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  Columnist: Geoff Ward

Image credit: Geoff Ward

Psychic detective tells his life story

Posted on Thursday, 19 May, 2011 | 1 comment
Columnist: Geoff Ward

Robert Cracknell – known widely in the 1980s as 'the UK's Number One Psychic Detective' – still receives pleas for help from people worldwide seeking answers to unsolved mysteries, although he retired to Cyprus two decades ago. As his wife Jenny notes down in shorthand the psychometric impressions he gains while investigating another case that has baffled the police, he talks for up to half an hour, seemingly unaware of what he is saying. ‘It seems as if I have literally crossed the barriers of time,’ he says in a memorable phrase in his new book, The Lonely Sense: the Autobiography of a Psychic Detective.

Taking an object in his hands associated with a particular inquiry, Robert, now 76, picks up emanations that reveal its origin, details about the owner including his or her mental state, and what the future holds for them. He says he has been involved in many cases in recent years involving murdered or missing children, but he feels ‘duty-bound’ to remain silent about most of them and says he cannot open up his casebook. Having earned a ‘fair amount of money’ at the height of his fame, he does not now charge people for his help.

A key theme running through his autobiography is that every one of us is psychic, to a lesser or greater degree. Robert believes the riddle of psychic powers can be solved jointly by the psychic and the scientist, to the benefit of humanity, 'not in the repeatability of phenomena, but by working closely together in seeking to unlock this extra sense in those who do not claim to be psychic’. He says: ‘This is a perfectly normal faculty that everybody possesses, like the ability to ski or speak French, or even to play bingo. I do have some fairly concrete insights into the mechanics of this faculty, although when I try to put them into words I find myself faced with all kinds of difficulties. This is why I have decided that the simplest way to explain it is to tell the story of my life.’

The title of Robert’s book encapsulates both his lonely struggle with the awesome implications of his special gift, and his individualistic and earthy rationale which makes him unique in the strange world of the paranormal. ‘I have learned to embrace loneliness without it being manifest to others,’ he said. ‘I can find peace and understanding in loneliness. It would be easy to present myself as a wise old prat but that would be totally false. I am not wise. One of the reasons I left spiritualism was people were crediting me with knowledge, not seeing that it was me that was gaining the knowledge from them. I am still learning – I never was a teacher.’

Frequently At home in Cyprus where he has lived for the past 21 years, as his wife Jenny notes down in shorthand the psychometric impressions he gains while investigating another case that has baffled the authorities, psychic detective Robert Cracknell talks for up to half an hour, seemingly unaware of what he is saying. ‘It seems as if I have literally crossed the barriers of time,’ he says in his fascinating new book, The Lonely Sense: the Autobiography of a Psychic Detective.

Taking an object in his hands associated with a particular inquiry, Robert, now 76, picks up emanations that reveal its origin, details about the owner including his or her mental state, and what the future holds for them. with disarming frankness, the book tells of his traumatic childhood, how he came to terms with his increasing psychic abilities, leading to his working with police forces around the world to help solve major crimes, and his break with the spiritualist church. He also writes of the benefits of meditation, his co-founding of the World Peace Movement, how he was inspired by the Indian mystic Meher Baba, and why he remains silent for one day every week.

High-profile criminal cases in which Robert was involved in the 1970s and 1980s included the Genette Tate disappearance, where he provided crucial leads for the police, the Janie Shepard murder, when his psychic abilities made him a suspect, and the Gaby Mearth millionairess kidnapping, which he also assisted in solving. In the Yorkshire Ripper investigation, Robert predicted details of the final murder and the way it was carried out, and the time of Peter Sutcliffe's arrest. Robert had earlier shown a journalist the very street where Sutcliffe lived. ‘Police and scientists are misguided fools if they continue to ignore the fact that individuals with psychic ability can unravel new evidence, find fresh clues, and be instrumental in leading them to the final solution,’ Robert opines.

His book has a comprehensive foreword by the best-selling British author Colin Wilson, transplanted from Robert's autobiographical Clues to the Unknown (1981). Wilson, referring to his ground-breaking book of 1956, The Outsider, sees Robert as typical of the Outsider-type, 'the alienated man who has to learn to turn the powers of his development inward'. Robert, who was studied in Wilson's 1984 book, The Psychic Detectives, dedicated Clues to the Unknown to Wilson, as he did his later book, Psychic Reality: Developing Your Natural Abilities (1999), for which Wilson wrote an introduction. Wilson describes Robert’s writing as having 'a force and honesty that exerts the hypnotic effect of the Ancient Mariner'. Indeed – The Lonely Sense is both riveting and revelatory. And, as Wilson says, it raises some extremely important issues, not only about the role of the psychic in society but, crucially, what would happen if we all made the effort to develop the same potential.

Robert sees his troubled early life as a ‘psychic apprenticeship’. Like his brother and sister, he was born illegitimate, and he never knew his father who died before he was born. In the World War Two, he was evacuated from London to Nottingham. When he was seven, there was an important happening when he felt an overwhelming love and sympathy for a teacher who had unknowingly embarrassed him. This was the first signification of his psychic gift and his first ‘spiritual experience’. Robert said: ‘That taught me never to judge a person or to put them into categories. but always to look deeper and see your own inadequacies in them, It taught me never to hate.’ Later he was put into the care of his grandmother, and then fostered. Leaving school at 15, he joined the RAF, but developed a fear of the dark and suffered a breakdown. At 21, he was discharged on medical grounds, and went to live with his mother and stepfather. Then came one of his most startling experiences when he ‘saw’ his natural father, shocking and frightening his mother who had never mentioned the man.

Lonely and unhappy, he was referred to a psychiatrist. Unable to find work, he lived rough on the streets with tramps and down-and-outs, a time in his life which he regards as being of paramount importance. He gained first-hand knowledge of people who, like him, were outsiders, although not always through their own choosing. He achieved greater awareness of human behaviour in those days ‘than one could possibly hope for in a lifetime’s study’.

Robert was once closely involved with the spiritualist movement, but came to be convinced that there was no connection whatsoever between psychic abilities and the spirits of the dead. He is adamant that a psychic person is not someone who has been ‘chosen’ to receive communications from another world: he or she is an ordinary human being whose natural ability has somehow developed further than the average. Without the encouragement of spiritualism, he confesses he would have found his path more difficult. But he came to the conclusion that most mediums in spiritualism are ‘unconsciously fraudulent in deceiving themselves as much as they deceive other people’. This desire to prick the mystique of the medium won him no friends in the movement, and even led him to being labelled a ‘dangerous man’. The period during which he parted company with the spiritualist church was ‘possibly the worst years of my life’.

He also writes candidly of the collapse of his first marriage, his disappointing meeting with Uri Geller, the Israeli psychic, his disturbing time as a nurse in a psychiatric hospital, his time as an insurance investigaor and his own agency, Vigil Investigations, which he ran for ten years until he retired in 1990.

* The Lonely Sense: The Autobiography of a Psychic Detective. Anomalist Books, UK £11 / US $16.95.

Article Copyright© Geoff Ward - reproduced with permission.

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