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Hellstrom, Eva

Category: Other spiritually gifted people

Anders Zorn - The cigarette girl

Eva Hellstrom, born on September 26, 1898, in Stockholm, Sweden was the Founder in 1947 of the Sällskapet för Parapsykologisk Forskning, [Swedish Society for Parapsychological Research]. She died in 1986. 

Until 1968, Hellstrom served as the Society's secretary and general manager.

She also started the John Bjorkhems Minnesfond Foundation, which she hoped would be devoted to initiating parapsychological research in Swedish universities.  She was educated at Djursholm College, Sweden and spent most of her life in Stockholm.

Hellstrom became a member of the Society for Psychical Research, in London, and a charter member of the Parapsychological Association. Her interests included mediumship, psychokinesis, and psychometry, and she studied the work of various Swedish, Dutch, and Danish mediums.

She was herself a clairvoyant and manifested faculties of precognition.  Hellstrom had many anomalous experiences over the years, primarily in the form of precognitive dreams and what she referred to as visions.

The scientific approach to the recording of her experiences

Sommarnöje (1886), akvarell av Anders Zorn

What marks Eva out as a psychic was that she devised an entirely scientific way of both recording the visions and dreams she had and analysing them. 

  • The recording process - Eva first recorded all her visions and dreams in a diary.   If she felt that sketch maps and other visual images might help she would then sketch them and add them to the record.  She kept notes of everything, including ‘small unimportant cases’.  In other words no prejudgements were made about their value.  ‘I have not sorted out the good ones and left out the minor ones’
  • The analysis - Eva then judged them and classified them by the following criteria:
    • Are they accompanied by strong conviction, the vivid ‘here and now’ feeling?
    • Are they in colour?  Black and white dreams and visions are not inauthentic, but they carry less weight than colour ones
    • Do they dramatise realistically the events of the future or are they symbolic?
    • Do the premonitions appear as dreams, as images ‘seen’ or voices ‘heard’ between the states of waking, or as daytime experiences?
    • Are the visions ‘stills’ or moving pictures
    • Viewpoint – Eva noted that in her ordinary dreams she was the centre of the experience, whereas in her ESP dreams she was the spectator and not emotionally engaged in the event. ‘There are very few exceptions to this’.
  • Fanny Brate
    Authentication - If after analysing the experience she felt that it might be a premonition or ‘prophecy’ she had it verified by witnesses.  In other words she asked independent witnesses to read the account and then sign their name against it with the date on which they had witnessed it.  She often asked Bo her husband to be the first signatory as he was ‘to hand’ as it were.  Bo was a civil engineer of a very practical disposition, as such he was a reliable witness.  She also looked for a second signatory and often used her family [daughter, daughter in law etc] or her maid.
  • Verification - She would then keep her eye out for any articles in the newspapers or photos, any police reports or even photos from her visiting a scene, that might match what she had seen.  She also used the radio.  These days, of course, we have many more sources for news not available to Eva – TV, the Internet and so on.  She would clip out the news articles and attach them to her diary to provide a complete record

The observations we have included below were all recorded using this approach and were taken from her diary by Herbert Greenhouse and used in his book Premonitions.  The entries were generally witnessed by her husband Bo Hellstrom and by other witnesses.

Greenhouse’s interest was that he noticed that the events that many people with precognitive ability were able to ‘see’ had an emotional link with some aspect of the people’s lives.  In other words, if the person had been nearly drowned as a child, they were particularly good [as was Gerard Croiset] at ‘seeing’ people and especially children who had been lost and drowned.  Thus extremely strong emotion – usually fear and terror, occasionally anger, provided the functional link to other perceptions in the spirit realm.

Below: Anders Zorn

Method used to obtain the experiences

Eva used to get the vast majority of her experiences as dreams from which she generally awoke rather than becoming lucid.  As a consequence she used to keep writing pad and pencil by her bed, so that the dream could be written down whilst still fresh in her mind.  On the whole the dreams were generally when she was in a hypnopompic state – as she was about to wake up.

The other method she used was relaxation, and she had many experiences in the hypnagogic state as she was hovering on the borderline between being awake and nodding off.

Alfred Bergstrom,  - Winter, Stockholm

Investigations by researchers

Eva’s journal was used by a number of researchers for analysis [see below references].  Dr Stanley Krippner, for example, undertook a major analysis of over 60 of her dreams and visions.

Krippner's analysis was – shall we say – a little too academic, biased and on the whole tells us very little about Eva or where she obtained these talents other than the probable inherited one often found in the very gifted.

