dimanche 19 juillet 2009

Erik Estrada: from CHIPS to CHUMP

I found a video where actor Erik Estrada remembers an interesting out-of-body experience he had in 1980, while recording an episode of CHIPS. Sorry, the film is dubbed in French (via this wonderful website with plenty of amusing woo woo videos).

So, briefly Estrada explains that during the shooting of an episode it was decided that he, Estrada, could do his own stunt on a motor-bike. He could not. What followed the terrible accident is that Estrada had an OBE with veridical perceptions of his surrounding. Interestingly, it's one of these OBEs that start with the subject not actually realizing that he is out of his body. Usually, it is the autoscopy, when they first see their own body standing or lying in front of them, that leads them to the striking realization that they see the world from a disembodied perspective. Well, that's what happened to Estrada. Also interesting is the apparent long duration of the OBE. Well anyway, the problem is that the actor is not interested in OBEs is the exact same way that I am, he simply believes that NDEs and OBEs are the real thing. That's where he begins wildly begging the question, by starting from the premise that having an OBE is de facto evidence that the center of one's consciousness can sometimes be shifted away from the physical body. And that God and Heaven exist.

For instance, at some point in the video, Estrada explains that he might very well have walked outside of his hospital room while out of his body, and might also have wandered around in the building without ever going "up or down". Erik Estrada takes for granted that people, when they die, go either "up" or "down". Otherwise, it means that they are cursed and have to wander aimlessly amidst the living. That's common sense, universally accepted knowledge, he thinks. Also, very interstingly, Estrada has all these thoughts about Heaven and Hell during his OBE. This means either that OBEs are brain induced hallucinations colored by the subject's own personal background and set of cultural expectations, or that during NDEs you really get to glimpse the afterworld but you retain your stupid earthly superstitions.

Alright, so at 11' he tells another story: at another point in his life, he saw a ghost in a French castle. How cool, he saw a ghost. In a castle. He gives some details also: it's a transparent apparition, of course. Unfortunately, he then proceeds to go through and repeat many times all of the uninteresting details of this ridiculous story. Estrada tries hard to understand his personal contacts with the paranormal, but of course only in terms of the paranormal. It never crosses his mind that there might be normal explanations. No, it is absolutely necessary that the apparition might have been the ghost of a lady from the 16th century, who had a child, and such. And he goes on with the idea that the OBE might have led his soul away from his body, like, forever. This is the hallmark of the gullible and the stupid.

I recommend especially you look at Estrada's face around 13'03, when he explains that the "apparition" might actually have been a "wandering spirit", you know, like we have so much evidence pointing to the existence of wandering spirits in the first place. But of course, he explains, only people that had no faith in their lives end up as wandering spirits, that's their punishment. Estrada really knows about stuff. Well, look at his face there: this is the face of stupidity, there's really no other way to put it.

What follows then at 13'15 is also astonishingly idiotic. Estrada explains, in all seriousness, that when he dies he's "not gonna come back on the surface". No no no. Not him. Like we care. But anyway, he immediately changes his mind, and adds, again like we should care, that he would only "come back" as a "force" in order to help and protect someone or save a life. "That I could shoot for, you know", he says, hoping anyone will think he's a hero for holding such a courageous opinion. God, the man is stupid. Obviously, he believes he is Poncerello.

Now, notwithstanding the cognitive abilities of the man, his OBE is actually quite interesting. Of course, given the way he talks in the documentary, the stupid and ridiculous things he says, and the low-brow re-enactment that has been made, I don't trust any of his story. Nevertheless, I like the idea of an OBE so well construed and so convincing that the subject is surprised to realize that he is actually not in his body. The level of surprise in OBEs is rarely reported and not at all studied as such in the literature on the topic.

Now for something completely different. I wonder if Estrada's paranormal experiences might explain this:

Frégoli delusion and erotomania.
S Wright, A W Young, and D J Hellawell (1993). Frégoli delusion and erotomania. J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry, 56(3): 322–323. (paper available here).
We describe a further case for whom the Fregoli delusion arose in the context of the form of erotomania known as de Clérambault's syndrome, in which patients suddenly arrive at the delusional belief that someone (usually of higher social standing) is in love with them. Although this patient had other delusions, the Fregoli and de Clerambault delusions dominated the clinical picture, and were strongly held and persistent.
The patient was a 35 year old, divorced, unemployed woman who lived on her own. She had a psychiatric history from the age of 16, and was diagnosed as suffering from chronic paranoid schizophrenia. She stopped medication 6 weeks before admission. She was agitated and verbally hostile, and reported auditory hallucinations of famous actors who she said were her friends. She claimed to be telepathic, saying her actor friends put their thoughts into her head, and that her thoughts were broadcast to them. She showed grandiose delusions, believing she could arrange to stop all television and radio communications by telling her actor friends to go on strike using her "telepathic powers".
The patient believed that she was the girlfriend of Erik Estrada (an American actor and pin-up), with whom she communicated across the Atlantic via telepathy. She also believed that Erik Estrada visited her home city regularly, disguised as acquaintances or her current boyfriend. She stated that she knew her actual boyfriend was Erik Estrada in disguise due to the absence of a previous scar on his face. She was convinced that Erik Estrada was in love with her and planned to marry her one day.
Past medical history revealed childhood epilepsy until the age of 9 years, phenobarbitone being stopped at the age of 11 years. There was no family history of mental disorder. Routine haematological, biochemical and serological examinations were normal. Physical examination revealed no abnormality. An EEG showed a moderate excess of mixed irregular and rhythmic slow activity at 2-6 HZ and 10-30uV in the central and post-central regions. She refused neuroimaging. The patient was able to recognise photographs of emotional expressions
(happy, angry, sad, etc) without significant difficulty. She was impaired at recognising photographs of familiar faces, but showed no tendency to misidentify unfamiliar faces as familiar (20/20 correct rejections of unfamiliar faces). In this face recognition test, she did not claim that any of the photographs showed Erik Estrada, in disguise or otherwise. She performed at the borderline of the impaired range on the Benton Test (which requires matching of unfamiliar faces) and was very poor at matching unfamiliar faces when they were masked by various disguises. On the Warrington Recognition Memory Test, she showed normal recognition memory for words but severely impaired recognition memory for faces.
The patient was started on a fluphenazine depot and her mental state improved considerably. Twelve months later, however, she still believes she is to marry "Erik" and that he continues to visit her regularly, albeit in disguise. (...)
Her pattem of impairment on face processing tests was comparable to that found for another case we investigated, in which the Fregoli delusion arose in the context of cerebral infarction of the right hemisphere." (...) She thought that she was being pursued by her cousin and a female accomplice, both of whom adopted different disguises. It was later found that some years previously the patient had a long love affair with this cousin (lasting over 20 years, and leading to the birth of her only child).
Here's my theory. This patient isn't crazy at all, what she keeps seeing is the astral double that fled from Estrada's body during his hospital OBE.

3 commentaires:

  1. I agree, Wendy.

    Oh Sebastian, you're so funny! I'm glad we have people like you to protect us intellectual peons from ourselves.


  2. I don't plan to protect you from anyone or anything, Troy. I'm content with laughing at you.