements, (an Ideomotor response),           chological traumas caused by using of ouija
the glass or planchette indicates specific let-     which are magnified by the pendulum. The            boards. Many of these are probably pure
ters or numbers. Quite often the ‘message’ is       movement of the planchette or glass on a ouija      fiction, however, there is no doubt that there
nothing more than a meaningless collection of       board is really this same involuntary move-         have been a number of factual incidents where
  Skeptics SA                                                                                                                    Ouija Boards Page 1
individuals have suffered serious psychological    On the same week that the television show          have had any disturbing psychological experi-
trauma as a result of playing with ouija boards.   was shown, a coronial inquest in Adelaide was      ences when using them, you should encourage
This is not to suggest that this happens to        hearing evidence from a number of interstate       them to seek professional assistance.
everyone. Most people, including adolescents,      drivers who admitted that because of the long                                      Laurie Eddie
who use ouija boards experience no negative        trips they made they were encouraged to use
effects.                                           pep-pills to stayawake, and that after 30–40
People who are attracted to regularly using        hours without sleep they started to imagine all
ouija boards tend to be those already experi-      sorts of strange things.
encing psychological problems, and they often      So it is obvious that there are often other rea-
form a serious psychological dependency upon       sons for people experiencing these delusions,
these boards, seeking a means of ‘divine’ guid-    and that they have nothing to do with the ouija
ance. Unfortunately, for such individuals, the     board.
ouija board can often trigger major traumas, a                                                         Skeptics SA
                                                   Many incredible claims are made concerning
situation usually worsened if the individual is
                                                   ouija boards; for instance it is widely claimed     The South Australian branch of the
also using drugs, legal or otherwise.
                                                   that the messages emerging from these boards        Australian Skeptics
The trouble is that, as we explained, the          originate with Satan or evil spirits. This is
board is merely magnifying their own hidden        complete nonsense. We have previously ex-           For further information on the Australian
thoughts, they come to depend upon ‘solu-                                                              Skeptics and the journal, the Skeptic, contact:
                                                   plained the origins of the messages: they come
tions’ to their problems which are coming from     from within the individual, and not from any          Email: <info@skepticssa.org.au>
their own disturbed mind. So, for instance, if     external source.                                      Web site: <www.skepticssa.org.au>
the individual is considering suicide, then the
                                                   Ouija boards have become scapegoats for a
board merely serves to magnify those very sug-
                                                   variety of irrational human behavior, however
gestions, and that can often lead to suicide, or
                                                   the ouija board is only an instrument in the
at the least a major breakdown.
                                                   process. Acting as a release mechanism the
In one television program on ouija boards it       board enables powerful psychological forces to
was claimed that a group of truck-drivers who      be unleashed from within the individual.
became involved in using a ouija board ended
                                                   While this is not a problem for the majority of
up driving erratically, claiming that ‘voices’
                                                   people using these boards, problems can arise
were telling them to drive on the wrong side of
                                                   if the user is emotionally immature, person-
the road and crash head-on into cars. Interest-
                                                   ally insecure, or experiencing psychological
ingly , a few months before an interstate driver
had deliberately veered onto the wrong side of     trauma, for those reasons ouija boards should
the road, killing several people. He claimed af-   be avoided.
terwards that he heard voices in his head tell-    If someone you know, has already become
ing him to kill the people coming towards him.     ‘hooked’ on these boards, especially if they
  Skeptics SA                                                                                                                Ouija Boards Page 2