Jürgenson, Friedrich (1903-1987)

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Jürgenson, Friedrich (1903-1987)

Russian-born Swedish painter and film producer who first discovered the paranormal voice phenomenon that has since come to be known as Raudive voices or the electronic voice phenomenon. In July 1959 Jürgenson recorded the song of a Swedish finch on his tape recorder and on playback heard what appeared to be a human voice. He thought there must be some fault in the apparatus, but subsequent recordings contained an apparent message that seemed to be from his dead mother. Jürgenson mentioned his experiences in a book that made a deep impression on the Latvian psychologist Konstantin Raudive.

The two men conducted further research into paranormal voices on tape recordings, collaborating with other scientists between 1964 and 1969. The collaborators included Hans Bender of the University of Freiburg and Friedebert Karger of the Max Planck Institute in Munich.

After 1969 Jürgenson and Raudive had some differences of opinion and conducted their further research independently.

Raudive's research was extensive and included the collection and study of more than 100,000 recordings. Following publication of his book on the subject, translated into English as Breakthrough: An Amazing Experiment in Electronic Communication with the Dead (1971), the phenomenon became generally known and discussed as "Raudive voices," although more recently the term electronic voice phenomenon has become preferred by parapsychologists.

Essentially this phenomenon consists of paranormal voice communications (apparently from the dead) that are heard on recordings made on standard tape recorders, sometimes enhanced by a simple diode circuit. The voices are also apparent on the "white noise" of certain radio bands.

In view of traditional opposition to Spiritualist phenomena from the Catholic Church in the past, it is significant that the work of Jürgenson on paranormal voice recordings has been known to the Holy See since 1960, and according to Jürgenson the suggestion that these recordings are voices from the dead has been sympathetically considered. In 1969 Archbishop Dr. Bruno B. Heim presented Jürgenson to Pope Paul VI for investiture as commander of the Order of St. Gregory. This honor, however, was in respect of Jürgenson's work as a filmmaker.

After the initial discovery of the paranormal voice phenomenon through tape recordings of a bird song, some confusion was caused by the announcement that Raudive later investigated mediumistic messages conveyed by a budgerigar (parrot). Such bird voices may be related to the electronic voice phenomenon discovered by Jürgenson, but are basically of a different nature. Jürgenson died October 15, 1987, at his home in Hoor, Sweden, at age 84.


Bander, Peter. Voices from the Tapes. New York: Drake Publishers, 1973.

Berger, Arthur S., and Joyce Berger. The Encyclopedia of Parapsychology and Psychical Research. New York: Paragon House, 1991.

Raudive, Konstantin. Sprechfunk mit Vesterbenen. Freiburg I Br., Germany: Herman Bauer, 1967. Translated as Breakthrough: An Amazing Experiment in Electronic Communication with the Dead. Gerrards Cross, UK: Colin Smythe; New York: Japlinger, 1971.