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Is Channeling a Mental Health Issue?

May 1, 2021
Helané Wahbeh, Director of Research

I can’t even begin to count the number of emails and people commenting about being worried to share their channeling experiences because people will think they are “crazy.”

Please know that if you have had this experience you are not alone.

Unfortunately, there are many taboos in our world today, especially the Western world, that make it difficult for people to share with others about their channeling experiences. You might say they are in the channeling closet. One of my greatest hopes in writing my book, The Science of Channeling, is to give people real evidence about channeling to support them to come out of the closet.

So, does it mean you have a mental health issue if you’ve had channeling experiences? The short answer is probably not. The reality is that all the studies I’ve seen show that people who have channeling experiences might have higher symptoms of dissociation and psychosis than people who don’t have channeling experiences.

However — and this is very important — those symptoms do not usually reach levels that a mental health professional would be concerned about (i.e., they don’t cross clinical cut-off thresholds for mental illness). Not only that, but people with channeling experiences are also usually high-functioning and find that channeling supports their well-being and has a positive impact on their lives.

That being said, some people do need support to deal with their channeling experiences. One way to help you decide if your channeling experiences are healthy or not so healthy is to ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Do the experiences bring meaning to my life and or improve my well-being?;
  2. Do they cause me distress, anxiety, worry, or other negative emotions?;
  3. Do they negatively impact my ability to function in my daily life?; and
  4. Do they negatively affect my relationships?

If you answered NO to #1 and Yes to #2-4, then reaching out to a mental health professional could help you cope with your experiences. Many mental health professionals and spiritual counselors are beginning to honor and acknowledge the nuances of channeling experiences.

Otherwise, you can be assured that your channeling experiences are likely not related to a mental illness. My upcoming book provides much more detail about these issues, which I hope will support people in feeling more confident in emerging from the channeling closet.

Pre-Order the Book

In the meantime, you can explore some of the scientific papers we’ve published on this topic:

Wahbeh, H., McDermott, K., & Sagher, A. (2018). Dissociative symptoms and anomalous information reception. Activitas Nervosa Superior, 1–11. https://doi.org/10.1007/s41470-018-0023-6

Wahbeh, H., & Radin, D. (2018). People reporting experiences of mediumship have higher dissociation symptom scores than non-mediums, but below thresholds for pathological dissociation. F1000Research, 6, 1416. https://doi.org/10.12688/f1000research.12019.3

Sagher, A., Butzer, B., & Wahbeh, H. (2019). The characteristics of exceptional human experiences. Journal of Consciousness Studies, 26(11–12), 203–237.

Wahbeh, H., & Butzer, B. (2020). Characteristics of English-speaking trance channelers. EXPLORE, 16(5), 304–309. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.explore.2020.02.002

Pederzoli, L., Tressoldi, P., and Wahbeh, H., 2021. Channeling: A Non-pathological Possession and Dissociative Identity Experience or Something Else? PREPRINT PsyArXiv. March 10. doi:10.31234/osf.io/7wx36.


About the Author

Helané Wahbeh, ND, MCRHelané Wahbeh, ND, MCR, is the Director of Research at the Institute of Noetic Sciences and an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Neurology at Oregon Health & Science University. Dr. Wahbeh is clinically trained as a naturopathic physician and research trained with a Master of Clinical Research and two post-doctoral research fellowships. She has published on and spoken internationally about her studies on complementary and alternative medicine, mind-body medicine, extended human capacities, stress, posttraumatic stress disorder and their relationships to physiology, health, and healing. Dr. Wahbeh is especially known for her research around — and noetic approach to — channeling.


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