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The self and the supernatural.

Ironside, Rachael



Dirk vom Lehn

Natalia Ruiz-Junco

Will Gibson


Supernatural experiences continue to be a feature in our everyday lives. Indeed, research suggests that over two fifths of the population in Britain have reported a supernatural experience and one-quarter of Americans claim to have felt or sensed a presence. They are encountered in many different ways, however, most commonly they are reported as subjective experiences including feelings, the sense of a presence, out-of-body experiences, or paranormal dreams. These subjective experiences are often encountered on or in the body, and the source of the experience rarely has a visible source. As a result, sharing these experiences with others can pose interactional challenges due to the lack of a visible, shared reference. This chapter will introduce the nature of supernatural experiences and their subjective qualities, drawing upon examples to illustrate a typical event. It will then explore the interactional challenges posed by these experiences, and investigate how individuals use talk and gesture to communicate and share their embodied experiences with others. In doing so, this chapter will provide an introduction to the role of the Self during supernatural encounters, and explore how the body is used to not only communicate and share experience, but also to transpose and validate extraordinary claims.


IRONSIDE, R. 2021. The self and the supernatural. In vom Lehn, D., Ruiz-Junco, N. and Gibson, W. (eds.). The Routledge international handbook of interactionism. Abindon: Routledge [online], chapter 10. Available from:

Acceptance Date Jun 2, 2020
Online Publication Date May 26, 2021
Publication Date May 27, 2021
Deposit Date May 26, 2021
Publicly Available Date Nov 27, 2022
Publisher Taylor & Francis (Routledge)
Book Title The Routledge international handbook of interactionism
Chapter Number 10
ISBN 9780367227708
Keywords Supernatural; Experience; Self; Body; Interaction
Public URL
Publisher URL


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