Mark Mcilroy only considers the paranormal when logic doesn’t cut it. ‘We are sceptics first — we will do everything we can to prove that it’s not paranormal,’ he says while posing for a photo with a night-vision camcorder and what appears to be a MEL meter, (a ghost hunting favourite thanks to its use on ghost hunting television shows.) “In a new case we’ll get one of our mediums to do a remote reading, it gives us a bit of idea on what sort of home we’re walking into, whether it’s something dark or a past family member — like a spiritual heads-up.”
Now, this leads me to believe that Mcilroy isn’t as big a fan of logic as he’d like us to believe. Psychics indeed. Mcilroy was recently interviewed by the Press Herald where he was dubbed the “king of the paranormal” (whatever that means,) and the whole article is a great introduction on how not to be a paranormal researcher. In the piece, Mcilroy states that ‘sceptics might say the Paranormal Project is preying on the mentally ill or paranoid but the group does not charge for their services. We do it as a community service. People are in distress, it’s not right to profit from their distress. The look of relief on their faces when firstly, we confirm there is activity there and that they aren’t crazy, and then when we cleanse the house — that is enough for us.”
OH BOY, WHERE TO BEGIN!
Firstly, making a profit isn’t the only way in which you can prey upon someone, but more on that later. Secondly, ghost hunting is not a community service. It’s a hobby that people do – it’s tourism with the lights off, and the night-vision camcorder in the photo of Mcilroy is an indicator that the lights do indeed go off when he’s offering this “community service”. People do get stressed, anxious and frightened when weird things seem to happen in their home but proving them right by finding so-called evidence of ghosts through the use of psychics and pieces of ghost-detecting equipment (which don’t work, by the way,) is the thing that will help them the least. Especially if the cause of their haunting is underlying mental health, physical health or social problems.
If it is any of these three things then a ghost investigator should not get involved in the case because they’re not a trained professional who can act in a professional capacity such as a doctor or a counsellor or social services. If they are in fact a trained professional (such as a ghost hunting drugs counsellor) then it would be wrong for them to act in a professional capacity when they’re present as a ghost hunter. Mcilroy would disagree, though. In the piece, he shares the story of one case that didn’t seem to go as he would have liked. This is what he had to say:
“There was one family about 14 months ago, something dark had attached to their young daughter and they’d left it too long. She got into such a state of depression she wasn’t going to school and we were up against the clock trying to get whatever this thing was to let go of her before the government decided to step in. She was only about 12 or 13 years old.”
“She wouldn’t leave the house, wouldn’t sleep in own bed and it would inflict pain on her. Bruises would appear on her in the shape of a handprint while we watched. She was screaming in pain while it hurt her and it’s frustrating because there’s nothing you can do, you can’t pick it up and throw it off her. She was howling in pain, in tears for 12 hours a day, she had a constant battle with it. It was heartbreaking to watch.”
The article explains: ‘He and his colleagues eventually lost their race against the clock and the girl was taken from the family to be committed to mental care.
“The government did end up stepping in, they placed her into a mental institution,” Mcilroy explains, “they put her through psychiatrists and pumped her full of a whole heap of drugs that separated her mind from it.”
Anyone who reads my blog on a regular basis will know that my thing is ethics in the field of paranormal research and the harm that can be a consequence of ghost investigators who don’t know when they should walk away from a case and end up causing more harm than good. It seems that Mark Mcilroy- the king of paranormal -is one such person.
Here we have a teenage girl who is described in a way that is symptomatic of some sort of mental health issue while also experiencing physical harm; ‘bruises would appear on her in the shape of a handprint while we watched.’
Any decent person – let alone a paranormal investigator – would alert the authorities to such a situation. The child in question ends up being seen by a psychiatrist and in a care institution where she is prescribed medication to help with her symptoms. But not before the ghost hunters tried to save her from what they had imagined was attacking her.
What really, really pisses me off with this piece though is the bit where the article states:
Mr Mcilroy believed that although the girl was freed from her spiritual captor, their methods would have been better for her.
This is a perfect example of the hero complex that so many paranormal investigators seem to suffer from. They claim to care and to offer “community service” through what they do, but ultimately all they really care about is being right and being the hero in the situation, as though what they’re dealing with isn’t real life but in an action movie instead. But they’re not Ed Warren portrayed by Patrick Wilson (and hey, neither was Ed Warren,) and the people around them aren’t actors or plot devices – they’re real people. I don’t say this to insult Mark Mcilroy, but as a genuine observation made of those throughout the field of paranormal research. Whether it’s people claiming that Slenderman now walks British woodlands, Asian ghosts similar to those from The Ring haunt country lanes, or demons and poltergeists attacking children, researchers seem to be so invested in these Indiana Jones personas they create for themselves. I think this says a lot about their self-worth, and when your lack of self-worth starts to harm others, it’s all sorts of problematic. This is why I think it’s important for paranormal researchers to have an ethical code at the centre of all that they do. I guarantee anybody involved in paranormal research reading this was prompted to think of at least one person they know who fits the “Indiana Jones persona” and that should be alarming to them.
Ultimately, though, Mark Mcilroy can call himself ‘the paranormal king’, he can call himself whatever he likes, but unless his behaviour changes he is just another bogeyman. And nobody likes the bogeyman.