Friday, April 04, 2008

Does Suraez have a FPP?

Some 25 years ago psychologists Sheryl Wilson and Theodore Barber identified what they called fantasy-prone personality (FPP). The 14 characteristics of FPP are:
(1) being an excellent hypnotic subject, (2) having imaginary playmates as a child, (3) fantasizing frequently as a child, (4) adopting a fantasy identity, (5) experiencing imagined sensations as real, (6) having vivid sensory perceptions, (7) reliving past experiences, (8) claiming psychic powers, (9) having out-of-body or floating experiences, (10) receiving poems, messages, etc., from spirits, higher intelligences, and the like, (11) being involved in "healing," (12) encountering apparitions, (13) experiencing hypnagogic hallucinations (waking dreams), and (14) seeing classical hypnagogic imagery (such as spirits or monsters from outer space).

According to Wilson and Barber a minimum of six of the above "diagnostic criteria" (if we may call it that) would indicate FPP. We all have the faculty for fantasizing and we all have had fantasies so all of us would have a couple of the characteristics above. In my case #3 definitely applies. But I have no idea of my hypnotizability. I don't remember having had imaginary friends as a child nor having adopted a fantasy identity (although am not sure exactly what that means). I may have on occasion imagined sensations as being very real. On the other hand, How vivid is "vivid sensory perceptions"? An operational definition is necessary. What does "reliving past experiences" mean exactly? As to #8 to 14 I am confident they do not apply to me. Bottom line--I check positive for at least two items while the worst case scenario is that I'm a point shy of the half dozen mark.

Let's see how Suarez fares. Suarez claims to have seen apparitions of the Virgin Mary, who also gave him a message: "She told me that I would go to a far away place which was cold and windy, and there proclaim the word of God." In a tv interview (with Boy Abunda) he's admitted to having encountered the devil (I need a reconfirmation on this). Suarez has also had a vision of Jesus "pouring on graces upon him." And, needless to say, he's very much involved in healing. Given these we can safely tick numbers 10, 11, and 12. Because we lack a book-length biography on Suarez, I'm most interested in how he will rate himself on the other items (except perhaps for #1 which would require an actual test by a qualified hypnotist).

It's been suggested that faith healers Kathryn Kuhlman and Benny Hinn have FPP given that their backgrounds show they have many FPP traits. It would thus not be surprising if we find Suarez to be of the same feather. However, I doubt we can settle Suarez's fantasy proneness if we rely merely on Suarez, for I surely am doubtful he would willingly provide the pertinent and necessary information about himself [1]. Too much is at stake. He and his cohorts have invested too much psychologically and in time and effort. Suarez has hundreds of thousands if not millions of followers. He's in too deep. Interviewing relatives, friends, schoolmates, teachers, colleagues, the seminaries that rejected him may be more revealing.



1. Ever since I read about Suarez's past I've been skeptical. For instance he says that at age 16 he prayed over a paralyzed woman and the woman got up and walked. And about a decade ago he prayed over a dead woman who then came back to life. I take these anecdotes with more than just a grain of salt since memory is very much reconstructive in nature--it is nothing close to a videotape that faithfully records events. I am thus very wary of confabulations and embellishments that may have crept in. So much more if Suarez is in fact fantasy-prone. While I don't believe Suarez to be a fraud who's made up all these stories, I certainly would want solid evidence for what actually took place when he was 16 and with the resurrectee. Given these, even if Suarez were to be very open and tell us whatever we wanted to know, I'd be most cautious in taking his answers at face value.

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