“Stan Gooch, who has died aged 78, began his career as a conventional academic and became a senior research fellow at the National Children’s Bureau and the author of several works on child psychology; in 1958, however, he had an experience which sparked a parallel interest in the paranormal.” Those were the words of the U.K.’s Guardian newspaper on November 4, 2010. Born in London, U.K. in 1932, Gooch wrote a number of books on varying topics. They included the supernatural-themed The Paranormal; Creatures From Inner Space; and The Double Helix of the Mind. Not only that: Gooch had a deep interest in the Neanderthals. His books on this subject included 1977’s The Neanderthal Question; The Dream culture of the Neanderthals (which was originally published as Guardians of the Ancient Wisdom in 1980, and under its new title in 2006); and 2008’s The Neanderthal Legacy. Gooch’s specific interest revolved around the matter of ancient interbreeding. The Smithsonian state: “For many years, the only evidence of human-Neanderthal hybridization existed within modern human genes. However, in 2016 researchers published a new set of Neanderthal DNA sequences from Altai Cave in Siberia, as well as from Spain and Croatia, that show evidence of human-Neanderthal interbreeding as far back as 100,000 years ago.”
Gooch’s publisher, Inner Traditions, say of The Neanderthal Legacy: “Gooch offers new scientific evidence of the crossbreeding between Neanderthals and Cro-Magnons that is responsible for the dichotomous nature of our feelings, thoughts, impressions, beliefs, and even our cultural mores and politics. The ‘hybrid vigor’ produced by this mating has gifted modern man with abilities and sensibilities that the scientific establishment and conventional educational system entirely ignore. The author explores the legacy of our Neanderthal ancestors in an effort to awaken their virtues and qualities, which are so needed in our modern world.” Controversial, indeed. I’ll come to Gooch’s controversial conclusions on the matter of interbreeding on another day. For today, however, I’m going to focus on another aspect of Gooch’s research into the Neanderthals. It concerns what can only be described as a ghostly Neanderthal. Yes, really.
It is in the pages of The Paranormal that we learn of this very weird story. The late Colin Wilson summarized the beginning of the story, saying that: “Under normal circumstances, [Gooch] would have continued to write textbooks and become a member of the British academic establishment. But in 1958, when he was 26, he had an experience that was to change the direction of his life. A schoolteacher in Coventry at the time, he was invited to a ‘seance’ in the home of a friend. He went out of curiosity. But as he sat in an ordinary hardback chair, facing the ‘medium’ he experienced a sense of light-headedness, then a rushing sensation, as if the room was full of a great wind, and he heard a noise like roaring waters. He felt as if a barrier had collapsed and became unconscious. When he came to, he was told that he had entered a trance state, and that several ‘entities’ had spoken through his mouth, including a cousin who had died in the war….”
Gooch continued to attend what turned out to be regular seances, one of which particularly amazed him. During the seance something manifested. In Gooch’s own words: “This was a crouching ape-like shape, which became clearer as the moments passed. I guess it approximated to most people’s idea of what an ancient cave man would look like. Yet one could not make out too much detail – the eyes were hidden, for example. It stood in half shadow, watching us, breathing heavily as if nervous. I must say, though, that I sensed rather than heard the breathing. I could not decide whether our visitor was wearing the skin of some animal, or whether it had a rough coat of hair of its own.” Each and every attempt to communicate with the entity failed. Nor would it enter the circle.” Finally, it de-materialized. Gooch pondered on the possibility that he had seen “a classic Neanderthal.” There’s no proof that’s what it was, however. There’s very little doubt, though, that this experience – however you interpret it – had a major affect on Gooch and on the themes of his later, controversy-filled books.