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Therapist Jaime Hernandez and Ryan Buell, founder of the Paranormal Research Society, gave a workshop to a packed house of paranormal researchers on the human side of paranormal research and gave information on conducting interviews, dealing with difficult emotional situations, etc., at UnivCon Six, a paranormal convention held at the University Park Campus of Penn State University last weekend.  Since its founding six years ago, UnivCon has become one of the most prestigious paranormal conferences in the world with more than1,000 people attending from as far away as Europe and Hawaii, according to Mr. Buell. Mr. Buell and Mrs. Hernandez will also be featured on an upcoming television show called "Paranormal State" on A&E. (Photo by Jeff Corcino)

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Paranormal Research Society helps people with hauntings
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
By Jeff Corcino Staff Writer
Research into paranormal phenomenon is becoming a burgeoning activity with more and more people using scientific concepts and ideas in their search for ghosts and spirits.

Six years ago, Ryan Buell and a group of Penn State students formed the Paranormal Research Society, the first university-affiliated club of its kind in the nation, to research paranormal phenomena and help people who are being haunted by ghosts and spirits.

The PRS travels all over the region investigating paranormal activities and helping people with hauntings.

The group of students and their work attracted the attention of several Hollywood producers, and they now have their own documentary-style television show on the A&E channel called "Paranormal State."

The show is scheduled to debut in December.

Mr. Buell, a student at Penn State, is majoring in biological anthropology and already has a degree in journalism.

The show followed the students as they conducted their research and attempted to help people who believe they are being haunted by ghosts and spirits.

The team uses advanced camera and recording equipment to try to document paranormal events and to do research into paranormal phenomena. However, Mr. Buell said their main focus is to help people, and any paranormal research they do is an added bonus.

In addition to their research equipment, the PRS also brings along certified professional therapist Jaime Hernandez of Hoboken, N.J., to help people through the psychological ordeal they are going through with the hauntings.

Mrs. Hernandez said her main job is a professional therapist, and paranormal research is a side hobby. She said she only agreed to be on the show because its main focus was to help people and she thinks the show will help de-stigmatize people who experience paranormal phenomena. Mrs. Hernandez said paranormal experiences are not uncommon and people who experience them are not "crazy" as many people think.

Mrs. Hernandez said people who are experiencing paranormal phenomenon are often under tremendous stress and often feel isolated and afraid because of what they are going through. And the PRS often can help people by bringing a lot of positive energy to their homes and by helping them get their lives back in order.

Just because someone is experiencing personal problems doesn't rule out that they are being haunted by a ghost or spirit, Mr. Buell and Mrs. Hernandez said. Perhaps bad ghosts are attracted to people who are going through difficult times and whose lives are currently in disarray. They likened it to someone whose life is in disarray and are hanging out with the wrong crowd of people. But once they straighten out their lives, those people who were a bad influence on them often drift away. Mr. Buell said it could be similar with ghosts, bad spirits may be attracted to people whose lives are in disarray.

So in addition to their paranormal research, the PRS also tries to help people get their lives back in order if they are experiencing a lot of personal problems.

They try to have their clients think critically Mr. Buell said because sometimes the occurrences can be explained by natural phenomenon. When they investigate hauntings, they do extensive research to find if they are being caused by natural phenomena.

However, Mr. Buell said there are times when these phenomena are not easily explained.

Mr. Buell recounted a recent case they investigated in which an elderly man said he was being terrorized by a female ghost.

The man was a caretaker of a cemetery and after questioning him for a while the PRS discovered that some time ago authorities had given the man an unmarked urn that contained human remains that were found in a river. The man buried the urn near his house, and they discovered it was about this time when the hauntings started.

The PRS had the remains analyzed by a lab, which determined that the remains were likely the remains of a woman.

The PRS held a funeral service and had the remains buried in the regular part of the cemetery, and ever since then the man's torments have stopped.

"Is it just a coincidence, I don't know, but no matter what it was, it helped the guy out," Mr. Buell said.

Six years ago, the PRS started a conference of the paranormal called UnivCon, which was held last weekend. UnivCon has become one of the largest and most prestigious paranormal conferences in the world. It is also the only paranormal conference held on a university campus, Mr. Buell said.

The conference brings together researchers who use a wide array of techniques in their research of the paranormal.

One noted paranormal researcher at the conference was author John Sabol of Mahoning City. A self-described "ghost excavator," Mr. Sabol uses archeology and anthropology to contact ghosts.

According to Mr. Sabol, ghosts have the same personality and culture they did when they were alive, and ghosts generally will only communicate with people if they have some relevancy to them in some way.

So when he does an investigation, he first does an extensive amount of historical research on the period the ghost is supposed to have lived and conducts archeological digs at the site to find items that are relevant to the ghost.

He then develops a script and acts out an activity the ghost would have interest in in an attempt to maximize the chances the ghost would want to communicate with him.

While he does this, his partner Phil Wheeler, a professional photographer films, records and photographs the scene to see if any paranormal activity can be detected.

Mr. Wheeler uses sophisticated sensors that measure the temperature and electromagnetism because he believes that the presence of ghosts causes fluctuations in temperature and the electromagnetic field. Speculation is that ghosts, in order to interact with the world, need energy and they get that energy by drawing heat out of the air, and their energy causes fluctuations in the electromagnetic field, Mr. Wheeler said.

However, Mr. Sabol said he doesn't concern himself with attempting to get "scientific" proof of the paranormal. He said western science has a cultural bias and is too concerned with "cause and effect" that most cultures in the world do not ascribe to.

Mr. Buell said he believes the conference has become so popular because they not only try to educate and have discussions on paranormal research, but they also try to make it scary and fun. For example, this year, in addition to the wide array of discussions and workshops given by the foremost experts in the paranormal field, the conference had entertaining activities like a ghost tour of the State College area on the Penn State trolley and ghost-themed music.

When he first started the conference, Mr. Buell said only a couple of hundred people attended. This year there were more than 1,000 people in attendance with people coming from as far away as Europe and Hawaii.

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