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Observations placeholder

Whitton, Dr Joel - Case history Michael Gallander 01



Type of Spiritual Experience


A description of the experience

Life between life – Dr Joel Whitton and Joe Fisher

Michael Gallander, PhD, was one of those rare individuals who had just about everything, or so it seemed to his fellow IBM researchers. Michael was brilliant, athletic, good-looking and likeable. Sharply analytical and fluent in his thinking, he was an electronics 'whiz' whose innovative mind had earned the respect of the top executives in the company. He was also a man who gave freely of his time and energy.

 Most days, Michael stuffed one pocket with coins for any drunks and down-and-outs who crossed his path; another pocket bulged with a plastic bag of yesterday's bread. This he fed to the pigeons nesting in the ravine a short walk away from his office. Very few people knew - and none would have suspected - that Michael Gallander was inordinately troubled by inner conflicts beyond his understanding.

Only Michael was aware how drastically the rewards of success and achievement had been undermined by sensations of guilt and self-loathing that clawed at his insides. Facing himself in the mirror each morning filled him with such revulsion that even as he shaved, the ugliness rose like bile. Perhaps this ugliness was connected with the suicidal tendencies that sometimes caused him to amble obliviously into the path of oncoming traffic.

But Michael couldn't be sure. And he had no idea why he had been plagued for years by the most perplexing of symptoms . . . he was overwhelmed by a sense of dread whenever he made love to his wife, Sharron.

Michael had struggled hard to succeed.

Born of working-class, Jewish parents in the South Bronx, New York, he was disliked by his mother and largely ignored by a father who made his only son the target of screaming rages. This childhood of emotional tyranny and verbal abuse left Michael thoroughly inhibited by his late teens. He felt threatened by the outside world and often shied away from contact with strangers. So pronounced was his self-consciousness that, on several occasions when his car needed fuel, he shrank from driving into a petrol station for fear of having to talk with the attendant. Although he managed to do very well at school and university, Michael found that, by his early twenties, he was fast becoming inundated by a mounting inventory of phobias, anxieties and inhibitions.

From the start, he was determined to battle his difficulties no matter how trying they became. And it was this resolve that led him to embark on a programme of orthodox psychotherapy that was to last fifteen years. As his career led him from city to city, three analysts - in St Louis, Missouri, Cleveland, Ohio and New York - gradually managed to relieve Michael of certain basic fears and insecurities related to his disturbed upbringing. But none was able to explain, let alone banish, his ubiquitous feelings of guilt and self-hatred and the dread he always experienced with Sharron. Never before, during teenage sexual encounters with other partners who preceded his courtship with Sharron, had he faced this problem. It was only when he approached his wife that he felt himself in the grip of a seemingly irrational fear that she would suffer because of his lovemaking.

Michael had other afflictions, too. The trio of analysts was unable to establish why he nursed a chronic fear of being buried alive, a fear welling up into random panic attacks that brought heavy perspiration and hyper-ventilation. Or why, even though loud noises couldn't wake him, he would throw off the bed covers and sit bolt upright in alarm at the faintest whisper or the most gentle tip-toeing. Or why he was terrified of losing his temper. Or why, since early childhood, he had been troubled by a recurring fantasy involving the murder of a woman in a white gown. Or why a rash flared intermittently on the backs of his upper arms. The raw itchiness would erupt without warning; it could strike in any situation at any time and usually lasted for a matter of minutes.

As a young boy, he had walked into his parents' bedroom to encounter his mother musing, naked, before a mirror. Disconcerted, she had grabbed him by the backs of the arms, shaking him and shrieking admonitions. Each of the analysts seized upon this disclosure, claiming to have uncovered the source of the problem . . . but the rash wouldn't go away. During one visit to his psychiatrist in St Louis, Michael remembers contemplating the rash as he waited for the therapeutic session to begin.

For a moment, he had an image of himself - not as Michael Gallander but as a separate being that appeared to share his identity. This separate self was pushing someone who was clutching his arms precisely where the inflammation appeared. When the consultation began, however, he made no mention of this disquieting image. He thought his analyst would say he was crazy. When Michael was transferred to Toronto he was thirty-eight years old and understandably weary of subjecting himself to analysis that, while helpful for the first few years, was clearly unequal to the challenge of the abiding poison within.

Still obsessed with the need to plumb his conflicts to their very depths, he doggedly believed that relief from his prolonged emotional suffering was available somehow, somewhere. Consequently, he cast about for an alternative - a new, deeper way of being, of perceiving. He delved into astrology and mysticism and the ancient wisdom of the East. In time, his search led him to a meeting of the Toronto Society for Psychical Research, where Dr Joel Whitton happened to be delivering a lecture on the metaphysical implications of reincarnation.

 Invigorated by what he heard, Michael approached Dr Whitton, told how his rash had resisted fifteen years of therapeutic ministrations and asked whether it could possibly be explained in terms of past-life experience. This time, he knew he wasn't going to be called crazy.

So it was that, on a bitterly cold day in February 1979, Michael found himself waiting apprehensively for his first session with Dr Whitton.

The source of the experience

Whitton, Dr Joel

Concepts, symbols and science items


Science Items

Activities and commonsteps



Psychological trauma