THE DREAMS AND VISIONS OF EVA HELLSTROM - Stanley Krippner
I used three instruments, one rating scale, and the services of four judges.  Instruments included

  • Krippner and Faith’s (2001) 12 Exotic dream categories (of which 5 were pertinent to this investigation),
  • Casto’s Spirituality Scoring System (Casto, Krippner, & Tartz, 1999),
  • Strauch’s (2001) content analysis system for bizarreness [sic]

Who is the more exotic here?  Painting by Robert Hogfeld

As measurements of bizarreness and spirituality have to be subjective, I am not sure what these added to the analysis. 

The results shown below rather bear out the feeling that measuring ‘spirituality’, ‘exoticism’ and ‘bizzareness’ is a complete waste of time – what clerical garments and bishop’s requisites have to do with spirituality I am not sure. 

A 5-unit rating scale to evaluate the purported veridical correspondences between the report and the precognized event was used and looks promising until one starts to look into this in more detail.  The bias of the researchers here was unforgivable, as Krippner – looking for more funding for his research - was rather unhappy that an amateur had done her own research.  In a somewhat pompous statement he wrote “Controlled laboratory studies (e.g., Krippner, Honorton, & Ullman, 1972) are the most useful in establishing the veridicality of purported precognitive dreams.”  Hence the scores for veridicality.

THE DREAMS AND VISIONS OF EVA HELLSTROM - Stanley Krippner
RESULTS

  • Correspondence Rating Scale - Of the 66 reports in Hellstrom’s notebook, 37 received a veridicality rating of one, 7 a score of two, 1 a score of three, 5 a score of four, and 0 a score of five. Apparent veridicality was about the same for both dream and vision reports. 
  • Exotic Dream Categories - Of the 66 dream/vision reports investigated, 55 were classified as precognitive, 6 as clairvoyant, 2 as spirit visitation, 2 as telepathic, and 1 as healing.
  • Casto Spirituality Scoring System - Only 4 of Hellstrom’s dream reports were spiritual in nature as measured by the Casto Spirituality Scoring System. Dream report #2 contained a spiritual object, clerical garments and bishop’s requisites. Report #79 contained a spiritual character, The Queen of Heaven, Report #102 contained a spiritual setting, a cathedral. Report #135 contained a reference to a spiritual character, a woman in profile with folded hands [?! Sic].
  • Strauch Scale - Of the 66 dream/vision reports in Hellstrom’s journal, 26 contained bizarre elements as defined by the Strauch Scale. … Bizarre sensations were - auditory and visual hallucinations, feelings of dizziness [sic]. Hellstrom often connected the bizarre sensations with the purported precognized event in her waking life.

So a waste of Eva's time and ours.

But there is a sort of begrudging admiration for Eva and what she had achieved that even Krippner had to admit to:

Hellstrom’s lengthy accounts of the dreams and visions provide phenomenological insights. Researchers in the field have sorely overlooked this aspect of study.
One cannot conclude that these reports were veridical because of the informal nature of the reports and the fact that Hellstrom herself determined their accuracy. Nevertheless, one must admire her attentiveness to her inner processes, and the care in which she compiled records of these events over the years.

It is perhaps time that Eva’s work was revisited by researchers who are less full of their own research methods and more interested in how Eva managed to do what she did.

 

 Winter Painter by Carl Larssen

References

  • Herbert B Greenhouse – a number of observations from Eva are described in the book Premonitions:  A leap into the Future by Greenhouse.  We have used these and included them below.  The observations were furnished by Mrs Hellstrom to Greenhouse and she provided the translations.
  • Dr Rolf Ejvegaard - A book was written by Dr Rolf Ejvegaard, in the 1950s [?] who taught psychology and philosophy at the University of Stockholm which contained entries from Eva’s diary.  It was in Swedish, but we have been unable to locate a copy or any references to it. 
  • Dr Ian Stevenson - several of these experiences were cited by Ian Stevenson in his 1970 book Telepathic Impressions
  • Dr Schriever – some of Eva’s experiences are described in Schriever’s 1987 article “A 30-Year Experiment with Time” appearing in The European Journal of Parapsychology.
  • Eva Hellstrom - Occasionally, Hellstrom described her own experiences, as in “Veridical Precognition of Girls Dancing,” published in a 1962 issue of the Journal of the Society for Psychical Research.
  • Dr Stanley Krippner [Saybrook Graduate School, San Francisco ] - In 1970, Hellstrom sent Krippner a notebook consisting of 21 of her reported dreams and 45 of her reported visions. “They had been neatly typed, and the paper had been glued into the notebook. In an accompanying letter, Hellstrom wrote me that ‘these cases are precognitive; most of them have come in deep dreams, some are hypnopompic or hypnagogic visions’.”  This may still be in existence.  Several dreams and visions were missing from this journal (having been given to other investigators) as such it may be worth trying to find where these records have gone

Observations

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